Gina's Blog

2011 notes on Sklair 1995

Posted on: December 27, 2011

All from Sklair, 1995: Classical Marxists refuse to accept that the state is the most important actor in the global system.

Few Marxists now hold to the traditional claim that the state is nothing but the executive committee of the bourgeoisie.

The TNC is the major locus of transnational economic practices; the TCC is the major locus of transnational political practices, and the major locus of transnational culture-ideological practices is to be found in the culture-ideology of consumerism.

Consumerism in the global system can only be fully understood as a cultural ideological practice. The theory of the global system, based on transnational practices, is an attempt to escape from the limitations of state-centrism.

The hegemon is the agent of the key TNP (transnational practices). It can be a representative individual, organization, state or class, whose interests prevail in the struggle for global resources.

The nation state is the spatial reference point for most of the crucial transnational practices that go to make up the structures of the global system.

The argument of this book is that the most important global force is the capitalist system, based on a variegated global capitalist class.

Now, he’s talking about why the US becomes the hegemon: A mighty domestic economy, a progressive ruling class, and at least SOME desirable cultural ideological features particularly attractive to modernizing elites. Traditionally, the elites were known as a comprador class (he’s going to call them a TCC). The TCC hold certain transnational practices to be more valuable than local practices.

Now, he does point out that the hegemonic ideology of the system is under constant challenge, particularly outside the First World [not like it’s totally winning everywhere, but the compradors or the TCCs buy into it].

Dependency approach seemed to apply to Latin America, but less successful in Africa, Asia.

Measures of growth: 1) The distribution of the labor force between agriculture and industry. 2) Another key measure: The standard of living.

Talks about the new Second World when communist system breaks down.

Talks about 5 main classifications of the global system in current usage: All mostly state centered. 1) Income based. 2) Trade based. 3) Resource based. 4) Quality of life based. 5) Bloc based.

About #1: Now he talks about these, and the income based thing… under income based, he points this out: Women’s work in the countries of the Third World is generally rendered invisible by normal national accounting procedures [subsistence or home based work. Boserup 1970]. There appears to be no simple relationship between a country’s population and its per capita wealth. Often differences within countries are just as important as differences between them. [2/3 of the small countries, 20 million or less, are poor. Almost half of the relatively rich countries have relatively large populations, 50 million or more.]

About #2, Trade-based classifications: The contemporary rich nations exported manufactured goods and capital and imported raw materials. The terms of trade often labeled ‘unequal exchange’ ensured that for the most part the prices of raw materials were falling relative to the prices of manufactured goods, and they attribute this to Edwards 1985, especially the term ‘unequal exchange.’ The raw material exporters were often engaged in the production of one or two major staples.

A country does not get rich by importing manufactured goods, if it can possibly manufacture them itself. [If not careful, become an enclave or get TCCs coming in from outside.]

Talks about ISI and ELI. Summarizes by saying, export-import structure is now a key characteristic of the economic growth, and by implication, development prospects of Third World countries.

Another feature of Third World economies is foreign debt and the effect of servicing that debt [in other papers too].

#3 Resource based classifications: The single most important US import is oil. Oil and coal make up about 70% of global energy consumption. That approach is 90% in the Third World. Food is another important natural resource.

*Here is an important point: Consumption patterns of the majority of people, and not only in the Third World, are ill-matched to their needs because both consumption and needs are generally dictated by transnational practices.

#4 Quality of life classifications: The most relevant social welfare indicators: 1) Degree of literacy. 2) Distribution of health and educational services. 3) Infant mortality rate. 4) Life expectancy of the population. [He’d like to add status of women, but there isn’t enough information.]

Life expectancy is a better measure of health services than numbers of doctors per person; and calorie supply per capita is a better measure of nutrition than total production of food [Darwin’s Nightmare].

All measures are theory-laden. This is particularly true for quality of life.

#5 Bloc based classifications: The Communist bloc begins with the Bolsheviks and the Soviet Union. Bloc, the word bloc, implies collective economic and political action.

Here’s a very interesting statement: Most blocs start from a position of weakness, not strength.

Blocs are being seen as increasingly problematic today, largely because the global capitalist system is perceived as increasingly salient [relevant]. [I.e., we’re all integrated.]

