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The ongoing war in Ukraine is not mentioned in Oliver Bullough’s new book, Butler to the World. That is not unexpected: it went to press before Russia invaded Ukraine. But Vladimir Putin’s illegal and reprehensible invasion looms large over this excellent new book about Britain’s role in enabling financial crime. The invasion is an acute example of the real-world consequences of this industry.

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The Cosmopolitan Vision by Ulrich Beck, translated by Ciaran Cronin & Power in the Global Age by Ulrich Beck, translated by Kathleen Cross

March 2007, no. 289
A spectre is haunting the globe – the spectre of cosmopolitanism. You might discern it in the call by José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, for a new kind of European justice, replete with regional police force (Europol) and magistracy (Eurojust). You might glean it from the global spread of human rights movements, protesting the suffering of children and civilians in, say, Iraq, Africa, Israel or Palestine. You might infer it from the cultural ties of, say, Chinese or Korean migrants living in Sydney, whose working lives embed them in global networks. ... (read more)

Writings on globalisation have so far been of three principal types. First came the fables of discovery: bold, confident and romantic. Next came the stories of resistance: variously decrying the consequences of the new order, or denying that there was anything particularly novel about this globalisation malarkey. More recently, however, we have entered the age of elaboration. These fresher writings extend the now familiar idea of globalisation onto new terrains. Just as concepts such as ‘space’, ‘postmodernism’ and ‘the body’ were once taken up by earnest specialists, so the idea of ‘globalisation’ is now used to revive tired topics and to attract jaded publishers. Bookshelves groan under the weight of fresh volumes promising to disclose the secrets of ‘globalisation and food/sport/religion/sex/politics etc.’. Thus the concept has itself been exported and capitalised on a remarkable, networked industry. Some of this work is opportunistic and shallow. Fortunately, however, Anthony Elliott and Charles Lemert’s entry to the field (which might be retitled ‘Globalisation and Individualism and Emotions’) attempts to say something new, serious and important.

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Finding the answers is often not half as important as asking the right questions. Desmond Ball has written an important book even though he raises more fundamental questions than he answers.

The central question in A Suitable Piece of Real Estate is simply ‘What are the rights and responsibilities of a host country which allows installations of a foreign, albeit, friendly state, to be sited on its territory?’ The author has dedicated the book For a Sovereign Australia. Australia is the host country in question, with American defence, scientific, and intelligence installations on its territory; but the situation he describes in great detail could, and probably does, apply elsewhere.

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