Analysis of the Work "In Defense of Globalization" by Columbia Economics Professor, J. Bhagwati

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Published in 2004 by Columbia Economics Professor, J. Bhagwati, In Defense of Globalization, argues against critics of globalization, and convinces readers that it can, in fact, have a profoundly positive impact on the world today. Jagdish Bhagwati defines globalization as the “integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, direct foreign investment (by corporations and multinationals), short-term capital flows, international flows of workers and humanity generally, and flows of technology
Jagdish Bhagwati is an Economics, Law, and International Affairs Professor at Columbia University. The Professor was an economic policy advisor to Arthur Dunkel, director-general of the WTO on the future of the WTO and on the advisory committee to Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the NEPAD process in Africa. Professor Bhagwati has been described as the most creative international trade theorist of his generation and is a leader in the fight for freer trade. Drawing on his exceptional knowledge of international economics, Mr. Bhagwati argues in In Defense of Globalization that globalization can reduce child labor, increase gender equality, and increase literacy among many other benefits, which often leads to greater prosperity across the globe.The author states that “this process (globalization) has a human face, but we need to make that face yet more agreeable” In the compelling In Defense of Globalization, Professor Bhagwati addresses those he calls “anti-globalizers” who are concerned with social implications of economic globalization. The author discusses issues such as the impact of globalization on child labor, women’s rights and equality and poverty in the global south.Professor Bhagwati boldly claims that the best defense against poverty, child labor, inequality and other social injustices is economic growth. The author asserts that the sole path to achieving economic growth is through integration into the global economy. With this in mind, the central thesis of this book review is that Jagdish Bhagwati’s book In Defense of Globalization serves as an important resource for developing a through level of understanding on the topic.
Yet unlike other texts on the impacts of globalization, Professor Bhagwati fails to address the issue from an emotional perspective. Bhagwati urges readers that rather than focusing on the negatives, critics must change their scope and look towards the global benefit that globalization has. Taking this into account, this review will first delve into a comprehensive summary of the parts of the book. Secondly, I will provide a thorough analysis of In Defense of Globalization and provide examples that demonstrate how the author fails to address the emotional impacts that globalization has.
Part I of In Defense of Globalization, titled: Coping with Anti-Globalization, outlines many prevalent arguments asserted by those opposed to globalization. These arguments include that globalization increases child labor, poverty is enhanced and discriminations against women are accentuated, among many other disputes. Professor Bagwhati seeks to disprove these claims by presenting the argument and examining how he believes that they are false. Further, another source of anti-globalization sentiment is that political democracy is at bay.
The concern is that democracy is constrained by globalization, although the author argues that globalization promotes it. These various formulations range from concerns about the ability to shift policies radically to the left to lesser but still progressive concerns about the ability simply to undertake social spending, and even to maintain overall spending, in a global economy. Further, Bhagwati notes the significant resentment that comes from the anti-globalizers against the rise of the United States to a military and economic leader in a unipolar world. For example, the current American hegemon is so unprecedented that the French call America a hyperpower, as if being called a superpower is no longer the highest accolade.
Part II of the book, titled: Globalization’s Human Face: Trade and Corporations, discusses the effects of globalization on democracy, child labor, women’s rights and wages and labor standards. The author argues that poverty, in fact, is decreased with the advance of globalization. The case in which poverty is not decreased with the advance of globalization, would be improper policy in that nation. Further, because of the increase of jobs with the growth of globalization, there would be no reason for unemployment rates to not decrease. Secondly, in part II of the book, the author also demonstrates how child labor is reduced with worldwide integration. The author states “globalization – wherever it translates into greater general prosperity and reduced poverty – only accelerates the reduction of child labor and enhances primary school enrollment and hence literacy.”
As a result of higher literacy, it enables rapid growth which helps less developed countries thrive. Finally, the author argues that the gender gap will narrow, allowing women to be paid the same amount as men for the same value and productivity within a firm.
The author writes about globalization with wit, drawing on references from history, Shakespeare and philosophy. For example, Professor Bhagwati begins Chapter 5 “Poverty: Enhanced or Diminished?” with a King Lear reference for preface to the author explaining how the sensitivity and the moral commitment to reduce poverty are nothing new. Further, Bhagwati asserts that the anti-globalization movement exaggerated claims that globalization has negatively impacted poor countries. For example, supported by statistics from the Asian Development Bank, he argues, that in China the “aggressively outward economic policies” that characterize globalization reduced poverty from 28% of the population in 1978 to 9% in 1998.
Throughout the book, Bhagwati takes the same approach when he examines arguments involved in the globalization debate. He begins by presenting a claim made by critics of globalization, also known as “anti-globalizers”. Then the author examines the logic of the arguments used to justify that claim. Throughout the book, Bhagwati does not label anti-globalist arguments as wrong, instead, he uses cases and examples to illustrate how these arguments appear problematic when viewed from a local perspective but are not problems when they are viewed from a global perspective. In Bhagwati’s conclusion, he rebuts many of the arguments disputed by opponents of globalization. He states that “public action will not succeed unless it reflects not only passions buy also reason”. He asks readers to focus on the broader scope of globalization and fixate less on the smaller misfortunes of globalization.
The author argues that people often focus too narrowly on the local issues without realizing how those issues relate to a greater global context. Bhagwati states that a shift in focus surrounding globalization is needed. Instead of focusing on the negatives, such as the way china treats its child workers, critics change their scope and look more towards the benefits. However, I believe that in the author doing so, he is disregarding the emotional perspective of globalization. The professor describes how Western attempts to end the use of child labor have often backfired against the nation. For example. In Thailand the US Child Labor Deterrence Act of 1993 tried to boycott products made with child labor from being imported into the states. With the children losing their jobs, the parents sold their children into prostitution or slavery. By stating this in the novel, as a reader, it almost seems as if he is saying this is acceptable.
Although the author is stating that anti-globalists focus too much on the small misfortunes brought about by globalization, as a reader, it is impossible not to. In conclusion, Jagdish Bhagwati writes a compelling and convincing book about how globalization, if governed properly, will allow the globe to prosper. Professor Bhagwati provides a powerful reasoning why globalization critics are incorrect, and how globalization is the only path to take. Although I still believe that there is much room for improvement, I don’t believe that critics should only focus on the broader scope of globalization as Bhagwati suggests. Rather, I believe that globalization should be examined in every scope, and we must do our best to improve every aspect of globalization. Globalization certainly does have a human face, and we should try to make that face more agreeable.
1. Bhagwati, J. N. (2005). In Defense of Globalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press
2. Jagdish N. Bhagwati. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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