Explaining anything in terms of these five state-centered categories results in conceptual confusion and general inconclusiveness. But, we do get a lot of empirical data based on states.

It’s not a geographical accident of birth that determines whether an individual will be rich or poor, but class location. [It’s not your birth that determines your wealth, but your class location.]

*The poor in all countries struggle against the domestic and global forces that oppress them, and their resistance takes many forms.

*It is important to recognize how the global capitalist system uses the nation state to deflect criticism and opposition to its hegemonic control of the global system onto the claims of competing nations. [Like Russia vs. America, says Gina.] Dividing the world up into nation states is thus a profoundly ideological strategy.

Interesting: Ideologies NOT based on the nation state are of two main types: 1) Those that exclude outsiders and create an in-group; 2) Those that are inclusively global.

#1 is ethnic exclusivism [Nazis] or religious fundamentalism [Christian or Islam]; #2 includes several versions of democratic socialism, as opposed to bureaucratic communist chauvinism; part of it is its feminist goal. Therefore it is best labeled democratic feminist socialism, and it’s based on the survival of humanity being incompatible with capitalist exploitation, imperialism, and the patriarchal nation state. [It could be ISTP vs. ISFP, being authentic.]

The first one is more organized; the second is just a jumble of aspirations.

Second chapter: Theory of transnational practices.

McLuhan, the world is becoming a global village.

Talks about McDonalds; global packaging creates global desires.

*Many theories are fixated around the unhelpful idea that hegemon states exploit other states. The view that is propounded here is that it is more fruitful to conceptualise the global system in terms of transnational practices. [Compare with what we read in Held, the state is a result of a nasty military confrontation with another. What Sklair’s saying is the hegemon is a mask, and the global thing is behind it all. Although, a lot of TCCs live in the hegemon; it’s clean.]

Another list; theories of the global system: 1) Imperialist; 2) Modernization and neo-evolutionist; 3) Neo-Marxist including dependency; 4) World system and new international division of labor; 5) Modes of production.

#1 Imperialist: Imperialism puts the necessity for capitalist expansion at the center of the theory [I guess that’s mercantilism and the old empires; that was booty].

He says imperialism is a consequence of capitalist expansionism and not simply a colonial system of government.


#2 Modernization and neo-evolutionism: It studies the distinction between the traditional and the modern, and believes that development alters attitudes and values. The distinction between traditional and modern is too crude to be theoretically useful, and so modernization theory has few supporters today.

Neo-evolutionism, essence: Modern societies are said to evolve from traditional ones through the processes of social differentiation. In so-called traditional societies, political, economic and educational functions all are fulfilled by the same umbrella institution. Modern societies evolve separate social structures and organizations for politics, the economy, education, etc.

Neo-evolutionism rejects uni-linear dogma and argues that there are many possible paths from the traditional to the modern.

#3 Neo Marxist theories, including dependency: Leninist theory of capitalist expansionism is generally considered to be the orthodox Marxist position [talks of finance capital].

Dependency theory is a neo-Marxist innovation, created by Latin American social scientists. They argue that the global capitalist system, through TNCs, operates actively to underdevelop the Third World. Underdevelopment denies absolutely that capitalism could ever develop the Third World. Critics point out that there are underprivileged areas also within the hegemonic countries of the First World.

Sectors of Third World countries can escape from dependency. [The things run by the TCCs, or compradors. Enclaves, but these enclaves will be run by the TCCs; they would get the benefit of it at the price of all their compatriots in the country. People sell out easily.]

The price of reversing dependency might not be worth paying. For instance, if borrowing creates a currency crisis, then it may result eventually in greater dependence.

#4 World system theory (and NIDL): Wallerstein’s division of labor between the core, peripheral and semi-peripheral countries within the orbit of the capitalist world system.

Two problems with Wallerstein. 1) Neglects the class struggle. 2) Distorts the history of capitalism and its progressive role in development. These two problems are pointed out by Brenner, 1977.

Both world systems and dependency find it hard to explain industrialization of non-hegemon countries. [Ireland, Portugal, the Balkans, that sort of thing.]

