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Friday, November 14, 2003

The French are right, again.

Yesterday, Dan Drezner posted, "A Marriage Made in Protest" on his blog. It concerns French governmental sponsorship of an anti-globalization meeting. He quotes a Financial Times article about the European Social Forum, which is meeting in Paris right now (1200 organizations and 50,000 people). According to the FT, President Jacques Chirac authorized the French foreign ministry and prime minister's office to pony up about 20% of the $4.3 million budget. Here's the meetings' purpose:
The main agenda will discuss propositions for an alternative "anti-liberal" development model for the European Union that is also more citizen-friendly. But attention will also focus on ways to challenge US "unilateralism".
Dan wonders why it took so long for the French to "hook up" with the anti-globalization crowd (perhaps he is implying this because many of them are anti-American).

Drezner is basically a right-leaning libertarian who supports the WTO and is thus quite sympathetic to globalization.

Of course, I think the FT and Drezner should be more worried about their own views than they are about the social protesters.

Perhaps the meeting is going to focus on an "'anti-liberal' development model" because the current model has failed to fulfill the liberal project?

The Cancun WTO negotiations recently failed because of the hypocrisy of agriculture subsidies. Rich nations want them, they are inconsistent with free market ideas, and to be fair, Drezner has argued against them. But that doesn't end them. Those subsidies make it quite difficult for poor countries to compete in an economic sector where they might well have comparative advantages.

Moreover, there are other important dimensions to global liberalization beyond the mobility of capital and goods.

What about liberal freedom of movement? The EU states have embraced this within their limited sphere, but the US (especially post-9/11) has been far more concerned with tightened borders.

How can liberals desire mobile capital without mobile labor? That is completely one-sided and clearly favors transnational business at the expense of workers everywhere.

There's also the question of global governance, which the anti-globalization forces have long sought. Liberalism isn't blindly libertarian and the protesters make solid points about environmental standards, labor rights, etc.

I would argue that we should postpone our worries about global "anti-liberal" forces until the state members of the WTO take liberalism much more seriously.

Allowing mobile capital and goods is NOT especially liberal. It merely exploits limited labor mobility and weak governance arrangements.

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