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Chance der Zukunft. By Alain Minc.

Alain Minc: Globalisierung. Chance der Zukunft, Paul Zsolnay Verlag
Wien 1998, ISBN 3-552-04904-5

Also available in French: Alain Minc. La mondialisation heureuse. Plon Paris 1998

31.05.1999 · Reviewed by Jürgen Turek

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In contrast to many others analysts, the French economist and graduate of the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, Alain Minc regards globalization as a chance for the future. In this context, he considers several French attitudes and positions critically. From his point of view, mass unemployment and the unlimited power of economic markets make a new debate about globalization more than urgent, especially in France. One has to take into account that there is a new French position about labour and social politics after the change in French government to Lionel Jospin. Although the new administration fights unemployment, many people believe that it makes use of the wrong economic approach and, especially, old economic instruments á la Keynes.

In principle, Minc sees three possible options to steer globalization for the future: 1. acts of a powerful state which strives to control economy with old prescriptions - but such trials will only reinforce the effects of globalization; 2. taking borderless open markets for granted which, however, will endanger social cohesion; 3. political acceptance of the global economy, recognition and learning of its rules and application of new political steering instruments which can make use of the dynamics of globalization for social welfare. This will result in a new quality of employment and economic growth.

The author states that globalization demonstrates that societal structures are fossilized and that political rules are ineffective. But globalization is not responsible for that. It is not globalization which is to blame for social tensions, possible societal catastrophes or political power shifts but holding on to out-dated conceptions. Political blindness concerning a fundamentally new world is the real problem because globalization is a revolution which compels politicians to find new answers for global problems. Minc particularly criticizes French political behaviour: "While globalization theoretically lets us choose our economic and political system, in practice it compels modern societies to react in only one direction: more free market, retreat of the state, reform of the welfare system, a new architecture of balance of power, and transition from the competition between goods and companies to competition between socio-economic structures and civil societies. Regarded with the static eye of a photographer, it seems to be that France moves exactly in the opposite direction".

In the opinion of Minc, the reason for the French approach is the corporate character of French society which gives the interests of groups priority to the interests of society. Furthermore, he states several arguments which are known from European discussions about increasing globalization: an old and ineffective education system, excessive taxes and social contributions, or wrong attitudes of French managers concerning shareholder values are responsible for social unflexibility. The most important thing, however, from his point of view is to put an "end to the cult of the French special position, an end to the universal arrogance of Gaullist provocation".
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