Saturday, July 23, 2005

Early sighting of Vultures

The merchants of panic, doom and disaster are really gathering in their hundreds, probably thousands. It’s all due to the Chinese economy and its alleged threat to the USA (where xenophobia is showing early signs of becoming rampant) and to Europe.

A few years ago it was Japan that threatened the West. ‘Learn Japanese’ became a fad at Business Schools. Now it’s “Learn Chinese”. Meanwhile, Chinese school kids learn English.

A particular example of the genre is in the piece below, from a rather excitable site: (the Mattaba News Network, or MNN from Africa), which, of course, drags in Adam Smith and the invisible hand into its screech about World War III:

“World War III: The next war has already started”From:
Raw Story


“China, which may be less than a true free market at home, has no problem bitch-slapping us with Adam Smith's invisible hand at the most macro level. So it seems rather obvious that China will flex its growing muscles and buy its own secure supply by bidding on bigger and bigger helpings of Big Oil.”

Why international trade must lead to, or be associated, with world war is not clear. How the metaphor of the invisible hand elucidates the situation is not clear either, unless it is Shakespeare’s (“thy bloody and invisible hand”, Macbeth: 3.2) that John Steinberg has in mind, not Smith’s which was entirely peaceful, and had nothing to do with trade, markets or the macro level.

We can expect more of this rising cover for protectionism in the coming months and years. Sad, really. Smith made clear that our neighbours’ prosperity cannot be a disadvantage to the UK, or the USA (or Africa). Globalisation is good for everybody, and certainly better than the protectionist and sinister alternatives.

The original article is at:


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