Robert Wright in the New York Times today makes the case that markets are the way to bring freedom, not invasions… or sanctions. In The Market Shall Set You Free, he argues that President Bush and his neocon advisers, though professing a desire to see freedom in other countries are ignoring or threatening to impede the greatest force for freedom: the growth of markets. “You won’t hear much about such progress from neoconservatives, who prefer to stress how desperately the global fight for freedom needs American power behind it (and who last week raved about an inaugural speech that vowed to furnish this power). And, to be sure, neoconservatives can rightly point to lots of oppression and brutality in China and elsewhere – as can liberal human-rights activists. But anyone who talks as if Chinese freedom hasn’t grown since China went capitalist is evincing a hazy historical memory and, however obliquely, is abetting war.”
Wright goes on to point out that economic sanctions impede the growth of markets, and therefore the growth of liberty. To say you desire freedom in a country and then argue for sanctions on that country is contradictory.
It is great to see opposition to war (a “leftist” position) and support for markets and free trade (a “rightist” position) compellingly harmonized. The mutually reinforcing natures of peace and free markets and, conversely, war and State domination have long been a theme for libertarians. Rothbard wrote, for example: “War is the great excuse for mobilizing all the energies and resources of the nation, in the name of patriotic rhetoric, under the aegis and dictation of the State apparatus.”