Friday, April 5, 2013

Would You Die for Free Trade?

Since David Ricardo it's impossible to ignore the fact that free trade is good for the global economy and for humanity. Yet, even when this fact is rationally acknowledged, the most stubborn anti-traders will frequently argue that it's not fair to ask a minority of compatriots to temporarily sacrifice their standards of living in order to improve the lives of the rest of humanity.

Leaving aside the fact that it's perfectly possible to design compensation mechanisms, and that nobody should have rights to stable power rents, consider the following political paradox: in all countries that I know of, it's normally assumed by a large part of the population that it's "honorable to die and kill for the sake of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen," and that "it's your duty to serve your country through sometimes regretful but necessary violence and exposure to danger." Why is it then that these same people, most of the time, don't necessarily assume that it's much more honorable to service all countries through small and temporary personal sacrifices and joyful and necessary economic cooperation? Why is it that both the left and the right refuse to apply to free trade, global peace, international cooperation, and the good of humanity the same moral standards that they apply to military service or most other sacrificial collective duties?

I believe that the answer to this paradox is that people living in modern nation-states develop cognitive dissonance through brainwashing, and that the dissonance persists because it's an important enabler of power grab, which in its turn leads to continuous brainwashing. If you think that you have a better explanation, then I'd be curious to hear from you.

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