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New Left Review I/168, March-April 1988


David M. Gordon

The Global Economy: New Edifice or Crumbling Foundations?

It is now virtually a commonplace among left observers and activists that we have recently witnessed the emergence of a New International Division of Labour and the Globalization of Production. [*] I am grateful to Lyuba Zarsky for excellent research assistance. I would also like to thank seminar and conference participants at the New School for Social Research, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Cornell University, as well as Perry Anderson, Samuel Bowles, Mike Davis, Bennett Harrison, Timothy Koechlin, Arthur MacEwan, Alain Lipietz, Hugo Radice, and Bill Tabb for helpful reactions to earlier formulations of some of these arguments. For many, these twin tendencies manifest such deep structural transformations in the world economy that group or government efforts to swim against the currents are becoming increasingly ineffectual, if not futile. The power of labour, community and the state has seemed to wither as multinational corporations sweep irresistibly around the globe. The roots of these concerns, at least in the advanced capitalist countries, are obvious—manifested, for example, in rising unemployment, sectoral devastation in many traditional industries, and insistent corporate demands for concessions on wages, benefits and working conditions. Intensifying international competition appears to be casting its shadow more and more broadly across the economic landscape, chilling the spirit of growing numbers of organized and unorganized workers alike.

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