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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 4: Telematics and the Post-war International Order

Information Technology and Globalization since 1845

Peter McMahon


The post-war international political economy that existed up until the late 1960s can be broadly characterized as being caused by the attempt to extend the logic of national industro-militarism in a global context. One aspect of this system was the reconstruction of an international liberal order under US hegemony; but another aspect was the sustained industro-military confrontation between this structure and the Soviet Union and other socialist states. The US, the European countries and Japan were to form a central capitalist industro-military core which would confront socialism militarily and ideologically, and deal with other non-core regions as changing economic and political interests dictated. Nation states were still the key institutional structures in this new order, but they were typically organized into larger transnational politico-military formations at specific levels through US, and to a lesser extent, Soviet hegemonic power.1 As well as through politico-military cooperation, international order within the non-socialist world was to be maintained through the Bretton Woods financial system, foreign (often military) aid from the rich nations to the poor, and a raft of more or less international organizations, most importantly those associated with the United Nations. Behind all these things, however, stood the irrefutable material power of the US industro-military system. The strong US dollar and effective US control of the IMF and World Bank formed the central operational condition of the Bretton Woods system. Foreign aid, necessary to get the international economy up and running again, such as the Marshall Plan, was achieved basically by the reallocation...

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