Giving as a Mechanism of Consent: International Aid Organizations and the Ethical Hegemony of Capitalism

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Transcript  International Relations online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/00471178030172003 2003 17: 153 International Relations  Tomohisa Hattori Ethical Hegemony of CapitalismGiving as a Mechanism of Consent: International Aid Organizations and the  Published by: On behalf of:  David Davies Memorial Institute for International Studies  can be found at: International Relations  Additional services and information for Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions: What is This? - Jun 1, 2003Version of Record >> at UNIV DO EST DO RIO DE JANEIRO on October 13, 2014ire.sagepub.comDownloaded from at UNIV DO EST DO RIO DE JANEIRO on October 13, 2014ire.sagepub.comDownloaded from    International Relations Copyright ©2003 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi), Vol 17(2): 153–173[0047–1178 (200306) 17:2; 153–173; 033132] Giving as a Mechanism of Consent: International AidOrganizations and the Ethical Hegemony of Capitalism Tomohisa Hattori, Lehman College, the City University of New York, USA Abstract What is the connection between international aid organizations (IAOs) and thetransnationalization of capitalism? This article diverges from neo-Gramscian accountsof international organizations by focusing on the distinctive material and relationalaspects of the practice in which IAOs engage: the solicitation and extension of gifts .This perspective opens the inquiry to insights from theories of gift exchange and virtueethics, which allow further specification of IAOs as a means of what Philip Corriganand Derek Sayer call moral regulation , or the disciplining and conforming of recipientsto the new transnational capitalist order. More specifically, this article argues that theextension and acceptance of the gifts of multilateral and non-governmental IAOs is amechanism of consent to the capitalist order. That amounts to what neo-Gramscians callethical hegemony because it allows donors to ethically judge recipients and compelsrecipients to accept responsibility for their own plight.Keywords: charity, consent, development assistance, foreign aid, giving, hegemony,moral regulation, philanthropy, virtue Introduction The central characteristic of capitalist society for neo-Gramscian scholars is thepervasiveness of consent  to an otherwise burdensome order of things. 1 Ininternational political economy (IPE), they identify the principal locus of consent-producing institutions and ideology as the growing array of intergovernmental,non-governmental, and joint public–private organizations, which have been layingthe groundwork for the transnationalization of production in recent years. 2 RobertCox, for example, describes such organizations as providing ‘a stable conjunction’of the material capabilities, institutions, and ideals of social order held by aninternationally oriented capitalist class. 3 For Craig Murphy, they provide insti-tutional mechanisms that co-ordinate production and consumption for capitalistaccumulation. 4 For most of these scholars, the dominant process behind the creation andexpansion of these organizations is the complex, incremental formation of atransnational capitalist class. Stephen Gill, for example, identifies the TrilateralCommission as the locus of an emerging transnational identity among capitalistsfrom the core industrial states of Europe, North America, and East Asia. 5 Mark Rupert documents a direct capitalist influence on the srcins of the NorthAmerican Free Trade Agreement. 6 For Jim Glassman, the classic Marxist driversof class struggle and inter-capitalist competition inexorably push certain class ri  at UNIV DO EST DO RIO DE JANEIRO on October 13, 2014ire.sagepub.comDownloaded from   fractions to the forefront of the transnational realm. 7 These scholars also identifythe ultimate effect of this process of transnational class formation as theemergence of new  political forms, which they variously describe as ‘transnationalapparatuses’ or a ‘new constitutionalism’. 8 This ‘internationalization of the state’provides a conceptual counterpart to their other focus in IPE: the complex,incremental formation of a transnational civil society. 9 A group of international organizations that overlaps with, but does not quite fit,this neo-Gramscian project are those which provide development grants to theformer colonial parts of the world. These include multilateral aid organizations,such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United NationsDevelopment Programme (UNDP), and non-governmental organizations likeCARE, Church World Service, and the Rockefeller Foundation. 10 On the onehand, what these international aid organizations do is entirely consistent with theneo-Gramscian understanding of international organizations as a locus of transnational hegemony. Their projects and programmes help to develop thematerial capabilities, institutional norms and rules, and ideals of capitalistdevelopment. 11 They also frequently overlap with, and facilitate the work of, otherinternational organizations. The UNDP, for example, is formally linked to theWorld Bank through the United Nations system and provides both ‘pre-investment’ studies for the Bank and follow-up ‘post-investment’ technicalassistance, such as training and consultancy. On the other hand, agents withrecognizable ties to a transnationalizing capitalist class are largely absent from thefunding, policy-making, administration, and project implementation of theseorganizations. 