The viability of the multinational corporate system depends upon the degree to which people will tolerate the unevenness it creates. It is well to remember that the ‘New Imperialism’ which began after 1870 in a spirit of Capitalism Triumphant, soon became seriously troubled and after 1914 was characterized by war, depression, breakdown of the international economic system and war again, rather than free Trade, Pax Britannica and Material Improvement. A major reason was Britain’s inability to cope with the by-products of its own rapid accumulation of capital; i.e., a class-conscious labour force at home; a middle class in the hinterland; and rival centres of capital on the Continent and in America. Britain’s policy tended to be at avistic and defensive rather than progressive-more concerned with warding off new threats than creating new areas of expansion. Ironically, Edwardian England revived the paraphernalia of the landed aristocracy it had just destroyed. Instead of embarking on a ‘big push’ to develop the vast hinterland of the Empire, colonial administrators often adopted policies to arrest the development of either a native capitalist class or a native proletariat which could overthrow them.
As time went on, the centre had to devote an increasing share of government activity to military and other unproductive expenditures; they had to rely on alliances with an inefficient class of landlords, officials and soldiers in the hinterland to maintain stability at the cost of development. A great part of the surplus extracted from the population was thus wasted locally.
The New Mercantilism (as the Multinational Corporate System of special alliances and privileges, aid and tariff concessions is sometimes called) faces similar problems of internal and external division. The centre is troubled: excluded groups revolt and even some of the affluent are dissatisfied with the roles. Nationalistic rivalry between major capitalist countries remains an important divisive factor, Finally, there is the threat presented by the middle classes and the excluded groups of the underdeveloped countries. The national middle classes in the underdeveloped countries came to power when the centre weakened but could not, through their policy of import substitution manufacturing, establish a viable basis for sustained growth. They now face a foreign exchange crisis and an unemployment (or population) crisis-the first indicating their inability to function in the international economy and the second indicating their alienation from the people they are supposed to lead. In the immediate future, these national middle classes will gain a new lease of life as they take advantage of the spaces created by the rivalry between American and non- American oligopolists striving to establish global market positions.
The native capitalists will again become the champions of national independence as they bargain with multinational corporations. But the conflict at this level is more apparent than real, for in the end the fervent nationalism of the middle class asks only for promotion within the corporate structure and not for a break with that structure. In the last analysis their power derives from the metropolis and they cannot easily afford to challenge the international system. They do not command the loyalty of their own population and cannot really compete with the large, powerful, aggregate capitals from the centre. They are prisoners of the taste patterns and consumption standards set at the centre.
The main threat comes from the excluded groups. It is not unusual in underdeveloped countries for the top 5 per cent to obtain between 30 and 40 per cent of the total national income, and for the top one-third to obtain anywhere from 60 to 70 per cent. At most, one-third of the population can be said to benefit in some sense from the dualistic growth that characterizes development in the hinterland. The remaining two-thirds, who together get only one-third of the income, are outsiders, not because they do not contribute to the economy, but because they do not share in the benefits. They provide a source of cheap labour which helps keep exports to the developed world at a low price and which has financed the urban-biased growth of recent years. In fact, it is difficult to see how the system in most underdeveloped countries could survive without cheap labour since removing it (e.g. diverting it to public works projects as is done in socialist countries) would raise consumption costs to capitalists and professional elites
Question 1. According to the author, the British policy during the ‘New Imperialism’ period tended to be defensive because
A] it was unable to deal with the fallouts of a sharp increase in capital
B] its cumulative capital had undesirable side-effects
C] its policies favoured developing the vast hinterland
D] it prevented the growth of a set-up which could have been capitalistic in nature
Question 2. Under New Mercantilism, the fervent nationalism of the native middle classes does not create conflict with the multinational corporations because they (the middle classes)
A] negotiate with the multinational corporations
B] are dependent on the international system for their continued prosperity
C] are not in a position to challenge the status quo
D] do not enjoy popular support
Question 3 In the sentence, “They are prisoners of the taste patterns and consumption standards set at the center.” (fourth paragraph), what is the meaning of ‘center’?
