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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 6: The New Cyber-Financial Global Order

Information Technology and Globalization since 1845

Peter McMahon


In previous chapters I described the rise of a new form of tendentially global society. First, it was argued, a high-level, global, financial-imperial control system was constructed in the latter part of the nineteenth century, only to be replaced over time by a number of multilevel systems based in processes of national industro-military development which lasted, in a revised internationalist form, through to the late 1960s. At this point a new global financial order began to arise. In this chapter I identify more clearly the actual character of this new global control system. I argue that, like the nineteenth-century world order, the late twentieth-century global system was hierarchical and relied on military force as a back-up to systemic, that is, mainly financial and organizational, pressure to maintain order. In addition, overall systemic control over both production and distribution was stronger than ever and chiefly operated through monetary relations and information technology networks which were systemically convergent. In retrospect we can see that the structural changes in the world political economy over the last two centuries were largely the result of attempts to impose systemic order on world social relations, resulting in alternating periods of relatively peaceful hegemony (at the industrially developed core at least) and open, international warfare, depending on the specific socio-technological conditions prevailing at any time. But we can also perceive a broad trend to deeper and broader systemization, first in terms of (mainly global) market formation, then (mainly national) mass industrialization, and finally (mainly global) cyber-financial coordination,...

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