CIAO DATE: 6/00
Globalization: A Third Way Gospel that Travels World Wide
International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000
By the end of the 90s, social democratic leaders world-wide have being referring to unspecified processes of globalization when undertaking unpopular domestic reforms of organizational structures and policies. Globalization is overall considered to be an irreversible process to which national politicians will have to adapt in order to avoid future crises. Thus, we can talk about a structural-determinist discourse, or a discourse which is traditionally applied in neo-liberal circles stating that there is no alternative'.
The questions dealt with in the paper concern the origins of this particular globalization discourse and the conditions under which it has been diffused world-wide. It is concluded that it is not the inherent qualities of the globalization idea itself that has made it so widely shared, nor has it much to do with objective or real globalization processes. The dynamics of the globalization idea can be better understood by focusing on the ideational entrepreneurs who formulated the idea in the first place, the power-base of the politicians who started to talk the globalization discourse, the role of international economic organizations in diffusing the idea, and the national politicians and civil servants who in the end implemented the globalization discourse in concrete national settings. In other words, the life-cycle of the structural-determinist discourse seems very much to be actor-driven.
The Socialist International does it:
1. Humankind is witnessing a new change of era marked by the phenomenon of globalisation [...] Macroeconomic policies which are disciplined by the operation of the global financial markets have been constrained in what they can attempt to achieve and compelled to meet stringent requirements relating to public deficits, inflation etc. 2
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Prime Minister of Mali and President of ADEMA-PASJ, does it:
Globalisation brings troubles and worries, but also greater opportunities than ever before [...] None of us is opposed to globalisation just as none of us at this moment when we are struggling almost alone to ensure that the policies of structural adjustment take account of the social dimension of development is proposing policies at variance with rigorous macro-economic equilibrium. 3
The Danish Prime Minister, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, chair of the Danish social democratic party, does it:
Globaliseringseffekt og benhård konkurrence præger os. Økonomi blandet med ustabilitet [...] En globalisering, som ikke er en naturlov, men som er et vilkår, hvorpå vi må forme vor strategi og vores politik. Og globaliseringen er over os i et tempo og en udstrækning, som er ganske tankevækkende [...] Jeg ser i øvrigt Europa i et globalt perspektiv, som den region der må påtage sig sit globale "social leadership" - fordi der ikke er nogle andre, der gør det, selvom behovet er stort B og fordi vi er bedst til det [...] Og jeg tilføjer: Hvis vi ikke havde EU, måtte vi opfinde et regionalt, institutionelt samarbejde. Man skal forstå, at i den globaliserede verden er politik tilstedeværelse. 4
The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, does it:
Globalisation has transformed our economies and our working practices [...] Any Government that thinks it can go it alone is wrong. If the markets dont like your policies they will punish you 5
Tony Blair even does it together with Gerhard Schröder:
In fast allen Ländern der Europäischen Union regieren Sozialdemokraten [...] In einer Welt immer rascherer Globalisierung und wissenschaftlicher Veränderungen müssen wir Bedingungen schaffen, in denen bestehende Unternehmen prosperieren, sich entwickeln und neue Unternehmen entstehen und wachsen können. 6
The French Socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, does it:
La question nest plus de savoir si nous voulons ou non la mondialisation. Elle est un fait : les trois quarts des échanges mondiaux de biens sont totalement libéralisés ou soumis á des droits de douane négligeables. Cest aussi le cas des mouvements de capitaux. La question est de savoir comment nous maîtrisions cette mondialisation. 7
And the American Vice-President, Al Core, does it too:
We cannot compete and thrive in the global marketplace if we are battling bureaucracy and apathy on our own shores [...] In this fast-moving, fast-changing global economy -- when the free flow of dollars and data are source of economic and political strength, and whole new industries are born every day -- governments must be lean, nimble, and creative, or they will surely be left behind 8
What is it that these prominent people do? They all talk the globalization discourse! Apart from that, they are all belonging to a social democratic family, they all talk the globalization discourse in a very particular way, and they all do it at a very specific point of time.
Social democrats across the world are not alike. As Tod Lindberg (1999) argued in The Wall Street Journal, "the specifics of Third Wayism vary drastically from country to country [...] the Third Way as practiced in one country might seem left-wing in another and harshly conservative in a third." 9 Within the European context, one can even speak about various social democratic families. In Great Britain it is easy to identify a Third Way which is market-oriented in its approach to the state and the labour market. In Germany and the Netherlands the neue mitte allows for more state activity in the economy as well as on the labor markets. In Scandinavia the Ny Start implies a reform of the welfare state thoroughly reformulating social and educational policies while keeping the labor markets on an arms length. Finally, in France, volontarisme requires the state to play a pro-active role on the labor markets and in the economy as such. In short, we talk about various ways in which social democracy is lived in practice. Nevertheless, despite their differences in approach, all the social democratic families, as indicated with the citations above, seem to talk a 'globalization discourse'.
Globalization as discourse is nothing new in itself. In earlier stages, political elites of all ideological origins talked about internationalization, external pressure and interdependencies. Particularly, they did so when discussing their own and their countrys role and strategy in international fora like the IMF, World Bank, EC, OECD and others. Various common declarations and international treaties actually contained references to developments at a global scale. The following two are just casual illustrations of the kind.
OECD Council Meeting, 1981:
In a world of progressive interdependence any attempt to steer a single-handed economic course is doomed to failure 10
OECD Council Meeting, 1982:
The key features of the past two decades - the rising share of trade in economic activity, the rapid growth of financial interdependence, and the internationalisation of business - are likely to continue. Ministers recognise that this means that their economies are going to be more and more strongly influenced by developments in other countries 11
However, by the end of the 90s, the new thing is the amazing uniformity in which and the increasing frequency with which globalization is being used in the domestic political discourse. More often than not, globalization is an integrated part of the ideological vocabulary of any social democratic leader and in any party program or declaration. In the following examples, globalization is being coupled to an argument in favor of Economic and Monetary Union in Europe. Whether the speaker is Scandinavian or French social democrat or whether it is an extract from a German social democratic party resolution, the EMU is presented at the domestic scene as a shield against globalization.
