The Evolving Agenda of ‘Poverty Reduction’: from Structural Adjustment to Universal Competitiveness

By Paul Cammack:
(Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA’s 50th ANNUAL CONVENTION “EXPLORING THE PAST, ANTICIPATING THE FUTURE”, New York Marriott Marquis, NEW YORK CITY, NY, USA – 2009-02-15)


I share Best’s conclusion that the “new turn to global ethics does not .. significantly challenge the current neo-liberal logic of contemporary global economic governance, but rather attempts to provide a moral justification for its continuance” (2006: 315). But I don’t think that she grasps the full implications of its universal prescriptions or of the role that country ownership plays in them. As a point of entry, I would identify the contradiction, on which she does not comment, between her assertion that the neo-liberal logic of reform is imposed upon developing and emerging states, and the insistence of Camdessus, which she cites, that “a duty of universal responsibility is incumbent upon all”, that more rigour is needed in the industrial countries along with more discipline in the structural adjustment of the developing countries, and that there is a need for “a renewed sense of urgency in the structural adaptation of all economies, be they industrial, in transition, or developing” (cited in Best, 2006, 312, 313). This claim needs to be unpacked, I would argue, if we are to grasp the full implication of the ‘new global ethics’.

Inclusive neo-liberalism

Ruckert (2006) argues that the Post-Washington Consensus (PWC) represents “the first step towards the tendential emergence of an inclusive-neoliberal regime of development in the global economy”, and that “its introduction represents an attempt by the IFIs to resolve some of the legitimacy problems and contradictions that neoliberal policies faced in the periphery” (Ruckert, 2006: 35). While coming down on balance in favour of continuity, Ruckert’s “more nuanced” reading of the Poverty Reduction Strategy approach finds some evidence of progressivism (ibid: 37). It is the presence of ‘discontinuities within the continuity’ that enable him to speak of inclusive neoliberalism in potential at least as a twist on the old Washington Consensus. He accepts that “the PWC could be interpreted as an attempt to facilitate the expansion of a hegemonic neoliberal world order, by ideologically legitimating the norms of this order through a shift in the IFIs’ development discourse towards emphasizing poverty reduction and country ownership as the operational principles in all Bank and Fund activities, without straying too far from neoliberal principles in the actual development practice”, but argues that “what needs to be added is that hegemony-building always implies elements of material incentives and concessions and the construction of social compromises” (ibid: 40). The “material elements of co-optation” in this case revolve around new norms of “empowerment, participation, the promotion of opportunities, and poverty reduction” (ibid: 41). IFIs “have come to realize that the extremely poor are often unable to afford basic social services at market-determined rates and therefore cannot become ‘normal customers’ but rather require financial help; but the persistence of neoliberal fiscal expenditure frameworks means that “[t]he tension between the market logic of neoliberalism and the social logic of inclusion is one of the key contradictions in the PRS approach” (ibid: 42). This argument is substantiated through a detailed analysis of the World Bank’s Sourcebook for Poverty Reduction Strategies, from which Ruckert concludes that while elements such as compensation and subsidisation “must be seen as a minor victory in the fight for poverty reduction, the neoliberal logic of commodification and market colonization of all aspects of social life are not fundamentally challenged in the inclusive-neoliberal development model that is promoted under the tutelage of the PWC” (ibid: 59). What is more, “Inclusive neoliberalism has appropriated participation only to turn it into a policy tool to better control and discipline civil society agents and the poor” (ibid: 61). Like Best, all the same, Ruckert finds the current paradigm unstable, and therefore vulnerable to destabilising critique, principally because of the contradiction at its heart: “developing country governments are asked under the inclusive-neoliberal regime to increase their poverty-related spending and to subsidize the consumption of the disempowered and impoverished through the erection of social safety nets – clearly a first step in undermining the logic of neoliberal rule” (ibid: 62 – emphasis mine). Here my point of entry is to suggest that if one looks at workers as producers rather than as consumers, and sees proposals for subsidisation and compensation as a strategy of increasing the supply of efficient and productive labour power over the medium/longer term and hence reflecting a social logic of commodification rather than of inclusion, the contradiction disappears.

