Global Covenant: An Interview with David Held
by David Held / Alan JohnsonLondon, 2006, 17. pp.David Held
David Held is Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics and co-director of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance. His recent writings have been concerned to understand the dynamics of globalisation and to reconfigure democratic theory for a global age. These two concerns were brought together, and given a political and programmatic expression in his book Global Covenant: The Social Democratic Alternative to the Washington Consensus (2004).
The interview took place on November 21 at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance.
Personal and Intellectual history
Alan Johnson: Can you tell me something of your personal and intellectual history?
David Held: That's a big question to start with! I was born and brought up in London in a family with four children. I went to the Universities of Manchester, MIT and Cambridge. My academic work has involved positions in Cardiff, York, the Open University and now the LSE. I live in London with four children of my own - too many!
My intellectual and political history starts in two places. I was the only boy in my family, and much favoured. That was great! But it also gave me an elementary sense of some of the injustices of the world. My sisters would look at me glumly sometimes while I was showered with attention. So I learnt certain dynamics of injustice when I was young - a process which continued into my student days in the late 1960s and early 1970s. What I took from that era was a critical search for a politics that was not simply state-based or market-based. Yet, most of the positions on offer at the time failed to meet the test of adequacy and durability.
I sharpened this critical sense through an encounter with the work of critical theorists in the 1970s, particularly with the work of Jürgen Habermas. My background, and his strong emphasis on defending certain enlightenment ideals, meshed well. Yet I also knew that I would have to cut my own way through the questions if I was to both defend some of these ideals and to say a little about how they could be brought to bear on practical politics.
Part 1: A critique of the Washington Consensus and Washington Security Agenda
Alan Johnson: Let me begin with a deliberately naïve and provocative question. What’s wrong with the Washington Consensus? Hasn’t it lifted more people out of absolute poverty, more quickly, than at any other time in human history, as Philippe Legrain shows in his book Open World:/ The Truth About Globalisation (2002)? Martin Wolf, author of Why Globalisation Works (2004), says ‘David Held should cheer up’ and stop frightening us with ‘an imaginary enemy, a bogeyman’. In his view economic globalisation - openness of trade, free movement of capital, expansion of foreign direct investment – has proved to be the key to boosting prosperity and the life opportunities of all. Why is he wrong? What’s wrong with the Washington consensus?
[la entrevisa completa en: http://www.democratiya.com/interview.asp?issueid=7]
OMNIVORE: Turn attention - Only beginning to come into view
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