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Danish Social Democratic Prime Minister:
Der handles og investeres som aldrig før over enorme afstande. Vi går ikke fri af den internationale markedsøkonomis bevægelser. Vi så det i 1997, i 1998, hvor en voldsom økonomisk krise ramte Europa og ramte os, men den ramte ikke Portugal og Spanien, som den normalt ellers ville gøre, for de var på vej ind i den fælles valuta. Vi oplevede det samme forløb i Europa i 1992 og 1993, hvor det fælles europæiske valutasamarbejde ikke kunne stå for trykket udefra. Det har vi lært af. Det handler den fælles valuta, euroen, også om. Danmark har en interesse i ikke længere at skulle leve med den usikkerhed. Det vil være godt for virksomhederne. Det vil være godt for vores befolkninger at få en større stabilitet i det fælles valutaområde. Oliekriserne fra 1970erne har også sendt os klare erfaringer herom. Et dansk medlemskab af den fælles valuta giver store muligheder for at varetage vores lands interesser bedre end før 12
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, French social democratic minister of finance:
Leuro est porteur de réformes profondes. Il est le meilleur instrument possible de maîtrise de la mondialisation. Il nous rend une capacité de mener des politiques économiques actives. A nous de lutiliser au mieux dans ce but, pour la croissance et lemploi en Europe 13
The German Social Democratic Party, SPD:
EMU is an answer to the challenges of globalised financial markets [...] EMU is a chance to regain the ability of control under the conditions of globalised financial markets 14
Representatives of the European Commission have of course supported the Globalization-EMU link. Rt Hon Sir Leon Brittan QC., vice-president of the European Commission:
If national governments ever had the illusion that they could resist or delay globalisation, technological progress and the advent of the Internet made this an impossible proposition [...] I believe that the right response to globalisation is to see it as an opportunity: an opportunity to put ones own house in order, to maximise ones potential and to become capable of competing with the best [...] I can say without hesitation that the kind of structural reforms made necessary because of EMU are also the kind of changes necessary to meet the challenge of globalisation [...] Globalisation is a fact of life. To succeed in life you have to face facts. But the fact of globalisation can be turned into an opportunity if we have the courage to proceed vigorously with the programme of internal reform and push boldly for markets to be opened up world-wide. 15
Other examples of coupling can be given. In the citations listed at the beginning of this paper, some of the social democratic spokes-persons couple globalization to a certain way of thinking about the economy. A sustainable, healthy, sound and responsible economic policy strategy is one which is rigorous on inflation, budgetary deficits, foreign debt and currency stability. Everything is explained in the light of globalization. On other occasions - also exemplified with the citations above - globalization is being coupled to lean, reinvented and flexible government. Government, in the views of the social democrats of the late 90s, has to be competitive in the age of globalization. Øyvin Østerud (1999: 36) argues that in the last decades, market solutions, liberalized trade and capital movements, and deregulations have been implemented in large parts of the western world and that the large social democratic parties in Western Europe - having gone through a major ideological shift - now are supporting such a political strategy. Basically, Øyvin Østerud (ibid: 116) argues that social democratic authorities in many countries may be tempted at the domestic level to exaggerate the degree to which globalization is undermining their autonomy to act independently. Most social democratic leaders today actually wish to liberalize the economy, but in the public discourse they seem to prefer to scapegoat processes of globalization for these unpopular measures rather than admitting that their political priorities at the end of the 90s are in line with the priorities of previous conservative leaders. This is what the globalization discourse is all about. The globalization discourse is synonym to the tendency for social democratic leaders to bring the term globalization into the public debate whenever it serves their purposes. The globalization discourse is disconnected from the reality out there and serving as an explanatory category for organizational reform, economic restructuring, administrative change, international cooperation and regional integration.
Thus, globalization is hip. But it is a special variant of the globalization discourse which is at stake. In the following, I will refer to this particular variant as the structural determinist discourse. As we have seen, there are various ways in which different social democratic families can speak the structural determinist globalization discourse. On one extreme, the British Third Way uses globalization to keep the state away and the economy prudent.
Tony Blair, 22nd April1999:
'In the field of politics, too, ideas are becoming globalised. As problems become global - competitivity, changes in technology, crime, drugs, family breakdown - so the search for solutions becomes global too [...] Certain key ideas and principles are emerging. Britain is following them [...] Let me summarise the new political agenda we stand for: (1) Financial prudence as the foundation of economic success. In Britain, we have eliminated the massive Budget deficit we inherited; put in new fiscal rules; granted Bank of England independence - and were proud of it. (2) On top of that foundation, there is a new economic role for Government. We dont believe in laissez-faire. But the role is not picking winners, heavy handed intervention, old-style corporatism, but: education, skills, technology, small business entrepreneurship. Of these, education is recognised now as much for its economic as its social necessity. It is our top priority as a Government. (3) We are reforming welfare systems and public services. In Britain, we are introducing measures to tackle failing schools and reform the teaching profession that would have been unthinkable by any Government even a few years ago. Plus big changes to the NHS. For the first two years of this Government, welfare bills have fallen for the first time in two decades. (4) We are all tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. The debate between "liberals" and "hardliners" is over. No one disputes the causes of crime. In particular social exclusion - a hardcore of society outside its mainstream - needs a special focus. We wont solve it just by general economic success. But we dont excuse crime either. Criminals get punished. Thats justice. Fairness. (5)We are reinventing or reforming Government itself. The Government machine is being overhauled. Here, Al Gore has led the way. But the whole basis of how we deliver Government services is being altered' 16
On the other extreme, the French volontarisme uses globalization to keep the state busy when it comes to social regulation at both the national and international levels.
Lionel Jospin, 16th November 1999:
'We fully recognize globalisation. But we do not see its form as inevitable. We seek to create a regulatory system for the capitalist economy. We believe that through common European action - in a Europe fired by social democratic ideals - we can succeed in the regulation of key areas, whether finance, trade or information [...] This need to take control in adapting to reality places a special responsibility on the state. The state is in a position to provide the necessary direction, without taking the place of other factors in society. Often it is the only agent that can clear away or navigate around the archaic forces standing in the way of changes that society wants. In France we call this approach volontarisme. The concept of volontarisme, or an active state, is a key part of our approach to modernisation'. 17
On both occasions we can talk about a structural determinist version of the globalization discourse because globalization is taken to leave the policy-maker with no other choice than just to adapt to external forces. In Great Britain, Tony Blair argues that globalization demands a leaner state in a context of market competition, whereas in France, Lionel Jospin argues that globalization requires that the role of the state should be strengthened in the economy. Both use globalization as an argument to promote reforms.
How can we explain this sudden resurgence of the structural determinist globalization discourse amongst the social democratic leaders at the end of the 90s?
One straightforward explanation could be that political leaders actually are constrained by external forces, that globalization leaves nothing for the Left to be done in terms of traditional social democratic policy-making. The puzzle can then be explained right-away by arguing that the actor optimists are wrong! Actor optimists are dreamers, academics living in their ivory-tower excluded from the nitty-gritty details of everyday life, saved from the harsh reality in which people fight for their political, business and physical lives. According to that argument, the structural determinists have proved their worth by predicting uniformity, irreversible processes of adaptation, and fatalistic attitudes to destiny. In short correct ideas (structural determinism) get powerful, wrong ideas (actor optimists) fall into oblivion.
However, a brief look at the academic globalization literature within the disciplines of International Political Economy, sociology and comparative politics does not outright support such a claim. Rather, if the prevalent globalization discourse is characterized by structural determinism, then the Structural determinists within mainstream academic debate about globalization are now more on the retreat than actually framing the debate. The Actor-optimists seem to be in a majority now.
Øyvind Østerud (1999: 12-13) distinguishes between four groups of globalization scholars along two dimensions: globalization and the role of the state. On one dimension one can distinguish between those who consider globalization to be a qualitative and quantitative new phenomenon, and those who argue that globalization is neither new, nor particular strong as an external constraint. On the other dimension we find those who are little optimistic about the capabilities of the state to pursue autonomous policy strategies, and those who draw less pessimistic conclusions about state sovereignty. The following table can then be constructed:
|Globalization strong and new||Globalization weak and old|
|State sovereignty lost:||Structural determinists||Actor pessimists|
|State is still sovereign||Structural moderates||Actor optimists|
Each of the cells in the table can be exemplified by a set of scholars who apparently have not got much in common apart from their specific globalization approach. Amongst the structural determinists, we will find scholars such as Kenichi Ohmae (1990) and probably also the sociologist Zygmunt Bayman (1998) as well as Alain Minc (1997). These scholars do not leave the state in its present form much leeway when it comes to changing the course of the so-called irreversible forces of globalization. The state is withering away and new organizational forms on other levels of governance and in various issue areas are coming to the fore. The structural moderates can be exemplified by Stephen Gill and David Law (1988), Viviane Forrester (1996), James Goldsmith (1994), and The Economist (1995, 1997), who, like the structural determinists, are just as serious about the magnitude and consequences of present days forces of globalization but, contrary to the structural determinists, actually see the state as being a major actor in this process which, if it so may be, can be turned in other directions, can be slowed down or redefined, or simply is an expression of and a consolidation of the ultra-capitalist eras distribution of material and ideological power resources.
