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Economic justice and free trade: An analysis of the libertarian foundations of the free market paradigm

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • While liberal political theory tacitly governs the domestic policy concerning international trade advocated by influential analysts such as Professor Michael E. Porter of the Harvard Business School, libertarian political theory animates the international trading regime. This incongruity merits criticism in the context of world poverty as do the libertarian predicates upon which the global free market paradigm is based. The libertarian political philosophy inherent in the paradigm means that little significance is attached to disparity in economic resources, market opportunity, and bargaining power affecting even the poorest of countries. As a result, the global free market paradigm validates a strategy of reductionism, postponement, unsubstantiated meliorism and utter apathy in acknowledging the likely trading prospects of much of the world. Problems such as donor fatigue, political and bureaucratic corruption within a recipient country, as well as the failure of many past efforts to foster development suggest that no easy antidote exists for national destitution but this does not mean that the paradigm must carry the day in its most radical form. An easily taken first step is to replace the paradigm's more extreme libertarianism with the positive economic nationalism espoused by U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

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    Article (Published)
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  • License
    © 1996 American Journal of Economics & Sociology. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • O'Byrne, S. (1996). Economic justice and free trade: An analysis of the libertarian foundations of the free market paradigm. American Journal of Economics & Sociology, 55(1), 1-15. Retrieved from