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In Defense of Globalization

Article  in  International journal (Toronto, Ont.) · January 2005

DOI: 10.2307/40204318

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Melani Cammett
Harvard University


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Reviewed Work(s): In Defense of Globalization by Jagdish Bhagwati
Review by: Melani Cammett
Source: International Journal, Vol. 60, No. 2 (Spring, 2005), pp. 592-595
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd. on behalf of the Canadian International Council
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40204318
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I Reviews |

Given that it is easy to read, makes complex economic and philosophi-

cal ideas easy to understand, and does such a nice job of integrating the
political and economic issues surrounding international trade and the
WTO, Jones's book is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on
the politics of globalization. It should prove particularly useful for political
science courses that tackle the subject, because of the way it handles the
economics but keeps the reader focused on political matters.

Mark R. Brawley/McGill University


Jagdish Bhagwati
New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. xii, 3o8pp, $36.95 cloth

In the flurry of popular and scholarly books addressing the nature and
impact of contemporary economic globalization, Jagdish Bhagwati's In
Defense of Globalization is an important contribution. As the title reveals,
the book articulates strong support for globalization, particularly in the
guise of free trade and direct foreign investment. Bhagwati's goal is to sys-
tematically debunk the principal arguments of anti-globalization activists,
whom he divides into two camps: anti-establishment forces with total oppo-
sition to market-based systems, and critics who focus on more specific
aspects of globalization yet, he contends, base their arguments on incom-
plete or poor information. Dismissing the former group, Bhagwati takes on
the arguments of the latter to expose flaws in their reasoning and reveal the
"human face" of globalization.
The book is organized around a broad range of themes that, together,
encompass the major contemporary critiques of globalization. In
response to critics' arguments that globalization increases poverty and
income disparities, undercuts worker rights and labour standards, imper-
ils democracy, harms the economic and social positions of women, erodes
local cultures, and harms the environment, Bhagwati aims to show that
the opposite is often true.
One of the great strengths of the book is to disaggregate the constituent
parts of globalization, which is often treated as an undifferentiated whole in
popular discourse. Bhagwati carefully distinguishes between different

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I Reviews |

kinds of international flows of goods, services, and people. In particular, he

emphasizes the distinction between long- and short-term capital flows.
Although he is an ardent proponent of globalization, Bhagwati is less than
sanguine about the impact of short-term capital flows on developing
economies and he blames the east Asian financial crisis on the absence of
adequate capital controls in the most affected countries.
By adopting a more tempered and socially conscious perspective,
Bhagwati differs from other proponents of the global spread of free mar-
kets. For example, he shuns "shock therapy," or the rapid and comprehen-
sive implementation of market-oriented reforms, in favour of a more grad-
ual course of economic change that avoids social dislocation and, hence,
political backlash. The book also devotes substantial attention to the con-
tention that globalization exacerbates social ills such as child labour or the
economic and social subjugation of women. Bhagwati largely rejects these
claims, although some of his arguments - such as his observations about
the motivations of and benefits for women participating in "global care
chains" (76-80) - are largely based on anecdotal evidence, but he recog-
nizes that cross-border movements of women and children in domestic
labour and prostitution rings is indeed an exploitative aspect of contempo-
rary globalization.
Bhagwati' s discussion of the positive effects of globalization on poverty
alleviation is a key component in his effort to expose the humane aspects of
globalization. The author claims that globalization reduces poverty through
a two-step process: trade increases growth, which in turn reduces poverty
(53). While there is broad consensus on the first step of the process, there
is less agreement on how and whether growth reduces poverty. The book
cites the work of David Dollar and Aart Kraay, World Bank economists who
published a recent study linking increased trade with poverty reduction.
But Dollar and Kraay's contentions have catalyzed a spirited debate ques-
tioning or at least modifying their findings. Furthermore, recent decades
suggest mixed experiences with trade and poverty in the developing world.
While some countries such as China and India have experienced declining
absolute poverty levels during recent periods of open economic policies,
others, notably in Latin America, continued to exhibit high poverty rates
and wide income disparities.
Beyond debates among economists, poverty reduction as a result of
growth is not only contingent on absolute growth in the size of the nation-
al pie but also on the nature of distributional policies. Indeed, Bhagwati

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I Reviews |

observes, "the ability of the poor to access the growth process and to share
in the prosperity depends at least as much on their ability to get their voic-
es heard in the political process" (58). Thus, deliberate policy interventions
and political systems that empower the poor are critical for more equitable
patterns of economic growth.
Bhagwati' s support for globalization cum social policy reflects his rea-
soned approach to the subject. While he clearly favours allocation process-
es based on markets rather than government officials, his calls for social
policy interventions to temper the ill effects of globalizations boosts the
credibility of his arguments. Nonetheless, the book spends far more time
defending globalization from its critics than formulating viable policy
solutions to some of the real and perceived problems associated with glob-
alization. Some of his proposals are relatively straightforward, such as
"eco-labelling" (152), which allows morally concerned consumers to make
more informed choices about where to spend their money. But other pro-
posals require complex coordination processes among governments, con-
sumer groups, unions, firms, and other actors. For example, reaching
international consensus on a narrow and specific set of unfair corporate
practices is more difficult. While many of the proposals developed in the
last section of the book sound promising, it is less clear how they might be
The book's careful analysis ultimately highlights a tension between
the forces of globalization and their critics. Bhagwati systematically cri-
tiques the arguments of anti-globalization groups yet, at the same time,
recognizes that globalization can be exploitative without social legislation.
In part, this is because the "rules" of global economic exchange tend to
reflect the interests of wealthy, industrialized countries. Although he
devotes little attention to the detrimental impact of US and European farm
subsidies on agricultural exports from developing countries, he empha-
sizes the distortionary effects of intellectual property protection legisla-
tion. In short, globalization may enhance aggregate economic welfare, but
active policymaking ensures that the human face of globalization is more
"agreeable" (x). The irony is that the efforts of the very NGOs that
Bhagwati critiques expose the not-so-human face of globalization by main-
taining constant pressure for change. In other words, NGOs - perhaps
even the anti-establishment groups that Bhagwati dismisses at the out-
set - serve an important function. While they may not succeed in halting
the particular practices to which they object, they bring injustice to the

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forefront, thereby forcing globalization to take on the benevolent guise

that Bhagwati claims is inherent in the process itself. Indeed, Bhagwati
recognizes as much when he comments that NGOs "can play an important
role in the design of appropriate governance to improve outcomes from
globalization" (x).
Infused with literary references that exhibit the broad range of his intel-
lect, Bhagwati grounds his arguments in rigorous logic and reason, inviting
serious reflection on the meaning and substance of contemporary econom-
ic globalization. Given the debates raised during the recent US presidential
campaign about the perils of outsourcing and increasing global economic
integration, In Defense of Globalization is a timely addition to public
debate about the nature and impact of global economic integration in both
developed and developing countries.

Melani Cammett/ Brown University



A Comparative Analysis
Edited by Harvey Lazar, Hamish Telford, and Ronald L. Watts
Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queerfs University Press, 2003. viii,
$65.00 cloth (ISBN 1-55339-003-2), $29.95 PaPer (ISBN 1-55339-0

Generally, until the last third of the 20th century, analysts of fed
predicted their inevitable unitary destinations, in function if not
The evolution of federations was driven by the requirements o
economies and welfare states for central governments to have prim
not unchallenged, roles. Over time, function would structure form
Since the 1970s, the federal idea has enjoyed considerable rev
tion. No longer do federalist arrangements seem to be half-way ho
the road to unitary governance. Contrary to functionalist mod
established unitary systems have taken on federal forms and p
However, two features of modern politics - globalization and region
gration (GARI) - make the future of federations uncertain. Wil
strengthened, weakened, or extinguished?
The future of federations is this volume's organizing framew
consists of eight case-study essays (revised following a 2000 confer

I International Journal | Spring 2005 | 595 |

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