The actor pessimists are probably best represented by Paul Hirst & Grahame Thompson (1996 ), Élie Cohen (1996) and Susan Strange (1994). For them, globalization is neither new, nor global; however, present days international political economy, global or not, have not left the state with much sovereignty, when it comes to handling purely domestic issues. The state is one actor among many, and the international economy is interwoven on many levels and in many dimensions. Finally, the actor optimists are scholars like Linda Weiss (1997, 1998) and Robert Gilpin (1987) who basically call for a note of caution when it comes to declaring the present state as dead and irrelevant in the international political economy. Neither when it comes to domestic issues nor when it comes to handling international economic relations are there many signs that the state is withering away. Furthermore, according to the actor optimists, the so-called globalization tendencies are neither new nor particular different from what we otherwise know from studying the international political economy.
Without going into any details of this globalization debate between academic scholars, suffice to conclude, that there is no consensus amongst those scholars about the degree to which globalization constitutes a factor (new or old) that undermines the role of the state in policy-making processes at home and abroad. In other words, it is not because now-a-days social democratic leaders have a firm and consistent academic debate to support their claims, that they seem to have undertaken a structural determinists globalization discourse. In short, they will not find consistent academic evidence for their discursive strategies if they cared to look for such support. Prevalent and consensually shared ideas do not have inherent characteristics that make them powerful compared to so-called wrong ideas. There are no inherently correct, as opposed to wrong, ideas when it comes to globalization discourse.
What then can explain the apparent wide-spread, and quite simplistic, structural determinist version of the social democratic globalization discourse? Maybe the fact that the structural determinist version indeed is simplistic can help us understand its common use in todays domestic political discourse. Today, probably more then ever, politicians need short story-lines in their confrontation with the public, they need convincing and easy-to-understand stories when they undertake to communicate with a more and more diverse group of listeners and potential voters. Furthermore, politicians make their arguments in increasingly competitive contexts. There are more and more active politicians who want to sell more and more political products, and they want to do this in a context in which the speed of communication is accelerating, in which the issues they want to have an opinion about are constantly moving targets, and in which the technical media to be used in the communication process requires more and more specialists skills. The structural determinist story-line is sufficiently simple and it fulfills all the criteria which can be established with a view to get the message through. In short, one could argue that simple ideas get their way, complex and less intuitively clear ideas fall along the way-side. This has nothing to do with whether one idea or another is factually or morally correct; rather, this explanation is based on the process in which ideas are being framed in modern politics. It is less a question about content, than about form. However, there is one problem with this explanation. It is not the case that the actor optimist line is more complex, less easy to understand and slower to communicate. This might have been the case with the actor pessimists or the structural moderates which can be said to be inherently illogical (whether they are correct or wrong) in the way their story-lines are framed. But the actor optimist story is just as simple and straight-forward as is the structural determinist. The nothing-has-changed-so-we-can-do-as-before story, is just as easy to tell as the everything-has-changed-so-we-have-adapt story. In other words, political framing of ideas cannot help us understand the prevalence of the structural determinist version of the social democratic globalization discourse.
In the present paper, it is argued that it is not the inherent qualities of the ideas themselves, nor the way they are being framed in the political debate, that make some ideas rather than others powerful. Rather, there is a set of mechanisms which, under certain conditions, can empower particular ideas thereby rendering them an almost hegemonic status in elite circles world-wide. The question then becomes to trace the origins of the present hegemonic structural determinist version of globalization discourse and account for the mechanisms which made a difference for its birth, survival and upraising through an ideational life-cycle. 18
The rest of the paper will be organized in three small sections. Firstly, I will attempt to trace the origins of the structural determinist version of the social democratic globalization discourse. Of course, one can never be sure about the exact origins, which probably always are multiple. A few attempts will be made anyway. Secondly, I will discuss the role of international economic organizations in diffusing the structural determinist globalization discourse world-wide. One could argue that, in order to get diffused so quickly and in such a powerful way, that international fora of socialization must have had an impact. Particular focus will be put on the OECD. Finally, I will study how the structural determinist discourse is being operationalized in a concrete national political context - to be more precise, in the Danish political landscape. Denmark is a particularly interesting case because here we talk about a country which, paradoxically, have pursued an active, demand-oriented and regulatory economic policy while its social democratic leaders have conducted the structural determinist globalization discourse - it is a bumblebee that is not supposed to fly. Finally, I will conclude the paper on a more general line, making comparisons to the other papers presented in this panel.
The Origins of the Globalization Discourse
In the mind of journalists and others, the Third Way is closely linked to the philosophy of Anthony Giddens 19 (Calinicos, 1999: 79). 20 And it is indeed true that Giddens, in a British context, has been one of the latter years entrepreneurs behind the New Labour, and it is true that Giddens version of the Third Way does promote the globalization discourse when formulating so-called modern political strategies for the 21st century. In his book (Giddens, 1998: 28-33) The Third Way - The Renewal of Social Democracy and in his recent Reith Lectures 21 this comes out in clear:
'Different thinkers have taken almost completely opposite views about globalisation in debates that have sprung up over the past few years. Some dispute the whole thing. Ill call them the sceptics. According to the sceptics, all the talk about globalisation is only that - just talk [...] Others, however, take a very different position. Ill label them the radicals. The radicals argue that not only is globalisation very real, but that its consequences can be felt everywhere [...] The sceptics tend to be on the political left, especially the old left. For if all of this is essentially a myth, governments can still intervene in economic life and the welfare state remain intact. The notion of globalisation, according to the sceptics, is an ideology put about by free-marketeers who wish to dismantle welfare systems and cut back on state expenditures [...] Well, who is right in this debate? I think it is the radicals [...] I would have no hesitation, therefore, in saying that globalisation, as we are experiencing it, is in many respects not only new, but revolutionary'
Giddens takes side in supporting what he calls the radical view of globalization. He argues that globalization is not only a quantitative and qualitative new phenomenon, but also that it has consequences for the state everywhere. This is in line with his line of argument in The Consequences of Modernity (1990) in which he argues that globalization can be seen as the secularization and as a Westernization of the globe as such (Østerud, 1999: 71). In the previous section, I classified such a point of view in the category of structural determinists. This is opposed to Giddens category The Sceptics, which I have called the actor optimists.
Although Giddens is very much present in the current globalization debate and in the continuous framing of the Third Way, the globalization discourse which he represents in his writings, is older. Tod Lindberg (1999) argues that in the 1970s, the Third Way was the term for the Swedish model. For the purposes here, it suffices to go back to the mid 80s when Al From and others started the Third Way movement in the USA with the founding of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) 22 - a group of centrist and conservative Democrats (Marlowe, 1999). DLC defines itself as an "idea center, catalyst, and national voice for a reform movement that is reshaping American politics by moving it beyond the old left-right debate" and it coined the term the third way when preparing Bill Clintons presidential campaign in 1992. The present president of DLC, Al From, played a prominent role in the 1992 election of president Bill Clinton and was appointed by Clinton to be his personal representative on the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee and deputy director for domestic policy for the Presidential Transition Team. Previously, From was executive director of the House Democratic Caucus, served in President Jimmy Carters White House, and was staff director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations. 23 In a resolution entitled The New American Choice, which was adopted at the DLC Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, May 1991, the groundwork for the 1992 Democratic Party platform was laid down. In it, the first elements of the globalization discourse came to the fore. In Al Froms own words, the clearest, most complete articulation of the Third Way philosophy to date is The New Progressive Declaration, published in July 1996. Already in its subtitle, the reader is told that the world has changed as a result of which politics is bound to change as well: A Political Philosophy for the Information Age.' 24 In it, one reads:
'Global confusion. The end of the Cold War has weakened the domestic consensus behind vigorous U.S. global leadership, leaving us uncertain of our role in the world, torn between the impulse to lead and the temptation to turn inward. These challenges demand more new policies, they demand sweeping changes in the basic structure of government [...] As the era of big government comes to a close, we must reconstruct the progressive agenda in keeping with the organizational, political, and social imperatives of the Information Age'(p.4)
Today, the DLC is happy to take the responsibility for the fact that The Third Way Goes Global' 25 It argues that starting with Bill Clintons Presidential campaign in 1992, Third Way thinking is reshaping progressive politics throughout the world. Then Tony Blair, when leading a New Labour party back to power in 1997, is said to have been inspired by the example of Clinton and the New Democrats. Furthermore, the victory of Gerhard Schröder and the Social Democrats in Germany in 1998 is taken by the DLC to confirm the power of the think tank throughout the European Union. 26
However, the diffusion of ideas does not only depend on them being taken up by a new president. They have to be launched internationally, in international fora. Once in power, Bill Clinton, in a G7 context formulated a so-called "global growth strategy" (Putnam, 1994) 27 that would "involve mutually supportive policy shifts by each of the major summit actors." The US was supposed to reduce its budgetary deficits, Japan should boost its fiscal policies and Germany should make the Bundesbank relax monetary policy. Thus, what we are talking about here is an attempt made by Clinton to coordinate macro-economic policy strategies at a global level. We talk global coordination of individual countries demand-management - tightening in the USA and loosening in Japan and Germany. What happened, however, was that this strategy soon ran into the sands! Both Germany - whose political leaders probably still remembered that they were caught on their wrong leg in the G7-meeting in Bonn back in 1978 (Putnam & Henning, 1989) - and Japan refused to let themselves be coordinated by the US. Finally, also Clinton himself backed away from the "global growth strategy", because, according to Putnam (ibid), the Clinton administration is much less committed philosophically to international macro-economic policy coordination than was the Carter Administration, as a result of which Clinton turned inwards to find solutions to immediate growth problems. Putnam (ibid) cites an of-the-record comment from a senior Clinton official, that the problem is not the summit process, the problem is domestic politics.
