Simon & Schuster
January 13, 1997
In his national bestsellers Secrets of the Temple and Who Will Tell the People, William Greider exposed the inner workings of the Federal Reserve and showed how the realities of political power in Washington are undermining representative government. Now, in One World, Ready or Not, Greider focuses his incomparable reportorial skills on the global economy and the seemingly inexorable economic integration of the planet.
The global economy is the leitmotif of the end of the twentieth century. Driven by the logic of modern capitalism, the global economy, a product of the Third Industrial Revolution, is a wondrous free-running system that is reordering the world as it transforms lives and economic prospects of workers, corporations and nations. Having traveled the globe and talked to factory workers, corporate CEOs, economists and government officials, Greider contends that the global economy is sowing “creative destruction” everywhere: while making possible great accumulations of wealth, it is also reviving forms of human exploitation that characterized industry one hundred years ago and raising profound questions about the relevance of the nation-state in the face of impersonal market forces.
Greider explains the dynamics of the global economy in terms of human struggle – of diverse peoples and nations, rich and poor alike, facing a multiplicity of opportunities and dangers. As manufacturers in search of greater returns on investment move their assembly lines to low-wage countries, the globalization of industrial production is resulting in excess supplies of goods and labor, which, in turn, exert downward pressures on prices and wages. The deregulation of cross-border capital flows has opened new opportunities for currency traders while allowing unfettered speculation on a scale that can overwhelm the resources of even major governments. Meanwhile, the high interest rates that global investors charge to finance the growing debt of rich nations threaten the modern welfare state, with the attendant risks of class conflict and social chaos.
As Greider makes clear, the actions of multinational corporations and finance capitalists are no longer guided by the national interests of their home countries, but by the imperatives of the free market. Indeed, governments themselves, both rich and poor, have harnessed the fates of their economies – and of their citizens – to the logic of global capitalism.
As the global economy’s contradictions multiply and its instabilities deepen, are we doomed to relive the world depression and the rise of violent fascism experienced in the early twentieth century? Greider believes we are not, provided we are willing to recognize the dangers for what they are – threats not only to our middle-class lifestyles but also to social peace in rich and poor countries like. And provided national governments can be persuaded to reassert their powers to regulate players in the global market and protect communities and the rights of workers everywhere before it is too late.
William Greider is the National Editor of Rolling Stone magazine. His previous books include Secrets of the Temple, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Who Will Tell the People, which was nominated for a National Book Award; and The Education of David Stockman and Other Americans. He lives in Washington, D.C.