Noam Chomsky on Free Trade
The attraction of NAFTA for North American elites, the business press reported, was "precisely that it would tie the hands of the current future governments" of Mexico with regard to the economic policy. In brief, NAFTA, duly imposed by executive power, in opposition to the public will.
The "dominant theory" is that of the rich and powerful, who have regularly advocated liberalization for others, and sometimes for themselves as well, once they have achieved a dominant position and hence are willing to face competition on a "level playing field"--that is, one sharply tilted in their favor. The stand is sometimes called "kicking away the ladder" by economic historians: first we violate the rules to climb to the top, then we kick way the ladder so that you cannot follow us, and we righteously proclaim: "Let's play fair, on a level playing field."
A: It is certainly possible, for the worldwide protests against corporate globalization, which--again--did not begin in Seattle. Such terrorist atrocities are a gift to the harshest and most repressive elements on all sides, and are sure to be exploited--already have been in fact--to accelerate the agenda of militarization, regimentation, reversal of social democratic programs, transfer of wealth to narrow sectors, and undermining democracy in any meaningful form. But that will not happen without resistance, and I doubt that it will succeed, except in the short term.
A: This is an extremely convenient belief for Western intellectuals. It absolves them of responsibility for the actions that actually do lie behind the choice of the World Trade Center. Was it bombed in 1993 because of concern over globalization and cultural hegemony? Was Sadat assassinated 20 years ago because of globalization?
A few days ago the "Wall Street Journal" reported attitudes of rich and privileged Egyptians who were bitterly critical of the US for objective reasons of policy, which are well-known to those who wish to know. Is that concern over "globalization," McDonald's, and jeans? Attitudes in the street are similar, but far more intense, and have nothing at all to do with these fashionable excuses. These excuses are convenient. Bin Laden himself has probably never even heard of "globalization."
The second major competitive bloc is based in Europe and is dominated by Germany. It’s taking a big step forward with the consolidation of the European Common Market.
The third bloc is the US-dominated, dollar-based one. It was recently extended to incorporate Canada, our major trading partner, and will soon include Mexico and other parts of the hemisphere, by “free trade agreements” designed primarily for the interests of US investors and their associates. We’ve always assumed that Latin America belongs to us by right.
The government has the public pay for research and development and provides a state-guaranteed market for waste production. If something is marketable, the private sector takes it over. That system of public subsidy and private profit is what is called free enterprise.
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Opinion Leaders on the Right:
Milton Friedman (Nobel Economist)
Rush Limbaugh (Radio Talk Show Host)
Ayn Rand (Author and Philosopher)
Heritage Foundation (Think Tank)
Opinion Leaders on the Left:
American Civil Liberties Union
Noam Chomsky (Author and Philosopher)
Arianna Huffington (Internet Columnist)
Robert Reich (Professor and Columnist)
Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks)
John F. Kennedy(President,1961-1963)