. 3
( 8)


in recorded history. The estimated death toll of 187 million souls was the
equivalent of more than one-tenth of the world™s population in 1913.40 It
was a century of the break-up of empires and revolutions, and thus of the
violent blurring of the boundaries between inter-state violence and vio-
lent con¬‚icts (˜civil wars™) within states. It was also a century in which the
burdens of war weighed ever more heavily on civilians who, like defence-
less pawns on a chessboard of cruelty, increasingly became the targets of
military calculations. During the 1914“18 war, civilians comprised only
one-twentieth of the victims of war; during the 1939“45 war, that pro-
portion rose to two-thirds; while these days perhaps nine-tenths of the
victims of war are civilians.
For the friends of civil society, matters worsened during the nuclear age
that began with the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As nuclear-
tipped sovereignty became a chilling fact, it brought the world together,
but only by subjecting it to the permanent threat of mutually assured
destruction, many times over. Nuclear weapons transformed the ¬nal
Armageddon from ¬ction into factual possibility. The violent destruction
of all states and civil societies (where they existed) was now thinkable.

38 Bertrand Badie, L™´tat import´: L™occidentalisation de l™ordre politique (Paris, 1992).
e e
39 Jurgen Habermas, ˜Kant™s Idea of Perpetual Peace, with the Bene¬t of Two Hundred
Years™ Hindsight™, in James Bohman and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (eds.), Perpetual
Peace. Essays on Kant™s Cosmopolitan Ideal (Cambridge, MA and London, 1997), p. 126;
see also his ˜Bestialit¨ t und Humanit¨ t: Ein Krieg in der Grenze zwischen Recht und
a a
Moral™, Die Zeit, 29 April 1999, and the important studies by Gary Jonathan Bass, Stay
the Hand of Vengeance. The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals (Princeton and Oxford, 2000)
and Geoffrey Robertson, Crimes Against Humanity (London, 2000).
40 Eric Hobsbawm, ˜War and Peace in the 20th Century™, London Review of Books,
21 February 2002, pp. 16“18.
Catalysts 57

Many citizens around the world consequently came to feel unprotected.
It was as if a few core political units “ the United States, the Soviet Union,
Britain and France “ had dragged every one of the world™s inhabitants into
the realisation that a main clause of any political contract between states
and their citizens “ to guarantee the physical security of their citizens “
was now impossible. Orwell™s comments on the political signi¬cance of
the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki accurately summarised
this mood of disappointment and fear. ˜The great age of democracy and
of national self-determination was the age of the musket and the ri¬‚e™,
he wrote. The nuclear age was of a different “ more depressing “ order.
˜Had the atomic bomb turned out to be something as cheap and easily
manufactured as a bicycle or an alarm clock™, he continued, ˜it might well
have plunged us back into barbarism, but it might, on the other hand, have
meant the end of national sovereignty and of the highly-centralized police
state™. Alas, the human species now stood in danger of either destroying
itself with its own weapons or destroying democracy with a new form of
servitude wrapped in a peace that was not really peace at all. ˜Looking at
the world as a whole™, Orwell continued, ˜the drift for many decades has
been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery . . . in a
state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of “cold
war” with its neighbours™.41

Civil society purism
So how was it possible for a civil society with global parameters to be
reborn under these conditions of near-total fear and violence? And what
forces today drive the globalisation of civil society? Many present-day
activists and some of their intellectual supporters have no doubts about
the correct answer: global civil society, they insist, proves the power of
autonomous moral choice and moral action. They point to opinion polls
that indicate far stronger support for NGOs like the World-Wide Fund
for Nature and Amnesty International than for governments, big busi-
ness and media.42 They point as well to path-breaking initiatives, like
the Greenpeace International and Rainbow Warrior campaigns in the
mid-1980s to force the French authorities in Tahiti to allow the dock-
ing of Greenpeace ships, and like the 1990s boycotts of rain-forest tim-
ber, organised globally by groups like Friends of the Earth. The same
activists and sympathisers ¬nd additional evidence for their belief in the

41 George Orwell, ˜You and the Atom Bomb™, Tribune 19 October 1945, reprinted in
Selections from Essays and Journalism: 1931“1949 (London, 1981), p. 715.
42 Financial Times (London), 12 December 2000.
58 Global Civil Society?

˜model™ organisations of global civil society: trans-national advocacy non-
governmental organisations (TANGOs) like the World-Wide Fund for
Nature (4.7 million members, operating in thirty-one countries, includ-
ing twelve in the South); Friends of the Earth (1 million members, in
¬fty-six countries, twenty-three in the South); and one of the ¬rst such
global organisations, Amnesty International. The brainchild in the early
1960s of a young English lawyer, Peter Benenson, who dreamed up its
basic aims and improvised its ¬rst strategies, initially in the form of a
newspaper appeal, ˜The Forgotten Prisoners™, Amnesty has played a pio-
neering role in working globally to publicise cases of torture and political
repression against individuals and groups, no matter in which country
or region of the earth they had suffered their misfortune. The Amnesty
ideal originally supposed that publicity, including celebrity appearances
and letter-writing campaigns, could harm the reputations of bullies and
dictators and torturers “ through patient but persistent actions that re-
sembled the drip, drip, drip of water on a stone. Its campaigns revealed
a ¬rm belief in the importance of expert-based impartiality, the power
of fact-¬nding, and independence from governments and parties. The
campaigns also supposed that respect for good laws could have civilising
effects: that it was possible to act as if viable bodies of global law already
existed, that in addition it was possible to create human rights norms
by quietly promoting (in partnership with institutions like the United
Nations) new bodies of law, so gradually accumulating global standards
of conduct that could tame the hubris of governmental power. The ini-
tiative evidently worked, for Amnesty grew into a world-wide, highly
networked campaign with more than 1.1 million members, subscribers
and regular donors operating in more than 150 countries and territo-
ries, including thousands of local chapters in more than eighty countries
in Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Europe and the Asian/Paci¬c
Defenders of the ideal of a global civil society often point to such ex-
amples to bolster their claim that this society is the child of imagination
and boldness “ the offspring of men and women who have seen or sensed
the world-transforming potential of not-for-pro¬t, non-governmental ac-
tion. These activists and their supporters see themselves as countering the
˜space-like coldness of globalisation™ (Peter Schneider) with the voices,
laughter, hopes and tears of human faces. They draw inspiration from the
big demonstrations and bold civic initiatives that became commonplace
during the 1990s. For many of these activists (and for state surveillance

43 Ann Marie Clark, Diplomacy of Conscience: Amnesty International and Changing Human
Rights Norms (Princeton, 2001); www.amnesty.org.
Catalysts 59

organisations44 ) the protests surrounding the Seattle meeting of the WTO
in December 1999 were highly signi¬cant. Not only did the protests bring
the meeting to an undigni¬ed halt after more than 50,000 demonstrators
mounted blockades and publicly criticised transnational corporations,
˜corporate censorship™45 and global consumerism in the streets. Not only,
in addition, did the protests raise more speci¬c global concerns, like the
protection of rain-forests, job losses, the need for cheaper AIDS drugs,
bans on genetically-modi¬ed (GM) food, and concerns about the des-
truction of biodiversity, symbolised by dying turtles trapped in commer-
cial shrimp nets. The ultimate achievement of the Seattle protests, many
activists maintain, was symbolic of something bigger: it signalled the birth
of an ˜anti-globalisation movement™.
The novelty and historical signi¬cance of the ˜battle for Seattle™ protests
can be exaggerated, but there is no doubt that the street-level champions
of global civil society have a point: protests of this kind are symptomatic of
the rebirth of civic actions that tend to grow into social movements, on a
global scale.46 These movements should not be thought of as (coalescing
into) one big world movement. There is in fact a wide variety of such
movements, whose activists specialise in publicising their experiences and
applying their campaigning skills in particular policy areas as diverse as
sexual politics, trade rules, religiosity, corporate power, post-war recon-
struction, clean water, education and human rights. The targets of these
movements are equally variable: they take aim at a whole spectrum of
opponents and potential allies, from local institutions that have global ef-
fects to global institutions that have local effects. The spectrum of political
loyalties within these movements is also very broad, ranging from deep-
green ecologists to Christian paci¬sts, social democrats, Muslim activists,
Buddhist meditators and anarcho-syndicalists. Their participants, con-
trary to some prevailing stereotypes, are not all rich, middle-class, North-
ern kids. Activists from the South or ˜Third World™ “ a living-dead, zombie

44 See, for example, the report (# 2000/08) by the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service, ˜Anti-Globalization “ A Spreading Phenomenon™, www.csis-scrs.gc.ca/eng/
45 Naomi Klein, No Logo (London, 2000).
46 Among the ¬rst analyses of social movements operating at the planetary level were
Alberto Melucci, Nomads of the Present: Social Movements and Individual Needs in Con-
temporary Society, eds. Paul Mier and John Keane (London and Philadelphia, 1989),
and his Challenging Codes: Collective Action in the Information Age (Cambridge, 1996).
See also Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Net-
works in International Politics (Ithaca and London, 1998); Jackie Smith, ˜Characteristics
of the Modern Transnational Social Movement Sector™, in Jackie Smith et al. (eds.),
Transnational Social Movements and Global Politics (Syracuse, 1997), pp. 42“58; and
Dieter Rucht, ˜Social Movements Challenging Neo-liberal Globalization™, in John Keane
(ed.), Civil Society: Berlin Perspectives (London, 2004), forthcoming.
60 Global Civil Society?

