The free-trade system is also criticized for promoting ‘wage-slavery’, whereby human beings are reduced to mechanical automatons as they go through the drudgery of work each day. Here too, the slavery is not so much express as it is veiled. Instead of use of violent force, the threat of employment and attendant destitution serves as the whip. Those who support free-trade capitalism, on the other hand, have a different take on the subject:
“As for employment, accepting the best (or only) offer available, as unattractive as it might be, is not the equivalent of slavery-a situation in which actual violence, or the threat of it, is used to compel people to labor without pay and without the option to seek other work. That circumstances limit one’s choices do not prove that one has neither the capacity nor the opportunity to choose, since everyone’s choices are limited.” (Levite, 2002, p.32)
There is copious evidence to support the view that global free trade has made major industrial cities across the world prosperous and well developed. In other words, free trade across nations can be credited for McDonaldization of the world, which can be seen as a sign of development. For example, the McDonald’s restaurant chain, which was started in the United States, is now ubiquitous in all major cities of the world. The same could be said about other major consumer brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nike, Reebok, KFC, etc (Rogers, 2003, p.1184). On the flip side, the unique architectural style that is associated with different regions of the world is covered or replaced by displays of above mentioned brands, making the city lose its uniqueness and visual identity. This trend could be observed in capital cities of countries such as India, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile and others (Rogers, 2003, p.1184). On the positive side, these developing countries also seem to have benefited from globalization in certain other ways. For example,
“During the early 1970s, more than half its population was defined as poor; average life expectancy was 48 years, and only 40 per cent of the adult population was literate. Today, the percentage of the poor has decreased to about one fourth of the population, life expectancy has increased to 65 years, and about 70 per cent of adults are literate. This unprecedented decline in poverty in Asia and the Pacific has been described as one of the largest decreases in mass poverty in human history. Of all the world’s regions, according to report, Asia also ranks lowest in almost all types of crime.” (Foreign Policy, 2008, 70)
India and China are key cases in studying the effects of free trade. With abundance of cheap labor, India and China are primed to assume leadership position in another 10-15 years. India has a huge pool of skilled workers who have the added advantage of proficiency in English language. The re-election of Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister is also a positive development from an economic perspective, for it was he who initiated India as a participant in globalization in 1991 (Winters & Yusuf, 2007). China, on the other hand, started participating in the process of globalization much before India did. As a result, their economy is more than twice that of India and is catching up fast with that of the United States and Japan. Some of the South American countries such as Venezuela and Russia (rich in oil resources) and Brazil (rich in natural resources) also pose a threat to American domination of global economy. In fact, American media believes that the threat will come from BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). The South East Asian region also poses a collective threat.
Talking of China, ever since the communist revolution of the late 1940s, and the subsequent formation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949, many positive developments have taken place both within the party as well as for Chinese citizens. The CCP has to be credited for bringing about a degree of economic and political stability in the half century of their reign. From its early days, when the party and its members were still learning the ropes of governance it has now become a sophisticated and well coordinated political machine. The integration of the erstwhile closed and protectionist Chinese economy with that of the larger global economy in the last three decades is the pinnacle of the CPC rule (Mcmillan & Powles, 2009).