The New Leviathans

In the year 1600 the world’s first multinational corporation
emerged — the British East India Company — and globalization was
born. Four hundred years later there exist 63,000 multinational
corporations (MNCs) employing 90 million people and producing 25
percent of the world’s gross product, not to mention one of the
most hotly debated issues of the last few years. But just what is
globalization and why is it such a hot topic? Nayan Chanda of
YaleGlobal Online reports on a new ‘atlas of the multinational
corporation’ by Medard Gabel and Henry Bruner that seeks to explain
just that. Entitled ‘Global, Inc,’ the book, according to Chanda,
‘takes us under the skin of the global economy, offering an
X-Ray-like image of the sinews and arteries of multinational
corporations.’

The book is the brain-child of Bruce Mazlish, an MIT historian
and head of the New Global History initiative. After reading a UN
report on MNCs Mazlish decided to organize a conference to examine
the effect multinationals had on global politics, economics, and
culture, and to take a closer look at their ‘historical roots.’
From this conference the atlas was produced with the input of
Business executive Medard Gabel and economic geographer Henry
Bruner.

If the task of deconstructing the phenomenon of globalization
and its history sounds daunting, it should be even more surprising
to hear that the product of such a statistics-based feat could be
‘beautiful.’ Yet Chanda notes just that in regard to the many maps
and charts in the book and expresses his belief that the atlas
‘helps to demolish many misperceptions’ about multinationals.
Through the authors’ objective lens, MNCs have the beneficial
effects of increased capital, technology, and employment to
countries, but nevertheless they point out that ‘Given the enormous
influence that large [MNCs] wield in today’s society, it would not
be far-fetched to say that the power of the large corporation could
also be a threat to the democratic process.’ With such a broad
scope, ‘Global, Inc’ is certain to be a significant addition to
globalization studies, and has undoubtedly assured its place on the
reference shelf.
Kyle Cohen

Go there>>
The
New Leviathans

Related Links from the Utne
Archive:

Caf? Utne: Discuss the politics of global trade
in the
Politics
forum

Comments? Story tips?
Write a letter to the editor

Like this? Want more?
Subscribe to Utne
magazine

UTNE
UTNE
In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.