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Free Trade Reimagined: The World Division of Labor and the Method of Economics
Unger, Roberto Mangabeira

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Über den Autor

Roberto Mangabeira Unger served until recently as Brazil's Minister of Strategic Affairs. He is widely regarded as one of the leading theorists of society in the world. His two most recent books are The Left Alternative and The Self Awakened: Pragmatism Unbound.


Themes and Scope of this Book 1 Chapter 1 7 Troubles: The Enigmas of Free Trade Familiar Problems, Disturbing Solutions 7 The History of Free Trade and Protection: Subversive Lessons 15 The Authority of Free Trade Doctrine: Reasons Amounting to Objections 20 Chapter 2 25 Troubles: The Incompleteness of Comparative Advantage The Doctrine of Comparative Advantage 25 Incompleteness: Indeterminacy Resulting from Failure to Justify Unique Assignments of Comparative Advantage 28 Incompleteness: Confusion Resulting from Uncertainty about the Limits of Our Power Collectively to Shape Comparative Advantage 36 Incompleteness: Embarrassment Resulting from the Assumption that the World Is Divided into Sovereign States 44 Beyond Incompleteness: The Sham Similarity between Postmarginalist Economics and Physics 51 Condemned to Eternal Infancy: Implications of the Method Inaugurated by Marginalism 56 A Note Relating Ideas in this Book to the Dominant Tradition of Thinking about Comparative Advantage 65 Chapter 3 77 Ideas In Search of a Point of View 77 Specialization and Discovery:When Competition Inhibits Self-Transformation 78 Politics over Economics:When Restraints on Trade Imply No Surrender to Special Interests or Costly Dogmas 81 Order and Revision:When Free Trade Strengthens the Capacity for Self-Transformation 87 Alternative Free Trade, Alternative Globalizations: The Market Liberated from the Doctrine of the Market 90 The Division of Labor Reimagined and Remade: From the Pin Factory to the Factory of Innovation 95 A Central Conception:Mind against Context 100 Chapter 4 110 Theses Nature of These Theses 110 The Thesis of Relative Advantage 110 The Thesis of Politics over Economics 138 The Thesis of Self-Revision 150 Chapter 5 166 Proposals From an Analysis to a Program 166 The World Trade Regime and Its Reconstruction 167 Free Trade Reformed: The Reconciliation of Alternatives 179 Free Trade Reformed: Experimenting with the Form of the Market Economy 185 Free Trade Reformed: Free Movement of Things and Money Chastened, Free Movement of People and Ideas Enhanced 193 Free Trade Reformed: From Wage Slavery to Free Labor 198 The Troubles of Free Trade and the Possibilities of Economics 213 Name Index 223 Subject Index 225


Free Trade Reimagined begins with a sustained criticism of the heart of the emerging world economy, the theory and practice of free trade. Roberto Mangabeira Unger does not, however, defend protectionism against free trade. Instead, he attacks and revises the terms on which the traditional debate between free traders and protectionists has been joined. Unger's intervention in this major contemporary debate serves as a point of departure for a proposal to rethink the basic ideas with which we explain economic activity. He suggests, by example as well as by theory, a way of understanding contemporary economies that is both more realistic and more revealing of hidden possibilities for transformation than are the established forms of economics.