Letter: Multinationals might not rule the world but they affect us all

It Is true that the rhetoric of "globalisation" has been deployed by big business against workers (to force down wages) and against governments (to force down corporate taxation). But is Neal Ascherson right to accept the arguments of Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson, that globalisation is a myth, and, if it is happening at all, that its consequences can readily be dealt with by national governments through a reassertion of public control?

These arguments are based on a misreading and are likely to result in further political failure for the left. The available statistics on international trade and foreign direct investment can be read quite differently, to show that the major advanced economies have become more "globally integrated" in the last 30 years or so. What is more, the strategies of big businesses in all sectors have become more and more influenced by economic trends and events around the world.

It is wishful thinking to imagine that national governments can stem this tide by straightforward measures of "re-regulation". In the past 25 years, there have been increases in inequalities of wealth and power, not only between rich and poor countries, but also within rich and poor countries.

It is not defeatist to recognise these new realities. If the labour market is increasingly global, as well as production within companies, then it is both feasible and necessary for the workers of the world to match this in their own organisations. If they are encouraged to remain locked into narrow nationalism, they are sure to lose.

Hugo Radice

School of Business and Economic Studies