phrase that has become so ideologically loaded and descriptively un-
helpful that it deserves to be banished from the language of global civil
society “ are in fact in the ascendancy. The inner architecture of these
movements is also complex, and marked by a variable geometry. Most of
their sympathisers and supporters are part-time. Full-time activists and
professional workers are in a de¬nite minority within the movements,
which have no globally recognised Spokesperson or Leader or Secretariat,
and for that reason do not speak in one voice, with one point of view.
It is true that simulated unity momentarily appears during organised
public protests: for instance, in the trend-setting public rally of 80,000
people, in 1988 in Berlin, where the representatives of the World Bank
and the IMF were convening47 ; in the Intercontinental Caravan 99, a tour
through North America and Europe by nearly 400 activists, from Nepal,
India, Mexico, Bangladesh and Brazil, campaigning on behalf of ¬sher-
men and farmers threatened by the aggressive marketing of pesticides,
GM seeds and neo-liberal policies; in the successful alliance between
the Uganda Debt Network and the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign48 ;
and in the remarkably self-disciplined and peaceful gathering of 500,000
protestors in Barcelona, during an EU summit in the spring of 2002. Such
unity is exceptional and mobilised: it always rests upon months or even years
of hard planning, preparatory meetings, seminars and teachings. And in
every case it draws upon movements that have strongly decentralised,
constantly evolving, kaleidoscopic structures.49 The movements of global
civil society comprise a clutter of intersecting forms: face-to-face encoun-
ters, spider-web-like networks, pyramid-shaped organisations, hub-and-
spoke structures, bridges and organisational chains, charismatic person-
alities. Action takes place at multiple levels “ from the micro-local through
to the macro-global “ and sometimes movement organisations create ver-
tical alliances for the purpose of communication and synchronisation.
The well-known nodal organisations of these movements “ the Global
Action Project, Earthwatch, WEED (World Economy, Ecology and De-
velopment), Jubilee 2000 “ display a remarkable awareness of the need
for striking a balance between common and particular concerns by means
of a variety of decentralised, non-hierarchical, yet coordinated initiatives.
Using advanced means of communication “ such as the reliance upon the
47 Jurgen Gerhards, Neue Ko¬‚iktlinien in der Mobilisierung offentlicher Meinung. Eine Fall
analyse (Opladen, 1993).
48 Carole J. L. Collins et al., ˜Jubilee 2000: Citizen Action Across the North“South Divide™,
in Michael Edwards and John Gaventa (eds.), Global Citizen Action (Boulder, 2001),
pp. 135“48.
49 A good summary of these features is John Gaventa, ˜Global Citizen Action: Lessons
and Challenges™, in Michael Edwards and John Gaventa (eds.), Global Citizen Action
(Boulder, 2001), pp. 275“87.
Catalysts 61

Internet by the Mexican Zapatistas in their global campaign for human
rights “ these nodal organisations are typically in touch, on a horizontal
and spreadeagled basis, with many other initiatives and groups, which are
themselves in touch with other initiatives, groups and individuals. Some-
times, as in the global campaign against landmines, conscious efforts to
build a ˜network of networks™ prove to be a vital condition of campaign-
ing success.50 Because the acephalous social movements of global civil
society are marked by hyper-complexity, some organisations concentrate
on the task of heightening the movements™ self-conscious commitments
to networked and coordinated pluralism. They specialise in spreading
the medium, not just the message “ by encouraging others to embrace
the techniques of participatory research, sophisticated policy analysis and
continuous organisational learning. The Peoples Global Action, founded
in February 1998 in Geneva, seeks to function as ˜a world-wide coordi-
nation of resistance against the global market, a new alliance of struggle
and mutual support™51 ; it sees itself as a social catalyst for drawing to-
gether such diverse groups as the Ogoni people in Nigeria, the Frente
Zapatista in Mexico and the Sem Terra, a Brazilian organisation of land-
less peasants. The Association for the Taxation of Financial Transac-
tions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC) similarly understands itself as a
global platform for pluralism in support of the taxation of stock market
transactions.52 And at the front-lines of action, some networked, semi-
professional groups, like the Wombles and the Ruckus Society, operate
facilities for training groups and individuals in the arts of non-violent
direct action and civil disobedience.53
Although these various self-organising efforts do not (and cannot) over-
come the heterogeneity of the movements, it is important to see that they
have more in common than their variable architecture. These movements
are marked by a cross-border mentality. It is highly misleading to call them
˜anti-globalisation movements™ because each assumes the form of links
and chains of non-governmental solidarity and contestation spanning vast
spaces stretching to the four corners of the earth. Their participants, most
of whom are part-time sympathisers and not full-time activists, do not see
their concerns as con¬ned within a strictly bounded community or local-
ity. They are convinced that toxic chemicals and human rights and debt

50 Matthew J. O. Scott, ˜Danger “ Landmines! NGO“Government Collaboration in the
Ottawa Process™, in Michael Edwards and John Gaventa (eds.), Global Citizen Action
(Boulder, 2001), pp. 135“48.
51 See www.tao.ca/¬re/gatheer/0049.html.
52 See www.attac.org/indexen.htm, and Susan George, ˜Another World is Possible™,
53 See www.ruckus.org.
62 Global Civil Society?

relief and compassion for those whose dignity has been violated know no
borders. For them the world is one world. So they nurture their identities
and publicise their concerns in ˜translocalities™,54 as if they were global
citizens. They think of themselves as building cross-border cooperation
in a variety of ways among a variety of potential supporters around a vari-
ety of shared goals, including efforts to apply the emergency brake (as in
anti-nuclear protest and debt relief) and to effect positive social changes
in the lives of women and men, regardless of where they are living on the
face of the earth. An enduring symbol of the energy and vision of these
movements is the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing
in 1995, and attended by almost 35,000 NGOs: in the name of inclu-
sive forms of globalisation, movement activists take advantage of global
communication networks, share technical and strategic information, co-
ordinate parallel activities and plan joint actions, often by putting direct
pressure on governmental institutions and corporate actors “ and by risk-
ing tear gas, baton charges, bullets and criminal proceedings “ under the
halogen lamps of media publicity.
Within these global movements, including the media events that they
generate, empirical claims, normative visions and strategic concerns tend
to be mixed together by activists: even when ˜globalisation™ is slammed in
the name of ˜self-suf¬ciency™ or souverainisme or returning to ˜the local™
(note the performative contradiction), the existing global civil society
is reckoned a good thing. It is said to be in need of militant defence,
for instance through actions staged at the feet of global institutions, be-
fore the eyes and ears of the world™s media. These campaigners™ cal-
culations sometimes draw implicitly upon scholarly de¬nitions of civil
society. They start with a strongly voluntarist picture of civil society as
a ˜public ethical“political community™ based on a common ethos. Or
they understand civil society as ˜an intermediate associational realm be-
tween state and family, populated by organisations enjoying some auton-
omy in relation to the state and formed voluntarily by members of society
to protect their interests or values™.55 Global civil society is seen as an
autonomous social space within which individuals, groups and move-
ments can effectively organise and manoeuvre on a world scale to undo
and transform existing power relations, especially those of big business.
This society is conceived as ˜a certain kind of universalising community™
marked by ˜public opinion™, cultural codes and narratives ˜in a democratic

54 See Arjun Appadurai, ˜The Production of Locality™, in Richard Fardon (ed.), Counter-
works: Managing the Diversity of Knowledge (London, 1995), pp. 204“25.
55 Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato, Civil Society and Political Theory (Cambridge, MA, 1992),
p. 84; Gordon White, Civil Society, Democratisation and Development (Institute of Devel-
opment Studies, Brighton, 1994), p. 6 (emphasis mine).
Catalysts 63

idiom™ and ˜interactional practices like civility, equality, criticism, and
Some activist species of this purist theory of civil society tread in
Gramsci™s footsteps, often without knowing it. They de¬ne global civil
society more narrowly, as the non-economic space of social interaction ˜lo-
cated between the family, the state, and the market and operating beyond
the con¬nes of national societies, polities, and economies™.57 Scholarly
advocates of such de¬nitions tend to be more cautious. They hasten to
add that while the concept has normative connotations, any attempt to
˜operationalise™ the concept is risky, essentially because the term itself is
˜too contested™.58 They give the impression that global civil society is a
loosely-woven net which can be used to catch various ¬sh “ so long as the
¬shing is restricted to non-governmental, not-for-pro¬t ponds. There is
some disingenuity here, because the very de¬nition that is proposed has
an identi¬able normative bias. It tacitly favours the view that global civil
society, narrowly de¬ned, is an untrammelled good because it harbours
all kinds of ˜citizens™ groups, social movements, and individuals™ who ˜en-
gage in dialogue, debate, confrontation, and negotiation with each other
and with various governmental actors “ international, national, and local “
as well as the business world™.59
Other scholars, especially those with an eye trained on the concept™s
political potential, speak more openly of global civil society, with all
its blurred self-images and ambiguities, as a dynamic zone of cross-
border relations and activities that keep an arm™s distance from states and

56 Jeffrey C. Alexander, ˜Introduction™ to Jeffrey C. Alexander, Real Civil Societies. Dilemmas
of Institutionalization (London, 1998), p. 7.
57 See the editors™ introduction to Helmut Anheier et al., Global Civil Society 2001 (Oxford,
2001), p. 17. The reliance upon Gramsci in some of the recent literature is sometimes
explicit, for instance in Paul Harvey, Rehabilitation in Complex Political Emergencies: Is
Rebuilding Civil Society the Answer?, IDS Working Paper, 60 (Brighton, 2000), p. 10,
where an appeal is made ˜for a more Gramscian view of civil society which acknowledges
questions of power, sees civil society as a contested arena and acknowledges attempts
by the state to penetrate and control civil society™. Such appeals to the dead spirit of
Gramsci are astonishing in their na¨vet´ (see my ˜Introduction™ to Civil Society and the
State: New European Perspectives [London, 1998], esp. pp. 24“5). It does not occur to the
neo-Gramscians and to assorted fellow travellers of Gramsci that their master™s (rather
inchoate) account of civil society was bound up with all sorts of communist presump-
tions: about the ability of the Party-led proletariat to dismantle the ˜bourgeois state™ and
institute a new social order (˜regulated society™) in which ˜civil society™ would become
merely a word from the bourgeois past. Gramsci™s interest in civil society was wholly op-
portunistic. Its reverie of using civil society to abolish civil society supposed that modern
societies are riven by a central class-contradiction and that there is a privileged subject
capable of acting out the telos of history. None of this belongs within a sophisticated and
democratic theory of civil society and its globalising potential.
58 Helmut Anheier et al. (eds.), Global Civil Society 2001 (Oxford, 2001), pp. 221“7.
59 Ibid., p. 4.
64 Global Civil Society?

