Since the imposition of free market policies in the 1980s, globalization has come to represent an ideological battle between those who favor economic growth and deregulation through the growing power of multinational corporations, versus those who prefer a more sustainable and democratic approach to international development, socio-economic justice, and the securing of basic human rights and needs.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was hailed as the triumph of
free market ideals. But even as the financial crisis exposes the weakness of this
simplistic approach to economic management, the debate has yet to move beyond it,
writes Michael Hirsh.
New approaches to economic thought are challenging classical
theories based on self-interested individuals whose decisions can be reduced to mathematical
equations – building a more realistic discipline with the potential to improve the human condition, writes Paul Ormerod.
In conventional economic thought, any increase in GDP is
good for the economy – even if it is created by encouraging needless
over-consumption. The result is a society in which people are literally
consuming themselves sick, writes Jonathan Rowe.
In acknowledging the limitations of GDP as a reflection
of well-being, President Sarkozy set up a commission to deliberate alternative
measures of social progress. Whilst the end report revealed the issue to a
wider public, it failed to contribute any new ideas, writes Jayati Ghosh.
Those advocating for a ‘steady state’ economic model are vastly
outnumbered in mainstream policy circles. Yet there are signs that scepticism about the single-minded pursuit of economic growth may finally be catching on, reveals Susan Arterian Chang.
China is investing heavily in Africa through development
projects aimed at exploiting the continent's natural resources. The potential
outcome is no less disastrous than any misguided colonial project of the past, says Khadija Sharife.
With only piecemeal reforms to the financial system made at
the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, the key tenets of market fundamentalist economic policies still prevail. Not until the global economic system is democratised will the world’s poor be given
priority over the wealthy few, argues Mark Engler.