Rebirth of Reason

Intellectual Ammunition

Martin Wolf and the Soft Way against Globalization
by Manfred F. Schieder

It is an unpleasant job for a friend of globalization to render a negative evaluation of a book that apparently argues in favor of it. Unfortunately, "Why Globalization Works", by Martin Wolf, makes this unavoidable.
His arguments, while being consistent and resulting from a deep and thorough analysis of the matter, often use obscure terms which can only be understood by the expert and, thus, remain a puzzle for the layman. If it were in Wolf's intention to write a book to convince the common citizen to favor globalization, the use of so many unexplained terms creates a creepy feeling of desperation and rejection to whoever isn't an expert in economics. By the time the layman finishes it, he will have a strong feeling of irritation towards what Wolf wrote.
Globalization is one of the many tools that are part of the Capitalist system to raise the living standard of everybody, and this for sure doesn't exclude the poorer part of the world's population, for it is not through donations or wrongly called "government's helping hand" that paupers can achieve a high standard of living. But the way in which Wolf considers that full globalization can be achieved and is to be implemented is dreadfully wrong. Why this is so is revealed by Wolf's political origins and his inability to shed the mantle that, as can be inferred from what he writes, accompanied him all his life. For the road to prosperity through government action will always and only favor bureaucrats ruling official monopolies and their coterie of vested interests. Globalization, on the contrary, is a tool of the free market.
Hence, he reveals that during his lifetime he became "less of a social democrat", which can only mean that he never gave up this wrong position completely. This is further stressed by the fact that he states that his father "was inclined toward socialism" and he himself "never rebelled against the values of my parents", values that evidently were of a socialist kind. But, as the great philosopher Ayn Rand proved, socialism cannot be associated with Capitalism in any way whatsoever, for it is its exact and full opposite.
Due to this, to his own antecedent of having joined the Labour Club, to becoming the chairman of the Democratic Labour club (which he himself founded in 1966) and remaining as an active supporter of the Labour Party until the early 1970's, it becomes self-evident that he was imbued by socialist "ideas" during the early part of his life, a fact that necessarily led him to consider that "his differences from social democrats are small". Social democracy and Capitalism, of course, cannot be combined, as already Ludwig von Mises demonstrated and the failure of the German "social market economy" (Soziale Marktwirtschaft) nowadays proves.
His antecedents led him, inevitably, to join a government-attached institution, the World Bank, whose general failure as a "flawed" institution he recognizes in the preface of his book. But this does not lead him to the obvious conclusion that such government established institutions must cease to exist.
With all these socialistic precedents and bureaucratic background, it is easy to understand why he holds the unacceptable assertion that globalization can only function if it is ruled by government and, surely much better still, by a world government, whose absence he seems to deplore. In this way, he insures the continued existence of the useless coterie of worldwide bureaucrats of which he is part, which wield all the power they can obtain and/or create to "lead" globalization. The European Union, which he favors, is well on its road to establish a rule of total dictatorship, in a subtle way which Napoleon and Hitler erroneously thought could only be achieved by total war. This, of course, is the sure road to kill globalization. Thus, Wolf unconsciously reveals his position as a covert anti-globalist. He even underlines this by stating that anti-globalists have complaints that are not "entirely groundless". Evidently these complaints have a very real basis, but neither the anti-globalists nor Wolf himself see through the haze of government rulings that the problems accrued to globalization are precisely due to the existence of government obstructions and the works of  the lobbyists that hatch their purposes with the help of the state and the protectionist rulings these groups and the bureaucrats establish. As so many erroneously do, Wolf establishes himself as a defender of the state who doesn't see what locks globalization from freely operating in the world market, in spite that he himself names precisely governments as the originators of mass-murder and all those additional crimes that lead to the destruction of civilization itself.
Globalization is a very, very old mechanism, for it exists since mankind itself evolved from the point where it started the road to civilization. It accompanies mankind since the earliest times, nay, even prior to this, for it is one of the triggers of civilization itself. Since man has always had a need to obtain the goods that, for multiple reasons, he couldn't either cultivate directly or produce himself to favor his chances of survival and a better life, he exchanged either his labor or whatever goods he had to obtain what he needed or coveted. Perhaps it will even be discovered someday that it may well have been the females of the species who first established globalization in the course of their hard work.
The planet has neither a perfect mix of materials and cultivable areas everywhere nor the same favorable temperature all over the globe and, besides, brilliant minds, inventors, producers, etc. are not universally available at the same times. Some will hold that this renders the planet as an inefficient dwelling place, but those who do so are unaware that this is both a direct result of the way in which the globe evolved during its development as part of the planetary system and the fact that its spherical form and its inclination in relation with the sun causes these inconveniences.
It is globalization that smooths these irritations, but to do so it will only operate properly in what philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1981) called a "Leave us alone" environment, i.e. a laissez faire capitalistic atmosphere. Whenever and wherever it is subject to government meddling or the authoritarian control of vested protectionist interests, it will reduce itself to function in an utterly handicapped way. It requires individual liberty and freedom of enterprise, but it is precisely this what anti-globalists hate and, thus, want to eliminate. Beyond all their further ideological positions, it is this what unites and drives them to enlarge the size of governments, for the bigger the state, the more these enemies of mankind can rule, regulate, prohibit and prevent the peaceful and productive citizen to better his life. They know perfectly well that a free citizen is able to decide things for himself, and this is what these power mongers want to forbid.
While Wolf's general arguments are correct, the way in which he considers that they should be put into practice - through government action and government related institutions - is wrong. This renders the major part of his book useless. Hence, Wolf's "Why Globalization Works", as unfortunate as this may be, is not the kind of writing that speaks clearly in favor of globalization. Thus, his half-hearted defense of globalization, should it really be considered as such a defense and support, clearly misses his proclaimed avowed aim.
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