After the marked failure of the demand-side growth strategy in which global macroeconomic coordination was at the center-stage, Clinton then turned inwards to look for new strategies and soon a so-called structural adaptation strategy was launched in the G7 forum. The problem was now seen to be rooted at the domestic level, at the supply-side of the economy, in the structural rigidities of capital and labor markets and counterproductive tax and regulatory policies. Gradually, argues Putnam (ibid), European leaders had come to share this diagnosis and we see the structural-determinist globalization discourse take shape at an international level. Within the G7 summit framework, this supply-side growth strategy, takes the form of a "global job strategy" which was launched in Detroit in March 12-13, 1994. On Behalf of the G-7 Jobs Conference, the US Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, made the following statement:
Let me say that were facing tremendous change [...] We need to extract the most from change that we can. Thats why it is critical that we prepare our economies, and most importantly, our people, for the challenge that awaits us in the next century [...] In our differing economies and societies, structural reforms can make our labor markets and employment systems far more adaptable to change. We need, carefully and in our own ways, to pursue policies to take down barriers, and to strengthen our markets. Actively anticipating and responding to labor market needs can help meet the challenge of change [...] The structural reforms in labor and social programs will be more successful if they are supported by sound macroeconomic policies that promote growth. 28
Globalization is, in this particular meeting, framed as tremendous change which necessitates structural reform of labor markets, the strengthening of markets and sound macro-economic policies. In the follow-up meeting in Naples on July 8-10, 1994, the summit communiqué was even clearer in its structural determinist recommendations - a diffuse idea/globalization discourse had now undertaken an almost programmatic form:
We have gathered at a time of extraordinary change in the world economy. New forms of international inter-action are having enormous effects on the lives of our peoples and are leading to the globalization of our economies [...] How can we adapt existing institutions and build new institutions to ensure the future prosperity and security of our people? [...] We will concentrate on the following structural measures. We will: increase investment in our people [...] reduce labour rigidities which add to employments cost or deter job creation, eliminate excessive regulations and ensure that indirect costs of employing people are reduced wherever possible [...] pursue active labour market policies [...] encourage and promote innovation [...] promote competition, through eliminating unnecessary regulations and through removing impediments to small and medium-sized firms 29
The following year, at the Halifax G7 Summit on June 15-17, 1995, this strategy was confirmed - as it has been in any summit communiqué since then. 30 Prior to the Halifax meeting, Managing Directors of other international economic organizations also prepared the ground with the globalization discourse. Take IMF director Michel Camdessus as an example:
Michel Camdessus, IMF, June 15, 1995:
But judge for yourselves: Mexico, Barings, the dollar crisis. These three crises bear the marks of a new world dominated by the forces of globalization, a world to which our countries and our institutions must urgently adapt as best they can. It is against this background of globalization that the Halifax Summit will take place. 31
One further thing which happened in Halifax - and this is crucial for the purposes of this paper - was that the G7 communiqué resulting from this particular meeting explicitly recommended that the OECD in Paris would start consider the issue of globalization and its consequences for domestic institutional adaptation. The role of the OECD in helping to establish the Globalization discourse in the minds of social democratic leaders will be investigated in the next session. The main strategy seems to have been for various OECD committees to couple the structural determinist version of the globalization discourse to different policy issues, such as sound policy (Economic and Political Committee), new public management (Public Management Committee) and flexible labor markets (Industrial Committee).
In summary, I have now focused on a few and admittedly sketchy elements in our search for the origins of the present hegemonic globalization discourse. From being nowhere but represented, in casual and unsystematic ways, in declarations from international economic organizations, the structural determinist globalization discourse has been working its way onto the global social democratic agenda from an American think tank preparing Clintons presidential campaign in 1992, onwards to the G7 agenda in 1994 - after other, less successful, ideas have felt along the way-side - and ending up on the agenda of the OECD in 1995.
The Role of the OECD in Diffusing the Globalization Discourse
OECD is not the only international economic organization which have started to talk the globalization discourse during the 90s. IMF and the EU could just as well have been chosen to illustrate the point I want to make in this section: International organizations not only diffuse ideas through their activities and their production of public discourse, they also to a certain extent transform, or rather extend, the original ideas so as to make them applicable for their present purposes. International organizations, as I have indicated in the previous section, do not necessarily invent new ideas, they most typically receive a set of ready-made ideas from someone or something, in this case from the American President and his think tanks, but ideas almost never survives their passage through international organizations in their original form.
Particularly the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund has been concrete in his display of the structural-determinist version of the globalization discourse in the period from the mid 90s till his departure from the IMF beginning 2000. 32 In the following extract, globalization is mainly seen as a risk, which one - both the rich and the poor countries - will have to adapt to. An arch example of a structural determinist version of the globalization discourse.
