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Re: on free trade and markets



On Wed, 13 May 1998, Charudatt wrote:

> The following are excerpts from a 1992 article by Noam Chomsky analyzing
> the concepts free trade and markets. The full text can be seen at
> http://wwwdsp.ucd.ie/~daragh/articles/a_y501p1.html

Dear Charu,

I think this article is worth examining in great detail because it
reflects in one shot an entire bunch of ideas which populate the
"exploited" world. I have heard these things a zillion times and that is
why it is important to study these carefully at all levels.

a) As a preliminary academic response, I think data clearly points
otherwise. I will in the coming few weeks revert to this paper point by
point, academically, and bring out its errors of data, etc., if any. I
request other members to do their research, too. Critical thinking is what
we need here. Scientific, critical thinking and analysis.

b) In the meanwhile, if you do believe in these ideas (i.e., if you find
on critical analysis that these ideas are supported by data and evidence),
then please do propose alternative points for the Manifesto/ agenda. At
least we will then have something specific - like a policy issue - to get
a handle on, rather than a general grievance about "exploitation."

c) Third, outside the purely scientific/ academic area into a
philosophical area, and based on folk like Ayn Rand, Neitzche, and myself
(! : just joking!), as a preliminary philosophical response, I would like
to say that to the best of my understanding, the powerful have everywhere
"exploited" the weak, whether in the world in general, within India,
within our villages, or even within a family. Much depends on the
definition of exploitation. Even a deer is exploited by the tiger in the
jungle, as per some definitions.

The solution to that is not to crib about the "exploitation" or to blame
the rich and powerful, but to become rich and powerful oneself. Look at
the most important case (topical) today: nuclear power. 

The rich and powerful (as well as the very weak) "tut-tut" at us as a
contradiction, "India is so poor and yet spends on nuclear weapons." 
Notice that the same exploitation prevails here: i.e., only the lives of
the rich and powerful (Americans)  are important, and the poor can be
allowed to die in millions without any remorse if someone [rich?] were to
attack them with the rich man's bomb (I am not saying that anyone is
attacking India but then who is attacking USA?). What the world is telling
us is that "you poor guy: you are too poor to count; your defense is
meaningless since you are so poor;  so spend on 'butter' not guns."

To counter that kind of attitude (natural to all of us: observe how we
look down upon the Afro Americans who go into drugs and crime in the
'inner cities' of USA: that was not their fault at all, actually; they
were brought down on their knees by hundreds of years of "exploitation"),
the poor and the weak have to decide to be rich and powerful. Whining
about exploitation is like being a sheep in the jungle, constantly afraid
of the lion. 

Also, on the topic of our own personal attitudes toward the rich, we are
generally very cushy and pally with the rich and powerful ("capitalist"!) 
because we always like to gain personally from them (like come over to
their country, beg for a job, beg for a visa, then even citizenship!), but
in the same voice we, hypocritically, criticize these "exploiters."

I have only one philosophical view on "exploitation." Find out what made
the "exploiter" rich and powerful (i.e., do a rigorous inquiry), then
become rich and powerful. Finally, do not yourself, exploit, once you are
rich and powerful, i.e., be a good boy! (actually, I think that the West
has in general been a very good boy for quite some time, especially after
Mahatma Gandhi taught these folks good behavior through his spokesman,
Martin Luther King).

Sadly, Chomsky-type ideas can only take us to further weakness and
whininig. There might even be a bit of truth in some of these statements
(like I said, I am not discounting this article: simply, that I will take
time to respond). But the answer is not to forego capitalism (or its
"minimally regulated" version that we are promoting), but to go deeper
into capitalism and get rich and powerful first. Once we are on par with
the "exploiter" as we were 250 years ago, we can talk equality and help
the world to completely stop "exploitation," if that were ever possible,
theoretically.

[thanks for posting this provocative piece, anyway ... we need all views, 
and we must respect all views ...]

Sanjeev