Bad Samaritans was an introduction to open-minded economists and political free-thinkers to Ha-Joon Chang’s theories of the dangers of free-trade. With irreverent wit, an engagingly personal style, and a keen grasp of history, Chang blasts holes in the “World Is Flat” orthodoxy of Thomas Friedman and others who argue that only unfettered capitalism and wide-open international trade can lift struggling nations out of poverty. On the contrary, Chang shows, today’s economic superpowers-from the U.S. to Britain to his native Korea-all attained prosperity by shameless protectionism and government intervention in industry, a fact conveniently forgotten now that they want to compete in foreign markets. Chang’s cage-rattling, contrarian history of global capital appeals to readers new to economic theory as well as members of the old school looking for a fresh take
Starred Review. In the 1950s, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world, suffering the aftereffects of decades of brutal Japanese colonialism and war with its northern counterpart. During his childhood, Chang (Kicking Away the Ladder), a respected economist at the University of Cambridge, witnessed the beginnings of Korea’s postwar economic miracle as Gen. Park Chung-Hee’s dictatorship (despite its corrupt machinations) set the economic groundwork that would lift Korea out of poverty. Though Korea’s strategies are heretical to first world, free-market economists, Chang argues that the world’s wealthiest nations historically relied on the same heavy-handed protectionist approaches in their quests for economic hegemony. These wealthy, first world economies, which preach free market and free trade to the poor countries in order to capture larger shares of the latter’s markets and to pre-empt the emergence of possible competitors are Chang’s bad Samaritans. Chang builds his outsider stance through a history of capitalism and globalization and stories of other struggling countries’ economic transformations. The resulting polemic about the shortcomings of neoliberal economic theory’s belief in unlimited free-market competition and its effect on the developing world is provocative and may hold the key to similar miracles for some of the world’s most troubled economies.
A rising young star in the field of economics attacks the free-trade orthodoxy of The World Is Flat head-on-a crisp, contrarian history of global capitalism.
One economist has called Ha-Joon Chang “the most exciting thinker our profession has turned out in the past fifteen years.” With Bad Samaritans, this provocative scholar bursts into the debate on globalization and economic justice.
Using irreverent wit, an engagingly personal style, and a battery of examples, Chang blasts holes in the “World Is Flat” orthodoxy of Thomas Friedman and other liberal economists who argue that only unfettered capitalism and wide-open international trade can lift struggling nations out of poverty. On the contrary, Chang shows, today’s economic superpowers-from the U.S. to Britain to his native Korea-all attained prosperity by shameless protectionism and government intervention in industry. We have conveniently forgotten this fact, telling ourselves a fairy tale about the magic of free trade and-via our proxies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization-ramming policies that suit ourselves down the throat of the developing world.
Unlike typical economists who construct models of how the marketplace should work, Chang examines the past: what has actually happened. His pungently contrarian history demolishes one pillar after another of free-market mythology. We treat patents and copyrights as sacrosanct-but developed our own industries by studiously copying others’ technologies. We insist that centrally planned economies stifle growth-but many developing countries had higher GDP growth before they were pressured into deregulating their economies. Both justice and common sense, Chang argues, demand that we reevaluate the policies we force on nations that are struggling to follow in our footsteps.
Praise for Bad Samaritans
“A smart, lively and provocative book that offers us compelling new ways of looking at globalization.” – Joseph Stiglitz
“I recommend this book to people who have any interest in these issues. i.e. everyone…” — Bob Geldof
“Every orthodoxy needs effective critics. Ha-Joon Chang is probably the world’s most effective critic of globalisation. He does not deny the benefits to developing countries of integration into the world economy. But he draws on the lessons of history to argue that they must be allowed to integrate on their own terms”– Martin Wolf
“This is a marvellous book. Well researched, panoramic in its scope and beautifully written, Bad Samaritans is the perfect riposte to devotees of a one-size-fits-all model of growth and globalisation. I strongly urge you to read it”. Larry Elliott
“Lucid, deeply informed, and enlivened with striking illustrations, this penetrating study could be entitled ˜Economics in the Real World. Chang reveals the yawning gap between standard doctrines concerning economic development and what really has taken place from the origins of the industrial revolution until today. His incisive analysis shows how, and why, prescriptions based on reigning doctrines have caused severe harm, particularly to the most vulnerable and defenseless, and are likely to continue to do so.”–Noam Chomsky