Michel Camdessus, IMF, 28 November 1995:
the most important trends in the world economy today--globalization [...] Those of you who follow the Bretton Woods institutions closely may be surprised to see how frequently the concept of globalization appears in my remarks. However, the explanation for this is simple: this is the aspect of the international economy that contrasts the most sharply with the world of segmented markets and pervasive exchange and capital controls that existed when the Bretton Woods institutions were established. This is why we must explore, and invite the world to explore, how to adapt to it [...] In my view, one of the greatest risks of globalization is the very serious possibility that countries that are unwilling or unable to adjust to its demands, especially the poorest, will become increasingly marginalized [...] I think there is also a tendency to give insufficient attention to the challenges that globalization poses to industrial countries. One such challenge is the increased market discipline over the management of fiscal deficits. In the EU context, the papers of Ben Rosamond and Knud Erik Jørgensen in this panel provides plenty of examples of the globalization discourse in the same time-period. Recently, particularly Vice President of the European Commission, Leon Brittan, has been eager and consistent in his promotion of the globalization discourse. 33
Globalization is widely viewed as one of the most powerful forces shaping the modern world [...] Let me make my own position crystal clear from the start: I am a convinced supporter of global economic liberalization, not only because I think new technology and reduced transport costs make it inevitable, but above all because I believe the process is conducive to continuing economic growth and therefore greater human well-being [...] What is abundantly true, however, is that globalization does require a greater willingness to accept change. Change is not new, of course. As Heraclitus said Aonly change is constant@ [...] In conclusion, globalization is a very real phenomenon which poses substantial challenges to the way we run our affairs both politically and economically. The European Union has proved itself as a uniquely effective response to these modern challenges and has enabled nation-states to extend a much greater degree of effective sovereignty over the new international order than they would have been able to do on their own. 34
In short there is no genuine alternative to globalisation. Anything else would be a blind alley. 35
Globalisation is a fact of life, and will continue irrespective and independent of the activities of government. The issue is not whether we can accept or reject it, but how to ensure it is channelled in positive directions. It is vital that national and international organisations acknowledge the impact of globalisation and respond accordingly. 36
The IMF, the EU and other international fora are all relevant for studying the ways in which the globalization discourse is being disseminated throughout the world and the ways in which the standard structural-determinist globalization discourse is being linked to various specific policy issues in an internal policy transformation process. For illustrative purposes, focus is at present on the OECD and one of ifs committees, the Public Management Committee (PUMA). 37
The PUMA-Committee gathers twice a year at the level of senior civil servants from the OECD member countries. Its mission is to "provide information, analysis, assessment andrecommendation on public management; exchange good practice; and report on issues and developments." 38 The Committee in the present form has existed since 1989, and it is supported by the Public Management Service, employing about 15 permanent staff and various research assistants and sub-contracted consultants. The PUMA-service has always been in search of a niche and identity within the overall OECD framework, 39 which has been dominated by the larger and older departments such as the Economics Department, 40 the Development Cooperation Directorate, 41 the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, 42 and the Directorate for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. 43
Faced with cut-down threats the PUMA has in recent years been forced to manifest itself more directly on the general OECD scene, and the document Governance in Transition (1995) is generally seen as exactly constituting an attempt of the PUMA committee and service to make a programmatic statement with a view to find a raison dêtre (Lerdell & Sahlin-Andersson, 1997). In the foreword, the secretary general of the OECD, Jean-Claude Paye, underlines that the report should be seen as a synthesis of current and past work carried out in the Public Management Service and in it one finds plenty of examples of the structural-determinist version of the globalization discourse. The recipe is always the same: a set of solutions (urgent reform of the public sector) is desperately looking around for a problem (globalization - here termed a global market place). This bears evidence of a committee and service in search of a new role. Take these few examples:
increasing global interdependence, uncertainty, and accelerating change is a major challenge [...] Governments must strive to do things better, with fewer resources, and, above all, differently (p. 7).
An increasingly open international economy puts a premium on national competitiveness [...] Radical change is required in order to protect the very capacity to govern and deliver services (p. 15).
A variety of factors have come together to make reform a burning issue. Key among these [is] the development of the global market-place, which highlighted the impact of government activities on national competitiveness (p. 19).
The external environment of the public sector has changed dramatically. A global market-place has developed [...] The freedom of national governments to act individually is significantly restrained (p. 21).
In the main part of the report, the solutions to the identified urgent globalization problem are identified, solutions which is identical to what one now-a-days knows under the heading New Public Management. 44 In its 1995 report, PUMAs reform suggestions can be summarized as (i) performance pay, (ii) performance targets, (iii) using IT, (iv) service delivery to clients, (v) user charges, (vi) contracting out; (vii) competition in the public sector, (viii) private sector style of management, (ix) discipline in use of resources, and (x) deregulation.
The following year, a working paper entitled Globalization: What Challenges and Opportunities for Governments? (1996) 45 is published by the PUMA Service. Its definition of Globalization is clearly structural-determinist:
globalisation and its many manifestations mean that borders - of all sorts - are becoming increasingly difficult for governments to define, let alone maintain. In consequence, national governments are being forced to redefine their roles, responsibilities and policy relationships
And it directly recommends the OECD (read PUMA) as an entity which can help states reorganizing and rethinking their organizational structures, procedures and cultures: International organizations such as the OECD - by providing both real and virtual fora for exchange - can also act as an important conduit in this process. 46
By 1999, the globalization discourse is complete, and safely consolidated in the PUMA context. This is exemplified by the document Synthesis of reform Experiences in Nine OECD Countries (1999). In this particular document the entire story-line behind the globalization-and-New-Public-Management link is spelled out in detail. The argument goes in two steps illustrated by the figure below.
In a first step, a crisis is identified; governments are overextended and unaffordable, and citizens are less and less satisfied with the services they get from government. A gulf between citizens expectations and the capability of governments to meet those expectations grew larger and larger. Then, in a second step, globalization comes into the picture:
With the onset of globalisation, decisions on roles and functions that were previously a domestic responsibility were greatly influenced by the international arena, raising concerns about sovereignty being impinged (p. 3).
Globalization, defined as capital, information, ideas, technologies, goods and services, as well as people, moving at an unprecedented volume and speed across national boundaries (p. 4), increases the need, according to the report, for public administrations to become more competitive. Competitiveness is here understood as the ability of the government to produce the demanded services, at the lowest possible price. One basic prerequisite for government managers to turn their governments into competitive organizations is, according to this logic, what is called strategic thinking. Strategic thinking involves a profound understanding of the existing realities, a clear vision and understanding of the direction of the reform, and a determination of the roles and responsibilities of those carrying out reform so that the actions taken have a good potential to lead the reform towards the stated objectives (p. 23). In other words, strategic thinking is needed to be able to implement strategic management, or what we earlier called New Public management. The argumentative chain is then brought to an end. The OECDs contribution to these profound administrative reforms is a very special and interesting one. The report itself states that:
external bodies, such as the OECD and WTO, often influenced the direction of reform and supported it through the publication of comparative information about countries. This provided objective information to politicians and the public alike, challenged the status quo, revealed different ways of operating, and put pressure on governments to respond. Even where a country lacked economic imperatives to reform, and had the luxury of not doing so, reputation-conscious governments, sensitive to unfavorable comparisons with others, initiated albeit moderate change (p.4 my italics)!
In other words, one secret behind the power of an idea - in this case the link between globalization and NPM - is that it must become consensually shared among those who participate in international organizations. If a member country for some reason or another does not feel the irreversible pressures for reform emanating from globalization, then this country is put under considerable social pressure to undertake public management reform. The fear for social exclusion at the level of international economic elites - the fear of not being member of the OECD organizational field - the fear of losing international legitimacy - the fear of not being part of the in group apparently sometimes is enough - disregarding the actual pressures deriving from globalization - for a country to start undertaking profound organizational reforms.