A] National government
B] Native capitalists
C] New capitalists
D] None of the above
Question 4. The author is in a position to draw parallels between New Imperialism and New Mercantilism because
A] both originated in the developed Western capitalist countries
B] New Mercantilism was a logical sequel to New Imperialism
C] they create the same set of outputs – a labour force, middle classes and rival centers of capital
D] both have comparable uneven and divisive effects
Recently I spent several hours sitting under a tree in my garden with the social anthropologist William Ury, a Harvard University professor who specializes in the art of negotiation and wrote the bestselling book, Getting to Yes. He captivated me with his theory that tribalism protects people from their fear of rapid change. He explained that the pillars of tribalism that humans rely on for security would always counter any significant cultural or social change. In this way, he said, change is never allowed to happen too fast. Technology, for example, is a pillar of society. Ury believes that every time technology moves in a new or radical direction, another pillar such as religion or nationalism will grow stronger – in effect, the traditional and familiar will assume greater importance to compensate for the new and untested. In this manner, human tribes avoid rapid change that leaves people insecure and frightened.
But we have all heard that nothing is as permanent as change. Nothing is guaranteed. Pithy expressions, to be sure, but no more than cliches. As Ury says, people don’t live that way from day-to-day. On the contrary, they actively seek certainty and stability. They want to know they will be safe.
Even so, we scare ourselves constantly with the idea of change. An IBM CEO once said: ‘We only restructure for a good reason, and if we haven’t re-structured in a while, that’s a good reason.’ We are scared that competitors, technology and the consumer will put us out of business so we have to change all the time just to stay alive. But if we asked our fathers and grandfathers, would they have said that they lived in a period of little change? Structure may not have changed much. It may just be the speed with which we do things.
Change is over-rated, anyway. Consider the automobile. It’s an especially valuable example, because the auto industry has spent tens of billions or dollars on research and product development in the last 100 years. Henry Ford’s first car had a metal chassis with an internal combustion, gasoline-powered engine, four wheels with rubber tyres, a foot operated clutch assembly and brake system, a steering wheel, and four seats, and it could safely do 18 miles per hour. A hundred years and tens of thousands of research hours later, we drive cars with a metal chassis with an internal combustion, gasoline-powered engine, four wheels with rubber tyres, a foot operated clutch assembly and brake system, a steering wheel, four seats – and the average speed in London in 2001 was 17.5 miles per hour!
That’s not a hell of a lot of return for the money. Ford evidently doesn’t have much to teach us about change. The fact that they’re still manufacturing cars is not proof that Ford Motor Co. is a sound organization, just proof that it takes very large companies to make cars in great quantities – making for an almost impregnable entry barrier.
Fifty years after the development of the jet engine, planes are also little changed. They’ve grown bigger, wider and can carry more people. But those are incremental, largely cosmetic changes.
Taken together, this lack of real change has come to mean that in travel – whether driving or flying — time and technology have not combined to make things much better. The safety and design have of course accompanied the times and the new volume of cars and flights, but nothing of any significance has changed in the basic assumptions of the final product.
At the same time, moving around in cars or aeroplanes becomes less and less efficient all the time. Not only has there been no great change, but also both forms or transport have deteriorated as more people clamour to use them. The same is true for telephones, which took over hundred years to become mobile, or photographic film, which also required an entire century to change.
The only explanation for this is anthropological. Once established in calcified organizations, humans do two things: sabotage changes that might render people dispensable, and ensure industry-wide emulation. In the 1960s, German auto companies developed plans to scrap the entire combustion engine for an electrical design. (The same existed in the 1970s in Japan, and in the I980s in France.). So for 40 years we might have been free of the wasteful and ludicrous dependence on fossil fuels. Why didn’t it go anywhere? Because auto executives understood pistons and carburetors, and would loath to cannibalize their expertise, along with most of their factories.
Question 1. According to the passage, which of the following statements is true?