Talks about the new international division of labor (NIDL): The point of NIDL is to maximize the profits of TNCs and/or solve the problems of the major capitalist societies. [Why does it do this?] à It cuts the price, so that the consumer can buy it. [Don’t forget the major capitalist contradiction.]

By concentrating too much on the TNCs search for cheap labor, the NIDL fails to connect economic with political and cultural ideological transnational practices. [What does he mean by that?] à [I guess, it’s separating or detaching the state; everything is no longer state oriented, it’s TNC oriented; guy’s going broke and can’t consume anymore.]

More recently, the NIDL is being replaced by the idea of commodity chains; that’s Gereffi 1994.

#5 Modes of production: This is neo-Marxist. Here it is: The prospects for revolution can be deduced from the mode of production within a particular social formation or society and the class forces that are struggling for power.

Some mode of production theorists argue that capitalist industrialization is the only reliable path to development, and eventually socialist revolution in the Third World; Warren 1980 says that.

On this theory, says Sklair, global capitalism provides the necessary impetus for revolution in the countries where TNCs are most active. Basically what Warren says is that the only way you can develop is through capitalist industrialization; that’s going to create revolution, and so get the TNCs in there because they’ll do industrialization [and that will lead to revolution and they’ll get rid of the TNCs; rev them up and they’ll get mad; not good].

The mode of production approach produces a type of dependency reversal theory in its insistence that capitalist industrialization CAN succeed in the Third World. [It can succeed because it will bring about a socialist revolution; that’s very cynical. Although, Marx himself suggested it may not have to be a violent revolution, but Marx is full of contradictions.]

New section, the politics of development: The government and its allies are the main actors in the pursuit of development strategies.

The basic problem of any government in any society is to secure its own power.

Here’s O’Donnell (1979); speaks of Bureaucratic Authoritarianism (BA). Ruling Third World classes implement development strategies, especially ELI, through authoritarian solutions. [He’s saying that TNCs are not necessarily benevolent; under face of development.] ELI requires more social discipline than other strategies. TNCs get involved only when there is an acceptable business climate, and BA regimes are more likely to provide such a climate. BA organizes the production process and especially the labor force to satisfy the demands of the TNCs and the world market.

*Now. Speaks of a triple or tripartite alliance between the host state, the TNCs, and the outward oriented elements in the indigenous bourgeoisie.

Comprador bourgeoisie groups orient themselves to the interests of foreigners in general and TNCs in particular.

*Here’s another interesting paragraph. It is the economic, political, and cultural-ideological power of the triple alliance transformed into a TCC that distorts development.

Sklar (1987) speaks of a new class, a managerial bourgeoisie that has a local wing and a corporate international wing.

The managerial bourgeoisie is the key class in a post imperialist world where the struggle between capital and labor has become less important. [Managerial is much more F oriented; the capitalist class were C. Instead of opportunity cost, it is now just cost.]

What Becker points out; he’s wondering whether a Third World bourgeoisie can become hegemonic in its own realm and drive towards real development; he thinks that might be happening in Peru. If so, Third World actors could carve out niches for themselves in the crevasses that the hegemon TNCs leave unattended. Evans 1989 says this is exactly what happened in the computer industries of Brazil and South Korea.

Here’s another interesting thing: Very often the jobs in TNC factories are among the best paid and most highly valued in developing countries. Lloyd 1982 calls it a kind of ‘labor aristocracy.’

Here’s Portes and Castells 1989: The informal sector is treated as one part, albeit with distinctive features, of a whole economic system in which there are empirically demonstrable connections between street vendors and small workshops in the backstreets of cities, and the global operations of TNCs. The main differences discerned are the relative lack of employment and welfare protections for subordinate workers in the informal sector. [Basically saying street vendors and small workshops are being tied in as well; another author talked of dropping off stuff at women’s homes.]

Interesting statement by Sklair: Barter-based natural economies can coexist with monetized market economies but the latter relentlessly marginalize the former. [Barter will get eaten away by the market.]

So, new section, more related to culture-ideology:

*One of the most important historic tasks of transnational capitalism has been to include various previously excluded groups within its realm of influence. [Inclusive, but with a pecking order, but also a tearing down of those who get higher.]

