Towards a theory of Globalization as Strategy

Submitted by libcom on August 5, 2005

Towards a theory of Globalization as Strategy

Paper to be presented at the annual conference of the European Association of Evolutionary Political Economy, Lisbon, November 1998.

Massimo De Angelis

(University of East London)

1. Introduction.

2. The conditions of the boundless profit making activity and the boundaries posed by society.

3. Presuppositions of capitalist integration.

3.1 A reinterpretation of Marx's Theory of "Primitive Accumulation"

3.2. A Brief Taxonomy of New Enclosures.

4. Capitalist integration and its temporal and spatial dimensions.

4.1. A general model

4.2. An extension of the simple model to include reproduction

5. Globalization and Capitalist Integration

6. Some implications and future areas of research

7. Conclusion



The large literature on globalization can be divided in two broad approaches. On one side, there are those writers who highlight the novelty of social and economic processes developed in the last two decades. This approach considers globalization as a new reality which individuals, corporations or nation states must accept and learn to cope with in the fabric of a growing competitive world (Ohmae 1990; Reich 1991). On the other side, there are those critics who point out that indexes of trade and foreign direct investment among others do not indicate a structure of the world economy significantly novel in relation to historical trends. This approach generally turns to the traditional important role of governments in shaping economic policies promoting economic prosperity (Gordon 1988; Hirst & Thompson 1996; and Weiss 1997).

These two approaches share a main shortcoming in that they treat globalization as a state of affair, a given reality. In this paper I propose a third approach which I believe is more consistent with reality. Borrowing from Karl Marx (1867) theory of the money circuit of capital, and Karl Polanyi (1944) idea of "dual movement", I offer an interpretation of globalization which defines it as a set of strategies. The qualification of these strategies recuperate both the novelty emphasized by the first approach and the elements of continuity of the second, while at the same time proposing the general elements of a theoretical approach which regards social practices and institutions as embedded within economic life.

1. Introduction.

The large economic literature on globalization can be divided in two broad approaches. On one side, there are those writers who highlight the novelty of social and economic processes developed in the last two decades. This approach considers globalization as a new reality which individuals, corporations or nation states must accept and learn to cope with in the fabric of a growing competitive world (Ohmae 1990; Reich 1991). On the other side, there are those critics who point out that indexes of trade and foreign direct investment among others do not indicate a structure of the world economy significantly novel in relation to historical trends. This approach generally turns to the traditional important role of governments in shaping economic policies promoting economic prosperity (Gordon 1988; Hirst & Thompson 1996; and Weiss 1997).

These two approaches share a main shortcoming in that they treat globalization as a given state of affair, rather than a social process ridden with contradictions. The key issue left out by the first approach seems to be the common character of the exploitative processes that global transactions and finance have always nurtured in the history of capitalism. On the other hand, the key issue neglected by the second approach is the new forms taken by global capital and their role.

In this paper I discuss the broad methodological framework that can help us in the development of a third approach, the main characteristics of which include: a) the aknwoledgment that capitalist processes have always been global; b) the understanding of globalization as a particular modern form of global capitalist processes; c) the full recognition of the role of countertendencies and contradictions as part of the fenomoneon we call globalization. These three main aspects of the methodological framewrok I here propose, borrow from Karl Marx (1867) theory of the money circuit of capital, and Karl Polanyi (1944) idea of "double movement" of society. If we aknowledge that the process of capitalist integration through accumulation (Marx) and society's attempt to protect itself from this drive (Polanyi) are two social forces which take different forms, but always cohexist to various degree, then globalization (or its absence) cannot be defined as a given state of affair, but the site of a contested terrain, a set of strategies. Emphasising the strategic aspect of globalization allows us to portray it as real and unique process to this phase of world history, without falling into the fatalistic traps that is often associated to the globalization literature: after all, strategies are subject to failure if "counterstrategies" are strong enough .

This paper is thus structured. In the next section, I define my general terms of reference and discuss the conditions of capitalist accumulation. In section 3, I argue that one of these conditions is the commodification of an increasing number of areas of life, whether these are spheres of life previously untouched by commodity production or spheres of life which received some kind of protection in previous time. Capitalist production requires that this process of "enclosure" or commodification must be accompanied by a process of integration. In section 4 I show that this process of integration must be carried on through a temporal and a spatial dimension, the meaning of which I here discuss. In section 5 I discuss the meaning of currnt processes of globalization within the methodological framewrok developed. In section 6 I offer a brief discussion of future areas of research, and I conlcude in section 7.

