In our hands is placed a power: Austerity, worldwide strike wave, and the crisis of global governance

  • Colatrella S
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Austerity has taken on the characteristics of a global political regime. Worldwide, governments have imposed austerity in the form of cuts in programs benefiting working people, lower wages and large-scale layoffs of public-sector workers, and legislation limiting or weakening organized labor. These austerity measures have had strikingly common characteristics in a wide variety of countries. This commonality of program and of class interests bespeaks the importance of global governance as a project of unification of the ruling class globally. Global governance institutions are thus not a new form of state in themselves, and even less a world government. They are instead a means of determining the orientation of national states and their policies. They do this in part by limiting the "thinkable" ideological and policy options to those favorable to capital. In this sense they are agents of "elite socialization" -- influencing the ideological and political orientation of state personnel through interaction with like-minded others and through the revolving door whereby individuals rotate between private finance, Global Governance institutions, and key national government offices. But they do it in part also through external pressure and even coercion, applying methods ranging from IMF structural adjustment programs and debt, to WTO trade rules, to UN Security Council Resolutions, to NATO military force. Global governance organizations act as Hegel's "universal authority" -- something between an executive committee and a bureaucracy that sets the agenda for and coordinates state policies throughout much of the world. Global governance institutions are where the real power seems to be politically in the capitalist world today. These institutions embody Arundhati Roy's crucial insight that it is not national sovereignty that is at risk under globalization, but rather democracy. This is especially true if by democracy we mean democratic content and agency, and not merely procedures for electing leaders or making decisions. Adapted from the source document.

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  • Steven Colatrella

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