The Big Debate: Globalization

February 21, 2008

In my lesson tomorrow, I’ve been asked to talk about arguments for and against globalization. At first I was reluctant, since I know how emotional I can get about such things (I am not kidding when I tell you I very nearly cried from frustration while debating this topic; looking back, I think I needed more sleep). Despite my initial doubts, I’ve come around to accepting the challenge and am getting excited for the opportunity to give anti-globalization rhetoric the thrashing it deserves.

Among the problems is that debating “globalization” is a lot like debating the question “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” As Eliezer Yudkowsky has pointed out recently on Overcoming Bias, such debates often consist of mere arguments over definition, in which people think they are talking about the same thing because they agree on the word to use, e.g. “sound” or “globalization,” but they are in fact talking about completely different things.

The first step, then, has to be to clarify the topic. What is involved in globalization? On the level of theory and rule-making it means free trade in goods and free movement across borders; in other words, not restricting what people are permitted to do with their selves and their property. A debate over the consequences of globalization might look at things like multinational corporations, poverty, wealth creation, inequality, national security, or the environment. I don’t exactly know what the scope of my presentation ought to be, but I’m planning to just go for the sure winner: the theoretical argument for free trade.

P.S. The links I embed are always fantastic; click on them.

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