2. The conditions of the boundless profit making activity and the boundaries posed by society.

It is a matter of common sense to say that the various forces shaping the global economy on the spheres of production, trade and finance, are inserted within a general framework defined by capital accumulation and profit. Yet, in the large literature on globalization, both in economics and sociology, very little emphasis is given to this basic, almost trivial insight. Reflecting upon this common sensical reality however, opens the way to more important questions such as what are the conditions for accumulation to take place in a global context, what are the forms taken by capitalist accumulation at the global level and indeed, ultimately, what is the social meaning of globalized capital.

Capitalist accumulation is a a social process which can be illustrated by Marx's formula of the money circuit of capital. In formula 1, M represents money-capital, C the sum value of commodity capital, LP is labor power, MP stands for means of production while the apostrophes in C' and M' indicate the creation of surplus value embedded in the commodity values and in their money representation. This creation is possible through the production process P. Furthermore, here the dashes represent exchange relations and the points represent production relations.


This circuit of capital tells us that capital can reproduce itself at a greater scale ── each phase turns into another ── only if the previous phase is accomplished. Failing this, there is crisis. Thus, the valorization process ── the actual phase of production ( ...P...) in which living labor is expended and surplus labor created ── presupposes the fact that capital is able to find workers who are willing and in a position to sell their labor powers. The phase of realization moment C'- M', presupposes that actual living labor has been forced out of the workers and objectified in the form of value. The phase of purchase M-C presupposes that money as concentrated accumulated wealth be available. Each of the phases in this general formula is located in one particular moment in time and represents a qualitative transformation, and therefore it is opened to the possibility of a rupture, of a crisis or bottleneck. It is important to keep in mind that the over all circuit of capital thus represented in its sequential process tells us what must happen if capital is to be reproduced on a larger and larger scale if growth must proceed. However, as Bell and Cleaver (1982) have pointed out, because each phase of the circuit of capital is a moment of the capitalist relation of work and therefore of the inherent antagonism of the class relation, social conflict may erupt at each of these phases. Thus, once struggles and social processes are acknowledged, each of the moments of capital's circuit presuppose the use of a capitalist strategy to shape human behaviour in ways compatible with the requirement of the overall circuit. Formula 1. thus implies that capitalist accumulation, in order to occur, must overcome crises and bottlenecks. In this sense, it implies strategic interventions.

At the very general level, from formula 1. we can say that the existence or degree in which capital accumulation occurs depends on two main conditions:

Condition 1: enclosure. This means the existence of commodities labour power and means of production available for sale on the market;

Condition 2: integation. This refers to the smooth integration of various processes of transformations in a potentially endless "whole," the process of self-expanding profit making which continues at a greater scale.

As we will see in a later section, the current processes of globalization must rely on these two conditions as any other capitalist process. The difference must be found in the particular forms and scale in which enclosure and integration take place.

3. Presuppositions of capitalist integration.

3.1 A reinterpretation of Marx's Theory of "Primitive Accumulation"

The creation of condition 1. refers us back to what Marx's discussion of "primitive accumulation". Here however we must qualify this category. According to one main traditional interpretation, Marx's concept of primitive accumulation indicates the historical process that gave birth to the preconditions of a capitalist mode of production. These preconditions refer mainly to the creation of a section of the population with no other means of livelihood but their labour power to be sold in a nascent labour market and to the accumulation of capital that may be used for nascent industries. In this conception, the adjective "primitive" corresponds to a clear-cut temporal dimension (the past), which becomes the condition for a capitalist future. Marx's definition of primitive accumulation however, leads to another possible interpretation. By focusing on a definition of capital as social relation rather than as capital as stock as in Smith (Perelman 1998), Marx is able to point out the presupposition of this capital-relation:

The capital-relation presupposes a complete separation between the workers and the ownership of the conditions for the realisation of their labour (Marx 1867: 874).

From this it follows that:

the process . . . which creates the capital-relation can be nothing other than the process which divorces the worker from the ownership of the conditions of his own labour; it is a process which operates two transformations, whereby the social means of subsistence and production are turned into capital, and the immediate producers are turned into wage-labourers (Marx 1867: 874).

Thus, the

so-called primitive accumulation . . . is nothing else than the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production (Marx 1867: 874-5).

