A Review of Erzsébet Szalai’s Book: „Power and Intellectuals in the Global Space”

Erzsébet Szalai is one of the most original and influential social theorists during the late 20th and early 21st century in Hungary. In her new book she included five major essays and a few opinion pieces published in various newspapers, magazines. The first two of the essays explores the relationship between globalization a re-feudalization, followed by essays about the prospects for the political left, the search of intellectuals for a new mission in globalizing neo-capitalism. The last essay demonstrates the alienating effects of globalization. This review acknowledges Szalai’s important contribution in all five essays. Indeed globalization damaged trade unions and global institutions – like the European Union – suffer from a democracy deficit. Hence Szalai sees globalization as the major source of re-feudalization. In the globalizing world traditional communities tend to disaggregate hence in this respect the world is becoming more “alienated”. While this review essay acknowledges the validity of Szalai’s criticism of globalization, it emphasizes that the whole history of capitalism is a dialectical interaction between globalization and nation states (which tend to be ethno-racial). In neo-capitalism the forces of globalization gain ground at the expenses of sovereignty of nation states. Nevertheless in our epoch globalization is a major emancipatory force and it is the anti-globalization counter revolution of the ethno-racial nation states, which is the major source of re-feudalization, the drift from liberal democracy and the emergence of a culture of hate against ethno-racial others and migrants. In our world today ironically only globalizing organizations, like the European Union can contain these counter-revolutionary tendencies, defend open society, universal human rights and liberal democracy.

Released: Replika 106–107, 331–338.