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Yes, this reminds me of a similar, but more general argument:

Free economics tends to promote liberal democracy.

This is debatable of course. Historical patterns are complex:

https://www.economist.com/buttonwoods-notebook/2017/11/06/wh...




Free economics promote colonialism too.


That makes no sense. Colonialism effectively stopped before free economics was a thing.


Colonialism (imperialism, more accurately) didn’t slow down much until WWII. Even in the 70s Portugal still controlled its African colonies and fought them in wars of independence.

What the gp is referencing is the argument that the concept of free trade has only obfuscated colonialism. Rather than colonialism by France or UK it’s colonialism by Nestle or De Beers. To someone harvesting cacao for $2/day nothing is materially different from living under colonialism, except their landowner might be some well-connected member of the regime rather than a European.


> What the gp is referencing is the argument that the concept of free trade has only obfuscated colonialism. Rather than colonialism by France or UK it’s colonialism by Nestle or De Beers. To someone harvesting cacao for $2/day nothing is materially different from living under colonialism, except their landowner might be some well-connected member of the regime rather than a European.

Ironically, China shows you exactly why that comparison is absurd. Colonial powers carefully controlled production to keep colonies from moving up the value chain. Indian raw materials were gathered by Indian labor, shipped to Britain, finished, and shipped back to India. Foreign direct investment, by contrast, allowed countries like China and South Korea to rapidly move up the value chain. Foreign investors get a return when the foreign company moves up the value chain, even if that takes business away from a company in the investor’s own country.




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