Reduction and manufacturing jobs over the last decades in some high wage countries brought many rural people in the Third World into the towns and cities.

Large numbers of people have migrated from poor countries to richer countries in search of work.

Here’s another interesting sentence: The inclusion of the subordinate classes in the political sphere is very partial. Crudely, the subordinate classes are not needed. While political organization is usually unfettered [you can do what you want and create what you want], the structural obstacles to genuine opposition to the capitalist system are such that there are rarely any serious challenges to it. If serious challenges do emerge, the threat is removed violently by the capitalist class through the army and police, e.g., Chile.

The cultural ideological sphere, is however, entirely different. Here, the aim of the global capitalist system is TOTAL inclusion of ALL classes, and ESPECIALLY the subordinate classes, insofar as the bourgeoisie can be considered already included.

The cultural ideological project of global capitalism is to persuade people to consume ABOVE their own perceived needs. [Fundamentally opposed to saving the environment.]

*The culture ideology of consumerism proclaims literally that the meaning of life is to be found in the things that we possess. To consume therefore is to be fully alive. And to remain fully alive, we must continuously consume.

Worth thinking about: Culture always [his italics] has an ideological function, for consumerism in the capitalist global system. So, all cultural transnational practices in this sphere are at the same time ideological practices, thus cultural ideological.

Here’s another interesting sentence: Ordinary so-called countercultures are regularly incorporated and commercialized and pose no threat; indeed through the process of differentiation (= illusory variety and choice) [his definition] are a source of great strength to the global capitalist system.

Final sentence: “The culture ideology of consumerism is, as it were, the fuel that powers the motor of global capitalism. The driver is the TCC, but the vehicle itself is the mighty TNC.”

History and Theory of the TNC:

FDI really took off in the 1950s as a result of the flow of funds from the US into Europe after WWII.

US foreign policy was based on the necessity of stopping the worldwide advance of communism in Europe and elsewhere through the economic development of areas under “threat.” It was in the interest of US firms to follow the foreign policy line of their government.

Tharp 1976: In the 1970s, almost all the major international agencies in the economic and trade fields produced recommendations on how to regulate the activities of the TNCs in the recognition that even more than the rich countries in which the bulk of FDI was located, the poorer countries needed protection.

Kaplan 1989: Trouble is, Third World wants TNCs, TNCs have interests; UN tries to keep Third World protected.

Activity at the quasi governmental level, like the UN and OECD, has been more than paralleled by a plethora of unofficial pressure groups that monitor the activities of the TNCs wherever they may be.

How do you protect people from the TNCs? During the early 1970s, all environmental groups together spent about half a million per year in advertising in order to offset an average of about 3 billion dollars in corporate expenditures on the same subject [That’s a ratio of 1 to 6000. The guys trying to protect you have 1/6000].

If the Third World expropriates TNCs, where the TNCs are patient and persistent, they usually at least recover the value of their seized assets.

Sigmund 1980 demonstrates for Latin America when compensation is finally paid, it often overstates the value of the assets [If you say, I will protect myself from being exploited, will get their value back plus plus].

Sklair again: While all TNCs are domiciled [e.g. GE is an American company, even if has many branches; Carrefour is French] for legal purposes if no other, in particular countries, many people have argued that some TNCs are actually more powerful than most nation states. The largest TNCs have assets and annual sales far in excess of the GNP of most of the countries in the world.

TNCs earn more than half of their revenues from “foreign” sales, and more and more TNCs are doing more and more of their manufacturing in foreign countries.

The principal methodological difficulty of the attempt to specify the developmental effects of TNCs in the global system is to isolate their effects and differentiate them from the general effects of the processes of “modernization.” [The concept has been abandoned by most researchers, he says, but it persists.]

Chap 3: Corporations, Classes and Consumerism:

Will talk about globalization in the economic, political and cultural-ideological spheres.

*Interesting comment: The underlying goal of keeping global capitalism on course is in constant tension with the selfish and destabilizing actions of those who cannot resist system-threatening opportunities to get rich or to cut their losses. It is however the direct producers, not the capitalist class, who usually suffer most when this occurs [cut corners by cutting on safety; put Japan at risk; good example on global commodity chains. Make money with money on Wall Street; hurt Main Street].

