By Joe Costello, former communications director for Jerry Brown’s 1992 presidential campaign and senior adviser for Howard Dean’s effort in 2004; first posted at Archein
“You going to liberate us girls from male, white, corporate oppression?”
Tell em like it is, Fear of a Female Planet
Let everybody know
— Sonic Youth
When speaking of economics, one very old and fundamental element is trade. From prehistoric times, societies/cultures traded. Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese, Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Aztecs, and Incas, all had great trading networks. Trade is in no way a development of industrial capitalism or more recently of corporate globalization, it is far older. However, many of the myths, theories, and practices valuing modern trade developed over the past two-hundred years. Particularly a wrong-headed doctrine that all trade is good, which can traced back to the particular place and time when private international merchants were attempting to break-up the monopolies of state mercantilism. Over the past fifty years, the world, and particularly the United States went completely to the other extreme, abdicating all state power on trade to Wall Street and global mega-corporations to the detriment of both the United States and the rest of the world.
Greider has a good piece in The Nation laying out some of the fundamental issues involved, particularly:
Washington must also change the rules for how American business and finance operate. Only in America do multinationals get to behave like free riders, with no strings attached. They harvest public money as subsidies and investment capital, they are protected by US armed forces and diplomacy, and they are rescued when they get into trouble. It is a one-way relationship, and the American public knows it.
US corporations and banks remain free to move jobs and production whenever and wherever corporate strategy dictates, regardless of the consequences for the economy. Government can stop this by forcing them to serve the broader national interest. This is not as radical as it may sound. Every other leading industrial nation does it, one way or another. They impose limits on corporate strategy, either in formally binding ways or through political and cultural pressure, to ensure that good jobs and the best value-added production remains at home.
The whole piece is well worth reading, but I have serious doubts the Democratic arm of the DC political class will turn against Wall Street and the entrenched corporate globalization doctrine. In fact I’d bet against it, industrial labor is dead in America, and the issue for the remnant service and government employee unions isn’t high. For many reasons, I see a neo-America First movement coming much more naturally out of an increasingly radicalized “nativist” Republican base, but that remains to be seen.
In either case, we need a much different view of trade in the 21st century. One taking a much closer look not just at the national implications, but the impacts on locality. An understanding that industrial technologies have rolled over local diversity and advantages, creating an unsustainable and increasingly volatile global homogeneity. Underlying the entire, present corporate globalization system is one thing, cheap oil, and the world has no more cheap oil(tx yves). The US can lead the world developing new, healthy and sustaining global trade by announcing we’re going to heavily tax our oil imports. As Greider concludes,
All these suggestions are deeply disruptive to global commerce, and, yes, many would raise prices for Americans. But the country’s predicament is a historic emergency that cannot wait for market solutions. The United States must, in effect, decide that its role as Goliath is over. It’s time to act like a nation again rather than as the global overseer.