posted on Jul, 15 2012 @ 12:48 AM
Over the last several decades, opening up free trade between various countries has been pushed through over the objections of reluctant public opinion
in the idea that economic liberalization leads to greater political liberalization. The idea that people having choice with their economic purchases
will create a mindset where they demand the same open market for political ideas was popularly expressed throughout the west, but the evidence of its
success is mixed at best.
Specifically, China has shown (as has Russia to a lesser extent), that the sort of free trade policies adopted throughout the western world
voluntarily and through much of the poorer world at the coercion of international finance, do not have the affect of creating political openness.
In fact, a compelling case could be made that the wealth generated by free trade actually increased wealth in that particular country in such a way
that it created an opening for political stabilization. Rising autocracies throughout the world have shown competent economic management can be
sufficient to stabilize political unrest, and so they adopt free trade policies while embracing political systems antithetical to their democratic
While history will tell the final story, I personally believe that should the dominance of democracies fall to the rising autocratic powers in the
next century, historians will point to the free trade policies that devastated local manufacturing in the U.S., Europe, and other areas, transferring
not just wealth but key infrastructure abroad to regimes with markedly different ideologies, as the critical source of funding for their growth and
the key source for autocratic stability. Having cheap goods of questionable quality in many cases at the price of having national self-sufficiency is
a dangerous bargain to make, especially should conflict arise in the future.
But not knowing the future, I'd ask two questions to push this thread forward:
1) Do you believe free trade leads to democratization?
2) Do you think the political benefits of free trade from democracies to autocracies outweighs the liabilities?