Friday, July 01, 2016

Where have all the anti-globalization activists gone?

Over the last decade or so, every time there's a WTO meeting or G8 summit, a lot of protesters show up to bring attention to some very real concerns about free trade agreements. Most recently there have been a number of protests against the TPP.

Globalization has made the world richer, but the way it has been implemented has given much more power and wealth to corporations, and diminished the ability of nations to regulate activities within their borders. At this very moment, for example, a Canadian pipeline company is suing the US government for $15B for not approving a very unpopular pipeline proposal - and it's suing based on the rules of NAFTA.

So now Britain has voted to leave the EU. Polls showed that "the top issue among those voting to go was Britain's right to act independently" (link).

The deficiencies of the EU are widely recognized. As Paul Krugman wrote recently:
The E.U. is deeply dysfunctional and shows few signs of reforming.

...Today’s E.U. is the land of the euro, a major mistake compounded by Germany’s insistence on turning the crisis the single currency wrought into a morality play of sins (by other people, of course) that must be paid for with crippling budget cuts. Britain had the good sense to keep its pound, but it’s not insulated from other problems of European overreach, notably the establishment of free migration without a shared government.

...The most frustrating thing about the E.U.: Nobody ever seems to acknowledge or learn from mistakes. If there’s any soul-searching in Brussels or Berlin about Europe’s terrible economic performance since 2008, it’s very hard to find. And I feel some sympathy with Britons who just don’t want to be tied to a system that offers so little accountability, even if leaving is economically costly. (link)
Soon after England and Wales voted to leave the EU, Larry Elliott, Economics Editor at the Guardian, wrote an article in the Guardian titled "Brexit is a Rejection of Globalisation" (link). He talks about the free trade movements of the last 30 years resulting in "a much diminished role for nation states". Elliott argues that the EU failed:
Jobs, living standards and welfare states were all better protected in the heyday of nation states... than they have been in the age of globalisation. Unemployment across the eurozone is more than 10%. Italy’s economy is barely any bigger now than it was when the euro was created. Greece’s economy has shrunk by almost a third. Austerity has eroded welfare provision. Labour market protections have been stripped away.

...Torsten Bell, the director of the Resolution Foundation thinktank, analysed the voting patterns in the referendum and found that those parts of Britain with the strongest support for Brexit were those that had been poor for a long time. The result was affected by “deeply entrenched national geographical inequality”, he said.

There has been much lazy thinking in the past quarter of a century about globalisation. As Bell notes, it is time to rethink the assumption that a “flexible globalised economy can generate prosperity that is widely shared”.
So do you see my problem? Brexit is such an enormous boon for anti-globalization that it is being heralded as a reversal of the entire globalization trend. Why aren't the anti-globalization organizations marching in the streets?

I can answer that question, but it saddens me. Over the last week, "conventional wisdom" has decided that everyone who supports Brexit is racist. I have been practically spat on because of the sentiments I expressed in my last post (link), that "my head said Remain but my heart said Leave". One supposed old friend wrote:
60+ year old citizens of the UK who voted to leave (and they are the majority of wanna-be leavers) are delusional. They want to restore that tiny little island to its imperial greatness, or at least to its completely diminished splendour during WWII. They want an England with white rulers and black slaves.And of course the slaves are all rapists, and none of the white rulers is. Foreigners are all murderers and rapists. So the tiny little island may be able to pull in tourists to see its nearly dead monarch until she dies. Then the itiny little island dies. And this is where your heart is? I pity your heart. Unbelievable.
with a followup email the next day:
Fuck your heart Dwarf.
Every day recently, there are articles about thousands of people protesting Brexit; none about people supporting it. I just googled "Brexit" and the first hundred articles were overwhelmingly negative, largely based on the personalities of its spokespeople. The stock market in Britain is soaring (the FTSE 100 is at a 5-year high), but even that is being spun as negative with repeated claims that panicked Britishers are buying up everything in sight - which is a totally ridiculous argument.

Not many people, apparently, have the courage to take on the anti-Brexit crowd.

Even while arguing against Brexit, people could be starting a discussion of the ways the EU needs to improve. Instead, we have vitriolic articles about one person who said he regretted his vote to leave, that is magically turned into a claim that most leave-voters regret their decision; claims that an uptick in google searches for "European Union" in England means that those who voted Leave somehow didn't know what the EU is; and on and on.