A final indication that the structural-determinist version of the globalization discourse has gained ground in the PUMA framework, is the fact that it is replicated in the newly adopted PUMA-mandate for the period 2000-2004:
As PUMA considers a new mandate and new directions in which to take its work at the outset of the 21st century, its mission can be stated in concise terms: to promote good governance [...] The growing demand for "good governance" can be traced to many sources. In an age characterized by what is called "globalization", countries face challenges of keeping up with an irreversible process of increasing linkages which in some cases is straining social relations [...] globalisation of economic and social policies creates a need for new capacities to exploit new opportunities (PUMA(99)7/rev1; November 3, 1999)
In the discussion above focus has only been on the adaptation of the globalization discourse to the demands of a single - and rather small - service within the OECD secretariat. A fast glance at the web-pages of the Economics Department and the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry will quickly convince the researcher that other links are being made. Within the Economic Policy Committee (EPC), a causal link is consistently made between globalization and so-called sound economic policy. Similarly within the Industrial Committee a link is made between globalization and regulatory reform:
Globalisation, increased competition and rapid technological change continually alter the environment in which industry operates, putting pressure on industry to adapt but also creating opportunities for growth and efficiency gains. Governments, for their part, are anxious to maximise these opportunities so as to increase employment, raise living standards and fund essential government services 47
The point which is made here is that international economic organizations play various roles when it comes to the globalization discourse. Firstly, once it has been promoted by a particularly influential source, the international economic organization takes up an idea and replicates it through its own official discourse. Not any idea has a chance to become integrated into the vocabulary of an international organization, ideas need powerful ideational carriers to become powerful. Secondly, international economic organizations help to diffuse this idea amongst its member countries. At some point an idea reach a tipping point among member countries and at that stage no-one can afford to ignore the idea if they want to remain legitimate within the international economic elite society (Finnenmore & Sikkink, 1998). After the tipping point, diffusion takes place by itself and the idea becomes consensually shared at an amazing speed. Thirdly, various departments in international economic organizations exploit the reigning idea as it fits their immediate purposes. If one department, which is otherwise close to being closed down, succeeds in making a link between the dominating idea and one of the main issues dealt with by the department, then the department can count on being saved from closure, and sometimes it can even aspire to a future in relative economic prosperity. One does simply not close departments which are promoting powerful and consensually shared ideas! At this point, however, one note of caution should be made. It is not argued that the structural-determinist globalization discourse is the only one out-there, which makes a difference for international economic organizations. Rather we should imagine various ideas which the international economic organization will have to deal with when they pop up. What I do argue, though, is that by the end of the 90s, the globalization discourse has become so frequently used, both among social democrats around the world and in international economic organizations, that this in itself really can be an example of something becoming globalized. In the next section we will study how the globalization discourse is being operationalized in a concrete national context - the Danish case.
The Globalization Discourse in Practice - the Danish Case
Together with an increased focus on globalization within the OECD framework 48 the Danish economic ministries started to speak the globalization discourse in 1996 and 1997. Civil servants within the Danish Ministry of Industrial Affairs and the Ministry of Finance 49 had already started to discuss the issue of globalization during 1996, basically because globalization became a highly prioritized issue on the agenda of the OECD Industrial Committee earlier that year. The 1996-report of the Ministry of Industrial Affairs already showed elements of the increased focus on globalization:
Globalisering er andet og mere end internationalisering. Globalisering betegner en udvikling, hvor virksomheder i stigende grad betragter verden, snarere end nationalstaten, som det mest naturlige marked, ikke kun for at sælge varer, men også for at købe arbejdskraft og tjenester, skaffe kapital, opnå kendskab til ny teknologi og viden og finde samarbejdspartnere ... Globaliseringens drivkraft er konkurrencen mellem virksomhederne ... formår vi ikke at tage ordentlig bestik af udfordringerne og indrette os på de nye betingelser, vil det svække fundamentet for det velfærdssamfund, som vi kender i dag ... Fordi globaliseringen betyder, at virksomheder, kapital og borgere bliver mere mobile, kan globaliseringen blive en udfordring for velfærdssamfundet (pp. 20-21).
Derfor skaber globaliseringen et pres på de enkelte lande for at tilvejebringe erhvervsmæssige vilkår, der ikke er ringere end vilkårene i andre lande ... For velfærdssamfundet betyder globaliseringen derfor, at den makroøkonomiske disciplin er blevet strammere (p. 22). 50
During 1997, these discussions materialized in more reports, meetings and conferences. In October 1997 a closed globalization conference was convened with Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen as chairperson. 51 Invited were mainly top civil servants and politicians from the economic ministries and experts from the OECD who had experience in dealing with processes of globalization. 52 Formally, the conference was based on the three reports: Globalisering og Dansk Økonomi, 53 Internationalisering og den økonomiske politik, 54 and Erhvervspolitik i et Globalt Perspektiv. 55 All reports bear clear elements of a structural determinist perspective on globalization:
[globaliseringen] fordrer, at omstillingsevnen i den danske økonomi understøttes. Nødvendigheden i at være parat til omstilling og forandring øges yderligere af, at det er vanskeligt at forudsige de fremtidige strukturelle påvirkninger [...] Kravene til makropolitikken er også skærpet. Globaliseringen har betydet, at de finansielle markeder reagerer hurtigere end tidligere, således at ubalancer i økonomien relativt hurtigt straffes med højere rente eller forringelse af valutakursen [...] Endelig skærper globaliseringen behovet for internationalt samarbejde for bla. at undgå konkurrence på skattemæssige særregler, subsidier, tekniske handelshindringer etc. (pp. 3-4).
Globaliseringen øger kravene til den økonomiske politik. På en række områder forstærker globaliseringen dog blot behovet for at føre politik på en måde, der under alle omstændigheder ville styrke økonomien (p. 21). 56
The Ministry of Industrial Affairs furthermore extends its discussion of globalization in its annual report for 1997:
For at kunne høste alle frugterne af globaliseringen skal de enkelte økonomier kunne omstille og tilpasse sig de strukturelle forandringer i erhvervene, som følger i kølvandet på den globale økonomi (p. 16).
Den nye globale konkurrence, hvor varer og kapital flytter sig ubesværet over landegrænser, har betydning for det enkelte lands behov og muligheder for at føre politik ... Kravene kan rubriceres under tre overskrifter: større fokus på erhvervenes rammevilkår; større behov for fælles international spilleregler; større behov for et velfærdssamfund. Stabile makroøkonomiske rammer er afgørende for, at virksomhederne kan disponere langsigtet. Derfor er det vigtigt, at Danmark gennem de senere år har opnået forbedringer af den offentlige sektors finanser, samtidig med at der er opretholdt et overskud på betalingsbalancen, lav inflation og stabil valutakurs (pp. 18-19).
Den største udfordring ved globaliseringen er derfor at sammensætte en politik, der giver virksomhederne mulighed for at deltage i den globale økonomi og samtidig sikrer, at de samfundsmæssige gevindster fortsat bliver jævnt fordelt (p. 66). 57
Today, the globalization discourse has become an integrated element in most official declarations from national economic ministries. In Spring 2000 the present minister of Industrial Affairs, Pia Gellerup, will be publishing a report on Globalisering og vidensøkonomi: strategi for den erhvervsmæssige udvikling i Danmark 58 involving no less than eight ministries. At this point, we will be able to get a more precise idea about the extent to which the globalization discourse is being shared within the Danish central administration.
The argument about the need for structural adaptation to processes of globalization seems to be supplementing, or maybe even replacing, the commonly used story-line about Denmark in Europe. The argument about Denmarks need to adapt to requirements from Brussels has so far been used extensively when explaining or informing the public about domestic reform measures. This scapegoating mechanism has probably added to the development of a rather skeptical popular attitude towards European integration in general and the Brussels-bureaucracy in particular. If the globalization discourse is slowly replacing the European discourse in a Danish context, this might have the effect of opening up the European debate in Denmark so that Europe can be discussed openly in visionary terms rather than constantly in structural determinist terms. But it might also have the effect that globalization will quickly appear in the public discourse as processes to be protected against, rather than as processes in which Denmark actively partakes. Structural determinist discourses can be thought of as discourses that liberate elected politicians from the responsibility of governance through government, thereby leaving the responsibility for governance with either the indefinable markets or cross-sectoral and transnational issue-networks of unaccountable actors. Therefore, a discussion about globalization as discourse also implies that normative issues about democracy and power come to the center-stage.
The term globalization discourse has been applied as a short-cut the for the tendency of social democratic leaders world-wide to circulate a so-called structural determinist version of current globalization processes. At present, social democracy seems to imply (among many other things, of course) that a link can legitimately be made between diffuse processes of globalization and a postulated need for political leaders to adapt domestic structures and policies. The structural determinist slogan there is no alternative has gained ground, not only on the traditional right wing but now also on the traditional left wing.
