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John Mikler — The Political Power of Global Corporations

Summary:
We have long been told that corporations “rule the world”, their interests seemingly taking precedence over states and their citizens. Yet while states, civil society, and international organisations are well drawn in terms of their institutions, ideologies, and functions, the world’s global corporations are often more simply sketched as market actors which are mechanisms of profit maximisation. In The Political Power of Global Corporations I seek to demonstrate why they should be seen as explicitly political actors with complex identities and strategies that should be more the focus of our analysis than is often the case. According to Peter Nolan, Dylan Sutherland and Jin Zhang by the end of the twentieth century no more than five global corporations controlled each of the world’s

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We have long been told that corporations “rule the world”, their interests seemingly taking precedence over states and their citizens. Yet while states, civil society, and international organisations are well drawn in terms of their institutions, ideologies, and functions, the world’s global corporations are often more simply sketched as market actors which are mechanisms of profit maximisation. In The Political Power of Global Corporations I seek to demonstrate why they should be seen as explicitly political actors with complex identities and strategies that should be more the focus of our analysis than is often the case.
According to Peter Nolan, Dylan Sutherland and Jin Zhang by the end of the twentieth century no more than five global corporations controlled each of the world’s major industries, with around a third of these having one corporation accounting for more than 40 per cent of global sales. Colin Crouch observes that there has been a “corporate takeover of the market” by these enormous entities. As such, the free market, not just ideologically but conceptually, is defunct for understanding them. They may have been aided in their growth and expansion by free market policies and the neoliberal ideology underpinning them, but by their nature and their actions, global corporations themselves give the lie to, and as such undermine the veracity of, this vision. With the evidence that markets are neither free nor competitive but controlled by global corporations, in identifying them as political actors we should also declare them anti-market actors....
If it is high time to move on from the rather disembodied debates around free markets and neoliberalism to focus more on the embodiment of economic power in the hands of global corporations, then it is also time to focus more on the places where, and from which, they wield it because these are also the places where responsibility lies for how it is wielded.
Economic processes are increasingly produced by the economic control global corporations possess, the relationships they have, the leverage they employ, the strategic decisions they make, and the discourses they create to enhance acceptance of their interests. But we know their names, we know the states in which they are headquartered, and we know the states in which they invest and operate. We need to have a better idea of what they do, as well as how and why they do it, by more explicitly making them the subject of political analysis. In my book’s concluding chapter, I venture that there should be broad agreement on this across the political spectrum, in the following terms: 
Progress in Political Economy (PPE)
The Political Power of Global Corporations
John Mikler | Associate Professor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney
Mike Norman
Mike Norman is an economist and veteran trader whose career has spanned over 30 years on Wall Street. He is a former member and trader on the CME, NYMEX, COMEX and NYFE and he managed money for one of the largest hedge funds and ran a prop trading desk for Credit Suisse.

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