Quote of the Day

'Fair trade', like so many other left-wing ideas, promotes dependence and relies on illogical economics and subjective notions of 'fairness' and 'equality' - such schemes are doomed to fail and they always do. In my opinion, it is neither fair nor right to encourage such potentially harmful behaviour. It is time for responsible individuals and the students promoting 'fair trade' at British universities to attempt to seriously evaluate the likely economic impact of 'fair trade' and both its short-term and long-term consequences for producers and consumers around the world. Once more people have done that I think we will start to see the the 'fair trade' movement begin to waste away.

I've said it before but I must reiterate: The only fair trade is free trade.

- Stephen Hodgson

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they say history is written

they say history is written by the winners. Apparently so is terminology, as I suppose you would expect. Hence people who don't care for the WTO are referred to (and unfortunately, sometimes refer to themselves as) "anti-globalization." Also, with regard to free trade, people who like freedom are able to make completely shallow "points" about those opposing by simply relying on the term (free) itself.

Who is trade "free" for, globally? I would assume it's free for those who participate in it; typically (and almost synthetically a priori)multinational corporations. When a corporation can leverage the EU into undemocratically accepting Genetically Modified foods, then you aren't really dealing with "freedom" is a large since. You're just preferring one sort of freedom (corporate freedom) over another (freedom of people to enact laws.)

I don't find these semantic

I don't find these semantic arguments very useful or convincing. You clearly have a different conception of freedom than libertarians do, and that is fine, except for the fact that, as you acknowledge, this is how the word is currently used and understand by most people, which is why the people who are in favor of trade restrictions say they are for "fairness" rather than freedom.

Regardless, I'm curious how far you would be willing to take your definition of freedom. Did the Supreme Court of the United States violate the freedom of Texans to punish homosexuals under laws banning sodomy (re: Lawrence v. Texas)? That particular law was democratically accepted by the citizens of that state, and under your understanding of freedom, it would seem that the Supreme Court unjustly usurped the freedom of the state democracy to ban certain actions between consenting adults (gay sex) just as you would like to restrict "capitalist acts between consenting adults," to borrow a phrase from the late Robert Nozick.

Now, you say that it is primarily multinational corporations who participate in free trade, but this ignores half of the equation. Who are these multinationals trading with? Other multinationals? That isn't the kind of trade that riles the anti-globalization protesters. No, it is the trade between multinationals and poor laborers - sweatshop workers, if you will - who make up the other side of the bargain. These workers clearly reject the pleas for protectionism made on their behalf, as the Pew Global Attitude Survey (which I mentioned a few weeks ago on Catallarchy) made clear.

An excerpt from the poll:

Developing nations also had a more positive view of the institutions of globalization. In Sub-Saharan Africa 75% of households thought that multinational corporations had a positive influence on their country, compared to only 54% in rich countries. Views of the effects of the WTO, World Bank, and IMF on their country were nearly as positive in Africa (72%). On the other hand, only 28% of respondents in Africa thought that anti-globalization protestors had a positive effect on their country. Protesters were viewed more positively in the U.S. and West Europe (35%).

What I find interesting is how self-proclaimed anarchists can be in favor of protectionism. How exactly are you going to prevent individuals and organization from trading with each other willingly without a government? Through some "democratic council"? How does this "council" differ in any fundamental way from a government if it has the power to prevent capitalist acts between consenting adults? This is why many of us have a difficult time seperating the state out of the "state socialism" equation.