markets. Global civil society is a force for ˜globalisation from below™. It is
potentially the champion of ˜widely shared world order values: minimising
violence, maximising economic well-being, realising social and political
justice, and upholding environmental quality™.60 Other radical champi-
ons of global civil society are more fulsome still in their support for its
political potential. These civil society purists speak, rather romantically,
of global civil society as a realm of actual or potential freedom, as a ˜third
sector™ opposed to the impersonal power of government and the greedy
pro¬teering of the market (households typically disappear from the anal-
ysis at this point). ˜Civil society participates alongside “ not replaces “
state and market institutions™, write Naidoo and Tandon. Global civil
society ˜is the network of autonomous associations that rights-bearing
and responsibility-laden citizens voluntarily create to address common
problems, advance shared interests and promote collective aspirations™.61
Another scholar repeats much the same point: ˜Global civil society, like
its domestic counterpart, is that domain in which people voluntarily as-
sociate to express themselves and pursue various noneconomic aims in
common, and it is in the practice of such association that one can look
for progressive political activity.™62
Sometimes large historical claims are made in defence of this allegedly
˜non-economic™ sector; in recent years, there have even been references
to a ˜global associational revolution that may prove to be as signi¬cant
to the latter 20th century as the rise of the nation-state was to the latter
19th century™.63 And sometimes civil society purism is taken to extremes,
towards the call for revolution against capitalist domination, as in the in-
tellectual neo-communism of Hardt and Negri™s Empire.64 It imagines “
with the help of Marx and Foucault and some quick-¬ngered theoretical
sorcery “ that there is a deep continuity between today™s global protests

60 Richard Falk, Predatory Globalization: A Critique (Cambridge, 1999), p. 130.
61 Kumi Naidoo and Rajesh Tandon, ˜The Promise of Civil Society™, in the Civicus pub-
lication Civil Society at the Millennium (West Hartford, CT, 1999), pp. 6“7. The more
recent campaign writings of Kumi Naidoo develop less romantic and more sophisticated
images of global civil society, which however continues to be understood as the space
wedged between global market forces and various forms of government; see for example
his ˜The New Civic Globalism™, The Nation, 8 May, 2000, pp. 34“6.
62 Paul Wapner, ˜The Normative Promise of Nonstate Actors: A Theoretical Account
of Global Civil Society™, in Paul Wapner and Lester Edwin J. Ruiz (eds.), Principled
World Politics. The Challenge of Normative International Relations (Lanham, MD, 2000),
pp. 261“2.
63 See the classic essay by Lester Salamon, ˜The Rise of the Nonpro¬t Sector: A Global
Associational Revolution™, Foreign Affairs, 73:4 (1994).
64 Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, MA and London, 2000), esp.
pp. xiii“xv, 25, 312“13, 326“9, 406“13; and Michael Hardt, ˜The Withering of Civil
Society™, Social Text, 45 (1995), pp. 27“44.
Catalysts 65

and the communist revolutions of 1917 and 1949, the anti-fascist strug-
gles of the 1930s and 1940s, and all the liberation struggles from the
1960s to 1989. A new political subject, a revolutionary giant variously
called ˜an insurgent multitude™, ˜the global People™, or ˜a new proletariat™,
is today stirring. It shakes the foundations of the world order, the new
˜empire™ dominated by the singular logic of commodity production and
exchange and the manipulative government of the bio-social realm (˜the
production of subjectivity™) in globalised form. Today™s world empire ef-
fectively destroys civil society, or so they claim. ˜In the postmodernization
of the global economy, the creation of wealth tends ever more toward what
we will call biopolitical production, the production of social life itself, in
which the economic, the political, and the cultural increasingly overlap
and invest one another.™ Yet the disappearance of civil societies in modern
form “ the melding of the boundaries between government and society,
the national and the global “ produces generalised resistance to the im-
perial machine. Hardt and Negri call it global civil society. ˜Civil society
is absorbed in the state, but the consequence of this is an explosion of
the elements that were previously coordinated and mediated in civil so-
ciety. Resistances are no longer marginal but active in the center of a
society that opens up in networks; the individual points are singularized
in a thousand plateaus.™ This global civil society is undoubtedly a force
for ˜autonomously constructing a counter-Empire, an alternative politi-
cal organization of global ¬‚ows and exchanges™. But, according to Hardt
and Negri, global civil society is not an end-in-itself. It is a transient,
evanescent phenomenon. It is haunted by the spectre of communism: a
future social order unmarked by the division between government and
civil society, an order in which the ˜irrepressible lightness and joy of being
communist™ “ living hard by the revolutionary values of love, cooperation,
simplicity and innocence “ will triumph, this time on a global scale.

Such purist images reduce actually existing global civil society to cam-
paign strategies harnessed to the normative ideal of citizens™ autonomy
at the global level. That in turn creates (in some quarters) the unfortu-
nate impression that global civil society is a (potentially) uni¬ed subject,
a ˜third force™,65 something like a world proletariat in civvies, the uni-
versal object“subject that can snap its chains and translate the idea of a

65 The temptation to see global civil society in this way is evident in the introduction to
Ann M. Florini (ed.), The Third Force. The Rise of Transnational Civil Society (Tokyo and
Washington, DC, 2000), pp. 1“15.
66 Global Civil Society?

˜World Alliance for Citizen Participation™66 into reality “ therewith right-
ing the world™s wrongs. Although many things can be said for and against
these conceptions, it is worth noting at this point their Gramscian bias.
This draws a thick line between (bad) business backed by government
and (good) voluntary associations. ˜We are people, not a market, and our
world is not for sale™, the purists say, and this leads them to understate
the overdetermined character of global civil society. ˜Solidarity and com-
passion for the fate and well-being of others, including unknown, distant
others, a sense of personal responsibility and reliance on one™s own initia-
tive to do the right thing; the impulse toward altruistic giving and sharing;
the refusal of inequality, violence, and oppression™67 are undoubtedly sig-
ni¬cant, even indispensable motives in the globalisation of civil society.
But one-sided emphasis on the free civic choices of men and women has
the effect of obscuring other planetary forces that currently constrain and
enable their actions.
Among the principal energisers of global civil society are market forces,
or what is here called ˜turbocapitalism™.68 To understand how and why
this is so, and to understand what the term ˜turbocapitalism™ means, we
need brie¬‚y to turn our attention back to the system of Keynesian wel-
fare state capitalism (as it was called) that predominated in the West
following the end of the Second World War. For some three decades
thereafter, market capitalist economies like the United States, Sweden,
Japan, the Federal Republic of Germany and Britain moved in the direc-
tion of government-regulated capitalism. In terms of the production of
goods and services, ¬rms, plants and whole industries were very much
national phenomena; facilitated by international trade of raw materials
and foodstuffs, production was primarily organised within territorially
bound national economies or parts of them. Markets were embedded in
webs of government.69
66 Rajesh Tandon, ˜Civil Society Moves Ahead™, Civicus. 1999 Annual Report (Washington,
DC, 1999), p. 5.
67 Miguel Darcey de Oliveira and Rajesh Tandon, ˜An Emerging Global Civil Society™, in
their Citizens: Strengthening Global Civil Society (Washington, DC, 1994), pp. 2“3. Similar
views are defended in David Korten, Getting to the 21st Century: Voluntary Action and
the Global Agenda (West Hartford, CT, 1990), and in Jurgen Habermas, ˜Civil Society
and the Political Public Sphere™, in Between Facts and Norms (Cambridge, MA, 1996),
chapter 8. The chief theoretical limitations of the (neo-)Gramscian approach are analysed
in John Keane, Civil Society: Old Images, New Visions, (Oxford and Stanford, 1998),
pp. 15“19.
68 The term ˜turbocapitalism™ is drawn from Edward Luttwak, Turbo-Capitalism. Winners
and Losers in the Global Economy (New York, 1999). It will be seen that my substantive
account of the impact of the process differs considerably from that of Luttwak.
69 Robert Boyer and J. Rogers Hollingsworth (eds.), Contemporary Capitalism: The Embed-
dedness of Institutions (Cambridge, 1997), and Eric Hobsbawm, ˜The Development of
the World Economy™, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 3 (1979), p. 313.
Catalysts 67

