There's the old globalization debate, which is about whether or not our world is different, for example, from the late 19th century. The late 19th century had a lot of technical change: You had an open market place. You had trading in currencies. You had a lot of immigration. You didn't have too many established borders between countries. People didn't need passports for a lot of travel. So a lot of people said, well, it's just a reversion to the 19th century. That debate is now over. We can be quite sure that the current phase of globalization is not just a repetition of the late 19th century. Globalization now is much more intense. Technology is much more developed. You had nothing like global money markets previously. The latest estimates suggest there are about two trillion dollars turned over on global money markets every day.

The second globalization debate is now upon us, and it's no longer just an academic debate. It's in the streets, as we know since Seattle, since the meetings in Washington, since the carnival against capitalism in London, and similar kinds of events all over the world.

The second globalization debate is not about whether it exists; it's about what globalization is, what its consequences are, and what kind of framework we can develop for the world to accommodate it. It's plainly had a lot of positive developments in producing a more interdependent world. We have to learn to harness those things, and we have to shift away from the kinds of political positions that were dominant for the last few years, and we have to produce a politics which allows us to create an inclusive society locally, nationally, and globally, and to harness these processes for the betterment of human beings.

I believe it can be done, but I also believe it's a lot to play for because in the first phase of globalization at the end of the 19th century, there were a lot of hopes for an instant [transformation]. People thought it was the end of war. People thought it was the end of division. People thought you could produce a globally just society. Well, the history of the 20th century is completely the opposite of that, really. We have the chance to try again, as I figure it. We have the chance to take over where the 20th century failed, and a key project for us is to drag the history of the 21st century away from that of the 20th.

EDGE: As globalization evolves how does it affect institutions that we have? What does it mean in terms of public institutions?

GIDDENS: First of all you have to get a good understanding of what globalization is. And I feel that a lot of people who've contributed to the debate, including some of the people out on the streets, don't have a good notion of what it is. They think of it as solely the global marketplace, solely the intensification of financial markets. That's wrong.

Globalization is not primarily economic. It's not solely driven by the global marketplace. It's actually about what we're doing now. The driving force of the new globalization is the communications revolution. And if you want to put a technological fix on it, the turning point would be would be the late 1960s and early 1970s, the first time when there was an effective communications satellite sent up above the earth that made possible instantaneous communication from one part of the world to another. To me, that changed more or less the whole of late 20th century history.

Take the example of the decline of the Soviet Union. This was very much related to the fact that the Soviet Union couldn't compete in the new kind of society and the new kind of economy which a hooked-up global electronic world creates. The Soviet Union was pretty competitive in the old industrial economy, but wasn't able to compete in the new globalized weightless economy, nor were its politics appropriate to it, because in an era of high communications soft power tends to replace hard power. The kind of authoritarian top-down power, which the Soviet Union represented par excellence, becomes largely dysfunctional for effective management or effective politics. You are talking about big packages of changes here in which key things are continuing the transformation of communication.

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