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Hyperglobalists versus protectionists: is there a new social democratic paradigm?

  • Date(s)
    19 June 2007
  • Location
    Policy Network, London

Politicians in the US and Europe needed to recognise that the west had ‘benefited enormously from globalisation,’ and that ‘globalisation has benefited the west more than the rest,’ he said. Therefore, ‘the liberal-left should stop talking as though China and India are threats and instead recognise their poverty and the challenges the leaders of these countries need to face.’

However, Hutton acknowledged that the recent rash of foreign takeovers of British and US companies had led to an increasing degree of insecurity and anxiety among the countries’ workforces about the wider social and economic consequences of globalisation. ‘We need to do more to ease the fears of men and women over job insecurities,’ he said.

Responding to the question of the possibility of a ‘third way’ between the hyperglobalists and protectionists, Hutton said that social democrats needed to focus on five key areas. First, they should not buy into the argument that ‘the world is flat’ put forward by both sides. Second, social democrats needed to recognize the reality of the growth of the knowledge economy in the west. Third, politicians needed to acknowledge that insecurity and inequality in the west is largely home grown, and not primarily the consequence of globalisation. Fourth, Hutton called for a renewed trade unionism to act as a ‘checks and balance’ mechanism’ within the globalised economy.

Finally, Hutton said that western nations needed to ‘practice what we preach’ in their engagement with multilateral institutions. ‘We need to recognize that we share a common interest in globalisation and should keep our focus on the bigger picture and give it the attention it deserves and not only pursue our countries own self-interest,’ he said.


The event is the second in a series of seminars Policy Network is holding as part of a new informal working group on globalisation and social justice.

The third seminar in the series was delivered by David Held, Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics on 17 July. Richard Wilkinson, Professor of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham and author of The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick Societies Healthier, spoke at the second seminar on Tuesday 3 July

The other high profile speakers confirmed to speak in the series so far include Michael Wills MP; John Kay, author of The Truth About Markets; Professor Andrew Gamble from the University of Sheffield; and Dr Waltraude Schelkle, Lecturer in Political Economy at the LSE. Material from the series will be made available on the Policy Network website.

The new working group will take forward the work of Policy Network’s flagship Globalisation and Social Justice research initiative, and will run until the end of 2007. The group will investigate the global dimension to domestic policy challenges, and will run alongside the programme of international dialogues that Policy Network is hosting this year in Chile, Australia, the United States and Brussels, as part of a contribution to an International Policy Commission.

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