So, for example, during the era of Keynesian welfare state capital-
ism private investment was subject to various governmental restrictions.
Whole areas of investment considered ˜strategic™ to the overall economy,
like airlines, railways and iron and steel, were effectively shielded from
market forces, either by nationalisation or by a plethora of rules and reg-
ulations, like subsidies, tax breaks or matching funds. Hospitals, schools,
welfare provision and other forms of social policy were also commonly
run as de-commodi¬ed institutions. Geopolitically speaking, Keynesian
welfare state capitalism was also subject to two kinds of political limits.
Whole geographic areas of the earth, principally the socialist bloc dom-
inated by Soviet-type regimes, were effectively no-go zones for private
capitalism. Meanwhile, within the Western bloc, international trade and
investment was subject to a plethora of state-enforced rules and intergov-
ernmental regulations.70 Especially from the time of the Bretton Woods
agreement (1944), three major institutions helped to ensure that interna-
tional ¬nance and trade rotated around the American economy (which
had emerged from total war, unscathed) and its currency. The Interna-
tional Monetary Fund (IMF), which set rules for currencies and world
payments, functioned to encourage international monetary cooperation
among states. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Develop-
ment (IBRD, later renamed the World Bank) aimed to promote capital
investment, initially in Europe and later in less developed economies.
And the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) fought to
overcome the previous ˜beggar-thy-neighbour™ protectionism by promot-
ing free trade through devices such as the reduction of tariff barriers
monitored by ongoing multilateral negotiations, like the Kennedy Round
during the 1960s and the Tokyo Round in the 1970s.
In the era of turbocapitalism, by contrast, pressure builds up within civil
society for the radical transformation of the regulatory regime operated
by territorial states. Taking advantage of the new galaxy of digital com-
munications, market institutions and market actors develop an allergic
reaction to meddling state regulations, especially those which are per-
ceived to have cramping and egalitarian social effects. Markets tend to
become disembedded: they wriggle out of social obligations and break free
of territorially based government controls. Wherever the turbocapital-
ist economy gains the upper hand, it thrives upon lighter regulations of
capital ¬‚ows, the deregulation of labour markets and welfare cutbacks.
Turbocapitalism is a species of private enterprise driven by the desire for
70 According to one method of counting, there were around eighty IGOs in 1945. Twenty-
eight were formed in the ¬ve years starting in 1950 and ending in 1954, thirty in the ¬ve
years that ended in 1959, and thirty-three in the next ¬ve years. By 1980, there were an
estimated 621 IGOs. See Jacobson, Networks of Interdependence, p. 38.
68 Global Civil Society?

emancipation from social custom, territorial state interference, taxation
restrictions, trade union intransigence and all other external restrictions
upon the free movement of capital in search of pro¬t. Turbocapitalism
kicks against the so-called ˜law™ (formulated by the nineteenth-century
economist Adolph Wagner71 ) of the expanding public sector. Its advo-
cates push for a new global regulatory regime “ for deregulation, or lighter
and more ¬‚exible regulation, on a global scale.72
In recent decades, the world has begun to dance to such tunes. Business
is no longer exclusively ˜homespun™ (to use Keynes™s famous term). The
transnational operations of some 300 pace-setting ¬rms in industries
such as banking, accountancy, automobiles, airlines, communications
and armaments “ their combined assets make up roughly a quarter of
the world™s productive assets73 “ no longer function as production and
delivery operations for national headquarters. Bursting the bounds of
time and space, language and custom, they instead function as complex
global ¬‚ows, or integrated networks of staff, money, information, raw
materials, components and products. The same trend is evident in smaller
¬rms. One global register at the end of the 1970s listed more than 9,000
¬rms having operations outside their own home countries; together, these
¬rms had more than 34,000 smaller subsidiaries scattered throughout
the world. By 1997, there were some 53,000 trans-national corporations
with 450,000 foreign subsidiaries operating world-wide. They spanned
the world™s principal economic regions in virtually every sector, from
¬nance, raw materials and agriculture to manufacturing and services,
including ¬elds like ˜telesales™ (which in Europe alone employs a million-
and-a-half teleworkers, connected electronically to the outside world).
Selling goods and services to the value of some US$9.5 trillion, these
trans-national enterprises accounted for 70 per cent of world trade and
around 20 per cent of the world™s overall production.74
Admittedly, the degree to which turbocapitalist ¬rms operate glob-
ally, like border-busting juggernauts, should not be exaggerated. Tur-
bocapitalism not only produces strong pressures for re-regulation on a
global scale; it also has a marked geographic bias. Its home base lies
within the OECD countries, and the capital, technology and trade ¬‚ows

71 Adolph Wagner, Die Ordnung des osterreichischen Staatshaushalts (Vienna, 1863).
72 Miles Kahler, International Institutions and the Political Economy of Integration
(Washington, DC, 1995), esp. chapter 2.
73 Richard J. Barnet and John Cavanagh, Global Dreams. Imperial Corporations and the New
World Order (New York and London, 1995), p. 15.
74 Some relevant data are usefully summarised in the United Nations Commission on
Transnational Corporations, Transnational Corporations in World Development: A Re-
Examination (New York, 1978), p. 211, and in David Held and Anthony McGrew (eds.),
The Global Transformations Reader (Oxford, 2000), p. 25.
Catalysts 69

that it effects tend to be concentrated, for the time being, within (rather
than among) the European, Asian-Paci¬c and NAFTA/Latin American
regions.75 Yet, wherever the turbocapitalist economy gains the upper
hand, it has de¬nite globalising effects. It leads to sharp increases in pro¬t-
driven joint ventures and co-production, licensing and sub-contracting
agreements among local, regional and global ¬rms. The trade negotia-
tions that began at the global and regional levels during the 1980s and
1990s serve as an index of this spread of a new “ more aggressive, gen-
uinely border-busting “ form of capitalism to the four corners of the earth.
Regional measures such as the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) have complemented efforts to remove barriers to investment at
the global level, notably through the ˜trade-related investment measures™
(TRIMs) section of the WTO and the proposed “ highly controversial “
Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) arrangements that would
effectively remove all remaining restrictions on investment.
So what (if anything) is new about this system of turbocapitalism? How
(if at all) does it contribute to the current growth spurt of global civil so-
ciety? The most obvious fact to be noted is that for the ¬rst time ever
modern capitalist ¬rms have unlimited grazing rights. Helped along by
trade and investment liberalisation and radical improvements in trans-
portation and communication technologies, they can do business any-
where in the world. The exceptions “ North Korea, southern Sudan,
Burma “ prove the rule, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Empire
and the beginning of the Chinese experiment with state-engineered mar-
ket reforms. The old joke that socialism was that historical phase linking
capitalism with capitalism needs to be amended. It turns out that Soviet-
style socialism, which was a reaction against the last great growth spurt of
globalisation, was a brief interregnum stretching between state-organised
capitalism and today™s global capitalism. The light-hearted joke contains
a cruel truth: turbocapitalism both contributes to and thrives upon the
compression of time and space, to the point where the world begins to
resemble one giant marketplace, in which anything “ nature, people, their
tools and products, even their tastes and libidinal desires “ can potentially
be treated as commodities for sale on a global scale. Some economists
describe this trend in terms of the historic development of global commod-
ity chains: geographically dispersed yet transactionally linked sequences
of functions, in which each phase adds market value to the overall world-
wide process of producing goods or services.76
75 Paul Hirst and Graeme Thompson, Globalization in Question (Oxford, 1999).
76 Most notably Gary Geref¬, ˜Global Commodity Chains: New Forms of Coordination
and Control among Nations and Firms in International Industries™, Competition and
Change, 1 (1996), pp. 427“39, and Gary Geref¬ and Miguel Korzeniewicz (eds.), Com-
modity Chains and Global Capitalism (Westport, CT, 1994), esp. chapter 5.
70 Global Civil Society?

The chains of commodity production and exchange that currently
straddle the earth are of course only trends, albeit deep-rooted ones.
It is important to grasp as well that they are highly complex and unevenly
developed. The contrasts with the past are clearer than the differences in
the present. When Adam Smith famously analysed the ˜division of labour™
within the emerging civil societies of the Atlantic region, his references
to the specialisation of workers within different parts of the production
process had no speci¬c geographic connotations. He could suppose that
industries and services of all kinds enjoyed a ˜natural protection™ from
foreign protection, thanks to the vagaries of geographical distance. That
supposition continued to be plausible even during the vigorous growth
spurt of global economic integration before the First World War, and until
the 1970s, when shallow integration “ arm™s length trade in raw materials,
goods and services among independent ¬rms and through international
movements of capital “ was the norm.77 Shallow integration is arguably
what Marx and Engels “ the ¬rst great critics of globalisation “ had in
mind in their stirring summary of the worldly thrust of mid-nineteenth-
century capitalism. ˜The need of a constantly expanding market for its
products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It
must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections every-
where™, they wrote, adding that the owners of capital had become the
agents of cosmopolitanism. ˜The bourgeoisie has, through its exploita-
tion of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production
and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries,
it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which
it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or
are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose
introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by
industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw ma-
terial drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are con-
sumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the
old wants, satis¬ed by the production of the country, we ¬nd new wants,
requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In
place of the old local and national seclusion and self-suf¬ciency, we have
intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations.™78
The system of turbocapitalism differs from this picture drawn by Marx
and Engels, especially because it draws everybody and everything within

77 The useful distinction between ˜shallow integration™ and ˜deep integration™ is drawn from
Peter Dicken, Global Shift. Transforming the World Economy, 3rd edn. (London, 2000),
p. 5.
78 Marx and Engels 1888, drawn from http://csf.Colorado.EDU/psn/marx/Archive/1848-
Catalysts 71

its wake into processes of deep integration, which extend from visible and
invisible trading to the production of goods and services by means of glob-
ally connected commodity chains organised by trans-national corpora-
tions. These processes of deep integration, to repeat, are highly complex
and uneven. Rather than seeing them as a ¬nished outcome, they are
better described as a constellation of interrelated processes that are very
unevenly distributed in time and space. Turbocapitalism has unleashed
globalising forces, but this has not yet resulted in a fully globalised world
economy in which the lives and livelihoods of every person and patch of
the earth are bound to and functionally integrated with all others. Tur-
bocapitalism does not lead to a ˜global marketplace™, let alone a ˜global
village™. It has a variety of different effects, ranging from very weak or
non-existent forms of integration to very strong or full integration.
At one end of the continuum stand whole peoples and regions who are
routinely ignored by the dynamics of turbocapitalism. According to one
estimate, in 1913 the countries in the bottom ¬fth of income per per-
son received around 25 per cent of the world™s stock of foreign capital,
much the same as the countries in the richest ¬fth. By 1997, the poorest
¬fth™s share was down to under 5 per cent, compared with 36 per cent for
the richest ¬fth.79 Capital investment is today mainly a rich“rich affair.
For instance, many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where despite ¬‚ourish-
ing global trends foreign direct investment (FDI) actually declined during
the 1990s and today accounts for only some 1.4 per cent of investment
world-wide,80 fall into this category; these areas, victims of a form of
capitalist ˜legal apartheid™ (a term coined by the Peruvian economist,
Hernando de Soto81 ) suffer the consequences of ˜dead capital™ reinforced
by the organised neglect by turbocapitalist investors. This is the world in
which millions know in their bellies that there is only one thing worse
than participating in the global system of turbocapitalism: being left out
of the turbocapitalist system. So, for better or worse, people ¬‚ee self-
suf¬cient or violence-wrecked social nests in an effort to raise their stan-
dards of living by becoming interdependent in much larger markets. This
is the sprawling, mostly illegal urban world of the Turkish gekecondus, the
Haitian bidonvilles, the barong-barongs of the Philippines, Brazil™s favelas,
the swelling jumble of ramshackle houses and sweatshops on the outskirts
of Beijing.

79 Matthew Bishop, ˜Capitalism and its Troubles™, The Economist (London), 18 May 2002,
p. 25
80 Trade and Human Rights: A Free Press, Development and Globalisation, document prepared
by the International Federation of Journalists (Brussels, 2000), p. 1.
81 Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails
Everywhere Else (London, 2000), p. 237.
72 Global Civil Society?

Elsewhere, moving across the continuum, straightforward exchange
across vast distances between wealthy core and poorer peripheral areas “
for instance, the exporting of granite mined in Zimbabwe to the kitchens
and bathrooms of western Europe “ is the norm. Then, towards the other
end of the continuum, turbocapitalism slices through territorial and time
barriers by bringing about highly complex, kaleidoscopic forms of mar-
ket integration involving the fragmentation of production processes and
their geographical relocation and functional reintegration on a global
scale. And then, ¬nally, there are some sectors of economic life “ like
the twenty-four-hour ¬nancial speculation conducted in cities like New
York, London and Tokyo “ in which the whole earth is literally a play-
ground for turbocapital. In a stirring ¬lm from the 1960s, Phileas Fogg,
the imperturbable English gentleman, attempted to win a bet by cir-
cumnavigating the globe in eighty days. By contrast, in the most glob-
alised sectors of the world economy, money today ¬‚ies around the world
in eighty seconds, or less. Revolutionary advancements in information
technology, combined with policies to lift barriers to investment, enable
private capital to travel across borders at a pace that is baf¬‚ing for gov-
ernment regulators and decisionmakers in every walk of life. Within this
fully turbocapitalist sector, the volume of daily international foreign ex-
change transactions has grown from around US$500 billion in 1989 to
over US$1.5 trillion in 1997. The ¬gures have subsequently continued to
rise, in no small measure because virtually all of it (around 98 per cent)
is for speculation or short-term investment, rather than related directly
to actual trade or FDI.82 Instability is naturally inherent in these massive
cross-border transfers of unregulated speculative capital. The ¬‚ights of
short-term capital at lightning speed from Mexico in late 1994, Thailand,
Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea in late 1997, from Russia and Brazil
in 1998, from Turkey in November 2000, and from Argentina in 2002,
were not mere accidents. They rather revealed that the ¬eld of global ¬-
nance resembles a ¬nancial casino, in which nervous investors withdraw
their money or move it elsewhere in the world, all with a tap of a computer
Also new, and equally striking, is the way in which ¬rms exercise their
freedom to set up of¬ces, plants and subsidiaries wherever costs are low-
est and safe to invest. They do so in accordance with what can be called
the ˜Low Cost and Safety Principle™. The ¬rst outlines of this principle
were already at work from the early 1970s, when labour-intensive pro-
cesses like sewing and assembling electronic goods began to be farmed

82 Martin Khor, The Economic Crisis in East Asia: Causes, Effect, Lessons (Third World
Network, 1998), p. 2.
Catalysts 73

out to parts of Asia, the Caribbean, and the Mexico“US border region;
the workforces, comprising mainly poorly paid women workers, were ef-
fectively in the business of assembling imported inputs for export back
to the countries in which the materials originated. This new interna-
tional division of labour, as it was called by some economists at the
time, anticipated the era of turbocapitalism and its globalising effects.
By compressing time and space within the internal production opera-
tions of ¬rms, it differed in one critical respect from the old capitalist
practice of extracting raw materials from distant sources. That practice,
noted Hegel, was already common to early-nineteenth-century civil so-
cieties, but in fact its roots run much deeper. The beginnings of a world
economy were evident in the ˜long sixteenth century™ (1450“1640), a
period in which the short-distance, local trade of basic commodities
within and among medieval market towns began to be supplemented
by long-distance trade in rare items and luxury goods, ¬ne cloths and
spices for instance, extracted from distant parts of the world for local elite
Turbocapitalism no doubt sustains, in more developed form, this older
internationalisation of production. But, uniquely, it does more than this: it
globalises production by radically compressing time and space barriers to
the movement of labour power and managerial expertise, raw materials
and technologies of production, components and ¬nished commodities.
In recent years, the Low Cost and Safety Principle has been applied more
intensively to overcome barriers of time and the tyranny of distance, so
that global ¬rms transfer sophisticated state-of-the-art production meth-
ods to countries where wages are extremely low. A number of poorer
countries, Mexico and India and China among them, are consequently
now equipped with the infrastructural means of housing any service or
industrial operation “ whether airline ticket and holiday telephone sales
or capital-intensive, high-tech production of commodities like comput-
ers and automobiles. Sometimes the output from these high-tech oper-
ations is consumed locally. Coca-Cola, among the leading symbols of
turbocapitalist enterprise, had no bottling plants in China in 1979; less
than two decades later it had set up eighteen plants producing (in 1996)
some 3 billion Cokes for that huge domestic market. Other transnational
¬rms circulate both their materials and ¬nished products globally, like the
Caterpillar plant in Toronto that draws together components from other
Caterpillar factories scattered around the world “ transmissions from the

83 See the important studies by Immanuel Wallerstein, The Capitalist World Economy
(Cambridge, 1979) and Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism, 15th“18th
Centuries, 3 vols. (London, 1984).
74 Global Civil Society?

United States, axles from Belgium, winches from Brazil, engines from
Japan “ and then assembles them for export as a ¬nished product to
many countries, including the ones that produced the components in the
¬rst place.
The Low Cost and Safety Principle radically alters the shape of trade
and investment within global civil society. For a start, transactions are
no longer housed exclusively within or between territorial states. Not
only do global commodity chains become the norm. Trade and invest-
ment within ¬rms becomes commonplace. Estimates are that about a
third of world trade is now taken up by trade between one part of a
global ¬rm and its other af¬liates, and the proportion is growing. Such
˜self-trading™ is in effect an extreme form of border-breaking economic
globalisation. It is strongly evident in the operations of General Electric,
which like many other ¬rms operating across the Mexican“US border
ships machinery components to its own subsidiary in Nuevo Laredo.
Intra-¬rm trading of this kind is oiled by so-called ˜transfer pricing™.
This is the practice whereby ¬rms avoid taxes by setting prices in such
a way that registered losses are maximised in countries where tax rates
are high and, conversely, registered pro¬ts are highest in countries
where taxes are low, or (as in ˜tax haven™ countries) where no taxes are paid
at all.
The avoidance of company taxes paid to states is a de¬nite new line
on the contours of global civil society. So too is the formation of a global
labour pool. When businesses develop globally interconnected chains of
investment, resources and ¬nished products and services workers based
in richer countries like Germany and France are effectively forced to
compete with workers living in places “ China, Singapore, Taiwan, South
Korea “ where wages are low and social entitlements of workers are either
poorly protected or non-existent. The ¬gures on this new development
are telling: in 1975, the top dozen exporters of goods were almost all rich
capitalist countries with relatively small wage differentials. The highest
average hourly wage was in Sweden (US$7.18); the lowest was in Japan
(US$3), a differential of just under two-and-a-half times. By 1996, driven
by the forces of turbocapitalism, a global labour pool had developed,
with a corresponding dramatic widening of wage differences. The high-
est average hourly wages were found in Germany (US$31.87) and the
lowest in China (US$0.31) “ a pay differential of more than a hundred
84 Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, Field Guide to the Global Economy (New York, 2000),
p. 30. The striking differences are of course compounded by much longer hours of work
(sometimes up to 80 hours per week) and poorly protected working conditions in the
low-wage sectors of the global economy.
Catalysts 75

Markets and civil society
The striking social discrepancies produced by market processes within
global civil society have led some observers “Yoshikazu Sakamoto, for
instance85 “ to question whether market forces with such destructive
consequences properly belong within the category of global civil society.
His question is important, and needs to be addressed, if only because it
exempli¬es the strong tendency within the existing academic literature
on global civil society to draw upon the originally Gramscian distinction
between civil society (the realm of non-pro¬t, non-governmental organi-
sations, in which humans are treated as ends-in-themselves) and the mar-
ket (the sphere of pro¬t-making and pro¬t-taking commodity production
and exchange, in which humans are treated as mere means).
In responding to Sakamoto, it is important from the outset to dis-
tinguish carefully, as has been done earlier in this book,86 the different
possible usages “ empirical interpretation, strategic calculation, norma-
tive judgement “ of the idea of civil society. Sakamoto™s points are pow-
erful, but they arguably con¬‚ate these differences, so much so that his
understandably strong dislike of the socially negative (disruptive or out-
right destructive) effects of market forces within actually existing civil
societies move him to banish the market altogether from the concept of
global civil society. The reasoning secretly draws upon the distinction
between ˜is™ and ˜ought™ in order to defend the latter against the for-
mer. The term global civil society is cleansed of the muck of markets. It
is thereby turned into a normative utopia. Normatively speaking, it be-
comes a ˜pure™ concept “ synonymous with ˜equity, equality and public
welfare™, an unadulterated ˜good™, like a sparkling coveted diamond that
all would want to prize, especially if offered it on a soft velvet cushion
of ¬ne words. Sakamoto™s normative reasoning is tempting “ who but
curmudgeons, ideologists and crooks could be ethically opposed to civil
society in his sense? “ but it should be refused, for three reasons.
Normatively speaking, it implies that global civil society could in future
survive without money or monetary exchanges “ rather as nineteenth-
century and early-twentieth-century communists na¨vely imagined that

85 Yoshikazu Sakamoto, ˜An Alternative to Global Marketization™, in Jan Nederveen
Pieterse (ed.), Global Futures: Shaping Globalization (London and New York, 2000),
pp. 98“116.
86 See also Keane, Civil Society: Old Images, New Visions, pp. 36ff. and John Keane
(ed.), Civil Society and the State: New European Perspectives (London and New York
1988 [reprinted 1998]), introduction. The infelicities of the (neo-Gramscian) distinc-
tion between market and civil society are discussed in my Democracy and Civil Society
(London 1998 [1988]), esp. chapters 3 and 4. See also John O™Neill, The Market: Ethics,
Knowledge and Politics (New York, 1998).
76 Global Civil Society?

future communist society would be bound together by such attributes as
love, hard work and mutuality. Both make the mistake of supposing that
goods and services could be supplied in complex ways to complex soci-
eties by some non-market invisible hand, which in reality would turn out
to be the whip hand of dis-organisation, hunger and chaos. The friends
of global civil society must face up to this point. They must see that, in
spite of all their well-known weaknesses, markets are a necessary organ-
ising principle of all durable civil societies, past and present, and that
that rule will certainly apply in future to global civil society “ supposing
that it will enjoy such fate. This ˜no market, no civil society™ rule ap-
plies because economies driven by commodity production and exchange
have two great advantages: under social conditions with many different
preferences and values that are far too complex to be calculable by a cen-
tral plan for resource allocation, market economies minimise collective
losses. Market forces tend to guarantee that factors of production that fail
to perform according to current standards of ef¬ciency are continuously
and often swiftly eliminated, and then forced to ¬nd alternative and more
productive uses. In matters of resource allocation, market forces ensure
that ˜uncompetitive™ factors of production go to the wall. Markets operate
according to Abraham Lincoln™s maxim that those who need a helping
hand should look no further than the lower end of their right arm. In this
way, markets invite the victims of competition to blame themselves “ and
to survive by adapting to new standards of ef¬ciency.
In matters of strategy, the purist concept of a post-capitalist global civil
society fares no better. If the aim is to strengthen global civil society by
displacing market forces, then anything related to the market “ money,
jobs, workers, trade unions “ cannot by de¬nition be useful in struggles to
achieve that civilising goal. The defence of global civil society resembles a
physics of proportionate relationships. It must be thought of as a struggle
to repair the damage done to it by capitalism and, ultimately, a struggle
to ˜push back™ all things capitalist, perhaps even to rid the world of it.
Otherwise, the chosen means “ the commodi¬cation of social relations “
would corrupt and potentially overpower the envisaged end: the human-
isation of social relations. So it comes to seem (quite unrealistically) that
global civil society will be possible only if people topple King Money by
behaving themselves and acting as good people, as citizens rather than as
market actors. Trade unions, corporate philanthropy, small businesses,
advanced technologies supplied by local and multinational ¬rms: none of
this (it is supposed) could or should play a part in the struggle to expand
and thicken the cross-border social networks that comprise global civil
Ultimately, the type of approach adopted by Sakamoto is scuppered
by a bundle of strong empirical objections. We have seen that descriptive
Catalysts 77

interpretations of global civil society, attempts to describe and explain its
contours, should not be confused with normative judgements and strate-
gic calculations. Descriptive interpretations begin where actuality itself
begins. The point is elementary, but important, for whether we like it or
not the division between market and civil society does not exist; the dual-
ism wielded by Sakamoto is a phantom, a bad abstraction. Production “
as Marx famously emphasised “ is always the appropriation of nature
within and through a determinate form of society.
Within market settings, those who go about their business and do their
work chronically draw upon endogenous sources of sociability. Their activ-
ities are always embedded within civil society interactions that are lubri-
cated by norms like punctuality, trust, honesty, reliability, group commit-
ment and non-violence.87 In the most productive sectors of global civil
society, the need for lively and ¬‚exible civil society institutions is espe-
cially imperative, and publicly recognised. Norm-based exchanges and
informal, decentralised and ˜¬‚at™ socio-economic organisations “ a net-
working civil society “ become ever more important as the production and
distribution of goods and services becomes more complex and comput-
erised. In effect, this heightened co-dependence of contemporary markets
upon other civil society institutions con¬rms an old rule: that markets
are always and everywhere human creations embedded in social and political
Today, we tend to overlook this point. We are inclined to take markets
for granted, to see them as naturally occurring, as if they somehow spring
like mushrooms out of the soil of ˜society™ or ˜competition™ or the ˜natural™

87 The tension within the systems-theoretical understanding of civil society proposed by
Jeffrey C. Alexander (see his ˜Introduction™ to Jeffrey C. Alexander (ed.), Real Civil
Societies. Dilemmas of Institutionalization, London, 1998) is instructive on this point. It
insists upon the need to grasp the difference between the contemporary sub-systems
of civil society (organised by public opinion, democracy, civility) and the ˜instrumen-
tal, self-oriented individualism institutionalised in capitalist market life™ (Alexander,
˜Introduction™, p. 8). The spatial metaphor coded into this approach leads to the conclu-
sion that the relationship between civil society and the market is best analysed in terms of
˜facilitating inputs, destructive intrusions, and civil repairs™ (Alexander, ˜Introduction™,
p. 8). A few lines later, drawing upon Marx™s thesis of the socialisation of production
at the point of production “ a thesis that supposed that markets are the central organ-
ising principle of modern civil societies “ Alexander virtually abandons this approach.
He admits of the possibility that capitalist market life ˜supplies the civil sphere with
facilities like independence, self-control, rationality, equality, self-realization, coopera-
tion, and trust™ (p. 8). On the ground of ˜realism™ alone “ the same ground on which
Alexander stakes out his case “ the analysis logically requires the abandonment of the
civil society/market economy dualism. ˜Realism™ also demands a revision of his heav-
ily normative picture of civil society, as this book explains at length. Parallel doubts
about the purism of Alexander™s image of civil society are raised in Victor P´ rez- e
Diaz, ˜The Public Sphere and a European Civil Society™, in P´ rez-Diaz, The Return of
Civil Society: The Emergence of Democratic Spain (Cambridge, MA and London, 1993),
pp. 211“38.
78 Global Civil Society?

sel¬shness of people. This perception was not always taken for granted.
Once upon a time, markets were seen to be delicate human creations “ as
inventions generated by wilful acts of power exercised by social and po-
litical agents. Consider the simple but fundamental example of free trade
across borders. Although today the principle of free trade is presumed
to be a vital and necessary rule of commodity production and exchange,
there were times when the extension of market processes across borders
had to be fought for by social agents. Look at the nineteenth-century
European struggle for free trade. It opened in full force, between 1838
and 1846, with the campaigns of the Anti-Corn Law League against the
British corn tariff. The League™s efforts soon spread across the Channel.
In 1846, the Belgian Association for Commercial Liberty and the Free
Trade Association in France were founded; the International Associa-
tion for Customs Reform, set up in 1856, worked for the creation of an
International Union that published current tariff schedules for the bene¬t
of businesses; and during the 1860s, so-called ˜Cobden clubs™ sprang up
throughout Europe in support of freer trade.88
Such episodes in the history of modern markets imply another rule: that
practical attempts to ˜disembed™ markets are doomed to failure. Efforts
to abstract and insulate markets against all the social processes of civil
society “ to rid them of solidarity, language, laughter, friendship, free ex-
pression, family life, sociability, so that they strictly obey the accountants™
and underwriters™ criteria of minimum risk and coldly calculated pro¬t
and loss “ may be an attractive fantasy in the minds of turbocapitalist
ideologues. They are in reality neither the normal nor the sustainable
case. Every known market, Karl Polanyi famously pointed out in Origins
of Our Time (1945), is a particular form of socially mediated interaction
centred on money, production, exchange and consumption. Three dif-
ferent, but related conclusions follow from this point: that markets are
an intrinsic empirical feature, a functionally intertwined prerequisite, of
the social relations of actually existing global civil society; that global civil
society as we know and now experience it could not survive for more than
a few days without the market forces unleashed by turbocapitalism; and
that the market forces of turbocapitalism could themselves not survive
for a day without other civil society institutions, like households, chari-
ties, community associations and linguistically shared social norms like
friendship, trust and cooperation.
This unbreakable dependence of turbocapitalist markets upon other
civil society institutions highlights the way in which labour is a ˜¬ctitious™

88 A history of these developments is found in Norman Maccord, The Anti-Corn Law
League, 1838“1846 ( London, 1958).
Catalysts 79

commodity.89 While labour is organised as a commodity in the markets
of the turbocapitalist economy, it is not produced for sale. Labour is
in fact just another name for a type of social activity that is ultimately
not detachable from six other (overlapping), variously combined types of
civil society institutions: non-market forms of production within households,
voluntary and charitable groups and other ˜parallel economy™ activities;
forms of recreation, in which people spend at least some of their dispos-
able time in such activities as sport, travel, tourism and hobbies and the
(often overlapping) organisations of the arts and entertainment, including
galleries, cinemas, music and dance clubs, theatres, pubs, restaurants and
caf´ s. Civil society institutions also encompass the cultivation of intimacy
through friendships and household spaces of cooperation, sexual exper-
imentation, procreation and the social nurturing of infants and adults;
non-governmental communications media, such as newspapers and maga-
zines, bookshops, internet caf´ s, television studios and community radio
stations; and, ¬nally, institutions for the de¬nition and nurturing of the
sacred, including cemeteries, places of religious worship, monuments and
sites of historical importance. Given these various types of non-market
social organisation, it is easy to see that both global civil society and its
more local and regional counterparts can have a variable social ecology.
It can be more or less pluralistic, more or less religious, more or less
market-dominated. But “ short of sociocide, the nervous breakdown of
the social “ this global society can never be transformed into one giant
capitalist market, into something like a shopping mall stretched from one
end of the earth to the other.
Some examples of the ˜no civil society, no market™ rule “ one each
from the local, regional, and global levels “ should help to make this fun-
damental point clearer. One evening, enter a local taverna in the Pl´ ka a
district of Athens. Amid its old houses and narrow, winding streets strag-
gling up the slopes of the Acropolis, the taverna is both a business and
a social experiment in warming the heart of the night. Most de¬nitely,
it is people before money. Guests must of course pay, or arrange credit.
Otherwise words will ¬‚y like daggers, and the police may be called to

89 Karl Polanyi, Origins of Our Time (London, 1945), pp. 78“9: ˜To allow the market mech-
anism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment,
indeed, even of the amount and use of purchasing power, would result in the demolition
of society. For the alleged commodity “labour power” cannot be shoved about, used
indiscriminately, or even left unused, without affecting also the human individual who
happens to be the bearer of this particular commodity. In disposing of a man™s labour
power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral
entity called “man” attached to that tag. Robbed of the protective covering of cultural in-
stitutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die
as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation.™
80 Global Civil Society?

settle the matter. Only good friends of the owner and local unfortunates
are entitled to free meals. Yet the experience of the taverna is not purely
and simply a business. Its owners and clients know no distinction be-
tween market and civil society. Under dimmed lights, Singapore fans
rotating overhead, many pairs of eyes converge; they look without look-
ing. There is the buzz of richly gestured conversation, waiters darting here
and there, smells of grilling meat, garlic, warm bread. In one corner sits
the owner, smoking a cigarette, looking bored, stroking the bridge of his
nose, drinking coffee with iridescent bubbles. Nearby, a savvy barmaid
chats up the cashier, seated at a ¬‚ickering monitor, recording costs and
earnings. Guests chatter, smile, conduct private quarrels, look vacant,
¬‚irt, smoke, inhale smoke, clink glasses, rub tired faces, clap hands to
the lilting bouzouki. Tables are cleared, tables are ¬lled, tables are soiled;
the cycle seems endless. There are moments of hush, then yelps of laugh-
ter, followed by sounds of crashing cutlery, talk of Greece in Europe, and
of the end of the drachma. Near midnight, tired chefs wearing white hats
and aprons appear, looking triumphant. When ready, guests pay, at their
leisure. They are then thanked and wished good evening, in accordance
with the rule that money is buried in social custom.
A different example: embedded market transactions at the level of a
region. It has been pointed out by economists and geographers that busi-
ness ¬rms tend to cluster geographically, in towns and cities that form
part of a wider region. They form regionally-structured, socially embed-
ded ˜untraded interdependencies™.90 Examples of such thriving regions
include Seoul“Inchon, southern California, Singapore, the M4 corridor,
and the conurbations of Stuttgart, Tokyo, Paris-Sud and Milan. The re-
cently created Special Economic Zones (SEZs), open coastal cities and
priority development areas in China, also count as striking examples. Like
bees to a hive, ¬rms swarm around such places not simply because it is
pro¬table (thanks to reduced transaction costs), but because their own
pro¬tability requires the cultivation of densely textured socio-cultural ties
(˜untraded interdependencies™) that come with agglomeration. Business
dictates social bonding and social innovation. Pro¬tability requires ¬rms
to embed themselves within the socio-cultural ties of the regional civil
society; by so doing, of course, they increase its textural density. In this
90 See M. Storper, The Regional World: Territorial Development in a Global Economy (New
York, 1997); the various contributions to A. Amin and N. Thrift (eds.), Globalization,
Institutions and Regional Development in Europe (Oxford, 1994); Meric S. Gertler and
David A. Wolfe, ˜Local Social Knowledge Management™, unpublished paper (Brussels,
2002); Gernot Grabher, ˜Rediscovering the Social in the Economics of Inter¬rm Re-
lations™, in Gernot Grabher (ed.), The Embedded Firm (London and New York, 1993),
pp. 1“31; and Philip Cooke and Kevin Morgan, The Associational Economy. Firms, Regions
and Innovation (Oxford, 1998).
Catalysts 81

way, the regional civil society becomes the hive and propolis of business
activity. Firms ¬nd that face-to-face interaction with clients, customers
and competitors is easier. They ¬nd as well that their chosen patch con-
tains social spaces for gathering business information, monitoring and
maintaining patterns of trust, establishing common rules of business be-
haviour, and socialising with others: in places like clubs, bars, cinemas,
theatres, sports venues and restaurants. And the regional civil society acts
as a ˜technopole™ or ˜technology district™.91 It enables ¬rms to enhance
their capacity for technical innovation: they can better develop, test,
mimic and track innovations, ¬nd new gaps in the market and react more
quickly to changing patterns of demand.
To ¬nd examples of socially embedded market activity at the global level
seems most dif¬cult, at ¬rst sight. Many observers warn that ˜global capi-
tal™ is socially rootless. It is often presented as a money-hungry juggernaut
ruthlessly breaking down political borders and smashing through walls
of social restraint embodied in local communities and other institutions.
˜Cold-blooded, truly arm™s-length and therefore purely contractual rela-
tions exemplify the entire spirit of turbo-capitalism™, writes Luttwak.92 In
a similar vein, Soros describes the global capitalist system as ˜a gigantic
circulatory system sucking capital into the centre and pushing it out into
the periphery™. Like former American President Ronald Reagan, who
liked to speak of ˜the magic of the marketplace™, its protagonists suffer
from excessive belief in pro¬t-making through market mechanisms. Their
dogmatic ˜market fundamentalism™ supposes that its dominant value,
which in reality is no value at all, is ˜the pursuit of money™. What sets
global capitalism apart from its earlier versions is ˜the intensi¬cation of
the pro¬t motive and its penetration into areas that were previously gov-
erned by other considerations . . . It is no exaggeration to say that money
rules people™s lives to a greater extent than ever before.™93
These descriptions of global business alert us to its novelty. They
correctly capture something of its swashbuckling, buccaneering, time-
and-distance-conquering tendencies “ as well as its indulgence of excess

91 The terms are developed, respectively, in Manuel Castells and P. Hall, Technopoles of the
World: The Making of 21st Century Industrial Complexes (London, 1994) and M. Storper,
˜The Limits to Globalization: Technology Districts and International Trade™, Economic
Geography, 68 (1992), pp. 60“93.
92 Luttwak, Turbo-Capitalism, p. 43.
93 George Soros, The Crisis of Global Capitalism (London, 1998), pp. 126, 114, 102, 115“16
and 112“13: ˜there is a unifying principle in the global capitalist system . . . That principle
is money. Talking about market principles would confuse the issue, because money can
be amassed in other ways than by competition. There can be no dispute that in the end
it all boils down to pro¬ts and wealth measured in terms of money.™ See also his On
Globalization (New York, 2002).
82 Global Civil Society?

volatility, irrational exuberance and speculative collapses. Some have re-
turned to the language of Marx. ˜Accumulate, accumulate! This is Moses
and the Prophets!™, write Hardt and Negri. ˜There is nothing, no “naked
life”, no external standpoint . . . nothing escapes money. Production and
reproduction are dressed in monetary clothing.™94 Such descriptions of
turbocapitalism also pose a normative problem: they pinpoint the need to
deal politically with the chronic tendency of commodity production and
exchange to pick the locks of civil society and to roam freely through its
rooms, like a thief in the night. Turbocapitalism is extraordinarily good
at production, but it fails miserably at distribution. ˜As long as capital-
ism remains triumphant™, Soros writes, ˜the pursuit of money overrides
all other social considerations . . . The development of a global economy
has not been matched by the development of a global society.™95 These
various points are salutary, but arguably they exaggerate the degree to
which turbocapitalism has become disembedded “ broken free from “
the emerging global civil society, including its local civil society habitats.
Once again, we return to the central point: no business, global business
included, can properly function as business unless it draws freely upon,
and nurtures, the non-market environment of civil society in which it is
more or less embedded, or seeks to embed itself.
Many examples at the level of global commodity chains spring to mind.
All of them underscore two related points: that the arti¬cial distinction
between ˜the market™ and ˜global civil society™ is unwarranted because
turbocapitalism both nurtures and disorders the structures of global civil
society within which it operates. It is important to grasp these positive
and negative dynamics, which most certainly cannot be grasped through
the kind of static binary opposite defended by Sakamoto and others.
On the positive side, turbocapitalist ¬rms, aided by the local and re-
gional networks of smaller ¬rms with which they do business, have de¬-
nite civilising effects on the global civil society in which they are embed-
ded. Their corporate negotiations are an obvious case in point. Senior
company executives who try to do business in foreign contexts know
from experience that they cannot ˜wheel and deal™ or act like pirates
on the open seas.96 If they are serious about establishing business links,
say, with South Korean ¬rms, then they know that there are certain so-
cial rules that have to be followed. Making the right connections at the
94 Robert J. Shiller, Irrational Exuberance (Princeton, 2000); Hardt and Negri, Empire,
p. 32.
95 Soros, The Crisis of Global Capitalism, p. 102.
96 See the remarks of Sergey Frank, a senior partner within the world-wide, German-
based human resource consulting group, Kienbaum Consultants International GmbH,
in ˜Think Confucian while Bargaining™, Financial Times (London), 30 October 2001.
Catalysts 83

outset, for instance with the polite help of an ambassador or the president
of the chamber of commerce, is vital. So too is a bilingual business card
and an interpreter. Cold-calling business contacts is most unwise. So
too is impatience. Crass calculations and pushiness are to be avoided.
The golden rule is: establish a good social relationship with one™s po-
tential partner. Informal socialising, before and after business hours, is
a basic good, not just an add-on luxury item. Face-to-face interaction
is much appreciated. So too is the observance of protocol. Dealings will
typically be group-based. Quick recognition of the team™s vertical system
of ranking participants by age and gender is a must. Try to understand
something of the proud sense of history and the local traditions of peo-
ple working together. Expect tough negotiations and tiring last-minute
renegotiations, or pull-outs. Never attach blame to others in public. Un-
derstand that disagreement and annoyance are likely to be hidden behind
courteous smiles. Expect bad news to be communicated with polite or
non-committal words, or through changes of subject, or encounters with
low-level negotiators. Observe another golden rule: nobody should lose
Business ¬rms operating within global civil society preserve or nur-
ture its social codes in other ways. For instance, they show some signs
of strengthening its social bonds through the old practice of corporate
giving, which nearly doubled (to US$385 billion) during the 1990s.97
The foundation set up by Bill and Melinda Gates, the Global Fund
for Children™s Vaccines, talks in terms of the need globally to revive the
principle of corporate noblesse oblige by ˜public-ising™ the private sector.
The US-based Varsavsky Foundation, which donated funds to create a
national educational Internet portal in Argentina, champions ˜venture
philanthropy™, whose motto is a new version of an old proverb: ˜while
you do your neighbours a favour if you teach them how to ¬sh, you do
them a much bigger favour if you teach them how to run a ¬sh farm.™98
Senior executives in Volkswagen AG also speak con¬dently about their
social duties. ˜Civil society [Zivilgesellschaft] is no fair-weather word™, they
say. ˜Civil society activities are for Volkswagen bound up with corporate
social responsibility. Employers™ responsibilities are not mere altruism or
charity . . . Especially under conditions of globalisation, civil society has
a right to know and to judge the contribution of employers to wealth

97 Francie Ostrower, Why the Wealthy Give. The Culture of Elite Philanthropy (Princeton,
1995); and Frances Pinter, ˜Funding Global Civil Society Organisations™, in Anheier
et al. (eds.), Global Civil Society 2001, pp. 195“217.
98 Martin Varsavsky, ˜How to Build a Dream™, in the special Davos edition of Newsweek
(December 2000“February 2001), p. 86.
84 Global Civil Society?

creation, guarantees of mobility, technical progress and job creation.™99
And Shell, whose performance in Nigeria raised an international out-
cry, now parades under the banner of the ˜triple bottom line™: economic
superiority, environmental soundness and social responsibility.
Caution should certainly be exercised when analysing corporate so-
cial responsibility, if only because global corporations today enter our
living rooms aglow with public-image or ˜pro-social™ advertising. Many
¬rms, backed up by high-¬‚ying, well-paid ˜ethics of¬cers™, present the
world with their ˜we too are citizens-of-the-world™ credo and do their
best to distract their (potential) critics from saying that these ¬rms em-
ploy eight-year-olds in sweatshops or brazenly trample upon the environ-
ment. Some global corporate executives are even prepared to roll up their
sleeves and mix with their opponents “ as was evident at the 2002 World
Economic Forum held in New York City, where market researchers from
PricewaterhouseCoopers reportedly trolled hotel lobbies looking for op-
portunities to ˜dialogue™, and where business people, often claiming to
be Trojan Horses, sometimes talked like NGO activists; and where Irish
rock star Bono chatted with Microsoft™s Bill Gates before the launch of a
˜corporate citizenship™ statement signed by the chief executives and board
directors of global companies like Anglo American, Siemens, Coca-Cola
and McDonald™s.100 Sometimes, keeping their social distance, global cor-
porations instead try to sharpen their street credibility by directly em-
ploying public relations ¬rms like Burson-Marsteller, the world™s largest,
whose corporate clients have included: the Three Mile Island nuclear
plant, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979; Union Carbide after
the Bhopal gas leak resulted in the deaths of up to 15,000 people in
India; British Petroleum after the sinking of the Torrey Canyon oil tanker
in 1967; and whose clients today include big tobacco companies and the
European biotechnology industry.101
Turbocapitalist ¬rms often dissemble, but there is no doubt that they
contribute in other ways to the cultivation of world-wide social rela-
tions. Aside from the ˜untraded interdependencies™ discussed above, they
99 From remarks presented to a Bundestag-sponsored congress by the general manager
of Volkswagen AG, Reinhold Kopp, ˜Die Bedeutung des burgerschaftlichen Engage-
ments fur eine Europ¨ ische Zivilgesellschaft “ Impulse, Blockaden, Herausforderungen™
¨ a
(Berlin, 30 October 2001).
100 See the report in the Financial Times (London), 4 February 2002, and Naomi Klein,
˜Masochistic Capitalists™, Guardian (London), 15 February 2002.
101 Guardian (London), 8 January 2001, p. 6. Burson-Marsteller™s clients have also included
states: it was employed by the Nigerian government to discredit reports of genocide
during the Biafran war, the Argentinian junta after the disappearance of 35,000 civilians,
the Indonesian government after the massacres in East Timor, and rulers in need of
an improved image, like the Saudi monarchy and the late Romanian president Nicolae
Ceau¸ escu.
Catalysts 85

also generate (for some people) income, goods and services, and jobs
(50 per cent of the world™s manufacturing jobs are now located outside
the OECD region, a twelve-fold increase in four decades102 ). As well,
these ¬rms produce some measure of ˜social capital™ by training local
employees in such skills as self-organisation, punctuality and forward-
looking initiative. The use of ˜industrial™ theatre groups to train and mo-
tivate staff by South African companies serves as an unconventional il-
lustration of the point: blue-chip mining companies such as Harmony
Goldmines (the sixth largest gold producer in the world) and AngloGold
have contracted creative theatrical companies like Bluemoon and Jump-
ing Dust (the name comes from the Afrikaans word for dynamite) to use
live performance as a dynamic tool of communication.103 Drawing upon
techniques pioneered by the Brazilian director Augusto Boal, the indus-
trial theatre companies begin by researching the company™s problems by
spending time in meetings with workers, supervisors and managers. They
then write a script which is rehearsed and revised by the actors in front
of the employees. In this way, the employees are encouraged to become
˜spect-actors™ (as they are called) by stepping in and assuming the roles
that are being rehearsed. They are taught the arts of better communica-
tion with others, teasing out problems, building teams, rehearsing how
things within the company might be different, and easing in changes “ all
within a highly multilingual context, in which literacy levels remain low
but in which there are strong traditions of participation in the arts, and
of teaching through storytelling, song and dance.
Turbocapitalist ¬rms are also regularly in the business of cultivating
social meanings through consumption. Here we encounter the vexed
issue of how to understand the relationship between exchange value and
prestige value, between turbocapitalist ¬rms and consumer advertising “
and whether (and in which senses) this advertising promotes ˜globalised™
patterns of consumption. It is obvious that particularly in the ¬eld of
consumer retailing, through posters and billboards and commercial radio
and television, ¬rms engage local cultures for the purpose of construct-
ing convincing worlds of more or less shared symbols, ideas and values.
Consumer retailing by trans-national conglomerates is an especially apt,
if politically controversial example of how markets are embedded in civil
society institutions. Neo-Gramscian distinctions between struggles in the
realm of ˜civil society™ for meaningful authenticity (for instance, in the
idioms of food, dress, language, music and dance), and money-centred

102 United Nations Development Programme, Globalization and Liberalization (New York,
103 See www.bluemoon.co.za and www.learningtheatre.co.za.
86 Global Civil Society?

con¬‚icts over wealth and income in ˜the economy™ are obsolete. They do
not make sense in the ¬eld of globalised advertising and consumption. To
the extent that global civil society is shaped by global advertising, prestige
values do battle with exchange values: con¬‚icts about the generation of
wealth and income within ˜the economy™ simultaneously become disputes
about symbolic meanings.104
The lavish claims made for and against turbocapitalist consumer cul-
ture are a case in point. According to the Golden Arches Theory of Con-
¬‚ict Prevention, no two bordering countries that both have a McDonald™s
have ever gone to war. According to the opposite Americanisation of the
World Theory, world-wide advertising and marketing strategies neces-
sarily produce a bland, trivialised, homogenised “ American shopping
mall “ consumer culture that is imperialist. Both theories are implausi-
ble. There is no doubt that the world is linked together by taste chains,
but (as one would expect in matters to do with pockets and palates)
they operate in highly complex ways. Some taste chains “ like the global
marketing of Australian and New Zealand wine105 “ prove the power of
relatively powerless local economies in the turbocapitalist system. Other
taste chains bear the traces of once-dominant economies: football and
male fashion, although originally invented in Britain, today have global
in¬‚uence, despite the fact that that country is no longer the leader in either
fashion or football. Present-day attempts to globalise taste chains some-
times back¬re. The retailing of food products like Coke and Pepsi and
American television programmes to the villages of south-east Asia and
central America and to cities like Shanghai, Sydney, Johannesburg and
Cairo, for instance, stirs up trouble within global civil society. If anything,
these retailing strategies have had the effect of accentuating local cultural
diversity within global civil society. This is partly because pro¬t-seeking,
turbocapitalist retailers themselves see the need to tailor their products to
local conditions and tastes. It is also partly because (as Marshall Sahlins
has wittily pointed out106 ) the local consumers display vigorous powers of
reinterpreting and ˜overstanding™ these commodities, of giving them new
104 See Aihwa Ong, Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality (Durham,
105 Kym Anderson, The Globalization (and Regionalization) of Wine, Centre for Internatio-
nal Economic Studies Discussion Paper, 0125 (University of Adelaide, June 2001).
106 Marshall Sahlins, Waiting for Foucault and Other Aphorisms (Charlottesville and
Cambridge, 1999), p. 34: ˜Why are well-meaning Westerners so concerned that the
opening of a Colonel Sanders in Beijing means the end of Chinese culture? A fatal
Americanization. But we have had Chinese restaurants in America for over a century,
and it hasn™t made us Chinese. On the contrary, we obliged the Chinese to invent chop
suey. What could be more American than that? French fries?™ See also his ˜Cosmologies


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