This cannot be explained only by reference to a parallel consensus amongst academic scholars studying the phenomenon of globalization. On the contrary, scholars seem to disagree about whether globalization is new or old, whether it is global or not, and about the extent to which processes of globalization undermine the sovereignty of the state. So, if there indeed seems to have been created a consensus amongst social democrats about the extent and consequences of globalization, how should we then understand such a consensus?
This paper has made a few preliminary and indicative steps in an attempt to trace the globalization discourse back in time amongst social democratic leaders. It did so in view of discussing some of the conditions which allow one particular version of the globalization debate - the structural determinist globalization discourse - to be disseminated world wide. The figure below indicates some of the major steps in the development of the globalization discourse.
At this stage, it should be emphasized that the picture of the life-cycle of the structural determinist globalization discourse of course is highly simplified and ignores a series of actors and processes. It should also be noted that the degree of consensus amongst social democratic leaders world-wide about the globalization discourse should not be exaggerated. There is simply not enough evidence in this paper to support such a strong claim. Furthermore, one can legitimately ask what kind of evidence is needed in order to substantiate a claim about the existence of a hegemonic discourse? Who should converge in their statements and how much convergence is needed in order to be able to talk about a real world-wide consensus? Is it enough that people talk the same globalization discourse or should they also act accordingly, and even believe in what they say themselves? Questions like these can legitimately, and indeed should, be asked to studies like the present one, which makes huge claims on the basis of a very limited and at times casual data-set.
If, however, we have these sound and skeptical considerations in mind and if we make educated guesses or probability probes (Eckstein, 1975: 108) rather than make general and law-like conclusions, then the paper has pointed to a series of factors which might be of help in understanding why one particular globalization discourse rather than another made the day amongst social democratic leaders at the end of the 90s.
For a beginning, it seems reasonable to exclude that ideas from the outset succeed if they are good or correct, whereas ideas which are bad or wrong fall along the way-side. What constitutes a good or bad idea is to a large extent socially constructed and of course depends on the very particular social environment in which the idea is brought up for discussion.
Second, it seems to be of some importance that ideas which are simple and straightforward (the structural determinist discourse and the actor optimist discourse) have a better chance to survive the ideational life-cycle than ideas which to many seem to be illogical constructions (the structural moderate discourse and the actor pessimist discourse). In principle, anything can be promoted as a bright idea if it is framed in a simple and easy-to-understand way. Furthermore, the framing aspect becomes particularly important if a certain idea is meant to be sold to a larger audience located world-wide in multiple social contexts. However, simplicity and good promotion does not tell us exactly which idea will turn out to become the basis for a new hegemonic discourse. Many ideas are simple, and we need to know which one of these simple ideas makes the day. The structure and form of an idea can only be a necessary but never a sufficient factor behind a powerful idea.
Third, it takes an ideational entrepreneur to formulate an idea (or rather re-formulate an idea, because most ideas have already been formulated for many years and in other contexts, which means that it is more correct to talk about ideas being re-invented rather than invented anew). The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) might be an example of such an ideational entrepreneur, who framed old ideas so that they fitted into a new context - in this case, Bill Clintons Presidential campaign in 1992.
Fourth, once an idea has been formulated, it takes a certain power-base to diffuse it world-wide. Not anybody with a clearly framed idea has the capability to make this idea trustworthy in other social contexts - processes of dissemination take a certain time and a lot of energy, both on the part of those who diffuse the idea (The US President and his administration), and on the part of those who are on the receivers side (Political leaders from other countries).
Fifth, power is not all! Many powerful leaders have tried to diffuse various ideas without being particularly successful in that regard. Apart from an efficient and powerful supply mechanism, there needs to be an explicit demand mechanism. The receivers of ideas need to perceive that they need new ideas to replace old ideas. Receivers need to believe that they cannot do without a powerful new idea. Such a perception needs not relate to an objective stage of crisis, but it will relate to a commonly perceived sense of crisis or a strong and explicit will to make a new beginning. During the 90s social democrats world-wide came to power in a situation of economic hardship. They needed to show that they could make a difference - they needed a new discourse - a new defining myth. It was in this context that Bill Clinton and others were able to successfully diffuse a third way including a structural determinist globalization discourse.
Sixth, however, even if there is such a commonly perceived sense of crisis - a critical juncture - then it is not possible to sell just any idea out there. New ideas somehow have to resonate with existing belief structures in order for them to have a chance to be considered relevant as an element in a new mythic political discourse. At the time Clinton came to power, he did not succeed in diffusing a global demand-side version of the globalization discourse. In the 90s times were simply not up for demand-side strategies. Clinton quickly realized that such was the situation, so he started to diffuse a domestic supply-side version of the globalization discourse. This last version apparently hit something that was already established as recognized and established knowledge amongst the receiver nations. It was easier for the idea-receivers to accept supply-side ideas than demand-side ideas, even if the receivers were all social democrats.
Seventh, international organizations might help some ideas on their way in the international community. In international organizations people meet, talk, negotiate and learn new things. These processes can be described as being coercive, benevolent or simply communicative (Risse, 2000), but the point is that through an international forum an idea can reach a tipping point in an amazingly short time period. The OECD, IMF and EU constitute prominent examples of highly prestigious fora in which the richest and most modern states in the world regularly meet to interchange ideas and to formulate and coordinate common policy strategies.
Eight, international organizations also seem to exploit potential powerful ideas for their own purposes. International organizations make links between the original idea and new issues so as to be more convincing in their own production of services for their member countries and, eventually, avoid budget cuts. PUMA is such an example which has successfully integrated the globalization discourse in its permanent promotion of New Public Management reforms. Other departments within the OECD framework construct other kinds of links between the consensually shared globalization discourse and concrete, department-specific activity areas.
Ninth, at the national levels, not only politicians, but also civil servants become the driving forces behind the consolidation and institutionalization of a particular idea. Once being a integral part of the international consensual discourse, the globalization discourse is systematically being integrated into policy documents produced in the various national ministries. The internationally shared idea becomes modern and it becomes illegitimate not to explicitly show that this new idea indeed has become a natural part of any small organizations idea-basis. Ideas which have reached the tipping point internationally become increasingly powerful in the sense that they start to define rules of appropriate action and rules for group membership. These regulative, normative and cognitive aspects of ideas are powerful social mechanisms of exclusion and exclusion within the domestic as well as international political communities.
This latter point deals with what can be called the power of ideas. Once an idea has been established, through an ideational life-cycle, as hegemonic discourse and sometimes also replicated in formal procedures, rules and organizations at the national as well as at the international levels, an idea becomes a powerful social mechanism of exclusion and inclusion. The dynamics of ideas goes hand-in-hand with the power of ideas - a theme which is also present in the other papers of this panel.
Ben Rosamond investigates how the institutions of the European Union, after the end of the cold war, explicitly constructs a globalization discourse helping it to redefine a European community, or in-group, which includes the east- and central-European countries. The globalization discourse thus creates a social entity where there was none before, thereby also creating new legitimacy foundations for further attempts of integration. In Rosamonds paper the actors behind identity politics at the European scale is pinpointed and the social consequences in the form of new identity constructions are discussed. This problematique can be seen as closely linked to the issues dealt with by Knud Erik Jørgensen. Knud Erik Jørgensen considers the duality between European integration and processes of globalization. On one hand, globalization is commonly constructed as being a major reason behind further processes of European integration. Globalization thus constitutes the basis of legitimacy for various commissioners integrative initiatives on behalf of the European Commission. On the other hand, according to Knud Erik Jørgensen, the European Union is itself a major engine behind processes of globalization, both when it comes to so-called real economic and political processes as well as when it comes to diffusing the globalization discourse world-wide.
