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Capsule Review

Taking Trade to the Streets: The Lost History of Public Efforts to Shape Globalization

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Taking Trade to the Streets: The Lost History of Public Efforts to Shape Globalization

Taking Trade to the Streets: The Lost History of Public Efforts to Shape Globalization
By Susan Ariel Aaronson
University of Michigan Press, 2001 256 pp. $28.95 Purchase

The 1999 antiglobalization demonstrations in Seattle and others since seem to presage a new era of rising discontent. Not quite so, argues Aaronson. In the United States and around the industrialized world, individuals and nongovernmental groups have long attempted to shape foreign economic relationships and champion regulations to protect social values. She traces the actions of American trade-agreement critics to focus on the ratification battles over the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Tokyo and Uruguay rounds of multilateral trade pacts. Aaronson maintains that today's trade protests have their roots in the 1970s, when governments first successfully reduced tariffs to historic lows and then turned to address nontariff barriers such as health and safety regulations. Today's trade critics are not primarily traditional trade protectionists but activists who see such trade agreements as threats to social and environmental regulation. What is new in Seattle-era trade politics, however, is the global movement against greater deregulation. With a historical angle, Aaronson helps deepen the current debate.

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