The primary agent in the political sphere is a still-evolving TCC. The transnational mass media are the primary agents in the cultural-ideological sphere.

*Now, a sentence that tie all the pieces together; four things: TNCs produce commodities and the services necessary to manufacture and sell them. The TCC produces the political environment within which the products of one country can be successfully marketed in another. The culture ideology of consumerism produces the values and attitudes that create and sustain the need for the products. Members of the TCC often work directly for TNCs and their lifestyles are a major exemplar for the spread of consumerism.

Another statement: Capitalism is changing qualitatively from an inter-national to a global system.

Howells and Wood (1993): The production processes within large firms are being decoupled from specific territories and being formed into new global systems.

Sklair again: The political and the culture ideology institutions of global capitalism complement the economic globalization that so many have identified, and thereby demonstrate the limitations of state-centrism for a genuine theory of the global system.

Now will talk about economic transnational PRACTICES [not the companies themselves].

The TNC enters the scene when sellers, intermediaries and buyers are parts of the same global organization in ever-increasing networks of global commodity chains. Quote: Bailey 1993: “The most obvious and tangible effect of economic TNPs is the creation of jobs. These jobs are usually seen as benefits.”

Sklair again: But all these jobs have costs. 1) They require fiscal incentives to attract foreign firms. 2) Bureaucracies must be set up to service them. 3) TNCs import goods for production.

New section. There are now very few countries anywhere in the world that do not have some incentives to attract FDI.

*Striking sentence, in line with underdevelopment: The growth of new industry jobs in many countries has hardly kept pace with the loss of jobs in traditional indigenous industries. [So they set up things to attract new guys to come in, and end up losing more jobs than they gain by having them in; but they do get some TCCs; on the whole, more lose, but some advance.]

What about giving these TNCs tax benefits? So, he says: For most foreign investors involved in export processing in low wage locations, foreign plants are cost centers rather than profit centers. Where profits are declared, tax relief tends to represent an extra bonus rather than a necessary incentive to foreign investors. [The bottom line: Tax relief is not an important attraction. Suppose I’m country G. I’m the president and want to bring in a TNC. Say, I’ll give tax reduction. Doesn’t really matter to them; the bookkeepers have it all worked out. I do my accounting in such a way that this plant I put in your Third World country never makes a profit. I make my profit in the global commodity chain so that my profit will occur in the lowest tax area ANYWAY, so doesn’t matter. Will just fudge chain in some way to bring profit out in some other area. It’s a cost center rather than a profit center.]

Asian and Latin American TNC operations are predominantly of the export-processing variety, employing low wage workers, mainly nimble fingered women in monotonous and often physically debilitating labor; the products of which constitute a small proportion of the value added of the final commodity.

Foreign owned industry tends to outperform domestically owned industry in exporting in most Third World and indeed in some sectors in First World countries.

What the TNCs spend locally can be broken down into three components, namely 1) Wages and salaries, 2) Utility and service costs, and 3) Material linkages.

Another aspect: Soft currencies are generally not acceptable for the settlement of international accounts. (Hard currencies being US dollars, Japanese yen, major European currencies.) If a soft currency country wants to import something, it must earn or borrow one of the hard currencies to pay for it, which means if wages are paid in hard currencies, it means a LOT in Third World countries. [Koreans fought in Vietnam War, got money; Korean war and Vietnamese war were important to raise up Japan and Korea. Koreans also were raised up by Oil shocks; Middle Eastern guys hired Koreans. If US hadn’t been involved in foreign oil and wars, would still be the hegemon.]

Talking about linkages. The purchase of materials and components, which are backward linkages, is usually in foreign currency.

He’s going to talk about backward and forward linkages: “The ideal state of affairs from the point of view of host countries is where foreign firms actually stimulate the creation and growth of the suppliers of their needs [that’s backward linkages], particularly those materials and components that have a high value added quality within the local economy, and where the output of these foreign firms goes into the local economy for further processing [those are forward linkages].

The idea of backward and forward linkages come from Hirschman (1958). Way back then, in modernization theory, which was 1950s, he was getting that idea.