Differently than the traditional interpretation, the emphasis on the "divorcing" of people from the means of production opens the way to understand "primitive accumulation" as a continuous process of capitalist accumulation, rather than as one confined in one point in time in the past. This for at least two reasons: 1. Capital's drive to accumulate necessitates the commodification of larger and larger spheres of life. This implies the promotion of further separation between people and means of production. 2. Any time social movements are capable of setting up processes to erect a social barrier to the endless drive to commodify and accumulate, capital is faced with the need to dismantle this barrier. We encounter here what Polanyi refers to as "dual movement" of modern liberal society. On one side there is the historical movement of the market, a movement that has not inherent limit and that therefore threatens society's very existence. On the other there is society's natural propensity to defend itself, and therefore to create institutions for its protection, as limitless accumulation is not sustainable. In Polanyi's terms, this continuous element of "primitive accumulation" could be identified in those social processes or sets of strategies aimed at dismantling those institutions that protect society's from the market. The crucial element of continuity in the reformulation of Marx's theory of primitive accumulation arises therefore once we aknowledge the other movement of society emphasised in Polanyi's analysis.

Both strategies of commodification of new spheres of life, and those aimed at dismantling barriers erected to protect society from the market, can be understood as "new enclosures". This is because they are bringing about a separation between people and their conditions of life, through the dismantlements of rights, entitlements, etc. One key aspect of globalization strategies take this form. In the contemporary world new enclosures range from attacks on conditions of life by a World Bank funded dam in India threatening hundred of thousands of farming communities, to cut in social expenditures in the UK threatening hundred of thousands of metropolitan families. The aimed end result of these strategies of enclosures share the same substance: to forcibly separate people from whatever access to social wealth they have which is not mediated or co-optable by the market. Such an access shields to various extent people from the market and from market pressures, giving them a space in which they are to certain degree empowered vis-Ã -vis market discipline, competitiveness pressure and consequent race to the bottom. New enclosures thus are directed towards the fragmentation and destruction of "commons", that is, social spheres of life the main characteristics of which is to provide various degrees of protection from the market.

3.2. A Brief Taxonomy of New Enclosures.

People's access to social wealth can have different forms. A simple taxonomy is summarized in table 1.

Taxonomy of new enclosures with some examples


Example of new enclosures


ex1 use of cash in tax

ex2 pollution in Nigeria.

ex3 intense shrimp production in India.

ex3 expropriation (Mexico's ejido)

ex4 against re-appropriation (Brazil)

Urban spaces

ex1 urban design

Social Commons

ex1 cut in social spending

Natural Commons

ex1 road building

Reproduction Commons

ex1 of women's body

Cultural Commons

ex1 Museum fees

Knowledge and Life

ex1 Intellectual property rights

Land can be (and has been) expropriated in different ways. In many countries of the South of the world, where the population is largely dependent on farming, leveraging a tax in cash may turn to be an instrument of expropriation, by forcing mostly self-sufficient farmers into allocating part of their land to produce so called "cash crop" - a good produced for the sole aim of acquiring cash - instead of products that would serve for people's subsistence. The same result can be reached by many of large development projects such as the construction of dams (as in Malaysia, India, China), or other means to promote cash crops. Another form of new land enclosure, is for example the one which results as a consequence of environmental damages caused by multinationals. Another example is the intense shrimp production occurring in some Indian and other East Asian regions. Shrimps are produced for the world market with intense industrial methods, by a system called aquacolture. This consists of large pools of salted waters in the vicinity of coastal regions. In time, the salted water penetrates the soil thus polluting the water supplies (thus forcing local women to walks for miles to acquire drinkable water) and making the land of the local farmers unusable for subsistence crops. Also in this case of modern enclosures, the result is pressure to abandon the land.

Just as the old enclosures were accompanied by struggles, also in the cases of new enclosures people organise themselves and build forms of resistance. Two important examples are the Zapatistas struggle in Mexico, catalysed by the attempt by the government to sell the common land traditionally held by the indigenous population (ejido), and the movement for re-appropriation of land in Brazil by the "Sem tierra" movement.

