In Defense of Globalization

In Defense of Globalization

In Defense of Globalization

In Defense of Globalization

Synopsis

The riot-torn meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999 was only the most dramatic sign of the intensely passionate debate now raging over globalization, which critics blame for everything from child labor to environmental degradation, cultural homogenization, and a host of other ills afflicting poorer nations. Now Jagdish Bhagwati, the internationally renowned economist known equally for the clarity of his arguments and the sharpness of his pen, takes on the critics, revealing that globalization, when properly governed, is in fact the most powerful force for social good in the world today. Drawing on his unparalleled knowledge of international economics, Bhagwati explains why the "gotcha" examples of the critics are often not as they seem, and that in fact globalization often alleviates many of the problems for which it has been blamed. For instance, when globalization leads to greater general prosperity in an underdeveloped nation, it quickly reduces child labor and increases literacy (when parents have sufficient income, they send their children to school, not work). The author describes how globalization helps the cause of women around the world and he shows how economic growth, when coupled with the appropriate environmental safeguards, does not necessarily increase pollution. And to counter the charge that globalization leads to cultural hegemony, to a bland "McWorld," Bhagwati points to the example of Salman Rushdie, a writer who blends Bombay slang and impeccable English in novels touched by magic realism borrowed from South American writers. Globalization leads not to cultural white bread but to a spicy hybrid of cultures. With the wit and wisdom for which he is renowned, Bhagwati convincingly shows that globalization is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Anyone who wants to understand what's at stake in the globalization wars must read In Defense of Globalization.

Excerpt

Does the world need yet another book on globalization? Not a day goes by without impassioned authors and activists, whether anti- or pro-globalization, putting their oars into these agitated waters. Magazines and newspapers also write incessantly on the issue, and polls are taken and discussed on why there is “global rage” or why, as it happens, many support the process, especially in developing countries.

But when all is said the fact is that we lack a clear, coherent, and comprehensive sense of how globalization—and I refer to economic globalization (which embraces diverse forms of international integration, including foreign trade, multinational direct foreign investment, movements of short-term portfolio funds, technological diffusion, and crossborder migration)—works and how it can do better. There are evidently many who think that globalization may be economically benign, increasing economic prosperity in the conventional economic sense of enlarging the pie, but that it is also socially malign, that it diminishes, not enhances, the war on poverty, the assault on gender discrimination, the protection of culture both indigenous and mainstream, and indeed much else. The majority of those who agitate seem to agree on one thing: the rapaciousness of multinational corporations, which they believe are the principal beneficiaries, and the main agents—the B-52s, as I call them in this book—of this socially destructive globalization.

Far too often they produce “gotcha” examples (which I describe later), with fears masquerading as evidence. But then their pro-globalization opponents who refuse to buckle under this assault also fail to produce a concerted and total defense, based on a systematic examination of these contentions and concerns that builds up to a vision of the global system that is profoundly more optimistic yet suggests ways to make this globalization even better.

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