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Alan Freeman & Boris Kagarlitsky (eds), 'The Politics of Empire: Globalisation in Crisis'

Pluto Press, 2004; ISBN 0 7453 2183 6; Pb 304pp; £15.99

This volume sets out to demonstrate that we are now living in what the editors refer to as a “new age of Empire”, which the book argues began with wars of occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead of being the start of a world in which global co-operation ensures advancement and prosperity for all people, globalisation is actually responsible for the increased instability that threatens ever-greater numbers of people.

A collection of original and rigorous pieces by nine prominent opponents of globalisation from five continents, the work as a whole artfully draws together two groups that, although obviously having much in common, are not identical: traditional anti-imperialists and the anti-globalisation movement.

In the introduction, written by the book's editors, one is treated to a great deal more than a simple outline of the book's contents. Instead, Freeman and Kagarlitsky offer a creditable essay that is accessible while remaining scholarly, not an easy thing to achieve. The actual range of articles are lucid and thought provoking. Contributions worthy of special notice include Sungur Savran on Globalisation and the New World Order and Patrick Bond on what he calls Global Apartheid. The Chair of CND, Kate Hudson, also provides an informed piece on the international anti-war movement in the light of the build up to war in Iraq.

Inevitably, when reading a collection such as this, one becomes aware of certain arguments being made in more than one place. And yet, perhaps the fact that individual authors have arrived at the same conclusions simply adds weight to the arguments they make. The central message, then, is that we are witnessing the revival of colonialism, which today goes by the name of globalisation - perhaps an attempt to give the ideology a gentler sounding name. The net result of this, from Latin America to Africa and all points east, is to offer the vast majority of the world's population nothing more than an increase in the poverty they already live in and an increased threat of war being visited upon them.

This is a most informative volume that gives the reader valuable in sights from a variety of informed sources. The Politics of Empire deserves to be read by as large an audience as possible.