Super Size Me: Globalisation and the Superclass


Globalization and Its Discontents

Finally managed to get down to finishing Joseph Stiglitz’s Globalisation and Its Discontents and David Rothkopf’s new one, Superclass.

While both authors show how globalisation has in the main benefited Western political, financial and business interests disproportionately, Stiglitz’s more institutionalised focus examines in detail the economic policies and workings of the IMF and World Bank (and to a lesser extent, the WTO), while Rothkopf’s socio-historical approach attempts to peel back Stiglitz’s institutional layers to flesh out a “taxnomy” of those 6,000 or so individuals who make up what he calls the globalised ‘superclass’, who are more than symbols of today’s economic inequalities. 

Not surprisingly, both authors advocate for considerations of social justice to make globalisation ‘fairer’, although their suggestions for “legitimate public governance mechanisms with real mandates” to set the priorities of globalisation somewhat differ in scope and spirit. While Stiglitz favours institutional change and reform, Rothkopf believes that current global governance frameworks may not be adequate to respond to and may be ultimately irrelevant to an increasingly borderless, transnational superclass.

However, I find problematic Rothkof’s suggestion that to survive and retain power, these elites have “to make the needs of those least able to help themselves its number one priority”.  Having surveyed the rise and fall of past era elites and invariably determined that increasing detachment and disengagement from the needs and concerns of ‘the little people’ led to their downfall, it seems contradictory for Rothkopf to then surmise that the superclass can preserve itself the way it currently is by introducing more social justice in the world.  Wouldn’t that be catalysing their own destruction, or at least transformation, since history has shown all too clearly that overreaching elites have been overthrown in favour of new, more equitable power structures?

Overall, good reads, and highly recommended for those with a penchant to find out more about the insides out of globalisation.


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