By John Rennie Short. Reaktion Books (London), 2001. 190pp. £12.95
I suppose this is the poor man's No Logo, and it has the feel of a book which, in the writing, has been overtaken by events, writes Austin Williams . In the end, Short tries too hard to distinguish his argument from the rising tide of more mediasavvy authors who have grown up all around him.
His insights are not really insightful and, by trying to be the voice of liberal-left reason, he comes across as a relativist who is happy to consider both sides of an argument and to accept and reject them at the same time.Unfortunately, while he thinks that this is a dialectical method of analysis, it is in fact simply crude and argumentative indecision.
'A fuller understanding of cultural globalisation, 'he suggests, 'has to move beyond the sameness/difference dichotomy to a fuller sense of the enduring tension between difference and sameness.' Yes, I see.
Globalisation, after all, has good and bad points but, with it 'space-time convergence also leads to space-time divergence'. Essentially, he argues that what he calls the 'viral'Marxian notion of progress became Modernisation which, in turn, became Globalism.Universalist 'place-transcending'metanarratives stand accused by Scott (he is too indecisive to condemn) because it has displaced the rootedness of tradition.
This is not new. In conclusion, he searches for meaning in the new global reality.As with most of this new crop of 'radical'writers, he does not want to rock the boat too much, advocating a 'vision of a humane, democratic and fair globalisation'.