David Singh Grewal*
Why Globalization Works, Martin Wolf (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004),
416 pp., $30 cloth, $18 paper.
In Defense of Globalization, Jagdish N. Bhagwati (New York: Oxford University Press,
2004), 320 pp., $28 cloth, $15.95 paper.
he economic globalization of the 1990s did not go uncontested, either politically or intellectually. Public protests against the WTO at the
Seattle Ministerial Conference in 1999, and later in Genoa, Cancun, and elsewhere, were accompanied by critical examinations of globalization by academics and activists alike. Joseph Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents and Dani Rodrik’s Has Globalization Gone Too Far? joined protest tracts like
Naomi Klein’s No Logo to highlight the problems and shortcomings of neoliberal globalization. It was inevitable that these criticisms would attract counterﬁre from its defenders and boosters. Two of the most creditable responses in the spate of pro-globalization literature that followed are Why Globalization Works, by the ﬁnancial journalist Martin Wolf, and In Defense of Globalization, by the
economist Jagdish Bhagwati.
The two works have a similar orientation and motivation and a shared view of villains and heroes. Both restrict their attention to economic globalization, understood broadly to mean the liberalization of trade in goods, capital, ideas, and people within a multilateral and market-oriented framework. Both denounce its critics for their hostility to liberalism or capitalism. Wolf claims that these antiglobalization critics—the ‘‘new millennium collectivists,’’ as he calls them— are in league with ‘‘religious fanatics, obscurantists, extreme environmentalists,
fascists, [and] Marxists’’ and are liable to produce something worse even than
* I want to thank Christian Barry, Daniela Cammack, Paul Cammack, and Lydia Tomitova for their helpful criticisms and suggestions.
1 Martin Wolf, Why Globalization Works (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004); and Jagdish N. Bhagwati,
In Defense of Globalization (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
2 Wolf, Why Globalization Works, p. xiii.
‘‘the monstrosities of Soviet and Maoist communism.’’ Bhagwati blames these
‘‘anti-capitalist’’ protests on Lenin, Derrida, Foucault, Che Guevara, and George
Bernard Shaw, among others, and claims that undergraduate departments of
‘‘English, comparative literature and sociology are fertile breeding grounds’’ for such foment. Finally, both authors defend neoliberal globalization for related, if not identical, reasons: Bhagwati because of an argument that trade leads to growth and growth reduces poverty, and Wolf because ‘‘the market is the most powerful in5 stitution for raising living standards ever invented.’’ For both Wolf and Bhagwati, in short, globalization is understood as the promotion and deepening of market relations across borders; it is desirable because markets are the best way of getting more people, including poor people, more of what they want; and its critics are mistaken in one way or another about its negative impacts. Globalization does not undermine democracy, human rights, or the environment; it does not exacerbate poverty or contribute to inequality. Rather, it is the best hope we have to forge a better world.
Despite these broad similarities, the two books differ in both tone and content in a few salient respects. Wolf, a journalist and Financial Times columnist, writes in a clear, direct, and generally measured way, and his book provides the best introduction to and defense of globalization currently available. Bhagwati, by contrast, is now well known for his bombastic op-ed pieces, and as this book collects many of them together, it reﬂects their strident tone. Substantively, however,
Bhagwati’s book is more interesting than Wolf’s, for while Wolf hews to the standard line on globalization, Bhagwati quarrels over the…