New materialism

In different ways, these approaches beg a fundamental question: in Best’s terms, what precisely is the strategy that flows from the perception of the IMF and others that “economic interdependence has created a world in which no country’s economy is an island” (Best, 2006: 312); in Ruckert’s terms, what is the social logic of inclusion? What, in other words, is the logic of ‘poverty reduction’, as articulated by the World Bank from 1990 onwards? My brief answer, as the comments above suggest, is that it is part of a universal strategy to intensify the commodification of labour, and hence reflective of class struggle on a global scale. I approach this question from a new materialist (or up- dated classical Marxist) perspective which starts with the idea of capitalism as a global system, rather than with a world of states (Holloway, 1994), and gives priority to the analysis of capitalist accumulation and class struggle – contemporarily, in circumstances of the ‘completion of the world market’, or the emergence of a genuinely global capitalist economy (Cammack, 2003). The World Bank and the IMF, along with other institutions such as the EU, the OECD and the UNDP, are seen as having been in the business, since the early 1990s, of spreading capitalism on a global scale. The Bretton Woods institutions have promoted this business under the slogan of ‘poverty reduction’, most notably in the World Bank’s strapline ‘Working for a World Free of Poverty” (a slight twist on the earlier “Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty”). In this perspective, the promotion of poverty reduction in the context of ‘country ownership’ is not seen as an issue between the IFIs and developing economies, but as a joint strategy on the part of IFIs and governments to secure the hegemony of capital over labour in individual states, complemented by a particular concern on the part of IFIs to ensure if possible that the strategies adopted at national level collectively contribute to securing the hegemony of capital at a global level. Hence the need to begin by rejecting the notion that ‘poverty reduction’ is principally (or even partially) concerned with reducing poverty. Rather, the emphasis placed upon poverty reduction should be understood as an ideological formulation, behind which lies a strategy for securing the present and future conditions for capitalist accumulation. And importantly, the focus of that strategy goes beyond the IFIs and the low income countries, as it is pursued just as vigorously in relation to the advanced capitalist countries as in the ‘developing world’: in the former the emphasis is on restoring and extending the sway of capital over labour, while in the latter it is on proletarianisation – making new workers available to and exploitable by capital. The principle upon which both depend is the promotion of competitiveness on a global scale. Hence the significance of the commitment of the international organisations to developing and disseminating programmes of domestic reform which aim to intensify the competitiveness not only of domestic markets, but also of the global capitalist system as a whole.

In this perspective, country ownership, whether promoted by the IMF and the World Bank in the developing world, or (as it also is) by the European Commission in the European Union, and the OECD across advanced and emerging economies, is about constituting states as effective agents of bourgeois hegemony. And to the extent that it incorporates a doctrine of inclusion, it is about incorporating the poor as workers, or in other words as producers rather than consumers. If so, the neoliberal doctrine is not undermined but reinforced by measures intended to propel new or displaced workers back into the labour force with enhanced skills and ‘flexibility’, while the ‘new global ethics’ of the IMF (and others) represent not an attempt to impose existing Western norms and practices on a potentially different developing world, but an effort to support a programme of universal capitalist competitiveness that imposes significant social change in the developed and developing worlds alike. All in all, this suggests, the IMF and the World Bank have all too acute a grasp of the politics of reform – but one that Best and Ruckert have not spotted. I develop the argument in four steps – tracing the logic of poverty reduction at length not in the Washington Consensus but in the strategy of global proletarianisation introduced by the World Bank in 1990, briefly documenting the parallel programme for restoring the hegemony of capital over labour in the developed world in the same period, detailing the current convergence of all international and regional institutions concerned with global economic governance on an identical set of prescriptions which I characterise as reflective of ‘universal convergence upon competitiveness’; and identifying these in the current operations of the World Bank.

Proletarianisation: from the 1990 World Development Report to the ‘Post- Washington Consensus’

As suggested above, the defining feature of global neoliberalism is that it articulates and seeks to implement a strategy that will both hasten the process of primitive accumulation – or global proletarianisation – and enforce the laws of capitalist accumulation throughout the enlarged space of the capitalist world economy (Cammack, 2002: 126). In particular, it seeks to provide capital around the world with access to healthy and efficient workers available at the lowest possible wage. Williamson’s brief summary of the “conventional wisdom of the day among the economically influential bits of Washington” in the late 1980s (Williamson, 1993: 1329) was not intended to disclose the inner logic of strategies of structural adjustment, let alone to relate them to concurrent developments elsewhere in the global economy, and a radical critique cannot sensibly begin with the summary he provided (fiscal discipline; the orientation of public expenditure to primary health, education and infrastructure; tax reform; financial liberalisation; unified and competitive exchange rates; trade liberalisation; openness to and equal treatment of foreign direct investment; privatisation; deregulation; and secure property rights). However, the logic that both underpinned these specific points and gave them internal unity was spelled out, around the time that Williamson’s first account of the ‘Washington Consensus’ was published (Williamson, 1990), at the start of the World Bank’s 1990 World Development Report, Poverty:

The evidence in this Report suggests that rapid and politically sustainable progress on poverty has been achieved by pursuing a strategy that has two equally important  elements. The first element is to promote the productive use of the poor’s most abundant asset – labor. It calls for policies that harness market incentives, social and political institutions, infrastructure and technology to that end. The second is to provide basic social services to the poor. Primary health care, family planning, nutrition and primary education are especially important (World Bank, 1990: 3).

And as summarised at the end of the Report, the strategy for reducing poverty involved three related components: “efficient labor-intensive growth based on appropriate market incentives, physical infrastructure, institutions, and technological innovation”; “adequate provision of social services, including primary education, basic health care, and family planning services”; and “transfers .. to help those who would not otherwise benefit .. and safety nets .. to protect those most vulnerable to income-reducing shocks” (ibid: 138).

From the very start, then, the intention was to provide basic services for the poor in the areas of health care, family planning, nutrition and primary education, along with policies that would harness market incentives, social and political institutions, infrastructure and technology to the end of promoting the productive use of their labour. From the start, too, poverty reduction was presented in terms of promoting economic opportunities for the poor (ibid: Ch. 4), ensuring that they participate in and contribute to growth by “helping” them to grasp new income-earning opportunities (ibid: 56). But behind the language of participation and opportunity was an explicit programme to make healthy workers with good basic education available to capital all around the world. In relation to education, for example, the reported reiterated the point that “the principal asset of the poor is labor time. Education increases the productivity of this asset. … Since labor is the one scarce resource on which all able-bodied poor can rely, increasing the productivity of this labor is clearly the most effective way to combat poverty” (ibid: 80, 81). The education of girls was identified as particularly important, because it would have the dual effect of reducing fertility and hence population growth, while also making them available as workers. It followed that “longer-term policies to increase women’s participation in the labor market will be needed if the bias against girls’ education in some parts of the world is to be eliminated” (ibid: 88).

Finally, the Report devoted an entire chapter to reflecting on the experience of the 1980s in order to explore the relationship between structural adjustment and long-term growth, and especially the impact of structural adjustment on the poor (ibid: Ch. 7). Invoking UNICEF, the World Bank addressed the slow pace of macroeconomic recovery and structural change over the last decade, and concluded that while it was right to pursue the long-run goal of more efficient use of labour, care had to be taken to avoid perverse short-term effects arising out of the slow adjustment of firms and labour markets, and sharp cuts in the consumption levels of the poor. As “the only way to help the poor is to bring about sustainable recovery based on a growth path that involves efficient use of labor and widespread investment in human capital” (ibid: 112), a way had to be found to manage the transition while keeping the process of reform on track. The way the World Bank found goes under the name of the ‘political economy of adjustment’, whose key elements are (i) building on discontent with previous forms of economic management to defend market-oriented policies as progressive; (ii) moving decisively on fundamentals as crises can “strengthen support for policy change, weaken antireform interest groups, and increase politicians’ willingness to rely on technocrats; (iii) seeking external aid and investment to increase the sustainability of reform; (iv) building coalitions of those who benefit; (v) sequencing reforms carefully with respect to political and economic objectives; and (vi) compensating losers, both among the poor and the politically powerful such as formal sector workers, in the short term (ibid: Box 7.6, p. 115).

Here then, in 1990, we have the three elements together: a transformation strategy that aims to address poverty through the specific measures of increasing the availability and productivity of workers, a marketing strategy that aims to present the transformation as progressive, and a short-term compensation strategy aimed at sustaining the political ascendancy of the reform coalition. This suggests that in political terms, the Bank and the IMF have always known perfectly well what they were doing.