*OK. For TNCs involved in more traditional and non-state of the art product lines, where materials and components are more readily available, on the surface at least, the logic of TNC production appears to permit backward linkages. This has not generally happened. The reasons are that local production is not of the quality required by the world market, prices are too high, and delivery is unreliable.

*Only when Second and Third World factories actually begin to produce what TNCs need at competitive price, quality and delivery [those three things] will host country governments be in a position to challenge the TNCs on linkages.

*Summarizes: The job creation and job destruction effects of TNCs have very wide ramifications, and they are sociologically the most important economic TNPs.

*Field (1973): By the late 19th century, the organizational revolution had transformed transnationalism from an individual to a company affair, and two levels of culture appeared: global, and local, with a New Tribe of those imbued with transnational global culture.

Field’s New Tribe is imbued with the rather vague mission of transmitting “Western techniques” to traditional societies.

Willetts (1982) speaks of pressure groups as transnational actors.

*Back to Sklair. Where the activities of NGOs [which are kind of like pressure groups] are not marginal, they tend to be very responsive to the TNCs. [If you have any effect as an NGO, it’s only because you’ve been coopted into being friendly to the TNCs. Otherwise, they will marginalize you as a pressure group.] Therefore, in the following discussion, the emphasis will be on the political practices of the TCC and the groups or classes with which it has its most significant contacts. [They’re either part of the TCC, or are marginalized.]

Global system theory predicts that the TCC is growing stronger and more united. This can be best explained within the context of the culture ideology of consumerism.

Now, will discuss the TCC:

Direct ownership or control of the means of production is no longer the exclusive criterion for serving the interests of capital. [The TCC doesn’t own the MEANS of production; it’s a bureaucratic thing.]

Becker and Sklar, 1987: Defines the international managerial bourgeoisie. It’s a socially comprehensive category encompassing the entrepreneurial elite, managers of firms, senior state functionaries, leading politicians, members of the learned professions, and persons of similar standing. [It’s a clique. The only people missing specifically are the professional conveyers of the culture ideology of consumerism, whose job is to sell it to the masses.]

Sklair also has a list. Sklair’s list: 1) TNC executives and their affiliates; 2) Globalizing state bureaucrats; 3) Capitalist-inspired politicians and professionals; 4) Consumerist elites, merchants and media.

*The TCC is transnational in at least three senses: 1) Members have global rather than local perspective; 2) People consider themselves citizens of the world, independent of their place of birth [like philosophes in Enlightenment] 3) They share a lifestyle of luxury consumption of goods and services [Be careful, don’t get sucked in].

*We’re going to be looking at two practices of the TCC. 1) How it changes the nature of the political struggle between capital and labor [there will be a whole section on it]. 2) The TCC aims to downgrade certain domestic practices by comparison with new and more glamorous transnational practices, and to create a comprador mentality [will also be expanded later].

We’re going to cover labor and capital and expand: There are no genuine transnational political parties. Labor is represented by some genuinely transnational trade unions.

The question is, are the unions really independent; there are three cases: 1) Unions are prohibited or repressed; 2) Official government or company unions are permitted; 3) Genuinely independent unions actually operate.

Summary, neither the global capitalist class nor the global working class operates to any great extent through transnational political parties or trade unions. [*The TCC has no political parties, and the workers have no trade unions; there are no organizations that represent either. The countries are being hollowed out, but you can’t say it’s the Republicans or Democrats who are doing it. Most workers no longer unionized; these sides are disorganized.]

We’re talking about #2 now, the downgrading of local practices: Indigenous practices are often unfavorably compared with foreign practices. The newcomer has all the advantages and the incumbent [the one already there] all the handicaps.

*Sums up: The more powerful the belief that domestic industry is inferior and unreliable, the more likely is it actually to become so. [The belief shapes the reality.]

The downgrading of local industries reflects the success of the TCC in dragging them into the global economy, and thereby transforming them.

The larger TNCs commonly train key staff at headquarters, usually US and European, and for some, a job in the factory of such a parent is the first step in a GLOBAL career.

Managerial and technical talent flows from the local sector to the TNCs rather than vice versa.

