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But I find the identification of socialist policies (let's call them by their true name) with protectionism bizarre.

One of the key points made by Polanyi in questioning market fundamentalism, was the protectionism is natural, while lazziez faire is planned.  Which is to say the lazziez faire can only occur under a set of conditions where things like the limited liability company, strong contract law, and stable property rights exist.

So lazziez faire requires state intervention in order to exist.  Can you imagine the cost if the limited liability insurance provided by governments to publically owned companies had to underwritten by private insurers?  Or would they even be able to find an insurer willing to take that risk at any cost?

Remember that socialism and protectionism come from much the same place, social self defense against the tendency of the market to break all things down to matters of maxmizing utility regardless of the human cost.  

It's the triumph of the formal over the substantive (Weber), so that unmitigated capitalism falls prey to sacrifice the human aspect of life in pursuit of ideological goals.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Tue Jul 17th, 2007 at 02:49:09 PM EST
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Protectionism assumes there's such a thing as a nation state, and that introducing barriers to trade will increase the prosperity of a state. Except to the extent that a political mechanism exists by which barriers can be agreed and enforced, it has nothing specific to say about the internal politics of that state.

That's why I found the assumption bizarre. Even if there are historical reasons for assuming they come from the same place - which I think is a fair point, even if I don't agree that the reasons are all that relevant today - there's still the problem that we're really talking about a complicated collection of issues here.

Simple trade tariffs and capital extraction are only notionally connected. You can certainly have either without the other, and you can find either or both within nation states that tend towards progressive politics.

The underlying point is that thinking solely in terms of free trade vs laissez faire is a somewhat old fashioned world view when capital is bouncing around the planet at near instantaneous speeds.

"Will my CD player cost me an extra 3%?' is much less relevant to local and world politics than 'Who profits from the profit on it?'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jul 17th, 2007 at 04:28:49 PM EST
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The underlying point is that thinking solely in terms of free trade vs laissez faire is a somewhat old fashioned world view when capital is bouncing around the planet at near instantaneous speeds.

I agree and would go one step further to add "interest groups" and hence politics to the whole equation.  The US, for example, champions free trade in the information and knowledge intensive sectors while showing itself very reluctant (along with Europe) to do the same in the agricultural sector (which is of prime importance to many poor developing countries).

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne

by maracatu on Tue Jul 17th, 2007 at 05:49:46 PM EST
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...champions free trade in the information and knowledge intensive sectors while showing itself very reluctant (along with Europe) to do the same in the agricultural sector...

There may be a natural reflex, as in being able to feed ones self, involved here.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Jul 17th, 2007 at 07:59:20 PM EST
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You mean we can't eat dollars (or euros?)

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Tue Jul 17th, 2007 at 08:03:13 PM EST
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Point taken, but there's no denying the US and EU subsidies are hurting the Third World.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Tue Jul 17th, 2007 at 09:03:25 PM EST
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The US and EU champions "free trade" with our rules to protect our advantage (also known as TRIPS) in the information and knowledge intensive sectors. If it can be done with the agricultural sector (patented GMO crops), then there will be "free trade" in that area too.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jul 17th, 2007 at 08:19:43 PM EST
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in the US and EU, that are unfair.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Tue Jul 17th, 2007 at 09:06:55 PM EST
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Of course they are. EU and US promotes unfair trade - that is, trade that is advantageos to EU and US - in all sectors. It is just a bit harder to do in the agricultural sector and still promote it as "free trade", so it ends up glaring obvious.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jul 18th, 2007 at 07:23:56 AM EST
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