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The Global Class War : How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win it Back Hardcover – January 1, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Why, in 1993, did the newly elected Bill Clinton pass the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pro-business measure invented by his political adversaries and opposed by his allies in labor and the environment? The answer, according to Faux, is that Clinton was less devoted to his base than to his fellow elites, rewarding their donations to the Democratic Party with access to Mexico's cheap labor and lax environmental standards. With a fluid grasp of both history and economics, Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute, critiques both Democrats and Republicans for protecting transnational corporations "while abandoning the rest of us to an unregulated, and therefore brutal and merciless, global market." Faux describes how free trade and globalization have encouraged businesses to become nationless enterprises detached from the economic well-being of any single country, to the detriment of all but transnational elites. He details the genesis of NAFTA and the failure of the agreement to deliver on its promises to workers, predicting a severe American recession as its legacy. But Faux sees hope for North America in the model of the European Union, a pie-in-the-sky conclusion to this incisive, rancorous book. (Jan.)
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Review

* Why, in 1993, did the newly elected Bill Clinton pass the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pro-business measure invented by his political adversaries and opposed by his allies in labor and the environment? The answer, according to Faux, is that Clinton was less devoted to his base than to his fellow elites, rewarding their donations to the Democratic Party with access to Mexico's cheap labor and lax environmental standards. With a fluid grasp of both history and economics, Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute, critiques both Democrats and Republicans for protecting transnational corporations ""while abandoning the rest of us to an unregulated, and therefore brutal and merciless, global market."" Faux describes how free trade and globalization have encouraged businesses to become nationless enterprises detached from the economic well-being of any single country, to the detriment of all but transnational elites. He details the genesis of NAFTA and the failure of the agreement to deliver on its promises to workers, predicting a severe American recession as its legacy. But Faux sees hope for North America in the model of the European Union, a pie-in-the-sky conclusion to this incisive, rancorous book. (Jan.) (Publishers Weekly, November 7, 2005)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471697613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471697619
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,299,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Izaak VanGaalen on February 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
According to Jeff Faux, erstwhile president of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington DC, with the enfeebled nation-state and the absence of world government, the 2,000 plus people who manage and own the worlds largest multinational corporations meet every year at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland to set the agenda for the global economy. Even though the event includes political leaders, academics, journalists, and an occasional movie star, they are mere window dressing accompanying the real movers and shakers. This elite is what Faux calls the "Party of Davos." There is no countervailing party other than the World Social Forum which celebrates the likes of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, but they are of no consequence in the real order of things.

The Party of Davos is primarily the party of international global investors, who do their best to promote globalization and free trade. Elites around the world have bought into it, including the leadership of both the Democratic and Rebublican parties in the US, with the expectation that globalization would raise all economic boats, or so they would have us believe. However, this has not happened.

Faux correctly points out that prior to the age of globalization the US economy was more or less self-contained, and capital and labor were forced to deal with each other, thereby creating a social contract from which all parties benefited. What was once good for GM was also good for America; now it is only good for GM. (This may not be a good example since even the global investor is not happy with GM.) The point being that GM can now find cheaper labor and lower environmental standards in other countries.
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Format: Hardcover
The title appears borrowed from Sam Marcy's original work in 1979 on "The Global Class War and the Destiny of American Labor," but then, no one wanted to listen in the 1970's, when I did my first master's degree, to the three major themes in the political science literature:

1) Limits to Growth and need for Ecological Economics (Club of Rome, Herman Daly);

2) Global Reach of Multinational Corporations and the Home-Host Country Issues and Threats to Domestic Labor and Social Welfare (Barnett)

3) Need for World Government to address global issues (Falk).

This book is valuable for its one main point reiterated and documented over and over again: the American elite has joined with other elites world-wide to reach accommodations that favor the investors and the ruling elites over the individuals that are employees.

If I had not also read William Greider's The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy as well as John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and (over two decades ago), Lionel Tiger, Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System I might have seen this book in a different light. In the larger context of the 700+ books I have reviewed at Amazon, this book sums up a key factor that the public must consider when going to elect its leaders over the next few years.
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Format: Hardcover
Jeff Faux's superb book helped me understand better why the political, corporate, and media elites love globalization while the rest of us feel so uncertain about our economic futures. He argues very effectively that there is a "Party of Davos"--an alliance of the top business leaders and government officials from throughout the world.

These elites basically set the rules for global commerce to benefit themselves, rather than the worker citizens of their various countries. Thus, deals like NAFTA have actually worsened the economic lives of the majority of workers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, while the elites have prospered from them. Faux is an excellent writer who cuts through the jargon of economists to describe cogently the need for a global "social contract" to force some of the benefits of globalization to go to working families. He urges a focus on North America as a starting point for a new global social contract.

I came away from "Global Class War" both optimistic that the rules of globalization can be shifted so that more people benefit, but also a little frightened that the interests of the top Republican AND Democrats as well as the corporate class have become so de-coupled from those of middle-class America. If you read Tom Friedman's "World is Flat" and felt uneasy about how great Globalization 3.0 will be, then read Jeff Faux and you'll understand why. In the debate over the jungle of globalization, Faux is the lion and Friedman the gazelle.
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Format: Hardcover
Ok, I admit it. I supported Ronald Reagan; the Democrats were devoid of ideas, he had some; his prescription of lower taxes and unbridled capitalism seemed at the time to have more pluses than minuses. And, maybe, just maybe, ol' Dutch would have had the good sense to know when enough was enough and reversed course.

Not so the Bushes, Clinton, and the politicians of the 1990s and the 2000s. So now we've got this combine of rich people -- nationality and party affiliation unimportant -- running the United States and the world for their own benefit. They get richer every year; and most people get poorer. They duped naive youngsters like Thomas Friedman of The New York Times into thinking that "globalization" is going to have widespread benefits. It's having benefits all right, but they're all going to the rich, increasingly a heriditary class.

Faux has writtten a warning about the way things are going in the world, focusing on NAFTA, free trade, and the relationships among Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Faux's thesis is that a global elite runs things for its own benefit. With every year that passes it's harder to argue against him. I won't give Faux's book my top rating, however, because his prescriptions for solving the problem are a bit wimpy. He looks to the EU as an example of a better way. Excuse me! The gnomes of Brussels as overlords are little, if any, better than Bill Gates. But he gets it right that we need a big step away from free trade -- which benefits the lowest wage countries, e.g. China, and the big corporations -- and a focus on the social/economic integration of North America with emphasis on people, not profits. I have little faith this will occur anytime soon, but at least people like Faux are thinking about it.
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