Global free trade is generally considered the dynamic force of unleashing entrepreneurial profit maximization. The businesses operating on the world market are released from national restrictions of social partnership and public responsibility. Production is shifted to countries with the lowest wage level and the lowest social standards. Alongside this building up of production in low-wage countries, production sites are closed in high-wage countries. This development is accompanied by a growing pressure on wages and indirect labour costs. A race to the bottom seems to develop, reducing affluence and social standards in the high-wage countries without involving a perceptible building up of affluence and social standards in the low-wage countries at the same time. Whereas the national welfare state has subjected economic profit maximization to moral regulation, global free trade seems to imply a complete liberation of the economy from any moral restrictions. Nevertheless, this argument applies only inasfar as the national welfare state’s morality is taken as standard. It is, however, an in-group morality whose reverse side is an out-group morality excluding the mass of the world population from the affluence of the rich countries (Weber 1927: 356).
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