Argument: Free trade promotes democracy

Issue Report: Free trade

Support, quotes, links...

  • Martin Wolf, Why Globalization Works?. Yale University Press. 2004. ISBN 0-300-10777-3. pp 30. – “It is possible for countries to offer economic but not political freedoms – to have market economics, but not democracy or civil and human rights. But the correlation between these freedoms is strong. If the individual’s autonomy is respected in one sphere, it will normally be respected in another. IN the long run, market economies tend to become democratic, as recent experience in east Asia has made plain. Moreover, even if all market economics are not democracies, stable democracies have market economies, as Professor Kornai says. Social democrats too often ignore this intimate between economic liberalism and political democracy, between the values of the merchant and those of the citizen. The market underpins democracy, just as democracy should normally strengthen the market.
The market supports democracy in another way – via growth. A modern market economy has, as the discussion in the following chapter shows, been the only system to have generated large and sustained rises in real incomes per head over lengthy periods. These rises have made the shift to a democratic system from what were, traditionally, more repressive regimes immeasurably easier.”
  • Martin Wolf, Why Globalization Works?. Yale University Press. 2004. ISBN 0-300-10777-3. pp 39. – “Not only has there been great economic advance among developing countries that have successfully integrated in the world economy, but a huge spread of democracy – a form of governance that was unheard of three centuries ago, was rare a century ago, existed in only thirty-five out of 147 countries in 1975, but had reached eighty-four countries by 1995. Today is the first time in human history that a majority of the world’s population lives in democracies. In 2000, the share of of the total population in democracies reached 57 percent.”
  • Martin Wolf, Why Globalization Works?. Yale University Press. 2004. ISBN 0-300-10777-3. pp 54. – “A competitive market economy is a reflection – and a source – of freedom. It is also a necessary condition for democracy. In a society where political power determines the allocation of wealth, it is impossible to be independent without being powerful. But in a market society that combination is possible and this, in turn, provides a basis for competing political parties. As Vaclav Havel explained, a government that commands the economy will inevitably command the polity; given a commanding position it will distort or destory the former and corrupt or oppress the latter…Liberal democracies with market economies are, as Joseph Shumpeter argued in his classic book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, the only societies that create their own opposition.”


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