The next such revolution, likely to occur in the 21st century, will challenge the economic implications of the nation state. It will focus on the injustice that follows from the fact that, entirely by chance, some are born in poor countries and others in rich countries. As more people work for multinational firms and get to know more people from other countries, our sense of justice is being affected.
That’s the Royal ‘We’ again. The Guardian loves this so…
The next revolution will not abolish the consequences of place of birth, but the privileges of nationhood will be tempered. While the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment around the world seems to point in the opposite direction, the sense of injustice will be amplified as communications continue to grow. Ultimately, recognition of wrong will wreak big changes.
Frankly, I’ve found my own sense of injustice being affected not one whit by being able to read the Tweets of Third World dwellers of their advocates on social media.
…the most important steps to address birthplace injustice probably will not target immigration. Instead, they will focus on fostering economic freedom.
In 1948, Paul A Samuelson’s “factor-price equalisation theorem” lucidly showed that under conditions of unlimited free trade without transportation costs (and with other idealised assumptions), market forces would equalise the prices of all factors of production, including the wage rate for any standardised kind of labour, around the world. In a perfect world, people don’t have to move to another country to get a higher wage. Ultimately, they need only be able to participate in producing output that is sold internationally.
Yes, maybe, but unfortunately, those transportation cost are going to remain for a significant period of time. We don’t have that perfect world, and it’s likely we never will.
Ultimately, the next revolution will likely stem from daily interactions on computer monitors with foreigners whom we can see are intelligent, decent people – people who happen, through no choice of their own, to be living in poverty. This should lead to better trade agreements, which presuppose the eventual development of orders of magnitude more social insurance to protect people within a country during the transition to a more just global economy.
I’m all in favour of better trade agreements. But I haven’t seen any sign whatsoever that the digital revolution will overcome the basic problem of getting goods from A to B cheaply enough to make a difference.