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The emancipatory potential of generic globalization

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The debate around globalization is entering a new and more mature phase reflected in the fact that it is now generally accepted that we live in an era of globalization. However, the concept is used in a bewildering variety of ways. Here I attempt to deconstruct it by distinguishing three modes of globalization in theory and practice, namely: generic, capitalist, and alternative globalizations. My argument is that globalization in a generic sense is too often confused with its dominant actually existing type, capitalist globalization. I define generic globalization in terms of (a) the electronic revolution; (b) postcolonialisms; (c) the subsequent creation of transnational social spaces; and (d) qualitatively new forms of cosmopolitanism. Capitalist globalization undermines the emancipatory potential of the four elements of generic globalization, resulting in what are termed here a new type of class polarization crisis and the crisis of ecological unsustainability. The article concludes with an attempt to sketch the main principles of a post-capitalist alternative form of democratic socialist globalization, based on networks of sustainable consumer-producer cooperatives operating at all appropriate social and geographical scales.

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