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The Crisis of Asian Globalization : Toward a Senism of the Left

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Authors
Thornton, William H.; Thornton, Songok Han
Issue Date
2007
Publisher
Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
Citation
Development and Society, Vol.36 No.1, pp. 129-151
Keywords
SenismAsian CrisisAsian globalizationAsian democratizationreactionary globalization
Abstract
Asian Crisis put globalization on trial, and helped to put politics back into development discourse. Not since the glory days of Third Worldism had politics held the developmental spotlight. This restoration owed much to Amartya Sen, whose work not only re-politicizes development discourse, but does so from within the inner sanctum of the world system. Though Senism is not ordinarily associated with radical critique, its egalitarian focus is loaded with oppositional content. It follows from Sen’'s axiom of “"concurrence,”" as we term it, that democratization is central at all stages of development. In his view the Asian Crisis confirmed the high cost of undemocratic governance. While Asian exceptionalists hold that liberal democracy is not needed on the Rim, and indeed would be a hindrance, Sen foregrounds the instrumental as well as intrinsic value of the freedom factor in all real development. His outlook, moreover, is deeply rooted in Asian axiology. In lieu of the statist economism that monopolized the term “"Asian values”" during the “"miracle”" years, Sen proposes an “"Eastern strategy”" that draws on the deeper and more humane traditions of Asia. From this vantage it is obvious that development reaches far beyond the GDPism that dominates the standard discourse of growth. What has passed for development in much of Asia is mere profit-taking, and when the social and ecological costs of that taking are weighed in the balance, the result is often a net loss. Sen’'s focus on human capabilities points toward more sustainable development, but also collides with current power structures in the East and West alike. Senism, in short, is inherently oppositional, and can better serve the Left that the Right.
ISSN
1598-8074
Language
English
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10371/86698
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Institute for Social Development and Policy Research (사회발전연구소)Development and Society Development and Society Vol.36 No.1/2 (2007)
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