In Defense of Global Capitalism Hardcover – 1 Sep 2003
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I realise this is a book that's intended to be fighting one corner, but it is desperately frustrating that most objections to the thrust of Norberg's argument he presents are straw men. It's Socratic dialogie for idiots. He seems to be talking to the student anarchist he remembers being rather than any more nuanced position.
Whilst the spread of democracy and capitalism have certainly been great for humanity on balance, there are some quite legitimate concerns one might have about where it's going that Norberg seems to ignore entirely. Capitalism is well on the way to winning. It doesn't really need a cheerleader right now- I think as a species we are mostly trying to figure out how to have all the good stuff without the bad stuff.
Still, it is nice to read something that manages to be upbeat about the trajectory the world is on for a change. That's partly what I bought it for and it did manage that. But it's not a great book.
Much of what is said currently in today's media about free market capitalism is often conjecture and populist opinion, purporting capitalism to be a system only for the rich which leaves behind the poor. Again, Norberg shows how free market capitalism and trade has been a force for good internationally, especially in MENA and developing countries. Take Japan as an example, a country with very little natural resources managed to increase per capita income by a factor of 6 in the space of 10 years due to liberalisation of trade policy.
I could not recommend this book any more. This book is for anyone who is serious in finding out more in economic theory.
Norberg was a Fellow of Swedish think-tank Timbro and also, now, of the American Cato Institute, which published his book. You may say that this is semantics, but Norberg is therefore identifiable as an (economic) libertarian, not a (political) liberal.
This is an excellent statement of the principles of economic libertarianism on a global scale. The principle of free capitalism is not undermined by the odd example of how unrestrained businesses may exploit individuals, although that does indeed happen. Even where it does, however, more people become more wealthy more quickly than in any other model for economic activity.
This is a brilliant riposte to Ms Klein and the economic left. My only major concern about globalism, and this book, is that it does seem to me that conducting economic activity globally will inevitably consume more energy - and produce more CO2, etc - than more locally based economic activity. Until businesses' economic calculations take into acount "exogenous" costs (i.e.those costs not sufferred directly by the parties to the transaction) it will, for example, remain sensible to fly mange tout from Kenya to England. Climate change is not listed in the index to this book! While I personally think that some of the MMGW "consensus" theories are alarmist (as you may deduce from some of my other reviews!), it did seem to me surprising that a book written in 2001 would ignore the issue altogether.
Despite this, well worth the read.
After providing exhaustive factual data (embarassingly enough to the likes of Atac) gleaned largely from globalism's harshest critics, Johan Norberg dishes out a non-stop stream of punishingly convincing arguments. Every prickly issue is shorn of its thorns and rendered manipulable to even the clumsiest mind, and every intractable twist of illogic is unwound simply and methodically in front of an admiring audience, one that I presume will be interested in witnessing feats of logical truth rather than intellectual prestidigitation.
After reading this book carefully and honestly, anyone who dares remain opposed to global capitalism must also dare to declare his firm support for poverty, child mortality, totalitarianism, unemployment, war, genocide, environmental catastrophies, low wages, poor working conditions, and gender inequality. But after spending several hours devouring Johan Norberg's sublime work, I trust that any anti-capitalist who reads this book will at least gain the courage to award their shattered convictions the silence they deserve.
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