A] Executives of automobile companies are inefficient and ludicrous
B] The speed at which an automobile is driven in a city has not changed much in a century
C] Anthropological factors have fostered innovation in automobiles by promoting use of new technologies
D] Further innovation in jet engines has been more than incremental
Question 2. Which of the following views does the author fully support in the passage?
A] Nothing is as permanent as change
B] Change is always rapid
C] More money spent on innovation leads to more rapid change
D] Over decades, structural change has been incremental
Question 3. Which of the following best describes one of the main ideas discussed in the passage?
A] Rapid change is usually welcomed in society
B] Industry is not as innovative as it is made out to be
C] We should have less change than what we have now
D] Competition spurs companies into radical innovation
Question 4. According to the passage, the reason why we continue to be dependent on fossil fuels is that:
A] Auto executives did not wish to change
B] No alternative fuels were discovered
C] Change in technology was not easily possible
D] German, Japanese and French companies could not come up with new technologies
The painter is now free to paint anything he chooses. They are scarcely any forbidden subjects, and today everybody is prepared to admit that a painting of some fruit can be as important as a painting of a hero dying. The Impressionists did as much as anybody to win this previously unheard-of freedom for the artist. Yet, by the next generation, painters began to abandon the subject altogether, and began to paint abstract pictures. Today the majority of pictures painted are abstract.
Is there a connection between these two developments? Has art gone abstract because the artist is embarrassed by his freedom? Is it that, because he is free to paint anything, he doesn’t know what to paint? Apologists for abstract art often talk of it as the art of maximum freedom. But could this be the freedom of the desert island? It would take to long to answer these questions properly. I believe there is a connection. Many things have encouraged the development of abstract art. Among them has been the artists’ wish to avoid the difficulties of finding subjects when all subjects are equally possible.
I raise the matter now because I want to draw attention to the fact that the painter’s choice of a subject is a far more complicated question than it would at first seem. A subject does not start with what is put in front of the easel or with something which the painter happens to remember. A subject starts with the painter deciding he would like to paint such-and-such because for some reason or other he finds it meaningful. A subject begins when the artist selects something for special mention. (What makes it special or meaningful may seem to the artist to be purely visual – its colours or its form.) When the subject has been selected, the function of the painting itself is to communicate and justify the significance of that selection.
It is often said today that subject matter is unimportant. But this is only a reaction against the excessively literary and moralistic interpretation of subject matter in the nineteenth century. In truth the subject is literary the beginning and end of a painting. The painting begins with a selection (I will paint this and not everything else in the world); it is finished when that selection is justified (now you can see all that I saw and felt in this and how it is more than merely itself).
Thus, for a painting to succeed it is essential that the painter and his public agree about what is significant. The subject may have a personal meaning for the painter or individual spectator; but there must also be the possibility of their agreement on its general meaning. It is at this point that the culture of the society and period in question precedes the artist and his art. Renaissance art would have meant nothing to the Aztecs –and vice versa. If, to some extent, a few intellectuals can appreciate them both today it is because their culture is an historical one; its inspiration is history and therefore it can include within itself, in principle if not in every particular, all known developments to date.
When a culture is secure and certain of its values, it presents it presents its artists with subjects. The general agreement about what is significant is so well established that the significance of a particular subject accrues and becomes traditional. This is true, for instance, of reeds and water in China, of the nude body in Renaissance, of the animal in Africa. Furthermore, in such cultures the artist is unlikely to be a free agent: he will be employed for the sake of particulars subjects, and the problem, as we have just described it, will not occur to him.
When a culture is in a state of disintegration or transition the freedom of the artist increases – but the question of subject matter becomes problematic for him: he, himself, has to choose for society. This was at the basis of all the increasing, crises in European art during the nineteenth century. It is too often forgotten how many of the art scandals of that time were provoked by the choice of subject (Gericault, Courbet, Daumier, Degas, Lautrec, Van Gogh, etc.).
