To the Editor:
Jagdish Bhagwati ("Coping with Antiglobalization," January/February 2002) not only sets up straw men to rebuke and imaginary doctrines to dispute, but by concluding with an appeal that global corporations "be defended against ignorant, ideological, or strategic assaults," he leaves the reader wondering who might mount such a defense, of what it might consist, and what sort of political outlook equates activism and dissent with assault.
Belittling critics of globalization as "kids," "left-wing students," and "young people," Bhagwati traces the source of their allegedly ignorant ideology to the university, where they are seduced by deconstructionists and taught to prefer sociology over economics as an ethical guide. "English, comparative literature, and sociology are all fertile breeding grounds for ... dissent," Bhagwati asserts. Can denunciations of the cosmopolitans who corrupt our youth with seditious ideas be far behind?
The street demonstrations Bhagwati deplores that have followed the World Trade Organization from venue to venue are manifestations of grave doubts about the corporate- and creditor-friendly policies of international trade and financial organizations. In the community of the doubtful, there are not only students but scholars, lawyers, and even economists. Not to mention a few Indonesians and Argentines. Such dissent has already provoked useful policy discussion and change, and Bhagwati fails to notice that the institutions he has appointed himself to defend take the critics more seriously than he does.
R. D. ENO