In order to show the pervasiveness of the new enclosures, I here just mention some case of urban enclosures. Urban design in fact is a site of important attempt to enclose human and social behaviour in forms and pattern compatible with the accumulation process and the profit motive. For example, the lack of public benches in public sites such as the large main hall of Waterloo station in London can be puzzling, unless we understand it in terms of the attempt of minimisation of vagrant behaviour (which take us back to the rational of Tudor's "bloody legislation" following the early enclosures), its marginalisation to an "invisible site", or simply in terms of the attempt to direct the tired passenger (today's costumer) to nearby cafes. Even the satisfaction of primary biological functions have become the subject of enclosure in train stations and other public spaces of the West. Also benches with a series of arms as in London or with a convex surface as in Los Angeles as pointed out by Michel Davis (1990, p. 235) have their rationale as instrument of social engineering, preventing our modern "vagrants" (especially homeless) to stretch their legs and reinforcing the "correct" and "acceptable" social behaviour, even when sitting and resting. Even benches design keep the city moving for business.

By "social commons," I mean those commons that have been erected as a result of past social movements and later formalised by institutional practices. A classic example is the body of rights, provisions and entitlements universally guaranteed by the welfare state in spheres such as health, unemployment benefits, education, and pensions. Although these social commons served at the same time as a site for administrative regulation of social behaviour (Piven and Cloward 1972), they also allowed to a certain extent the access to public wealth without a correspondent expenditure of work (that is, to access it directly). This characteristic has been under increasing attack by neoliberal policies of the last 20 years. In the North, enclosure of these social commons have passed through the transformation from welfare to workfare (as in the U.S. and in Britain), through the imposition of strict "convergence criteria" which limit social spending in the European Union, among other cases.

I call "natural commons" - - for lack of better word - - those commons that are given by nature and used directly by people. For example, the wilderness, to the extent it is a means of recreation and reproduction of used human energies, or the basis for human biological existence. Deforestation and increasing carbondioxite emissions or the process of massive road building and large infrastructures are not only destroying important suggestive natural sites but are threatening the biological conditions of ours and other species. In the meantime, even the greenhouse effect can be turned into a profitable acticity. Faced with goverments indecisions regading cuts in emissions and the tackling of the global environmental problems of our age, calls have started to be heard regarding the need to react to new global climatic trends, reaction which will allow for example to substitute traditional crops suitable to standard climate with genetically engeneered crops resistent to changes in temerature. For reproduction common I mean those commons based on women ability to reproduce life. This also include women ability to breast feed their children, and the shared knowledge communicated across generations and within communities on child-rearing techniques. Enclosure in this case is for example provided by advertisment campaigns and massive promotion of "baby-milk" in countries in which hygenic conditions would make natural milk the most sensible choice for mothers, a choice that do not make them further dependent on the market.

One example of enclosures of cultural commons are the transformation of museums and areas of historical interests in "commodities" to be used by the turist industry. Finally, a word on the enclosures of those commons that I dubbed "knowledge and life". In any culture in the history of humanity, knowledge has been accumulated and passed on to further generations as a natural matter of human social interaction. Just as language, agricultural and farming methods and skills of any kind, are the cultural basis of any society, without which any society would not survive, so genes are the building blocks of life itself. Yet, in the last few years, there are increasing pressures by large multinational corporations to introduce legislation that "enclose" knowledge and genes. These forms of enclosures are known under the name of Intellectual Property Rights, the consequences of which are potentially devastating.

As is is possible to see, these few examples of new enclosures are either aimed at commodify aspects of life that were not previously touched by the market, or crack open social spheres which were the result of past attempt by society to protect itself from the market.

4. Capitalist integration and its temporal and spatial dimensions.

4.1. A general model

Whether such an atomization and fragmentation is found by contemporary profit makers as a result of past strategies and accumulation processes, or it has to be designed ex novo with new enclosures, the next stage of capital's project of accumulation is integration of the fragments within circuit of capital.

In section 2. it appeared that the process of capitalist accumulation was a process of social integration whose aim is the accumulation of capital. In this section I propose a theoretical framework to show that what is today known as "globalization" can be considered as a special case of this integration and enclosure.

At the general theoretical level, I distinguish here between two types of integration. Integration as sequence of transformations, or integration through time, and integration as coordination of functions, or integration through space. Both are relevant dimensions of a successful capitalist strategy.

Time (diachronic) integration can be illustrated as the integration between different moments of Marx's formula of the money circuit of capital. In this sense, we can simply rewrite formula 1. by emphasising the temporal dimension necessarily embedded within it. This is shown in 2.