Proletarianisation, Stiglitz, and the PRSP approach

Once we assume that the primary purpose of poverty reduction strategies and related policies for ‘growth and development’ is to reduce poverty, we come up against a conundrum: despite their manifest failure, and the catastrophic global crisis in which we are currently immersed, their proponents are rushing to insist that while corrections and increased regulation are required in financial markets, the fundamental policy framework must remain in place. But if we abandon the naïve assumption that the reduction of global poverty is the primary goal, and identify ‘poverty reduction’ instead as part of a wider offensive to embed the disciplines of capitalist competitiveness on a global scale, obliging capitalists to compete, securing the hegemony of capital over labour, and pressing governments to lay down the infrastructural and institutional framework that these objectives require, a different perspective emerges. From this ‘new materialist’ perspective, the recent changes in the nature of neoliberal development policy and the transformations of the international aid architecture following the introduction of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) approach represent neither straightforward continuity nor rupture, but a deepening or intensification of the neoliberal strategy reflected in the original ‘Washington Consensus’. The emphasis on ‘ownership’, ‘participation’ and ‘inclusion’, as slippery and deceptive as the emphasis on ‘poverty reduction’, reflects the recognition that the original Washington Consensus was insufficient, in its relatively narrow focus on macroeconomic orthodoxy and capital and market liberalisation. For the desired results to be achieved, it had to be accompanied by state regulation to make markets competitive and capitalism hegemonic, and by a range of complementary strategies that would induce citizens to change their behaviour in appropriate ways. A fundamental part of this strategy, of which Stiglitz and then Stern at the World Bank were leading exponents, was to present the narrowing down of choices to those supportive of the disciplines of global capital competitiveness as representing a realm of freedom, choice and empowerment for the individual, and centred on a ‘better climate for investment’ for the national state – an argument I have defended at length elsewhere (Cammack, 2004b, 2006c). Stiglitz laid great stress on “effective regulation and competition policies” to make markets work better (Stiglitz, 1998: 7, 18-24; Cammack, 2004). His main points were that (1) “competition [was] central to the success of a market economy” (1998:18) and macro-economic reforms had to accompanied by micro-economic measures; (2) that state regulation to make markets work, especially financial markets, was of paramount importance; and (3) that the state should devolve responsibility to build a local sense of ownership; and (4) that “if policies are to be sustainable, developing countries must take ownership of them” (34). In sum, he was for national ownership of the reform process, and for competition, rather than against the market. But he was not for national modification of the process. Rather, he took the view, as Collier and Dollar would do in a paper that contributed substantially to the evolution of the PRSP approach, that only the state could introduce and maintain the disciplines, on capital and labour alike, that would be conducive to bourgeois hegemony and capitalist accumulation on both national and global scales.

Parallel developments across the developed and developing worlds

While successive World Bank Development Reports were building up the detail of the ‘poverty reduction agenda through the 1990s (Cammack, 2002b), a similar emphasis was emerging in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), while the European Commission and the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD) and Development produced parallel agendas for reform. The impetus behind these was the same as that which impelled Stiglitz and others to turn the spotlight onto micro-level policies and the management of behaviour. The neoliberal revolution launched in the UK and the US in the 1970s was seen to be faltering in the early 1990s, and making little headway in particular in the major economies of continental Europe. The response, in the European Commissions White Paper on Competitiveness in 1993 (the ‘Delors Report’) and the OECD Jobs Strategy of 1994, was precisely the same as that reflected in the shift of focus under Stiglitz and Wolfensohn at the World Bank.

The OECD Jobs Strategy was a set of proposals aimed at addressing the need for reform in the advanced economies of the world. It reflected the same neoliberal principles gaining ground at the World Bank and the IMF in the period, and provides evidence that prior to the adoption of similar micro-political strategies at the World Bank under Stiglitz, reforms that would produce incentives to modify behaviour in such a way as to create competitive labour and capital markets and eliminate alternatives to work were being pressed upon advanced states. The full set of OECD proposals was as follows: set macroeconomic policy such that it will both encourage growth and, in conjunction with good structural policies, make it sustainable, i.e. non-inflationary; enhance the creation and diffusion of technological know-how by improving frameworks for its development; increase flexibility of working-time (both short-term and lifetime) voluntarily sought by workers and employers; nurture an entrepreneurial climate by eliminating impediments to, and restrictions on, the creation and expansion of enterprises; make wage and labour costs more flexible by removing restrictions that prevent wages from reflecting local conditions and individual skill levels, in particular of younger workers; reform employment security provisions that inhibit the expansion of employment in the private sector; strengthen the emphasis on active labour market policies and reinforce their effectiveness; improve labour force skills and competencies through wide-ranging changes in education and training systems; reform unemployment and related benefit systems – and their interactions with the tax system – such that societies’ fundamental equity goals are achieved in ways that impinge far less on the efficient functioning of the labour markets; and enhance product market competition so as to reduce monopolistic tendencies and weaken insider-outsider mechanisms while also contributing to a more innovative and dynamic economy (Cammack, 2006a: 7).

