that of the anti-Corn Law crusaders.rnWhen Bill Clinton entered the White House in 1993, hernhad the opportunit’ to change policy directions. Instead, hernmade the fateful decision to submit the NAFTA scheme forrncongressional approval. When grass-roots opposition emerged,rnthe usually indecisive Clinton plunged onward. To sell NAFTA,rnhe opened the federal purse and indulged in presidentialrnvote-buving on a scale unprecedented in American history.rnLater, when a plummeting peso jeopardized Mexico’s economicrnand political stability. Bill Clinton diverted some $20 billionrnin Treasury funds to bail out the Mexican currency and rescuernAmerican speculators.rnClinton and his aides also bear final responsibility for thernUruguay Round GATT agreement, establishing the WorldrnTrade Organization, and further exposing the Lhiited States torncheap-labor imports. While multinational corporations hopernto beneht from binding dispute-resolution procedures and improNcdrnaccess to emerging markets, some 800,000 textile andrnapparel workers are expected to lose their jobs over the nextrndecade.rnUndaunted by his “successes,” the President accelerated hisrnquixotic quest for free trade with developing nations. At thernMiami Summit he proposed a Western Hemisphere blocrnextending from Alaska to Argentina; in Jakarta, Indonesia, hernespoused a pact with ASEAN countries. In June 1995, his aidesrnbegan negotiations to extend NAFTA to Chile before Congressrnenacted fast-track negotiating authorities. Thev also askedrnCongress to extend NAFTA tariff benefits to the CaribbeanrnBasin countries. And the administration explored a free-tradernpact with Western European nations. For Clinton, like Cobden,rnfree trade had become a magical potion for transformingrnthe worid in the post-Cold War era, and for promoting prosperityrnand democracy.rnThe President and other architects of the new economic orderrnproudly construed their actions as necessary and pragmaticrnresponses to the global technological revolution. But it wouldrnbe wrong to attribute the “triumph” of market internationalismrnsolely to inexorable change and impersonal forces. Also influencingrnboth timing and outcome was a seismic shift in Americanrnpolicies, the result of Cobdenite ideas gaining influencernamong the governing and corporate elite.rnBacking for Clinton’s free-trade agenda comes from arncosmopolitan group of professionals and speculators luredrnby glittering business opportunities in the new internationalrneconomic order. For these well-educated stakeholders thernneo-Cobdenite world of deregulated borders offers excitingrnshort-term possibilities, including access to low-cost labor inrndeveloping countries. Eager to harvest riches, modern-dayrnMammon worshipers exhibit little concern for the long-termrninterests of the American nation or the health of communities.rn”Segment, Concentrate and Dominate” is the strategy ofrnArkansas’ Tyson Foods. According to its annual report, Clintonrnpatron Don Tyson envisages chicken on ever’ Chinese, Mexican,rnand Russian plate. So, in similar ways, do other wellheeledrnpatrons in Hollywood, Wall Street, Silicon Valley,rnacademic ivory towers, and in globally mobile law and consultingrnfirms look outward for profits.rnNeo-Cobdenism also enjoys noisy support from importersrnand retailers eager to help greedy consumers stretch their dollarsrnat checkout counters. At shopping malls everywhere priceconsciousrncustomers can load up on the world’s most affordablernproducts, cheap imports. They can fill shopping carts with apparelrnfrom Sri Lanka, toys and shoes from China, fresh-cutrnflowers from Colombia and Kenya, and so forth. But it is myopicrnto e’aluate the new international economic order merelyrnfrom the antage point of consumers and other trade-winners.rnFor man Americans—the trade losers—Bill Clinton’srndream world has a dark dimension. The unpleasant reality isrnthat millions of ordinary Americans cannot expect net benefitsrnfrom Cobdenism. For them the “dramatic” effects of freetradernpacts with low-income countries involve job dislocationsrnand falling incomes. As much as half the American workrnforce—the half without any college education—has reason tornfear the downward escalator. Without border controls to insulaternworkers in high-income countries from cheap-labor imports,rnAmerica’s low-skilled workers seem destined to eonrpctc,rnas Thomas Carlvle once said in an English context, with de’elopingrnnations for production of the “cheap and the nast’.”rnThe triumph of Cobdenism in America ma’ prove a Pvrrhicrnvictor. It corrodes the social compact, disrupts the bondsrnof communit life, and it punctures the American dream thatrnaverage Americans can through hard work still achieve a middle-rnclass life. When the dust settles, and historians view eventsrnin perspective, they may cite Clinton’s trade leadership as anotherrnexample of the “McNamara syndrome.” In his memoirs,rnformer Defense Secretary Robert McNamara acknowledgesrnthat the “best and brightest” prosecuted Lyndon Johnson’s warrnin Vietnam v’ithout knowing what they were doing. America’srnelite ignored historical lessons and placed blind faith in unpnnenrntheories and flawed data. In this context, Senator FritzrnHollings of South Carolina may have expressed the real meaningrnof Clinton’s trade policy: “Free trade [is] the new Vietnamrnpolicy…. You destroy your economy to save the wf)rid.”rnHas the triumph of Cobdenism produced an unstable andrnanxious world in which unskilled workers in high-income countriesrnface declining incomes and the downward harmonizationrnof wages and working conditions with developing countries?rnMany unskilled workers, as well as middle-level managers andrnprofessionals, seem to associate their economic plight with increasedrninternational competition. Pundits have obser’ed thatrnthe widespread political alienation found in Northern Hemispherernnations from Japan to North America and Western Europernduring the niid-1990’s reflects widespread popular fear ofrnfree markets and globalization. Even the London Economist, arnjournal founded by Cobdenitcs, concedes that “low-skilledrnworkers… are right to be worried.” It also warned that “somernoccupations higher up the earnings ladder will also feel thernforce” of Third Worid competition.rnAmong academic economists, the profession most unwaveringrnin its support for Cobdenism, an important new book associatesrnfree trade v’ith increased poverty, alienation, and socialrninstability. Adrian Wood’s path-breaking analysis, North-SouthrnTrade, Employment and Inequality, notes that the removal ofrntrade barriers in Northern Hemisphere countries has reducedrndemand for unskilled labor and aggraated “social corrosion.”rnCrime, drug abuse, and racial tension he attributes to the surgernin imports from low labor-cost countries.rnOf course. Bill Clinton and his subordinates claim that freerntrade will generate many high-paying jobs for ordinary Americans.rnBut evidence to support their faith appears to rest largelyrnon theoretical proofs, rosy thinking, and inspired political advocacy,rnnot empirical data. Manufacturing jobs in America,rnwhich typically pa’ about 30 percent more than service-sectorrnOCTOBER 1995/15rnrnrn