Bhagwati Propounds Proper Path to Prosperity

On Monday, October 17th, UVM hosted Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati, for a lecture relating to ideas discussed in his recent book In Defense of Globalization. Globalization is a hot topic in the United States where fears of outsourcing lead some to believe that America might be losing its once dominant position in the world. In Burlington especially, socially conscious residents seem particularly interested in discussing the pros and cons of that nebulous term “globalization.” Is globalization merely an extension of a centuries old form of exploitation, or is it a wonderful opportunity for less developed countries to invest in the education of their people and a chance for them to enrich themselves by putting their own skills to use? In a much-welcomed respite from the opinions of the self-proclaimed experts who often peddle their ideas in front of the Bailey Howe Library, Dr. Bhagwati’s lecture gave UVMers a chance to look at global issues from the perspective of a man who has worked with world leaders on critical policy issues. His theories and insights are qualified by his extensive and varied resume of working with organizations like the WTO, GATT, and the UN. Despite the title of his book In Defense of Globalization, Bhagwati explained that if somebody asks you if you are either for or against globalization, you should tell him to “get lost.” Bhagwati seems to disagree with the very notion of being strictly for or against globalization. If you claim to be anti-globalization, what does that really mean? Are you against the international exchange of culture and ideas? Are you against stopping “brain drain” and giving highly trained professionals a chance to work in their home countries? If, on the other hand, you are staunchly in favor of globalization do you support sweat-shop labor? Do you support the homogenization of world culture? Bhagwati’s point is that globalization is simply too broad of a term where an individual can clearly be for it or against it. In a world where globalization is often blamed for beating on developing countries the way Ike beatTina, Bhagwati joked that Tina Turner should put aside her questions about love and ask “What’s globalization got to do (got to do…) with it?” He explained that globalization sometimes creates a trade-off between economic advancement and social or cultural concerns. But, Bhagwati insists that globalization has a human face. If people disagree with some of the globalization’s un-amenable, un-friend-able and untenable side effects, they should work constructively to implement complementary policies instead of foolishly trying to oppose the entire force of globalization. So maybe the next time you see somebody professing to be either pro or anti globalization, maybe don’t tell them to “get lost,” but encourage him to learn more about the other side of the argument. Globalization is simply too complicated of an issue to be pigeon-holed into simple terms and summed up in words like “good” or “bad.” It might seem na??ve to talk of the difficulty of making generalizations about globalization, but even if you really believe that globalization is not good for economic development world-wide, is it not worth it simply for the unprecedented level of the international exchange of ideas? Globalization is a very complicated issue, you can be a fan of it for humanitarian reasons or against it for business reasons, or vice-versa. No matter what your opinion is, it cannot hurt to keep investigating all aspects of the issue from a variety of viewpoints.