It is on this basis – the evidence (easily extended) that the same set of proposals being propagated around the developing world by the IMF and the World Bank were being urged upon the advanced capitalist countries from such institutions as the European commission and the OECD (and incidentally, through Article IV engagements, by the IMF itself) – that I argue that what we are dealing with here is a ‘universal convergence on competitiveness’. This has become particularly apparent over the last decade, with the adoption by the EU of the pro-competitiveness Lisbon Agenda in 2000 (Cammack, 2006a); EU enlargement and OECD engagement with the BRICs. At the same time, closer co-operation between the IMF, the World Bank and its regional offices, the regional banks and UN agencies such as UNCTAD, the UNDP and ECOSOC, reflected in the Monterrey Consensus and the UN World Summit of 2005, have broadened the scope of the new consensus and the institutional basis on which it rests (Cammack, 2006b, 2007, 2008; Charnock, 2006, 2007). Along with the systematic interaction between these various institutions and national and third sector donor agencies, such as the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Oxfam, this has produced a host of mechanisms for the dissemination and implementation of the reform agenda at the micro-level.

Universal convergence on competitiveness

What, then, are the major precepts of ‘universal convergence on competitiveness’? I set out in this section a summary of what I take to be the ‘universal convergence on competitiveness’ that is shared across the international and regional organisations listed above. It reflects my understanding (echoing Williamson, 1993) of positions that are currently widely shared among the ‘powers-that-be’. The note on sources at the end of the paper gives an idea of the range of the material from which this synthesis (modelled as will be apparent on the form of the Washington Consensus) is based. The principal points of universal convergence upon competitiveness, then, are as follows:

All countries should pursue competitiveness in the global economy

The immediate priorities depend on national circumstances, but the objective is always more flexible and more productive economies that are better able to compete. The need to adapt to the inevitable changes brought by competition is an issue for developed and developing countries alike. Even the best can always improve. As regards timing, when times are good, abundant resources are available to fund reforms and buy off opponents; when times are bad, crisis weakens resistance and justifies reform.

Country ownership is essential

Governments must take responsibility for reforms themselves, or they will not appear legitimate. They must not follow public opinion, but rather educate the public on the need for change and the cost of non-reform. Reform will not be sustainable over the longer term without secure electoral support. The ultimate objective is to persuade citizens to adopt new patterns of behaviour, and this cannot be imposed, least of all from outside.

International institutions must be strategic partners in the political economy of reform

The international institutions and their allies provide development knowledge and sound policy advice; identify and disseminate best practice; they offer authoritative support for reform; and where necessary they exert pressure on states through surveillance and peer review. They must work closely together in order to achieve their strategic objectives. And they must extend representation, especially to the emerging economies.

Their task is to promote national reforms that contribute simultaneously to national and global competitiveness

The right policies enhance both national competitiveness and the competitiveness of the global economy as a whole – for example, competitive product markets are good, but protectionism is not. However, it is not advisable to do everything at once; intelligent sequencing of reform will maximise support and weaken opposition.

Sound macro-economic policies are still the indispensable starting point

Monetary and fiscal stability provide the basic conditions for investment, employment creation and growth.

Beyond that, the government must create and maintain a good climate for investment

The private sector is the primary source of growth, so the state must provide good governance and the rule of law: predictable legal and regulatory frameworks and secure property rights.

It must then provide an abundant and productive labour force

Flexible labour markets are the key, with benefits calibrated to make work pay, barriers to labour mobility (hiring and firing) reduced, and disincentives to employment (excessive minimum wages and redundancy provisions and centralised wage bargaining) kept to a minimum.

Public expenditure should be directed to growth-supporting infrastructure and accelerated human capital formation

Public investment in health, education, and infrastructural projects is essential. Privatisation of state enterprises is appropriate, so long as competition is guaranteed. Where the state funds provision, it should do so through public-private partnerships. In education, the emphasis should be on providing the skills required among the workforce for success in a knowledge-based economy.

