NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Probing Anti-Global Thinking

April 14, 2000

What are the aims and motives of those who protested at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle and who are doing so again in Washington, D.C.? It seems to many critics that their aims are contradictory and therefore self-defeating.

The protesters profess to want better lives for citizens of Third World countries. But they would deny them the fruits of economic progress -- such as more and better foods and medicines -- which globalization brings.

  • One of their complaints is that modern economics is drawing developing world citizens away from traditional agrarian communities and into city centers -- a prospect that alarmed conservatives at the start of the Industrial Revolution and now is the mantra of radical liberals.
  • International observers who have knowledge of Third World countries report that their citizens almost unanimously yearn for the living standards, education and democracy of the West.
  • Globalization foes object to the unplanned, leaderless nature of globalization, but as proponents explain, this is the very crux of true, free economics, and with worldwide consumer demand rising and global communications getting cheaper and easier, it's here to stay.
  • Incomes and longevity are rising, food production continues to rise faster than populations, literacy rates and education levels are up, and communications technology is eroding dictatorships and empowering typical people.

Pro-trade advocates point out that hampering international commerce will not greatly affect the world's elites, who can take care of themselves. But it would handicap the aspirations of the world's poor who are searching for better lives.

Source: Gregg Easterbrook (New Republic), "Who's Afraid of Globalization?" Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2000.


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