According to Daniel T. Griswold’s "Trading Tyranny for Freedom,"Griswold suggests that expansion of trade among less urbanized countries supports not only democracy but also respect for human rights. In my opinion, I disagree with his assertion for the following reasons. First, benefits from the trade will only be available to the top classes. Also, human rights will not be promoted through free trade.
First of all, advantages from the free trade will be accessible to only top classes. Griswold mentions that it will boost economic integration, promoting civil and political freedoms. However, the benefits will be lopsided to the groups who have authority and power. To specify, in the democracy country, competition is the means for people to accumulate their own properties. But, if the advantages are only accessible to the high classes, this is not the principle of democracy but communism in which there is no competition. What this means is that it is more beneficial to the people who are already rich, which makes hard to actualize democracy. Thus, the gap between the rich and the poor will be wider, making people uneven. Countries in south east Asia, rising with new capitalism is a good example of this.
In addition, human rights will not be encouraged by the free trade because factory workers’ rights are violated in some countries due to the drastic increase quota. In other words, third world countries such as China, employ cheap labors. The working conditions in this country are harsh for people to work that accidents happen frequently. Also, people live barely with the low amount of wage, not to mention that the working hours are long. Most importantly, the age of workers working in the field is disregarded. For example, according to Joong Ang Daily, a seventeen year old factory worker in China was crushed to death when the machine malfunctioned. This suggests that the working conditions are harsh. The investigators say that he was hired illegally at the age of fifteen, which is below the legal age limit. Labor unions have been coping with Chinese government about the labor disputes. Hence, human rights will not be protected since there is no labor law in certain undeveloped countries.
To sum up, I strongly disagree to Griswold’s view of good impacts of free trade on democracy. The advantages of free trade will be monopolized by the top classes who have power and, will create a wider distance between the poor and the rich. Additionally, I believe that free trade does not encourage human rights because labor law is not established and the working conditions for the lower classes are inhumane.
Joo Mi-jung Yonsei University
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