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Global Control

Information Technology and Globalization since 1845

Peter McMahon

Global Control aims to achieve a clearer understanding of the long process of globalization by focusing on the crucial role of information and control technologies. Information systems and control technologies are key to globalization and, while generally facilitating the overall trend to spatial reorganization, they also effect change through the pervasive influence of ‘internal systems logic’. Thus, the author argues, the dominant institutions of states, firms and markets transform global development and are themselves transformed by key information technologies. More specifically the book identifies the key phases of modern globalization and analyses the crucial role played by different information technologies at each point in time.
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Chapter 3: Information Technology and US Industro-Military Development

Information Technology and Globalization since 1845

Peter McMahon


The age of nationally focused politico-economic development which began in the closing years of the nineteenth century, described elsewhere1 as nationalmonopolist but which I have termed industro-militarist, was one characterized by a basic lack of international order and consequent warfare, both economic and military in character. The period of industro-military organizational dominance began at a time of British international hegemony and ended with the condition of US hegemony. Indeed, the rise of the US as an industro-military power was probably the single most important occurrence in that period. The US became, albeit over time and to varying degrees, the model for national development for the rest of the world. US superiority was first made manifest in agro-industrial capacity as it became the prime supplier of important foodstuffs to the world, then financial strength as British financial resources dissipated, and finally in the form of techno-military power made explicit in two world wars. Clearly, there were essential aspects of the American experience that were exceptionally successful in socio-economic developmental terms. Furthermore, it was a success that other nations would try to emulate. In this chapter I argue that the essence of this American success lay in a combination of control structures – most importantly socio-political, industrial and technological – which the dominant classes introduced to meet the material and social exigencies of industrialization, and more specifically, mass production. This occurred in a context of international upheaval due mainly to the relative decline of Britain and the rise of potential successors, most notably the...

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