Globalisation gloss

I can't agree with Johann Hari's eulogy of Clare Short ("Clare Short, new Labour's heroine", 5 March). I was at the War on Want AGM where Short was expounding her vision of the benefits of globalisation. A minister who has to resort to dismissing questioners (more than one) as "ignorant", and simply browbeats them into silence, does not give a convincing performance.

But what alarms me most about this debate is how both Short and Hari adhere to the idea that globalisation has been the mainspring behind the undeniably huge improvements in living standards in Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. What everyone seems to overlook is that huge investments were funnelled into those states from the US and the UK (a bit) throughout the period of the cold war, because they were all considered to be in the front line in the "domino theory". It is also true that, partly at least for the same cold war imperatives, these societies were held in states of more or less repression during the main phase of their development.

James Brander
London NW1

This article first appeared in the 19 March 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Essay - Trapped in the human zoo