"The Poverty of Capitalism" is John Hilarys (the chief executive of War on Want which campaigns with activists in the "developing" world for not just human rights but "against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice") take on the state of capitalism globally in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
After setting out his stall in the introductory chapter Hilary moves on to looking at the Great Recession itself and ties it in with changes to the global economy not least the emergence of a few countries from the global south (in particular the BRIC's - Brazil, Russia, India and China) whose elites, it is argued, "have joined forces with their northern counterparts of the transnational capitalist class" and in effect "strengthened the dominance of capitalism". Hilary then turns to Transnational Corporations (TNC's) and how they have prospered during the Neo-liberal era. Key moments and developments are noted in the continual rise of TNC's from the Global Agreement on Tarrifs and Trade talks which culminated in the founding of the WTO in 1995, augmented by literally hundreds of bilateral trade & investment treaties. This process has lifted "transnational capital to a de facto legal status equivalent to sovereign states" where corporations can challenge government policy and seek compensation before international tribunals whose reputation is hardly that of impartial, sage and just judges. Meanwhile TNC's much vaunted Corporate Social Responsibility policies of recent decades have developed into a means to smooth the progress of TNC's into new areas including those which were once regarded as core activities of the State.
The middle part of the book illustrates how the processes which he's described have developed in three sectors of the global economy: extractive (oil, gas, mining etc), garments and food. Though each sector is covered in only twenty or so pages Hilary manages to construct a detailed and nuanced account of developments, as well as casting a look into how things may pan out in the future.
The book ends with a look at alternatives, and while the achievements of the Bolivarian states in Latin America and those sympathetic to them play a leading role in this section, there is a wider consideration of how the Global South has reacted to the fallout from the Great Recession.
Where most works of economics published about the post Great Recession period are focussed on OECD countries and at best a BRIC or two, Hilarys book is unashamedly and impressively international in scope, and it is also clear that he knows exactly what he's talking about. For these reasons, and the fact that "The Poverty of Capitalism" is written in a readable, clear prose that enlightens rather than baffles the reader, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the current state of Global Political Economy, and defines Global as meaning the entire world.
Hilary blows wide open the myth of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the pernicious corrosion of "Free Trade Agreements," citing detailed evidence from the Extractive, Clothing and Food industries. Essential reading to understand the global economy, international agreements and corporate hegemony.
A brilliant and readable account of what's really happening behind the gloss of the capitalist society. Well supported by examples, the events and trends Hilary describes are both shocking and sinister. Essential reading for everyone.