The subscript T refers to the time period at which each transformation takes place. For reason of simplicity, I assume that commodity capital C' is sold (realized) as soon as it is produced and that LP and MP are bought simultaneously. Both cases represent of course a great simplification. Indeed, the occurrences of crises would make these transformation more difficult, and therefore, if they occur at all, they would take more time.

Any historical form of this strategy of integration must have a spatial dimension defined in terms of a particular functional integration of different productive nodes within society. A productive node is constituted by individuals, or overlapping networks of individuals (home, factory, office, company, city, region, nations, continents, etc.). The integration of these nodes and within these nodes give rise to a web of interrelated nodes. The study of the spatial configuration of these nodes can give us insights into the relation between capitalist production and territory, and into the social composition at various social planes of spatial configuration.

This spatial integration gives concrete substance to the different moments of the money circuit of capital. For example, the transformation M-LP acquires concreteness in the form taken by the labor market, the segmentation and stratification among workers, the patterns of reproduction, the division of labor within the family, etc. The period of production . . . . P . . . acquires concreteness in the pattern of the social and technical division of labor, their overlapping zones, the way things are produced, etc. C-M acquires concreteness in the way goods are commercialized, in the patterns of semiotic meaning given to commodities that people, succumbing to or rebelling against strategies of advertisements, give to commodities, etc.

The general aim of any strategy of capitalist integration is therefore twofold. On one hand, the temporal integration of a sequential process of M-C{LP; MP} . . . P . . . C'-M', which is the basis of accumulation. On the other hand, the spatial integration of synchronic social cooperation. It is clear that this distinction is uniquely analytical and that in reality spatial and temporal dimensions turn into one another and coexist. Synchronic and diachronic dimensions are not two different "levels" of analysis. They do not imply a hierarchy of importance, or a sequence of assumptions. Rather, real social processes can exists only within a temporal and spatial framework, but the nature of this space and time is given by the social processes themselves. From the point of view of capital for example, a particular social cooperation of labor (synchronic dimension) is the form allowing labor-time (diachronic dimension) to be extracted. On the other hand, the control over the temporal dimension of life (the discipline over labor-time) allows the definition of social forms of cooperation. Since globalization strategies are strategies of accumulation, they must address both these two dimensions, the how the different layers of society are integrated in order to accumulate; and the how quantitative patterns and flows of accumulation displace, affects, promote certain forms of social cooperation.

Within this general analytical framework therefore, from the perspective of temporal and spatial integration, the general character of capital's globalization strategy is defined both by the geographical dispersion of different moments of the circuit of capital, and by the attempt of their smooth temporal integration. From a general analytical perspective globalization is the integration of different moments of the money circuit of capital each carrying both a time and a space index.


In 3. the superscripts s1, s2, etc., indicate geographical/spatial sets of locations, which could be countries or any other sites. Formula 3, can give us a first general theoretical framework to analyze the current process of globalization. The first moment of the circuit of capital implies the buying of LP and MP. The spatial superscript on M (s1) and on the commodity bought (s2) defines the mixture of locational origin of money capital, LP and MP respectively. For example,

can define a capital coming from a network of US and European banks, while s2 in

can be a set of immigrant workers coming from mainland China to the US, plus workers in Salvador and Malaysia. In the case of the production process,

. . . . . .

may represent a production process that takes place between T = 1 and T = 2 and is dispersed in a set of location s3 which includes a factory in Salvador, Malaysia and US, all vertically integrated. Finally, commodities can be realized

through sales on the European, Canadian, US and Japanese markets defined by spatial set s4.

4.2. An extension of the simple model to include reproduction

Marx's money circuit of capital abstracts from an important component of capitalist production, namely the work of reproduction. Cleaver (1979), building on the insight of Dalla Costa & James (1972), has represented the work of reproduction as a sub-circuit of the money circuit of capital. In this way, it is possible to visualize the relation between work of reproduction and capital valorization process and the strategic importance that struggles in reproduction have in relation to the overall circuit. In what follow I modify Cleaver's formulation by recasting it in terms of a time-spatial dimension. This is shown in 3, where a circuit of reproduction is wirtten above the money circuit of capital.

. . . . . . . .

4. . . . . . . . .

