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New Left Review 12, November-December 2001

How far might the current conjuncture alter received notions of globalization? Michael Mann considers the pattern of ‘ostracizing imperialism’ and the springs of Islamic resistance to it, amid wider shifts in the sources of social power—military, economic, political, ideological—at the threshold of the new century.



The term ‘globalization’ refers to the extension of social relations over the globe. There is no doubt that this is occurring. The more difficult questions are, how fast? How far? How evenly? Are some regions or groups of people being left out? Will it go further in the future? Many imply that globalization is a singular process, moving toward one encompassing global society. Given the dominance of materialism in modern Western thought, their analysis tends to centre on economic matters—transnational capitalism is breaking through the boundaries of states to create a unitary network of interaction across the globe. Others would stress technological and cultural versions—a revolution in the technology of communications, or in new mass markets of consumer capitalism. There are also less economistic conceptions: the emergence of a single global culture, or world order—more usually seen as a convergence of the many existing states into a single political model, rather than the emergence of a single world state. These visions are essentially pacific: the world will be integrated into a more or less harmonious whole. [1] Originally given as a lecture at the Russian State University for the Humanities, 24 September 2001. Revised November 9.

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Michael Mann, ‘Globalization and September 11’, NLR 12: £3

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