By the end of the nineteenth century there were, roughly speaking, two ways in which the painter could meet this challenge of deciding what to paint and so choosing for society. Either he identified himself with the people and so allowed their lives to dictate his subjects to him; or he had to find his subjects within himself as painter. By people I mean everybody except the bourgeoisie. Many painters did of course work of the bourgeoisie according to their copy-book of approved subjects, but all of them, filling the Salon and the Royal Academy year after year, are now forgotten, buried under the hypocrisy of those they served so sincerely.
Question 1. When a culture is insecure, the painter chooses his subject on the basis of:
A] The prevalent style in the society of his time
B] Its meaningfulness to the painter
C] What is put in front of the easel
D] Past experience and memory of the painter
Question 2. In the sentence, “I believe there is a connection” (second paragraph), what two developments is the author referring to?
A] Painters using a dying hero and using a fruit as a subject of painting
B] Growing success of painters and an increase in abstract forms
C] Artists gaining freedom to choose subjects and abandoning subjects altogether
D] Rise of Impressionists and an increase in abstract forms.
Question 3. Which of the following is NOT necessarily among the attributes needed for a painter to succeed:
A] The painter and his public agree on what is significant
B] The painting is able to communicate and justify the significance of its subject selection
C] The subject has a personal meaning for the painter
D] The painting of subjects is inspired by historical developments
Question 4. In the context of the passage, which of the following statements would NOT be true?
A] Painters decided subjects based on what they remembered from their own lives
B] Painters of reeds and water in China faced no serious problem of choosing a subject
C] The choice of subject was a source of scandals in nineteenth century European art
D] Agreement on the general meaning of a painting is influenced by culture and historical context
While complex in the extreme, Derrida’s work has proven to be a particularly influential approach to the analysis of the ways in which language structures our understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit, an approach he termed deconstruction. In its simplest formulation, deconstruction can be taken to refer to a methodological strategy which seeks to uncover layers of hidden meaning in a text that have been denied or suppressed. The term ‘text’, in this respect, does not refer simply to a written form of communication, however. Rather, texts are something we all produce and reproduce constantly in our every day social relations, be they spoken, written or embedded in the construction of material artifacts. At the heart of Derrida’s deconstructive approach is his critique of what he perceives to be the totalitarian impulse of the Enlightenment pursuit to bring all that exists in the world under the domain of representative language, a pursuit he refers to as logocentrism. Logocentrism is the search for a rational language that is able to know and represent the world and all its aspects perfectly and accurately. Its totalitarian dimension, for Derrida at least, lies primarily in its tendency to marginalize or dismiss all that does not neatly comply with its particular linguistic representations, a tendency that, throughout history, has all too frequently been manifested in the form of authoritarian institutions. Thus logocentrism has, in its search for the truth of absolute representation, subsumed difference and oppressed that which it designates as its alien ‘other’. For Derrida, western civilization has been built upon such a systematic assault on alien cultures and ways of life, typically in the name of reason and progress.
In response to logocentrism, deconstruction posits the idea that the mechanism by which this process of marginalization and the ordering of truth occurs is through establishing systems of binary opposition. Oppositional linguistic dualisms, such as rational/irrational, culture/nature and good/bad are not, however, construed as equal partners as they are in, say, the semiological structuralism of Saussure. Rather, they exist, for Derrida, in a series of hierarchical relationships with the first term normally occupying a superior position. Derrida defines the relationship between such oppositional terms using the neologism différance. This refers to the realization that in any statement, oppositional terms differ from each other (for instance, the difference between rationality and irrationality is constructed through oppositional usage), and at the same time, a hierarchical relationship is maintained by the deference of one term to the other (in the positing of rationality over irrationality, for instance). It is this latter point which is perhaps the key to understanding Derrida’s approach to deconstruction.