Also in this case, social conflict can create bottlenecks and thus create problems to the overall process of accumulation. For example in the upper circuit in 3 the struggle of women against the work of reproduction P* has an effect on the overall circuit. However, also in this case, capital counter-strategy would consist in attempting to redefine the spatial organization of reproduction work, thus changing the content of spatial set s6. This is indeed something that has been observed by Federici (1996) and Mies (1986) among others, who point out that women of the South are increasingly burdened with work necessary for the reproduction of labor power of the North. Another example is the increasing burden of unwaged reproduction work due to cuts in social provisions such as health care, and other "services" formerly provided by waged workers.

5. Globalization and Capitalist Integration

It is a truism to say that all human production, and not only its capitalist form, takes place within temporal and spatial dimension. Also, the money circuit of capital described in formula 3. Could in principle represent the accumulation process in all spheres of capitalist history. Thus, how is it possible to distinguish the current trends that go under the name of globalization to previous spatial dispersion of capitalist relations? Is it simply that the spatial sets s1, s2, etc. Now include more regions in the world than, say, in the late XIX century? This, by and large, is not true. Although the last thirty years or so have witnessed a transformation of capitalist relations across the globe, global markets have long since been integrated. As the sceptics of the globalisation thesis often remind us, the share of trade over GDP in several countries in the North is today at comparable levels than 100 years ago (Gordon 1988; Hirst and Thompson, Weiss . . . ). Also, a look at the balance of payment of UK, India and the US in the mid XIX century, can give us an immediate impressionistic view of an integrated relation between center and periphery in the world much earlier than the recent globalization buz. [NOTE]

One aspect of current globalization that even the sceptics are recognizing is the globalilzation of financal markets. This is not difficult, given the fact that the last twenty years have been characterised by a tremendous increase in the amount of money capital that has floated the financial markets of the North. Also, enormous pressure have been put by the guardians of neoliberalism such as IMF and WB to countries of the South to liberalise their financial markets and promote local stock markets and capital inflow. For example, in 1995, while world export of goods and services totalled about $6.1 trillion, the daily foreign exchange market turnover amounted to about $1.2 trillion, that is about 50 times as much. Samir Amin has observed in this journal that financialisation is a recurrent stage in capitalism and is a mode of crisis management. This mode often implies the creation of the conditions of recovery "elsewhere but at a relative distance from the centre of financialization" (Amin 1996: 244). This is the case because "financialization only enriches some to the detriment of others" as it entails, unlike production, a zero-sum game. Thus, Amin concludes, "the process M-M' is always a factor in the intensification of the inequality of income in favour of the dominant rentier-user" (Amin 1996: 240).

Amin's analysis of the difference between finance and production is of course pertinent, but it is not clear how financialisation can become a mode of capitalist crisis management without having an effect on the actual capitalist process of value production. Amin correcty points out that there may be a spatial displacement between the area in which financialisation occures and the areas in which accumulation accelerate, but does not indicate what is the link between the two. Contrarily to prevalent orthodoxy, the link between financial globalization and accumulation cannot be the fact that the former allow more efficient and better allocation of financial resources among productive ends. It is now well know that the greatest percentage of firms investment is not out of the stock market, but out of non distributed profits. Instead, it seems to me that the link must be found in the disiplinary role that financial markets fulfill to regulate the fundamental parameters of accumulation.

Thus, I want here to draw attention to another novel aspect of the current form of global capitalist integration. The modern form of globalisation is characterised not so much by the global distribution of locations within the spatial sets "s", but the easiness, relative to previous periods, for which spatial locations within the sets can interchange. This "easiness", which certainly include financial globalization after decades of liberalisation, and regards trade and production but with a bit more institutional rigidities, entails not only actual movement of capital in all its form (financial, commodities, means of production, variable), but also the real and perceived threat of movement. The immediate motivation of the social agents responsible for the actual actual or threatened movement of capital may differ, depending on whether they manage financial or industrial profit making firms, for example. Thus, what governs financial firms movement of capital across stock markets are shot run considerations about interest rate, value of stock, socio-political factors, etc. The financial operators who are responsible for this movement may need to know anythig about the social and human cost of their entreprise. What governs capital movement of industrial multinationals are considerations about wage, productivity and access to markets. In this case, the managers who engage in the dislocation of productive activities may or may not know the wider social and human implications of their actions. These, from a purely business perspective, are irrelevant. What matters is that whatever are the particular motivations that lead agents in different branches of production and finance to consider capital movement, the effect of actual and threatened capital movement, the rationale of the existing relative easiness for capital to move, is the regulation of the classical parameters of accumulation, that is, in Marxian terms, variable capital and surplus value at the social level. Thus for example, it is well known that the movement of productive capital, allows to escape higher wages, militant unions, absenteist workers, etc. while the explicit or implicit threat of productive capital movement, results in downward pressures on wages, upward pressures in intenstity of labour etc. Also, the movement and the threatened movement of financial capital is at the basis of government policies geared towards public spending cut and/or austerity, due to the financiers' perception of the link between public spending and the loss of the value of money and assets in their hands (inflation).

