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By Philippe Legrain 14 COMMENTS

Robert Wade of the LSE wrote an article in July’s issue of Prospect alleging that Globalisation Isn’t Working. I have written a response to this, which is published today on Prospect‘s website, and which I am also publishing on here. Needless to say, globalisation is working.

Posted 26 Jul 2006 in Blog
  1. Tony PERLA says:

    “globalisation is working”
    Somebody must explain to me, “What is the fuss about”. Someone coins a new word for an old phenomenon and keyboards start clacking away at long and tedious explanations.
    People have been “globalizing” since time immemorial. Or, rather, long before David Riccardo, individuals sensed the practicality of comparative advantage by concentrating on a finite number of skills to produce goods. They then traded to obtain products produced with other skills. They recognized that they could not do everything.
    What has changed? Well, the world is bigger and there is far more competition – and of course industrialization has occurred. Other economic factors have risen and made their weight felt, name, that of economies of scale. That is, those who produce the most tend to produce the most cheaply and therefore sell even more.
    This was the awakening behind big companies (lonnggggg before we called them “multinationals”) who produced first in one large market and exported to other markets. (The automotive industry is a prime example.) The increased volume of production allowed them to produce less expensively, which enhanced their sales.
    Nothing has changed in the economics of world trade. Except maybe the advent of the word “globalization”.
    Big deal. (Le plus ça change, le plus ça reste la même chose …)

  2. Graeme Kemp says:

    If you want to know about the benefits of globalisation, then read ‘In Defense of Global Capitalism’ by Johan Norberg.
    As a social-democrat I don’t agree with all Norberg writes, especially on tax, but the book blows apart all objections to globalisation; it explains how it will liberate the poor nations of the world, if we let it. Globalisation benefits everyone.
    It’s thorough, factual and well-argued. It even justifies free trade! Read it!
    Globalisation will work – if we let it.

  3. Partha Samadi says:

    Just saw you on tv. Do you always have to have the last word? Its really difficult to understand your argument when you are talking over others all the time.

  4. John O'Connor says:

    I’ve just heard Philip Legrain on BBC R4’s PM.
    When David Conway attempted to make the point that cases of TB in the UK had doubled in recent years because of an influx of immigrants, you responded with an outburst accusing him of racism, ‘hating foreigners’ and other ad hominem attacks.
    For some time my partner and I have been friends with a Mexican doctor whose daughters attended the same West London school as our children. This doctor was a TB specialist working out of Hammersmith hospital doing research into TB levels in the UK on behalf of the World Health Organisation. I had numerous conversations with her about her work and she was emphatic that the return of TB to this country (where it had previously been eradicated) was an ‘epidemic’ (her word) caused by immigration from the third world. This is an awesomly courageous woman who has devoted her life to studying the disease.
    What she found particularly disturbing was the appearance of new antibiotic-resistant strains of the disease in this country, which she put down to the carriers refusing to complete courses of treatment (often claiming that such treatment was against their particular religion.)
    It now appears that another previously-eradicated disease – Polio – is also making a reappearance for precisely the same reasons.
    Maybe when you have children of your own to worry about you might start paying closer attention to these dangerous diseases and the reasons they have re-established themselves here.

  5. Roger Taylor says:

    What a rude, opinionated person you are.
    Heard you on Radio 4 PM (well could hardly fail to hear you since you shouted down the other speaker)
    You are wrong, wrong, WRONG.
    Arithmetic is only part of the debate.
    The cultural considerations are much more important.
    We are clearly failing to absorb this tidal wave of unrestricted immigration.
    They have no intention of integrating and we don’t want them in such large numbers.
    Find the truth and get some people skills! (In either order)

  6. engers says:


  7. engers says:

    You are nasty, I am guessing you are like a shadow for the commercial-fundementalists in a corporate global governace word – whos running the show. True the poor needs help, but you are guessing by letting the immigrant raise collectives around the world would not result in disaster? Some countris have VERY different cultures and might have spite for each other that can result in conflict. But not in their ethnic home countries but in communities that slowly will be buildt within other countries.
    That is what word! means

  8. RG says:

    I read about your questions posed to the UK Home Secretary and I would like to lend my support to your thinking. I am not very familiar with your approach, but there seems to be an underlying level of understanding you have about the way an immigrant sees things from the outside looking in.
    I lived in the UK for a while and saw a number of different perspectives – I would have to agree that many people go the UK with the intention of simply living off the State. Unfortunately, that minority has raised a lot of suspicion about the majority.
    For the record as well, on your questions about Bill Gates and Sir Richard, my uncle was originally from the Caribbean (a second generation South Asian) and went to the UK in his 20s. He had a very rough start, never went to University and become one of the top 5 Financial Advisors in London during the late 80s, early 90s.
    His advice many many Britons extremely wealthy – had he been turned away because of an excessive immigration system, there would surely be far less millionairs in London and the South East!
    Sadly, I fall into the same category. No degree, but no end of talent and experience and an unusual love and respect for the United Kingdom. But all borders have been locked down and I wonder if I would ever be able to return…

  9. dan says:

    I have just heard you on radio 4. Surely you live in a different world to the rest of us?

  10. Roger Marsh says:

    I heard you on Radio 4’s “World at One” today, you are either a lunatic or a dreamer or possibly both. If this country did have an unlimited immigration policy to which you clearly said “yes” to during the course of that programme, just where do you intend to put the millions that would flock into this already horrendously (and I would strongly suggest dangerously) overcrowded country ? There simply is physically not enough room to put the type of numbers who would flock in.

  11. The real problem is that people don’t realize how similar we all are. They always want to focus on the differences and that scares them. My fear is that we will all become so much the same that the world will become a very boring place — with a McDonald’s on very corner. We should first realize that if we work together we can get along really well and help each other along the way. Then we should encourage people to be proud of their particular cultures and give presentations of their ideas and beliefs for us all to appreciate. When you get to know people from all over the world you come to realize how wonderful they all are.

  12. Graeme Kemp says:

    Liked the YouTube videos.
    Is there any way to actually subscribe to your YouTube videos, so I’m alerted to new ones?

  13. thenerd2009 says:

    Heard your views through itunes (immigrants, your country needs them), over at Carnegie Hall in the US if I am not wrong. Your ideas need to be spread more, its the most eloquent and intelligent approach I have ever heard. People should be able to go wherever they please. Its time politicians worldwide work together on this issue. Keep up the good work Phillipe, to see if finally all these people posting negative comments get it. Capital and labor go hand in hand, and closing borders is politically unsustainable, economically stupid and morally wrong. I totally agree with all your views on the migration of human beings.

  14. David Weare says:

    Listened to your debate with Sir Andrew Green on R4 this evening.
    I am appalled by your dogma & unwillingness to concede anything in debate, even in the name of common sense.
    Your approach is familliar, it is the closed Stalinist mindset, in which you expect all other to believe what you believe regardless of contrary evidence that is right in front of them.
    Furthermore, your attack on Green, in which you accused him of racism, was embarrassing and symptomatic of the closed, braindead liberal, mindset. Your subsequent climb down was also ‘Regretable’.
    In truth, I suspect you have deep-rooted personal reasons for the position you occupy, because common sense & good natured generosity cannot be the motivator.
    Perhaps worst of all, I got the unpleasant feeling that immigrants and the world’s poor are used primarily by you as weapons to attack the reactionary with, and that you are more concerned with taking political ground that you are with a person’s real plight.
    In other words, I hear the noise of emancipation, but smell ego and ambition.
    Please consider for a nanosecond that you are not perfect and may be wrong.

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