Sunday, January 21, 2007
The Shogun Tokugawa cut off Japan from the outside world; the isolation lasted some 150 years
Can you imagine living on an isolated island kingdom and being cut off from the outside? Japan lived that way in the 1700's.
All the first world countries (the UK, United States, etc.) trade in a world economy, says Wikipedia.org. Some will argue that removing oneself from such an economy could be potentially helpful.
The consensus amongst most economists is that such a policy is detrimental, and point to the mercantilism of the pre-industrial era as the classic example. Countries and regions generally enjoy a comparative advantage over others in some area.
Free trade between countries allows each country to do what it does best, and benefit from the products and services that others do best. Protectionism prevents this process, it is argued, making people poorer than they would be otherwise.
On the other hand, non-interventionism generally benefits a country by reducing both military spending (as it is limited to defensive purposes) and the chances of provoking an attack (by not meddling in foreign intrigue.)
From 1641 to 1853, the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan enforced a policy which it called sakoku. The policy prohibited foreign contact except with China, Korea, and Netherlands. During this time, the culture of Japan developed in ways mostly free of influence from the outside world and had one of the longest stretches of peace in history; however, in the absence of modernization, Japan eventually fell prey to foreign powers, and the harsh regime of economic and military development that Japan subsequently imposed on itself worked to modernize and militarize Japanese society.
United States non-interventionism -
Following the sacrifices in the World War I, the United States population turned to isolationism during the 1920s, opposing any action by the government that would drag the country into another European war. This isolationist tendency led to the imposition of tariffs, thought to be a significant factor in causing the Great Depression.
American isolationism came to an end during World War II, particularly following the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.