I am confident that the economic shock of Brexit will soon subside. I am not so sure that the world community will ever regain its sanity about what just happened, and why.

Oh, and for those clinging to the notion that Brexit was purely motivated by ignorance and racism, read this article written by Larry Elliott a month before the vote, in which he argues for Leave: Brexit May Be the Best Answer to a Dying Eurozone.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The global establishment is comprised of expert balkanizers. To them it's all a simple matter of divide and conquer: Union vs. non-union. Worker vs. poor. Middle-class vs. working class. Young vs. old. Their goal is to break civilization down to 'family-values' units and rule above the fray with various free-trade and investor-protection treaties that remove democratic authority over all things economic.

With the Brexit they took neoliberal economic ideology and made it about 'peace, love and unity.' They succeeded to a certain point in driving a wedge between a largely uninformed youth and older progressives who have seen it all before. But that doesn't mean they get the final word.

With Bernie Sanders, they said his followers were 'racist, misogynist Bernie Bros.' (Here millennials WERE being informed and led by an old progressive fighting against neoliberal establishment corruption since Reagan.)

What Bernie Sanders and the Brexit really signify is that there's an enormous will among the people to be led: i.e., they have lost faith in their democratic leaders who have sold them down the river for promissory bribes (paid post-public-service in speaking fees, consulting fees and token board positions.)

So like the 1930s, when a movement swept the robber barons from power through FDR and Keynesian 'New Deal' economics (which created unprecedented living standards); a movement is forming now to do the exact same thing. Except this time it will be even more powerful because the world's democratic population is connected together across the social media.

I think "The Young Turks" (an objective, progressive, news-media organization over YouTube) is a good place to keep an eye out for developments on the movement. They do a lot of good work exposing and debunking establishment news media propaganda. (The main guy Cenk Ugyar was a journalist for MSNBC who was canned for being critical of Democratic party policy. Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk [part of TYT Network] is also very good.)

-Bernie Orbust

Anonymous said...

BTW, I found out why the establishment plutocrats wanted EU countries flooded with immigrants via free-market deregulated borders: to drive down wages. In a country like Canada, we have to export jobs we can't export via free-trade outsourcing with Temporary Foreign Workers. In Europe, there is no red tape. Just a flood of permanent foreign workers. (And it should go without saying that one doesn't have to be a racist to want some kind of control over immigration. Canada is not a racist country for not adopting immigration anarchy. [Although our treatment of First Nations is a different story...])

So the establishment uses whatever kind of manipulations they feel will work. Like with Hillary Clinton. Some talking head puppets have actually suggested that not voting for her is misogynist. They labeled Bernie Sanders supporters 'racist, misogynist Bernie Bros.' A lot of wretchedly-twisted PC-outrage button-pressing.

Now they have European youth believing that free market reforms meant to loot wealth and plunder wages and benefits with a flood of cheap labor (producing towering youth unemployment) is the politically correct thing to do. The EU is the "most progressive project in the history of the world." It's all about multiculturalism. Tolerance. Anti-racism. Except it's not. That's only the sales pitch.

Long story short, once Europeans find out that they've been hoodwinked, the Benevolent Empire is going to collapse like the 2008 derivatives market: both founded on outrageous lies and fraud.

The Big Problem (one could call it) is how the whole thing unravels. (Which it will, one way or another, within the next decade.) During the 1930s, when looting robber-baron liquidationists (aptly self-titled) caused economic collapse, some nations rejected capitalism and democracy for fascism. That produced world war. But it also produced FDR's 'New Deal' that created modern living standards (rejecting free-market capitalism for actual democracy.)

So the goal is to bring about the 'New Deal 2' before the next financial meltdown to: a) prevent the meltdown which would b) prevent fascist revolutions from breaking out which would c) prevent WW3 and the Anthropocene. (An Axis/Allied cold war wouldn't last for long given fascist leaders are crazy revenge-driven fanatics. Big difference between Trump and Hitler with the nuclear codes. The former wants to turn American democracy into a reality TV show, not all his mansions, hotels and golf courses into a smoldering radioactive pile of dust.)

(I know, I'm a racist misogynist for not getting hysterical when saying something about Trump. I must be a Trump supporter for saying there's a difference between someone like him and someone like Hitler.)

-Bernie Orbust