In an effort to dramatize his neo-Polanyian critique of neo-liberal global capitalism, Stephen Gill questions the tenability of his own term market civilization, proposing it as oxymoronic in that a market civilization qua the neo-liberal order contradicts Gill's view of civilization qua democratic eco-humanism (i.e. representation, civility, social well-being and inclusion). In this formation, Gill's argument is essentially circular in its reliance on his own subjective standard of civilization, (democratic eco-humanism), to prove the uncivilized nature of the neo-liberal order. By adopting a more objective, (and necessarily more general), definition of civilization, we can disband with Gill's tautology, allowing us to embrace the term market civilization as a precise definition of neo-liberal global capitalism. In doing so, however, we merely adjust Gill's propensity for grandiose formulations; what remains is his well-reasoned explication of the inherent contradictions of neo-liberalism, an explication that underscores the ways in which Anglo-American neo-liberalism departs from a certain aesthetic of civilization as democratic eco-humanism. Though he fails to prove the system uncivilized in the broad sense, Gill's arguments make a strong case for the rise of a Polanyian double movement that would address the critical excesses of the neo-liberal order.
To understand Gill's claim about the oxymoronic nature of market civilization, one must understand the differences between the two relevant definitions of civilization. In Gill's words: "civilization implies not only a pattern of society (def. 1) but also an active historical process that fosters a more humanized, literate a...
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Friedman, Thomas L. The Lexus and the Olive Tree New York: Farrar Straus Giroux
Gill, Stephen. "Globalisation, Market Civilisation and Disciplinary Neoliberalism" Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 1995. ISSN 0305-8298 Vol. 24. No. 3. pp. 399-423
Kitschelt, Herbert et al. Continuity and Change in Contemporary Capitalism. Cambridge University Press
Moody, Kim. Workers in a Lean World: Unions in the International Economy. New York: Verso, 1997
Polanyi, Karl. The Great Transformation. Boston: Beacon Hill, 1944
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