The Null Device

Global capitalism: the progressive case for

Former Swedish anarchist leftist Johan Norberg has penned a progressive defense of global capitalism titled, appropriately, "In Defense of Global Capitalism"; he outlines his arguments here. Norberg's thesis is that globalisation and free trade are precisely the solution the third world needs to escape poverty, and bring with them things like increased wages, reduced pollution (through technological improvements) and greater civil liberties; meanwhile, most opposition to globalisation comes from Westerners, and is founded in protectionist self-interest (i.e., by unions), naïvéte about historical trends, or even an objection to the modern condition and an Arcadian romanticisation of a remote agrarian past.
That's why in a typical developing nation, if you're able to work for an American multinational, you make eight times the average wage. That's why people are lining up to get these jobs. When I was in Vietnam, I interviewed workers about their dreams and aspirations. The most common wish was that Nike, one of the major targets of the anti-globalization movement, would expand so that a workers relatives could get a job with the company.
The best thing that could happen to the Arab world would be for them to run out of oil. Then theyd have to open up to trade, and a small number of people wouldnt be in control all of the wealth, as is the case in Saudi Arabia.
The further you get from the West, the more positive people are toward globalization, toward more business and trade ties with the rest of the world. The most vocal opponents of globalization in poor countries are often funded by critics from wealthier countries. For instance, Vandana Shiva [director of the New Delhi-based Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology] is a very vocal opponent of economic liberalization and biotechnology, and shes funded by a lot of different Western groups.

So, is Norberg's thesis just a rebadged Lexus and the Olive Tree in Starbucks-progressive garb, or is the "anti-globalisation" movement really full of it, or both?

(I wonder what he'd say to Greg Palast's accusations that the World Bank/IMF assistance programmes are designed not to help third-world economies but to starve them into bankrupcy, allowing assets to be bought up cheaply by multinationals and reducing the locals and their descendants to sharecroppers. I suppose that's just an unfortunate implementation detail, and not an indictment on the phenomenon of globalisation as such.)

There are 4 comments on "Global capitalism: the progressive case for":

Posted by: mitch http:// Mon Dec 29 22:25:54 2003

Recently, George Monbiot also had a "what are we fighting for?" moment:

Posted by: Bowie Mon Dec 29 22:29:41 2003

Would we still have artificial markets (ie. DVD zones, different record companies owning the same band in different countries) if we had a global market?

Posted by: gjw Mon Dec 29 23:28:20 2003

If globalisation was _really_ designed to help the poor, we'd see a global market in people, not just money. If that poor vietnamese worker were able to move to Australia at will and get a job here, it would help to even up the rich/poor divide, would it not? As it is, an American car manufacturer can move to Mexico to take advantage of cheap wages and lax environmental laws, but if a Mexican worker tries to head north they're likely to stop a bullet.

Posted by: kenny http:// Tue Dec 30 03:53:31 2003

oxfam's been pushing fair nee free trade lately:

the worldbank/IMF has been making strides as well:

as i understand it, partially in the wake of criticisms leveled at them by "insider" joe stiglitz:

the left business observer doug henwood wrote about globalisation earlier this month in the nation:

henwood's take and i agree is the issue has never really been globo or antiglobo, but how to do globalisation right or better! here's the long version :D