Thus, whatever is the motivation of the social agents behind this actual or threatened movement of capital among spatial locations, this movement allows the forces in society geared toward accumulation some scope to escape those forces which go in the opposite direction, to escape the "double movement" of society that Polanyi was talking about.

6. Some implications and future areas of research

This simple representation shows how intricate the money circuit of capital can become as soon as spatial dimensions are acknowledged. A theoretical and empirical analysis of globalization as strategy should be devoted at least to two main areas.

1. Accumultion problems of scale, coordination and stability vis social movements and institutional rigidities. Each of these spatial indexes s1, s2, s3, etc. by adding complexity to the money circuit, highlights the spatial dimension of the implicit problem of coordination and stability that capital's strategy always must face. This problem arises with the outburst of social movements and/or with the persistence of any other institutional "rigidity" incompatible with the market within the spatial sets s1, s2, etc.

2. Market strategies deployed to overcome social rigidities: syncronic dimension. The ability of capital to overcome these struggles and rigidities is proportional to its ability to impose inter-exchangeability between spatial sets at any moment of the circuit. This in turn depends on strategies aimed at reducing trade barriers (such as those pursued under GATT and now pursued and enforced by the WTO); reduce restriction on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and increasingly shield it from any national government regulations (such as those pursued under Multilateral Agreements on Investment and the chapter on FDI within WTO); or those strategies that deregulate capital market and deregulate financial capital (such as those imposed by IMF structural adjustment policies). The study of the spatial configurations at any moment of the circuit of capital as well as of the strategies to increase their inter-exchangeability is of paramount importance in order to understand strength and weaknesses of the current processes of globalization. The study of these strategies requires of course a careful critical examination of the role of the state and governments policies within the global economy (Holloway 1995).

3. Market strategies deployed to overcome social rigidities: dyacronic dimension. Each of the strategies refereed above on the areas of production, trade and finance, also have an impact along the diacronic dimension of the money circuit of capital. For example, the effect and impact of trade liberalization policies should not only be assessed in terms of the absolute amount of trade over national product. They also should be assessed in terms of their impact on the production process (socially necessary labour time). All the same, strategies of enclosure of the "social commons" such as structural adjustment, must be appreciated ot only in terms of a change in distributive criteria, also as a moment of the valorization startegy.

7. Conclusion

The previous analysis allows us also to reformulate within a socio-economic framework rooted in oppositions, some recent suggestive descriptions of current society. In what have now become a famous formulation, David Harvey (1990:284-5) defines the current tranformation of global capitalism as the result of "time-space compression". For Anthony Giddens (1990: 64) "Globalization can . . . be defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa". In terms of equation 3 discussed before, "time-space compression" implies the increased rapidity within which capital can pass through the different phases (M-C; C. . . P. . . C'; C'-M') while at the same time being geographically dispersed on a wider area as described by the spatial indexes. The "intensification of worldwide social relations" implies the increased pervasiveness of capitalist relations and their oppositional nature. Local happenings, such as declining wages in manufacturing in countries in the North, are shaped by events happening in distant and remote places, for example even lower wages in countries in the South producing the same goods, or producing commodities entering the wage basket of the workers in the North. This aspect of "intensification of worldwide social relations" is certainly central to the process of capitalist integration. However, at the same time, is the basis upon which the "double movement" of society can spring out. Because if it is true that the social relations which are intensified are capitalist social relations of production, it is also true that their oppositional nature is also ground for the "intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole" (Roland Robertson 1992 Globalization. Social Theory and Global Cutlure. London: Sage, p. 8.). However, this is not an abstract question. The consciusness of the world as a whole can only imply a patient process of social practice of trial and errors and of mutual recognition between different social subjects in struggle as all members of a whole world that needs to be transformed. Thus, if the rpocess of globalization is a process all inserted within capitlaist relations of production, precisely because these relations are a contested terrain, that the future gives make possible all scenarios: "the future of globalization remains a great unknown" (Amin 1996: 95)


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