Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Backlash Against Globalization

“In general, do you think that free trade agreements like NAFTA, and the policies of the World Trade Organization, have been a good thing or a bad thing for the United States?”

“Bad thing” was the answer of 48 percent of Americans in a poll conducted at the end of April. “Good thing” was the answer of 35 percent. In the 10 years since that question was first asked, support for global trade policies has never been weaker.

A bipartisan negative attitude on trade seems to be emerging. Half (50 percent) of Democrats rated current trade policy as bad in the April poll. So did 40 percent of Republicans – and 52 per cent of Independents.

These results, released May 1 by the Pew Research Center, are more bad news for and about globalization. It should be another warning to present and future U.S policymakers on trade that the status quo won’t do and that tinkering with it won’t do either.

A column by Robert Skidelsky, a British author, draws a global picture of what is at stake. In “The Moral Vulnerability of Markets,” he writes:

“Today, there seems to be no coherent alternative to capitalism, yet anti-market feelings are alive and well, expressed for example in the moralistic backlash against globalization. Because no social system can survive for long without a moral basis, the issues posed by anti-globalization campaigners are urgent – all the more so in the midst of the current economic crisis.”

Excuse this self-promotion: In an article published in the October 24, 1998, issue of America magazine I wrote: "The cry for global solidarity [for respecting worker rights] sends a powerful message to world policymakers. Failure to heed it risks a perilous backlash: an upsurge in protectionism, exaggerated nationalism, and paranoia about international bureaucracies."

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1 comment:

Kelsey said...

Thanks for pointing towards Skidelsky's column. Interesting.