Cotton, colonialism and globalization

Ghandi using cotton wheelHere is a quick overview of the cotton trade in this thoughtful post on cotton, colonialism and globalization.

It starts 6,000 years ago with a snippet describing cotton as ‘tree wool’, carries us along the traditions of growing cotton in India and Africa, swings us through British colonialism and industrialization and through America’s slavery driven success with cotton, offers an ascerbic quote while Ghandi is lifting India toward independence, provides a short picture of the world’s current cotton trade, and concludes with serious questions about the tactics of dominant players that remain powerful in a free market that may not be free nor fair.

Different economists have argued that if “free trade” were truly free a lot of developing countries would have better savings, credit institutions, and profitability.

Isn’t it funny how the empires founded on the tight embrace of free trade are so protectionist when it’s something that the third world does better?

And it was in light of government’s protectionist policies that benefitted wealthy elites that Adam Smith wrote Wealth of Nations, which is frequently mis-cited/applied as the “laissez faire” solution to capitalism, when in fact he was talking about reforming mercantilism, government cronyism, and wealth disparities.

As Om Malik discovered, SepiaMutiny has a great post on the role cotton.

Update from previous post:
It appears that many people are still living in the world of the old debate between “the free market” and “socialism”.

but …all societies have always had market economies.

The question is: What SORT of market economy?

The modern market economy with which we are familiar, and for which many argue so hysterically, did not come into existence because of the magical thing called “the free market”.

Rather, the kind of free market with which we are familiar, and which we admire so much, arose in Reformation countries in order to confront and change traditional markets that had simply reinforced entirely unjust hierarchy and elite society.