CAMBRIDGE – Wird das politische Wiederaufleben der Gewerkschaften Sand ins Getriebe der Globalisierung werfen? Oder wird ihre zunehmende Stärke dazu beitragen, die Globalisierung nachhaltiger zu gestalten, indem sie große Gleichheit und Gerechtigkeit fördert? In beiden Fällen stellen die Gewerkschaften eine große Unbekannte für die Entwicklung unseres Wirtschaftssystems ab 2008 dar.

Der wachsende Einfluss der Gewerkschaften wird bei vielen Ereignissen der letzten Zeit deutlich: Die kontroverse Übereinkunft der deutschen Kanzlerin Angela Merkel, einen Mindestlohn für Postangestellte einzuführen; die offenen Vorbehalte mehrerer amerikanischer Präsidentschaftskandidaten hinsichtlich Handel und Einwanderung; und die aufkommenden Bedenken der chinesischen Führung über die Arbeitsbedingungen.

Neben ihrem politischen Einfluss erlebt auch das intellektuelle Ansehen der Gewerkschaften eine Renaissance. Nachdem sie Jahrzehnte lang von den Ökonomen verunglimpft wurde, weil sie die Arbeitslosigkeit erhöhe und das Wachstum ersticke, erhält die Gewerkschaftsbewegung zurzeit Rückendeckung von Vordenkern wie Paul Krugman, der für stärkere Gewerkschaften argumentiert, um den schlimmsten Auswüchsen der Globalisierung entgegenzuwirken.

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