The optimum situation would be a policy that would encourage the TNCs to train young people, rather than entice away those already trained and working in the indigenous sector. [Care for the bottom, rather than just me.]

*In general, higher expectations of TNCs for business services and a better educated workforce may provoke the state into public spending that might otherwise not have taken place. For instance, on telecommunications. [That’s something positive.]

*The price that the state will pay to sustain the costs of the TNCs will depend largely on the power of the TCC and its local members.

There are class interests involved, even though they may not always conveniently reduce to one laboring class versus one capitalist class.

The TCC fractions of the labor force and other support strata that the TNCs have created will all increasingly identify their own interests with those of the capitalist global system, and, if necessary, against the interests of their own societies.

The TCC must promote outside the First World heartlands of capitalism a ‘comprador’ mentality throughout society.

A comprador mentality is the attitude that the best practices are invariably connected with the global capitalist system.

He says, the distinction between traditional and modern is now discredited. He’s replacing it with the notion of inward-oriented and outward-oriented.

Now, gives a critique of modernization: It’s difficult to think productively about modernization for at least one reason. What is appropriate [his italics] in the adoption of innovation? [Is it modern because it’s done by the West? Because it’s new? Because it’s best?]

He says there are two possible counter-movements that could present real threats to the global capitalist system. 1) Rich country protectionism in which nation state protect themselves from globalization. [Putting up tariffs; America protecting themselves from the exporting of jobs to China and hollowing out of America. The nation state says, I’m going to do this to take care of ME; the core protects itself from being hollowed out.] 2) What he calls New Social Movements [his capitals] that oppose globalization: These are grassroots.

Now, talks of #1, Protectionism: The tendency to protectionism is increased by the belief that a substantial part of TNC manufacturing industry is “footloose” and integrated into “globally organized” production processes. [The fact that it’s integrated, comes from Dicken 1992.]

Protection is not a serious countermovement to global capitalism because IF it was successful, it could do great damage to the system and ultimately destroy it. [Ricardo’s law of comparative advantage, free trade, must reign.]

#2 New Social Movements: They’re much more serious threats, actually and potentially. He says, research should focus on local global issues. Explains: Part of the problem of a lack of success lies in the increasing tendency of contemporary capitalism to be organized globally while effective resistance to it takes place mainly at the local level. [If resist, must do on Internet rapidly and globally.]

*Interesting sentence: Anti-capitalist global system movement can be characterized as those that challenge the TNCs in the economic sphere, oppose the TCC and its local affiliates in the political sphere, and promote cultures and ideologies antagonistic to capitalist consumerism. [Maybe just oppose the consumption of the TCC? No, because the TCC is Empire and pulling out booty. Stop it by providing an alternative.]

Now, the Green Movement: While Green politics are based on the belief that the resources of the planet are finite and have to be carefully tended, global capitalist politics are based on the belief that the resources of the planet are virtually infinite.

“It is certainly remarkable how quickly so many global corporations and members of the TCC have adopted sustainable development.”

Two kinds of people that have been moved over into sustainable development: 1) Critical optimists do a great job; 2) Cynical optimists.

#1, Critical optimists, do an excellent job of working out what we need to do individually and collectively to ensure that the planet will continue to be inhabitable.

#2, Cynical optimists see sustainable development as a series of good business opportunities. “If we made a lot of money destroying this planet, we sure can make money cleaning it up.” Quoted from Vandervoort 1991. Some Canadian business leader speaking at an environment summit in New York. [Canadians are really bad on environment, though have a good image.]

*Defines consumerism: Consumerism is an uncritical obsession with consumption.

Cultural-ideological transnational practices; new section:

There are many who argue that the key to hegemonic control in any societal system lies not in the economic nor in the political sphere, but in the realm of culture and ideology.

Gramsci elaborated on Marx’s insight that the ruling ideas of an epoch are the ideas of its ruling class, to create a theory of hegemony and a theory of classes of intellectuals whose function it is in any literate society to propagate or to challenge these leading ideas.

In the cultural ideological sphere, the opportunities for hegemonic control on a global scale have changed out of all recognition.

There is the potential for distribution of messages on a scale never before achieved.

Sklair says McLuhan is correct; central messages are still and more powerfully those of the capitalist global system. The medium is the message is true.

