Date: Tuesday 4 November 2008
Venue: D202, Clement House
Speaker: Professor Peter Nolan
Professor Peter Nolan is Chair of Development Studies, Sinyi Professor in the Judge Business School and Fellow of Jesus College, University of Cambridge.
Globalisation is China's challenge!
Since ancient times the exercise of individual freedom has been inseparable from the expansion of the market, driven by the search for profit. This force, namely capitalism, has stimulated human aggression and creativity and in ways that have produced immense benefits. As capitalism has broadened its scope in the epoch of globalisation, so these benefits have become even greater. Human beings have been liberated to an even greater degree than hitherto from the tyranny of nature, from control by others over their lives, from poverty, and from war. The advances achieved by the globalisation of capitalism have appeared all the more striking, when set against the failure of non-capitalist systems of economic organisation.
However, capitalist freedom is a two-edged sword. In the epoch of capitalist globalisation, its contradictions have intensified. Capitalist freedom comprehensively threatens the natural environment. It threatens to produce intense conflict over access to scarce resources. It has contributed to intensified global inequality within both rich and poor countries, and between the internationalised global power elite and the mass of citizens rooted within their respective nations. It threatens to produce a global financial crisis that dwarfs that of the 1930s. Capital has become truly global, but social and political life remains rooted in the nation. Mankind’s obliteration in a nuclear holocaust in a matter of minutes remains a constant possibility.
The epoch of ‘wild globalisation’, which was launched in the 1980s, is coming to a close. If mankind is to survive the Twenty-First Century, there is no choice but to move towards cooperative institutions that regulate global capitalism, which is the most dynamic force in human history, in the collective interest of all human beings. The possibility for success in this endeavour hinges upon the relationship between, on the one hand, the United States, and, on the other, China and the Islamic world, each of which contains 1.3 billion people. It may only be the approaching ‘final hour’ that ultimately forces human beings to grope their way towards globally cooperative solutions to contain the contradictions inherent within the capitalist system.
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