For the fact at any given time one term must defer to its oppositional ‘other’, means that the two terms are constantly in a state of interdependence. The presence of one is dependent upon the absence or ‘absentpresence’ of the ‘other’, such as in the case of good and evil, whereby to understand the nature of one, we must constantly relate it to the absent term in order to grasp its meaning. That is, to do good, we must understand that our act is not evil, for without that comparison the term becomes meaningless. Put simply, deconstruction represents an attempt to demonstrate the absent-presence of this oppositional ‘other’, to show that what we say or write is in itself not expressive simply of what is present, but also of what is absent. Thus, deconstruction seeks to reveal the interdependence of apparently dichotomous terms and their meanings relative to their textual context; that is, within the linguistic power relations which structure dichotomous terms hierarchically. In Derrida’s own words, a deconstructive reading “must always aim at a certain relationship, unperceived by the writer, between what he commands and what he does not command of the patterns of a language that he uses. …[It] attempts to make the not-seen accessible to sight.”
Meaning, then, is never fixed or stable, whatever the intention of the author of a text. For Derrida, language is a system of relations that are dynamic, in that all meanings we ascribe to the world are dependent not only on what we believe to be present but also on what is absent. Thus, any act of interpretation must refer not only to what the author of a text intends, but also to what is absent from his or her intention. This insight leads, once again, to Derrida’s further rejection of the idea of the definitive authority of the intentional agent or subject. The subject is decentred; it is conceived as the outcome of relations of différance. As author of its own biography, the subject thus becomes the ideological fiction of modernity and its logocentric philosophy, one that depends upon the formation of hierarchical dualisms, which repress and deny the presence of the absent ‘other’. No meaning can, therefore, even be definitive, but is merely an outcome of a particular interpretation
Question 1. According to the passage, Derrida believes that:
A] Reality can be construed only through the use of rational analysis
B] Language limits our construction of reality
C] A universal language will facilitate a common understanding of reality
D] We need to uncover the hidden meaning in a system of relations expressed by language
Question 2. To Derrida, ‘logocentrism’ does not imply:
A] A totalitarian impulse
B] A domain of representative language
C] Interdependence of the meanings of dichotomous terms
D] A strategy that seeks to suppress hidden meanings in a text.
Question 3. According to the passage, Derrida believes that the system of binary opposition
A] represents a prioritization or hierarchy
B] reconciles contradictions and dualities
C] weakens the process of marginalization and ordering of truth
D] deconstructs reality
Question 4. Derrida rejects the idea of ‘definitive authority of the subject’ because
A] interpretation of the text may not make the unseen visible
B] the meaning of the text is based on binary opposites
C] the implicit power relationship is often ignored
D] any act of interpretation must refer to what the author intends
Crinoline and croquet are out. As yet, no political activists have thrown themselves in front of the royal horse on Derby Day. Even so, some historians can spot the parallels. It is a time of rapid technological change. It is a period when the dominance of the world’s superpower is coming under threat. It is an epoch when prosperity masks underlying economic strain. And, crucially, it is a time when policy-makers are confident that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Welcome to the Edwardian Summer of the second age of globalisation.
Spare a moment to take stock of what’s been happening in the past few months. Let’s start with the oil price, which has rocketed to more than $65 a barrel, more than double its level 18 months ago. The accepted wisdom is that we shouldn’t worry our little heads about that, because the incentives are there for business to build new production and refining capacity, which will effortlessly bring demand and supply back into balance and bring crude prices back to $25 a barrel. As Tommy Copper used to say, ‘just like that’.
Then there is the result of the French referendum on the European Constitution, seen as thick-headed luddites railing vainly against the modern world. What the French needed to realize, the argument went, was that there was no alternative to the reforms that would make the country more flexible, more competitive, more dynamic. Just the sort of reforms that allowed Gate Gourmet to sack hundreds of its staff at Heathrow after the sort of ultimatum that used to be handed out by Victorian mill owners. An alternative way of looking at the French “non” is that our neighbours translate “flexibility” as “you’re fired”.
