Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie interviewed Johan Norberg in Washington, D.C., in early September for Reason 12-03.
reason: Your book is titled In Defense of Global Capitalism. Can you summarize your case?
Johan Norberg: The core is that capitalism and globalization -- by which I basically mean free and open markets and liberal political, economic, and social institutions that support them -- bring freedom of choice to people in countries that have never experienced this before.
If we want to defend globalization -- and we should -- our focus must be on developing countries, not our own Western countries.
Global capitalism means that people are no longer confined by the decisions of national elites.
These could be the local monopolies, the local powers, politicians, and so on.
By making local powers compete or by bypassing them altogether, globalization gives people more freedom to decide over their own consumption, to buy things from abroad, to get the cultural influences they want, to travel, to meet friends, and to cross borders.
reason: What's the evidence that global capitalism benefits people in poor countries?
Norberg: Take just about any statistic, any indicator of living standards in the world, and you can see the progress that has been made over the exact period that worries globalization critics. In the last 30 years we've seen chronic hunger and the extent of child labor being halved. In the last 40 years, we've seen life expectancy going up to 64 years in developing countries. We've seen literacy levels approaching the maximum in most countries in the world. According to World Bank statistics, 200 million people have left absolute povery -- defined as living on the equivalent of less than $1 a day -- over the past 20 years. What's more, the most progress is found in the countries that increased trade and contacts with the outside world.
Globalization has also helped extend rights to women that had long been confined to men. These include being able to go into business, get an education, inherit money, and so on. One reason for this is simple economics. In a globalized, competitive economy, women are a potential resource. They are able to have new ideas, to produce, and to work. If you discriminate against women--or anyone else--you lose opportunities as a society or as an employer.
A second reason is that all the goods, ideas, and people that cross borders under globalization allow people to see more alternatives, to see other ways of living. When women and other oppressed groups in poor countries see how their counterparts in Western societies are treated, they begin to have ideas about how they want to be treated. Globalization is a great influence because people everywhere get all sorts of new ideas. They say, "Wow, things can be very different than I'm used to."
The above was excerpted from the full article which can be found at Reason.com