In an earlier post, I reported some of my quick reactions to Robin Broad's and John Cavanagh's new book Development Redefined: How the Market Met its Match. Robin and John thought I had caricatured their argument and sent in some comments. I am happy to reproduce them here, with their permission:
First of all, terminology. As we explain (and as Robin wrote in her previous book, Global Backlash: Citizen Initiatives for a Just World Economy), the term “anti-globalization” is a faulty one. Anyone who observes and analyzes these movements on-the-ground across the globe will discover this. So we, like many others, opt for the more accurate “alter-globalization movement” (taken from the French). This term purposely is meant to convey the reality that such movements combine “alternatives” to economic globalization (for instance, against the globalization of local water resources in Canada and Bolivia) and “alternative ways to globalize economically (for instance, “fair trade” initiatives, corporate codes of conduct, social clauses, etc.) As the latter suggests, this is not merely a “self sufficiency” model (as your review suggests) – although it is absolutely true that in certain countries such as Thailand, there is a growing movement (that includes the Thai king) to turn from reliance on the global market to increased local production.
This relates also to your caricature of what we’re pushing for as being “romantic” or even worse. As our book stresses, the key thing is not our views (or your views) but the alter-globalization initiatives happening across the globe at local, national, regional, and global levels. The proof is in the pudding.
We do want you and readers of your blog to understand that we (and those involved with these alternatives) are not romancing the past or rural life. But the current food crisis certainly supports the alter-globalization’s focus on increased food sovereignty. “Modernization” of agriculture in the southern Philippines, for instance, has been to the benefit of agribusiness corporations, seed/fertilizer/pesticide companies but not to the average farmer.
We also hope you will let your readers know that our book is not simply an economic critique of the neoliberal development model. Rather, our focus is economic, social and environmental. We also do not ignore statistics on poverty, inequality, etc. One of our chapters disaggregates what’s happened to inequality within and among countries. In another chapter, our critique builds on fine work by UNDP disputing some of the calculations of extreme poverty rates. New “revised” poverty figures support us.
We can’t help but add that the current moment in history seems to underscore our main points: market fundamentalism was faulty economically, socially and environmentally. (And, indeed, although our book is more political economy than straight economics – good careful economic analysis would have included those social and environmental costs initially to reveal the bankruptcy of that development model.) And the post-World-War-II public institutions built to manage the global economy are currently in deep crises – financial crises as well as crises of legitimacy.
Time and time again, over the last 2-3 decades, the mainstream development establishment (by the way, we don’t include you in this category) has ignored and ostracized critics (both academic critics and on-the-ground critics). But, time and time again, the critics have been right. Witness the food crisis, the climate change crisis, the financial crisis, as well, of course, as the development crisis.