Mette Zølner, for her part, has chosen to illustrate the mechanisms of identity constructions by investigating the ways in which French business elites perceive of processes of globalization at the end of the 90s. At the level of French national politicians and French media, there exists a strong anti-American globalization discourse, which help French political and media elites to reinvigorate an old myth of the American other in a period in which French national identities are perceived to be threatened from European integration and immigration. At the level of French business elites, however, the official definition of an American other is only one element in a more complex process in which the French nation is being re-imagined. The point is that the official anti-American globalization discourse only partly is having an impact on the ways in which business elites perceive of themselves, the nation, and their own roles within the statist French political system. Other factors are their individual life-worlds and the historical codes of the French nation. In other words, Mette Zølners papers illustrates the limits of the social consequences of powerful ideas. Ideas which are consensually shared at the level of political and media elites, need not have a clear and coherent impact on the ways in which other societal elites perceive of themselves. Identity constructions are complex and multifaceted, and it seems as if we have to be weary of generalizations.
Finally, Sven Bislev et al. have chosen to focus on the ways in which the globalization discourse has been linked to New Public Management reforms in places so varied as the municipalities of Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, United States and Mexico. How is it possible that a link between a structural determinist globalization discourse and a very specific marketized concept of public administration can be diffused so powerfully in such a variety of places, and how is the NPM management reforms actually being implemented in these places? In other words, Sven Bislev et al. investigate not only the processes through which a very specific conception of public management is being diffused in the name of globalization, he also investigates the concrete impact of these ideas in different social contexts and the factors which are facilitating or constraining some ideas in some places and not in others.
In conclusion, these papers in common seem to indicate that there indeed is a basis for studying globalization as being more than just objective flows of information, capital, goods and services across boundaries - there seems to be a basis for also considering globalization as discourse.
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Note 1: This paper is written within the framework of a research project on The Internationalization of Domestic Structures in Denmark and Sweden' financed by the Danish Social Science Research Council'. Back.
Note 2: Socialist International. 1999. Declaration of Paris - The Challenges of Globalisation' The XXIs Congress of the Socialist International, Paris, 8-10 November 1999 (www.socialistinternational.org/5Congress/XXISICONGRESS/DeclParis e.html) Back.
Note 4: Statsminister Poul Nyrup Rasmussens tale ved Industriens Årsdag i Bella Centret, tirsdag den 21. september 1999, "Hvilken rolle skal Danmark påtage sig i verdenspolitikken?" (www.stm.dk/taler/taler/tale43.htm). Back.
Note 9: Tod Lindberg. 1999. Why the `Third Way' Is Winning, The Wall Street Journal, May 26 (www.dlcppi.org/press/news/articles/052699_wsj.htm). See also Martin Walker. 1999. Third Way Club Gathers Members Prosperity And Stability Become Holy Grail Of The Blair Generation, The Guardian, May 3 (www.dlcppi.org/press/news/articles/050399_guardian.htm). Back.
Note 14: SPD, "Europe a united continent of peace, welfare and social security", Resolution adopted by the Party Conference held from 2 to 4 December, 1997 in Hanover, www.spd.de/aktuell/leiteuropa_e.htm. Back.
Note 17: Lionel Jospin, Only on our Terms - Global capitalism is a fact but Europe must act in concert to regulate it', The Guardian, Thursday, November 16, 1999 (www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,3930837,00.html). Back.
Note 26: www.dlcppi.org/ppi/3way/3way.htm. In parallel to the developments in American think tanks, British thinks tanks in particular have been going in the same direction. Denham & Garnett (1998: 181-188) mention the following three which can be said to be linked, some way or the other, to New Labour: The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR, www.ippr.org.uk/), Nexus (www.netnexus.org/), and Demos (www.demos.co.uk/). The IPPR was established already in 1988, but at no point has it been promoting a globalization discourse - be it structural determinist or actor optimist. Globalization does not seem to have been on the agenda what-so-ever. The same goes for Demos which was launched in 1993 and Nexus which was not created until 1996. See also Lucy Hodges. 1998. "The Wonks at Work in Blair's Think Tank', The Independent, July 23 (www.dlcppi.org/ppi/3way/articles/980723_ind.htm). Back.
Note 30: See for instance the Economic communiqué from the Lyon, 27-29 June 1996 summit entitled `Making a success of globalization for the benefit of all': 1. We, the Heads of State or Government of seven major industrialized democracies and the President of the European Commission, have met in Lyons for our 22nd annual Summit. Our discussions have taken place within the framework of a reflection on benefits and challenges posed by increasing economic globalization. 2. Economic growth and progress in today's interdependent world is bound up with the process of globalization. Globalization provides great opportunities for the future, not only for our countries, but for all others too. [...] 3. Globalization also poses challenges to societies and economies [...] 4. Our countries have made a decisive contribution to the progress of liberalization and globalization. We must do our best to ensure that this process fully responds to the hopes it has aroused and that globalization serves the interest of people, their jobs and their quality of life. [...] 5. This requires increased international cooperation. The adaptation of our international institutional structures; liberalization of markets, fair rules and their extension to new players; the capacity to respond to crises of varying scale and nature, as well as a readiness to support the efforts of those countries striving to escape from the miseries of economic underdevelopment will be necessary for future progress [...] 7. Since we met in Halifax, economic developments have been on the whole positive and disparities of economic performance among us have been narrowing. Back.
Note 31: Michel Camdessus. 1995. "The IMF in a Globalized World Economy--The Tasks Ahead", Third Annual Sylvia Ostry Lecture, Ottawa, June 7, 1995, www.imf.org/external/np/sec/mds/1995/MDS9510.htm Back.
Note 32: In Michel Camdessus' recent speeches globalization dictates a so-called duty of excellence' implying economic rigour and lean state-bureaucracy with a view to move to an economy which is more worthy of the human race'!
1. Whether a country is large or small, any crisis can become systemic through contagion on the globalized markets. Domestic economic policy therefore must, now more than ever, take into account its potential worldwide impact; a duty of universal responsibility is incumbent upon all. Every country, large or small, is responsible for the stability and quality of the entire world growth. 2. This adds a new dimension to the duty of excellence that is required of every government in the management of its economy. I use the word "excellence"; I could also say "absolute rectitude." Globalization is, in fact, a prodigious factor in accelerating and spreading the international repercussions of domestic policies -- for better or for worse. No country can escape, and all are fully aware of this.("From the Crises of the 1990s to the New Millennium", International Graduate School of Management (IESE), Palacio de Congresos, Madrid, Spain, 27.11.1999, www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/1999/112799.htm). Back.
Note 33: Michel Camdessus. 1995. "The International Monetary Fund and the Challenges of Globalization", The Free University, Amsterdam, November 28, www.imf.org/external/np/sec/mds/1995/MDS9520.htm. See also Michel Camdessus. 1995. "The IMF and the Challenges of Globalization - The Fund's Evolving Approach to its Constant Mission: The Case of Mexico", the Zurich Economics Society, Zurich, November 14, www.imf.org/external/np/sec/mds/1995/MDS9517.htm. Back.
Note 36: Rt Hon Sir Leon Brittan QC. 1999. "The contribution of the WTO Millennium Round to globalisation: an EU view", First Herbert Batliner Symposium: Europe in the Era of Globalisation B Economic Order and Economic Law, Vienna, 29 April 1999, europa.eu.int/comm/dg01/slb3004.htm. Back.
Note 46: For another example in which the OECD (read PUMA) is explicitly suggested as a forum which can help states out of their globalization dilemma, see PUMA Service employee: Sally Washington. 1996. Globalization and Governance', The OECD Observer, no. 199, April/May, pp. 24-27. Back.
Note 48: Exemplified by publications such as: OECD. 1997. Towards a New Global Age: Challenges and Opportunities - Policy Report, Paris; OECD. 1997. Globalization and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Paris; OECD. 1997. Societal Cohesion and the Globalising Economy, Paris; and by Secretary-General of the OECD, Donald J. Johnston. 1997. "A New Global Age", OECD Observer, no. 207, August/September. Back.