Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Globalization" has a lot of critics these days. People who say that it's a problem that third-world factories have poor safety standards. People who say that they often subject their workers to physical abuse. People who say that poor countries are being forced to open their markets by exploitative first-world countries that keep their own markets closed.

To this, proponents of globalization have one common answer: all these critics, whatever they claim their motives are, are opponents of "trade". Critics may say that they want to keep American multinationals working through proxies from herding desperate workers into firetrap factories, but the globalizer knows that what they really want to do is reduce the size of particular aggregate international money flows.

In earlier times, Britain fought a war to get the Chinese to accept free trade in opium, which the Chinese emperors had restricted because for some strange reason -- and who among us truly understands the ways of the mysterious East? -- they didn't want their subjects turning into drug-crazed zombies. I'm sure the pro-globalizers of the time were around to say that critics of this particular British policy weren't so much anti-addiction, as anti-trade.

Well, here's an interesting test case. Teresa Nielsen Hayden has discovered that traditional bespoke tailors in India are selling their wares to Americans on Ebay. This is something that a genuinely anti-trade person would oppose, but that I expect most "anti-trade" people are sure to endorse. As, I expect, would the globalizers, unless they're absolutely desperate to expose themselves as pro-firetrap.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't quite follow the bit at the end. Tell me again what the globalizers are supposed to think?

12:21 PM  
Blogger charles said...

I expect most globalizers would say this is great -- given their rhetoric, they can hardly oppose it.

2:38 PM  

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