Margaret Legum “It doe$n’t have to be £ike Thi$”

ISBN 1 901557 76 6. Published in 2002 (this edition revised in 2003) by Wild Goose Publications. Full Title “Global economics: a new way forward: It Doesn’t Have To Be Like This” by Margaret Legum. The Book has 232 pages including Bibliography, List of Acronyms and Foreword by Andrea Westall. This was a source book for Bruges’ “Big Earth Book” a few years later, so there is nothing here you will not have seen in books before or since. Legum is not a Washington Consensus insider like Joseph Stiglitz of George Soros. However she provides an African angle as she writes from the point of view of a South African and as an Economist. She returned to South Africa, after a thirty year exile in the UK, for her anti-Apartheid views. Hence her passion for the topic of the failings of Globalisation is driven through her compassion for human rights and dignity. If there is one criticism it is that does cloud her judgement as she makes repeated qualitative observations. To her the system is just wrong because people are suffering. It is so obvious to her she sometimes fails to join the dots as to why one causes the other. It is obvious to her therefore she is blinded to the need to justify her critique. Her recipe for dealing with the problems are those repeated often elsewhere – monetary reform, revisit Bretton Woods, reform currency speculation, Tobin Tax, etc., etc. There is nothing original here although a few uniquely South African ideas appear. But it isn’t groundbreaking – just nicely packaged. Throughout the book she inserts her “Myths about Globalisation” which I was excited to see however each are profoundly disappointing as she utterly fails to deliver the killer blow. The problem with Globalisation and Market Liberalisation is that it is inefficient. It is inefficient because the market is distorted. Theory does not meet practice. The playing field is so severely tilted in favour of capital flowing from rich to poor that only reform can save it. Markets can be good. But we don’t have a ‘free’ market so it fails. Globalisation itself must run out of steam with the pending Oil Crash. Legum writes at length about Fossil Fuel depletion but she seems to completely fail to truly understand the consequences for global markets. To her it is a minor economic problem in comparison to human suffering and climate change. She doesn’t see the paradigm shift in the wings. She correctly identifies the role of the dollar (petrodollar) in the world system and how the inevitable collapse of the dollar system will effect us all. She also correctly sees how relocalisation will insulate us from the Dollar/Oil Crash. However she is largely thinking of protecting poor Africans without noting that these crashes will effect everyone. A mixed bag with no great new message of hope. More of the same but from a fresh perspective.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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