The commercialization of the Olympic Games [in general] by some of the world’s largest TNCs is a paradigm case of corporate sponsorship where TNCs control the media to propagate their message.

Private media are used mainly to transmit commercial data and documents, often under conditions of extreme security, while public mass media are used mainly to broadcast entertainment, always under conditions of the greatest visibility to the paying public.

*Bagdikian 1989 argues that national boundaries are growing increasingly meaningless as the main actors strive for total control in the production, delivery and marketing of what we can call the cultural ideological goods of the global capitalist system. Their goal is to create a “buying mood” for the benefit of the global troika of media, advertising and consumer goods manufacturers. [That’s an attunement, that prods the will.]

Culture ideology of consumerism:

*The mass media speed up the circulation of material goods through advertising, which reduces the time between production and consumption.

The systematic blurring of the lines between information, entertainment and promotion of products lies at the heart of this practice.

What it has created is a reformulation of consumerism that transforms all the public mass media and their contents into opportunities to sell ideas, values, products, in short, a consumerist world view.

Crawford 1992: “The merging of the architecture of the mall with the culture of the theme park has become the key symbol and the key spatial reference point for consumer capitalism all over the world.”

Sklair again: Third World malls cater mainly to the needs and wants of expat TNC executives and officials, and members of the local TCC.

*The medium IS the message, because the message, the culture ideology of consumerism, has engulfed the medium. [People like cartoon characters because a symbol of being rich.]

The producer doesn’t know the receiver very well, so the message got across may be different: Most research on the mass media in the Third World simply assumes that media messages actually do have the effects that their creators intend. A growing body of theory and research suggests that this is FAR from accurate. [Big case of misunderstanding; they’re not getting what you think they’re getting. You think you’re shaping a message; what they’re getting is not what you think you’re sending them.]

The connections between global capitalism and the culture ideology of consumerism must be laid bare. The end result of these processes is a new concept of lifestyle [his italics]; enhanced self-image.

The TCC in the US has assumed leadership of the culture ideology of consumerism in the interests of global capitalism.

TNCs are dependent on accurate and rapid information. Logistical problems of corporations operating outside their own countries increase this dependence.

Control over data processing and telecommunications is unsurprisingly dominated by US, Japanese, and European TNCs.

Hamelink makes what appears to be the useful distinction between the information independent and the information dependent countries. The dependent ones become more similar to the independent ones, because those are the ones that give the messages. The one is made dependent on the other.

Three interconnected themes inform world conferences and other initiatives. 1) The continued control of cultural industries by a small group of immensely powerful TNCs; 2) The effects of this control on those countries too poor to have much of an independent presence in these industries; 3) The opportunities that the new technologies offer for the development of the Third World.

The methodology of state centrism serves to blur rather than clarify these issues. The national origin of the agents of media control is not the point. *The issue is not whether nationals or foreigners control the media, but whether the interests of those who do control the media, nationals or foreigners, are those of the capitalist global system. [*It’s not stupid American media; it’s TNC media.]

Hamelink sums up and suggests a gloomy future for Third World countries caught in the TNC-woven web of private and public communications.

*Consumption tends to be more class-specific in poor societies than in rich societies. In poor societies, not many people have much discretionary income left after they have satisfied their basic needs of food and shelter, if indeed they can satisfy these at all. [Poor so poor they can’t afford anything; malls oriented toward executives; guards with guns in Malaysian mall entrance; in Manila, guards with guns even in McDonalds. Protect from Muslims, robbery.]

The creation of new consumption needs by TNCs tends to be neither random nor arbitrary but structured in terms of a hegemonic world view.

The cultural ideological practices are the nuts and bolts and the glue that hold the system together.

The TNCs strive to control global capital and material resources; the TCCs strive to control global power and the transnational agents and institutions of the culture-ideology of consumerism strive to control the realm of ideas.

In the last resort, it is the global control of capital and labor that is the decisive factor for those who do not wish to be excluded from the system.

*Final sentence: The ideas that are antagonistic to the global capitalist project can be reduced to one, central counter-hegemonic idea: The rejection of the culture ideology of consumerism itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: