When the Cold War drew to a close in the late 1980s, some in the West proclaimed the “end of history”: from now on, there would be no more deep conflicts about how to organize societies, no more ideological divisions in the world. In the “new world order” heralded by the American president at the time, George H. W. Bush, countries would cooperate peacefully as participants in one worldwide market, pursuing their interests while sharing commitments to basic human values. These triumphant responses to the new global situation heartily embraced economic liberalization and the prosperity and democratization it supposedly entailed. As global trade and investment expanded, more and more people could share in the bounty of a growing economy. Economic and political interdependence would create shared interests that would help prevent destructive conflict and foster support for common values. As vehicles of globalization, international organizations could represent these common values for the benefit of humanity. Globalization, in this rosy scenario, created both wealth and solidarity. The spread of market-oriented policies, democratic polities, and individual rights promised to promote the well-being of billions of people.

This influential perspective on globalization has been challenged by critics who see globalization as a juggernaut of untrammeled capitalism. They fear a world ruled by profit-seeking global corporations. They see economic interdependence making countries ...

Get The Globalization Reader, 5th Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.