A Million Paths to Peace (Michael Strong, 24 Apr 2006, Tech Central Station)
Something extraordinary is happening in global development circles. For the first time since the 19th century, progressive activists are embracing trade as positive tool for change. The global NGO Oxfam is the latest progressive interest group to change its tune. It has launched a campaign to end agricultural subsidies in the developed world.
This could represent a fundamental turning of the tide from a world based on nationalism and violence to a world based on commerce and peace.
Oxfam has a new section on its website devoted to “the private sector’s role in development,” where they acknowledge that “Oxfam GB believes that the private sector plays a central role in development, impacting on or contributing to poverty reduction in many different ways.” The awkward “impacting on,” rather than simply “contributing to,” poverty reduction rings of compromise language, perhaps included to satisfy lingering “old Left” market resentments among certain Oxfam stakeholders, but we should be strictly grateful for the core thesis: “The private sector plays a central role in development.”
In a recent paper, Columbia University political science professor Erik Gartzke shows that economic freedom (as measured by the Fraser Economic Freedom Index) is about fifty times more effective than democracy in diminishing violent conflict. Although it is not literally true that two nations with McDonald’s do not go to war with each other, nations with high levels of economic freedom are far less likely to be engaged in violent conflict than are nations without economic freedom. The democratic peace turns out to be the free market peace.
Evangelizing for democracy and capitalism is the transnationalism of the Right.