12 The UN Specialized Agencies, such as the Food and AgricultureOrganization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International LabourOrganization (ILO), for example, rely primarily on in-house experts rather thanprivate contractors to implement their projects. Although there are some privatefoundations with recognizable ties to capitalists, the overwhelming majorityareintergovernmental and religious organizations whose funding comespredominantly from taxpayers and individual donations. 13 The puzzle for neo-Gramscian scholars is the following: what is the process that connects theseinternational aid organizations to the transnationalization of capitalism? Morespecifically, how is it possible that a group of international organizations with fewties to a transnationalizing capitalist class contributes so clearly to its hegemony?My approach to this question is to examine international aid organizations(IAOs) through the analytical lens of gift exchange. A fundamental differencebetween IAOs and other international organizations is that they engage in a veryspecific kind of social practice: they solicit and distribute gifts . According toanthropologists, the primary purpose of a gift is to initiate or reinforce a socialrelationship between donor and recipient. With all other types of internationalorganizations, by contrast, the relation is defined by contractual obligations.Theterms of a loan from the International Monetary Fund, for example, arecarefully spelled out and – unlike a gift – must eventually be paid back. The rulespromulgated by the World Trade Organization define and enforce trade 154 I NTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 17(2)  at UNIV DO EST DO RIO DE JANEIRO on October 13, 2014ire.sagepub.comDownloaded from   agreements. The significance of giving for neo-Gramscian inquiry is that it createsa very powerful mechanism of consent  . The acceptance of a gift that cannot bereciprocated – as in the case of IAO grants – is a signal of acquiescence in theterms by which it is given. When the practice is collectivized, as is also the casefor IAOs, it can also become a means of forging common identity among donors.The institutionalization process is similar in this respect to the process of transnational class formation described by neo-Gramscians; only in this case, itinvolves the identification and promotion not of economic opportunities but of ethical ideals. Finally, because the social relations of giving are analyticallydistinct from the social relations of production, the perspective of gift exchangeprovides a conceptual framework for resolving the key puzzle: what is theconnection between IAOs and the transnationalization of capitalism?The argument unfolds in three parts. In the first part, I review the insights of anthropologists and historical sociologists who have studied the social relations of giving in detail. Specifically, I identify where and how giving in general andinternational aid in particular can be understood as both a mechanism of consent,compelling acquiescence of recipients to a material order of things, and a meansof forging common identity and ideals among donors. This summarizes argumentsthat I have developed elsewhere at length and follows a ‘retroductive’ method of inquiry that is broadly consistent with a neo-Gramscian approach. 14 In the secondpart, I apply this conceptual framework to the two major types of IAOs: those withreligious affiliations and those which are membership organizations of states. Thispart focuses on the specific ethical justifications and forms of intermediation thatcreate incentives for donors to give. It confirms that the srcins of theseorganizations are not only distinct from, but also substantially pre-date, the currenttransnationalizing relations of production. In the third part, I take up the centralquestion, showing where and how IAOs contribute to the construction of capitalisthegemony in a neo-Gramscian sense. The extension and acceptance of gifts in thiscontext, I argue, infuses the basic conditions of capital accumulation with anethical meaning and content, allowing donors to judge recipients and compellingrecipients to shoulder responsibility for their own plight. I close with a brief discussion of the implications of this analysis for neo-Gramscian IPE. The social relations of giving IAOs engage in a very specific type of practice that shows broad commonalitiesacross human society: they solicit and distribute gifts . According to anthropologistMarcel Mauss, giving differs fundamentally from other forms of resourceallocation because its primary focus is not the material resource but the socialrelationship that is created or reinforced. 15 With economic exchange, for example,the focus is primarily on the resources; the relation between parties is narrowlydefined by contractual agreements that are mediated through market or market-like institutions that define and enforce equivalence (e.g. mechanisms of price and G IVING AS A MECHANISM OF CONSENT155  at UNIV DO EST DO RIO DE JANEIRO on October 13, 2014ire.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
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