The new benchmark for books on globalization,
This review is from: In Defense of Globalization (Hardcover)How can one resist a book that begins with the phrase, "does the world need yet another book on globalization?" To this saturated topic, Jagdish Bhagwati does not try to force a radical new outlook; rather, he surveys the evidence against each accusation levied by the critics of globalization and ends up producing one of the most elegant, eloquent, and persuasive books in favor of globalization.
One problem that any such book faces is that the anti-globalization movement is rather amorphous, bringing together all sorts of groups that make all sorts of accusations; to get around this, Mr. Bhagwati divides his book into the major themes (the link of economic growth to poverty, of trade to the environment or labor rights, etc), and looks at what the various NGOs are saying against globalization. To his credit, Mr. Bhagwati has considered most of the subtleties, nuances and variations of the NGO arguments.
Having done this, Mr. Bhagwati explains whether and why the NGOs are wrong. Predictably, the NGO fears usually prove exaggerated or simply untrue. To their polemic rhetoric, Mr. Bhagwati answers with anecdotes, news reports and econometric studies. Whether one agrees or disagrees with him, no one can accuse Mr. Bhagwati of brushing aside the critics.
Refreshingly, the book is not an unconditional acceptance of globalization. "In Defense of Globalization" is a defense, but it is not blind to what is wrong about globalization; Mr. Bhagwati is cautious, for example, about uninhibited capital flows; he is also critical about the invasion of intellectual property rights into trade agreements; he is also suspicious of businesses that bribe politicians to alter trade agreements to their favor. And so on.
Yet, his verdict is staunchly pro-globalization. He urges against using trade-curtailing answers to economic problems; he also alerts us that many of the ills identified by NGOs have little to do with globalization ("What has globalization got to do with that?" he writes more than once). More importantly, he offers ideas about how to make globalization better, from managing immigration, to rethinking the trade sanctions, to the role that NGOs ought to play, and many more. Nothing here is new; but he assembles the various ideas that he has pronounced over the years in books, op-ed pieces and academic journals.
There is no doubt that "In defense of globalization" will be the book to beat from now on. No anti-globalization treatise should be published without being able to refute Mr. Bhagwati's arguments. For having elucidated this debate even further, Mr. Bhagwati deserves to be read and to be thanked.