Entrepreneurship and innovation should be promoted at all levels

Domestic and foreign capital should be treated equally. Fiscal, legal and regulatory frameworks should all favour enterprise, and especially SMEs (small and medium enterprises) which provide employment and nurture domestic entrepreneurship. Sound and effective competition law must be in place, to enforce both local and global competitiveness. Innovation should be promoted through partnerships between business, universities, and local, regional and national government development agencies.

There should be a particular focus on the empowerment of women

This is ‘smart economics’. Girls are under-educated in comparison to boys in most of the world, and their rates of participation in the workforce fall well short of those of men. Women should be supported in staying on to secondary and higher education, in rural and urban entrepreneurship, and in entering and remaining in work.

Universal convergence on competitiveness at the World Bank

What this is all about, then, is delivering educated, appropriately skilled, healthy and productive workers into the hands of capital on a global scale. All the detail has to be seen in the context of the broader project. This could be amply evidenced from the PRSP Sourcebook, but I choose to illustrate it instead from the detail of the CPIA (Country Policy and Institutional Assessments) currently in force at the World Bank. This is the template against which countries are assessed and marked, and it consists of sixteen criteria in four equally weighted groups:

A. Economic Management
1. Macroeconomic Management
2. Fiscal Policy
3. Debt Policy
B. Structural Policies
4. Trade
5. Financial Sector
6 Business Regulatory Environment
C. Policies for Social Inclusion/Equity
7. Gender Equality
8. Equity of Public Resource Use
9. Building Human Resources
10. Social Protection and Labor
11. Policies and Institutions for Environmental Sustainability
D. Public Sector Management and Institutions
12. Property Rights and Rule-based Governance
13. Quality of Budgetary and Financial Management
14. Efficiency of Revenue Mobilization
15. Quality of Public Administration
16. Transparency, Accountability, and Corruption in the Public Sector

(Source: World Bank, Operations Policy and Country Services, “Country Policy and Institutional Assessments, 2005 Assessment Questionnaire, December 2005).

In each section, a sequence of descriptors running from bad (1) to good (6) is provided to assist in country scoring. With a view to the issues considered here those in Group C are the most relevant – the detail of the other groups confirms both continuity of the neoliberal framework, and close parallels with the OECD Jobs Strategy and subsequent OECD doctrine. The ideal situations (score 6) for each of the five headings are set out in the Box on the following page. It is not my intention to suggest that there is nothing here that could be construed as either progressive, or ethical. It is rather to suggest that it is impossible to arrive at an interpretation of any ‘progressive’ or ‘ethical’ components of the strategy without setting them in the context of the strategy as a whole, and identifying its internal logic. In this case, the ideal policies for social inclusion and equity have the characteristics, alongside the other elements of the full analytical framework, identified in the summary above of ‘universal convergence on competitiveness’. They envisage a world in which policy is as progressive and as equitable as possible, give the commitment to private enterprise, competition in labour and product markets, and the supportive role in relation to these of gender, public expenditure, education and welfare policies. Human capital is developed to the maximum extent (a goal to which gender inequality is an impediment); public expenditure is targeted, and monitored to ensure that it does not reach those capable of surviving in the market, and that it equips those who are not with the wherewithal to enter or re-enter them; health and education expenditure and labour market regulation aim to provide for (through a basic universal minimum) and set limits to (through the abolition of child labour) the delivery of a global labour force subject to common welfare and regulatory standards. Social protection programmes are aimed to underpin the labour market and ensure its sustainability over the longer term, communities are integrated as significant sites of delivery and legitimation, and pensions- and savings-based income security operates “with minimal distortions in the operation of labor markets”.



The proposals above, then, represent precisely a strategy to maximise the capacity of healthy and well educated workers, male and female, in the developing world, and thereby to enable them to make a maximum contribution to the competitiveness of their economies in the global economy. This is a strategy shared with other organisations such as the EU and the OECD, equally focused on encouraging developed and developing countries alike to gear their economies and societies towards greater competitiveness. The changing policies of the IMF and the World Bank cannot be taken as a starting point (least of all if the ‘Washington Consensus’ is taken as a baseline). Instead, attention needs to be focused on global class struggle in its contemporary form, or what I have called here the ‘universal convergence on competitiveness’, and its implications for the way in which international organisations and their like seek to shape all states as agents of bourgeois hegemony, and regimes of domestic competitiveness that contribute collectively to competitiveness across the global economy as a whole.


Read it full at International Studies Association

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: