Acton Institute Powerblog

Global Goods for the Anti-Globalization Movement

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Why do so many protestors in the anti-globalization movement seem to have such a big appetite for the products of companies such as Nokia, Seiko, Nissan, Volvo, Toshiba, and the like? Maybe it’s because, as Anthony Bradley writes, their paternalistic views about the poor and the developing world blind them to the reality of the global economy.

Bradley uses Japan as an example of how international trade can boost a relatively weak economy and speed up the process of becoming an advanced nation. Bradley writes:

This is exactly what happened when Japan connected its economy to the rest of the world. Japan’s isolation from the West rendered it technologically and economically weedy. After opening trade with the West in 1854, Japanese leaders and scholars of the Meiji era studied the United States and its key formative figures like Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin. In the span of three generations, Japan went from an isolated, agrarian economy, to the second largest economy in the world—on an island with relatively few natural resources.

Read the full text here.

Jonathan Spalink


  • David

    Thank you for the essay, but I feel you are defending something not under attack. Free trade is not the real target of the anti-globalists. It is the outsourcing of jobs.

    When GM closes a factory in the U.S., then rebuilds that same factory in China, the phenomenon is no longer covered by the theory of comparative advantage. While it is true that those goods may come back to the U.S. in the hold of a ship, it is not “trade” in a sense Ricardo would recognize.

    I agree with you that “globalization” is used to mean many things, and that arguments against cultural domination, for example, should be kept separate from economic issues. But even within the realm of economic theory, there are serious problems with “globalizaion” as it’s currently implemented in, say, NAFTA.

    When capital, technology, and, increasingly, labor itself, are all mobile, the lessons of comparative advantage no longer apply. Paul Craig Roberts has been addressing this recently in a series of essays. I would enjoy hearing what you think of them–

    More Jobs Hype, May 12, 2005

    Job Drought Continues, April 04, 2005

    America’s Has-Been Economy, March 15, 2005

  • Stuart Berman

    Thank you for such a well written article which I noticed recently as an opinion piece in the Grand Press – it elevates the value of the newspaper.

    I like the way you clearly articulate the value of globalization and debunk the anti-Globalization arguments offered by many. Your references to connectedness dovetail with that of Thomas Barnett who is well respected global security strategist found at

    I referenced this article in a blog post at

    Keep up the good work, I am very proud to have such well written work coming out of Grand Rapids.

  • William O’Brien


    RE David’s letter above:

    I often read letters / articles in which the author contradicts himself before he gets to the end of what he has to say. But it is seldom I see him doing so in his very first paragraph.

    He writes, " ‘Free’ (my emphasis) trade is not the real target of the anti-globalists. It is the outsourcing of jobs."

    Can someone explain to me how we are able to have "free" trade in goods and services if we don’t "outsource" the job of producing that particular good or service outside the country?

    Thank you.