Finally, take a squint at the United States. Just like Britian a century ago, a period of unquestioned superiority is drawing to a close. China is still a long way from matching America’s wealth, but it is growing at a stupendous rate and economic strength brings geo-political clout. Already, there is evidence of a new scramble for Africa as Washington and Beijing compete for oil stocks. Moreover, beneath the surface of the US economy, all is not well. Growth looks healthy enough, but the competition from China and elsewhere has meant the world’s biggest economy now imports far more than it exports. The US is living beyond its means, but in this time of studied complacency a current account deficit worth 6 perfect of gross domestic product is seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.
In this new Edwardian summer, comfort is taken from the fact that dearer oil has not had the savage inflationary consequences of 1973-1974, when a fourfold increase in the cost of crude brought an abrupt end to a postwar boom that had gone on uninterrupted for a quarter of a century. True, the cost of living has been affected by higher transport costs, but we are talking of inflation at 2.3 per cent and not 27 per cent. Yet the idea that higher oil prices are of little consequence is fanciful. If people are paying more to fill up their cars it leaves them with less to spend on everything else, but there is a reluctance to consume less. In the 1970s unions were strong and able to negotiate large, compensatory pay deals that served to intensify inflationary pressure. In 2005, that avenue is pretty much closed off, but the abolition of all the controls on credit that existed in the 1970s means that households are invited to borrow more rather than consume less. The knock-on effects of higher oil prices are thus felt in different ways – through high levels of indebtedness, in inflated asset prices, and in balance of payments deficits.
There are those who point out, rightly, that modern industrial capitalism has proved mightily resilient these past 250 years, and that a sign of the enduring strength of the system has been the way it apparently shrugged off everything – a stock market crash, 9/11, rising oil prices – that have been thrown at it in the half decade since the millennium. Even so, there are at least three reasons for concern. First, we have been here before. In terms of political economy, the first era of globalisation mirrored our own. There was a belief in unfettered capital flows, in free migration. Eventually, though, there was a backlash, manifested in a struggle between free traders and protectionists, and in rising labour militancy.
Second, the world is traditionally as its most fragile at times when the global balance of power is in flux. By the end of the nineteenth century, Britain’s role as the hegemonic power was being challenged by the rise of the United States, Germany, and Japan while the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires were clearly in rapid decline. Looking ahead from 2005, it is clear that over the next two or three decades, both China and India – which together account for half the world’s population – will flex their muscles.
Finally, there is the question of what rising oil prices tell us. The emergence of China and India means global demand for crude is likely to remain high a t a time when experts say production is about to top out. If supply constraints start to bite, any decline in the prices are likely to be short-term cyclical affairs punctuating a long upward trend.
Question 1. By the expression ‘Edwardian Summer’, the author refers to a period in which there is
A] unparalleled luxury and opulence
B] a sense of complacency among people because of all-round prosperity
C] a culmination of all-round economic prosperity
D] an imminent danger lurking behind economic prosperity
Question 2. What, according to the author, has resulted in a widespread belief in the resilience of modern capitalism?
A] Growth in the economies of Western countries despite shocks in the form of increase in levels of indebtedness and inflated asset prices
B] Increase in the prosperity of Western countries and China despite rising oil prices
C] Continued growth of Western economies despite a rise in terrorism, an increase in oil prices and other similar shocks
D] The success of continued reforms aimed at making Western economies more dynamic, competitive and efficient
Question 3. Which of the following best represents the key argument made by the author?
A] The rise in oil prices, the flux in the global balance of power and historical precedents should make us question our belief that the global economic prosperity would continue
B] The belief that modern industrial capitalism is highly resilient and capable of overcoming shocks will be belied soon
C] Widespread prosperity leads to neglect of early signs of underlying economic weakness, manifested in higher oil prices and a flux in the global balance of power
D] A crisis is imminent in the West given the growth of countries like China and India and the increase in oil prices
Question 4. What can be inferred about the author’s view when he states ‘As Tommy Cooper used to say “just like that”?
A] Industry has incentives to build new production and refining capacity and therefore oil prices would reduce
B] There would be a correction in the price levels of oil once new production capacity is added
C] The decline in oil prices is likely to be short-term in nature
D] It is not necessary that oil prices would go down to earlier levels