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RE: on free trade and markets



Sanjeev Sabhlok[SMTP:sabhlok@almaak.usc.edu] wrote



>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
>
. . .

>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. 

I believe it is an incorrect assumption you seem to make that the only
alternatives are to either be exploited or to be the exploiter. Or
that the only viable social organizations are power hierarchies.

And rather than treating the article as 'cribbing' I believe it is
cautionary: the trans-national capital that would start flowing into
India by "free trade" would primarily benefit the controllers of the
caital and a small set of its local agents but not the majority of the
population. The term "free trade" should be accorded the suspicion it
deserves based on long historical precedent, whether it is the case of
the US threatening Thailand, China, or Malaysia with trade sanctions
for restricting cigarette advertising by US tobacco companies, or
Britain and the US waging war on China defending their "right" to
conduct a trade on opium (grown in India, incidentally). 

The point is that before allowing incursions of foreign capital we
need to carefully analyze who benefits. Historically, from Vasco
daGama onwards, it has rarely been the local population.

Also since you've invoked Ayn Rand more than once I feel compelled to
ask why you seem to hold her in such reverence. She wrote the
fountainhead, a well crafted book that has a lot of resonance among
teenagers breaking away from their roots and trying to define an
identity separate from their parents but all her other writings, to
me, are derivative the pre- and post WW2 red scare seeing a
communist plot under every bush.

>
>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. 

I don't look down on inner city blacks and I'm surprised that you
do. After all, the inner city blacks who run the drug trade, it would
seem to me, are a shining example of market driven entrepreneurial free
trade situation relatively un-encumbered by regulatory interference
(except when the trade exceeds regional boundaries) the market
generates demand which the dealers fill at a price the market will
bear and all actions are purely motivated by profit despite pesky
meddling by government bodies like the police. Maybe some day one of
these entrepreneurs will found a great political dynasty such as the
Roosevelt dynasty (based on opium sold in China) or the Kennedy dynasty
(based on boot legging and stock manipulation). And as far as I know,
the poverty of the inner cities is not a consequence of exploitation
200 years ago but of current conditions: denial of fair housing,
consequently education, and access to capital and unemployment.

>
>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 trouble with this attitude. You seem pre-suppose that everyone
with wealth and power somehow deserves it, that you or I don't, and to
seek wealth and power using those who have it is to beg. I also
disagree with your characterization of "their country" as 
if possession confers absoloute ownership. I prefer the position "We
do not own this earth, it owns us".

-Charu

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