Thursday, March 13, 2003

Final post on negotiations

My old college buddy (usually at Stumblingtongue, currently down because of an ICANN dispute) sent me a link to this pdf primer on negotiations. It's very clear, even though it uses words like "adumbrated".

It stops short of discussing coalitions though, which is a shame because they are an interesting thing to think about these days. The most striking feature of many of the anti-US/war/globalization demonstrations since Seattle onwards has been how disparate the participants and demands have been. Some people may construe this as evidence of strong solidarity that cuts across multiple groups, but the more mundane truth is that since these various groups, at base, have divergent interests, their coalitions is superficial and therefore brittle. Accede to the whole and they will fracture and bicker amongst themselves, make an offer to any component and they will defect. I think commentators who attribute the scale of these gatherings to lower coordination costs because of the Internet and cell phones are correct.

The fact that those protested against have done so little to fragment this brittle coalition suggests they either don't view it as a serious problem or are inept. Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales, two professors from Chicago GSB, recently talked about their new book "Saving Capitalism from Capitalists" where they argued that free markets were a public good. I think this is a very nuanced way to characterize true "Chicago-School" thinking, instead of the "no government" straw man popular in some circles.


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