Economic Globalization and Natural Law Theology

Ivan Strenski


Economic globalization has always required ideological legitimation. In the first instance this legitimation was explicitly theological; today in Roman Catholic circles, it continues to be. The first modern legitimations of what would become economic globalization were made upon the universalist bases of the "law of nations," a derivation from "natural law" as it was conceptualized in the 13th  century by Thomas Aquinas and interpreted by his 16th century Scholastic successors, the Spanish Dominican and Jesuit jurists of the so-called School of Salamanca. The work of the Spanish was both continued a century later, and adapted to Protestant theological exigencies, by the Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius, and others. These early, theologically informed justifications of economic globalization are the bases for what has come to be known as "the law of nations" and hence our traditions of international law. Even today under conditions of so-called secularization of international law, legitimations of globalization retain traces of reliance on natural law, and thus to their original religious bases.

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