“There is a specter haunting Europe. . . .”—in the 21st century, it is the specter of globalization. In Civilising Globalisation, David Kinley has written a liberal manifesto in the best sense—a call to reconnect the development of open markets and open societies. This thoughtful and articulate book is less a work of original scholarship than a well-crafted brief for upper-level students and sophisticated policymakers, with attendant strengths and limitations. Even as a long-standing fellow student of the field, I benefited from the comprehensive survey of a broad range of mechanisms, and occasionally discovered new data. Thus, it merits a place on the bookshelf of all scholars of international relations, though some will consult it more as a reference and teaching tool than as a building block of scholarly debate. It is also laudable for bridging between legal developments and political economy in the most constructive “law and society” tradition.
Kinley’s argument falls into a genre of strategic interdependence perspectives. He fluently globalizes the lineage of Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and the original Adam Smith, which situates exchange in a social contract and a moral economy. In this view, the case for human rights is based in their functionality for a social order and mode of governance that supports material flourishing, while markets are legitimized by providing the material base for such an order. Like Amartya Sen, Kinley sees (global) development as freedom—but he also argues that markets are a necessary though not sufficient condition for both liberty and fairness.
Although the book does consider critiques from anti-globalization protest on the one side and heedless developmentalists on the other, Kinley ends up largely sympathetic to enlightened liberal capitalism--the sector of transnational capital that seeks “globalization with a human face.” He may be fairly faulted for giving short shrift to both realist and structuralist arguments that depict an inevitable, hard-wired contradiction between profit and principle. On the other hand, one of the strengths of this text is that it reflects the author’s substantial experience as a practitioner as well as a theoretician. In this sense, he has earned his claims that pragmatic policymakers can be persuaded to do well by doing good.
Civilising Globalisation brings together the panoply of hard and soft law mechanisms with the potential to govern the major economic flows of globalization. From a social science perspective, his thorough but thin account of the growth of norms could be strengthened by greater attention to the politics of struggles over globalization—the sociological and situated process by which such norms are crafted. Kinley does repeatedly emphasize the tenuous status of international law, and the ultimate responsibility of the state for implementation of hard, soft, and transnational norms. He notes but cannot resolve the mixed motives of such states, which are at the same time implicated in markets that threaten rights and yet mandated to protect the rights of their citizens.
One of the strengths of the book is its seamless integration of civil and social rights, especially in the section on trade, which truly makes the case for the interdependence of rights claimed by the United Nations’ Vienna Conference. At the same time, Kinley’s sensitive discussions of the trade-offs of economic and political rights when trade sanctions are used and in response to the growing influence of rising dictatorships as enabling investors in human rights pariahs highlight common dilemmas--when globalization provides uneven leverage over different bundles of rights. In these sections, the strength of his analysis stands in inverse proportion to the paucity of his policy recommendations.
His coverage of the streams of economic globalization is thorough, but the inclusion of “commerce” alongside trade and aid is idiosyncratic and uneven. The standard treatment in international political economy is trade, aid, and finance—or sometimes foreign direct investment—to embrace all forms of exchange across borders. By stretching “commerce” to cover all forms of production and investment, with varying mixes of fixed and mobile labor and capital, Kinley loses focus in this section. His account of campaigns for corporate social responsibility is important, but unmoored from the requisites of sovereign state regulation in which he situates the trade and aid chapters.
In the end, Civilising Globalization, is really about liberalizing globalization: reinscribing markets in a free and fair international society that holds classical liberalism to its own principles of liberty and protection of the individual. Kinley makes the case that law as an expression of human rights can play a unique and valuable role in that project. He summarizes the utility of law as an ensemble of normative principles, universal repertoire of definitions and boundaries, link to state enforcement, predictable process for conflict resolution, and doctrine of equal standing (p. 215). Although this book shows that such a project is in its infancy, it also demonstrates that liberal globalization is not a ghost, but a new life.