Category Archives: Colin Hines
Colin shares his Guardian letter and hopes that readers will blog or forward on email the link at the foot of this page
Policies geared to achieving more job security, a decrease in inequality and protection of the environment
The rise in right wing populism seen in Italy’s election result shows the need for ‘progressive protectionism’, nurturing and rebuilding local economies through the permanent reduction in the level of international trade in goods, money and services, and enabling nation states to control the level of migration that their citizens desire.
The first step to an effective response by progressives to the rising tide of rightwing populism in Italy and elsewhere (Editorial, 6 March) is to realise that ever more open borders are the problem. It was predominantly the opposition to inadequately controlled immigration that resulted in the Italian election result, the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election.
Ed: Stan Labovitch in the next letter agrees: “In order for “progressives” to prevail, they need to understand rather than condemn the electorate, who fear unemployment and the never-ending flow of asylum seekers through Italy’s southern flank. The opulence that we tourists see in Sorrento, Venice or Rome, is not the experience of many Italians”.
The other contributing factor was globalisation, with its job-destroying and far-too-open borders to goods such as steel. Lastly, inadequately constrained flows of capital and financial services assisted in the economic crash of 2008. The only counter will be some form of protectionism.
Trump’s threatened trade war over steel (Report, 5 March) is the wrong kind of 1930s-style one-sided protectionism. He wants to curb imports that cause domestic unemployment, but at the same time plans to use all possible leverage to open up foreign markets to US exports.
To avoid a re-run of the 1930s will require a very different “progressive protectionism”. This could benefit all countries by nurturing and rebuilding local economies through the permanent reduction in the level of international trade in goods, money and services, while enabling nation states to control the level of migration that their citizens desire.
This approach can return a sense of optimism to the majority through championing policies geared to achieving more job security, a decrease in inequality and protection of the environment.
Rupert Read reviewed Colin Hines’ ebook, Progressive Protectionism in RESURGENCE AND ECOLOGIST May/June 2017
It calls for a change of direction: away from acquiescence in the trade treaties which shaped the deregulated world that spawned the financial crisis — and toward protection of nature, workers, localities and national sovereignty, as the key locale where democracy might resist rootless international capital.
Progressive protectionism’ is completely unlike the ‘protectionism’ of the 1930s, that sought to protect one’s own economy while undermining others; this by contrast is an internationalist protectionism, aimed, “at reducing permanently the amount of international trade”, and making countries around the world more self-reliant/resilient. ‘
Read believes that too many ‘progressives’ have sleepwalked into tacitly pro-globalisation positions incompatible with protecting what we most care about.
And partly because of this, a new political power is rising that threatens to trash the future: The Brexit vote and (in particular) the election of Donald Trump have restored the word ‘protectionism’ to the popular political vocabulary.
Hines argues that we need to take back protectionism from the Right. He means that only policies of progressive protectionism can make real the idea of “taking back control”. Read thinks that’s right. If we embrace progressive protectionism, we’ve something better to offer the voting public than they have.
The chapter on ‘free movement’ will be the most controversial of all. Hines (Ed: rightly) points out that countries such as Romania and the Philippines are being stripped bare of their medical personnel, and argues that no decent internationalist can support this sucking out of ‘the brightest and the best’ from their home countries.
We can take control of the agenda, rationally and seek to minimise such movement; for example by helping to make conditions better in home countries, tackling dangerous climate change, stopping foreign wars of aggression, encouraging ‘Site Here to Sell Here’ policies everywhere, and bringing back capital controls which helped the world prosper safely from 1947 till 1971 (and which certain countries, such as Iceland, have already brought back).
Capital controls are crucial, because they stop the threat of relocation which multinationals have used to ‘discipline’ democracies for too many years now (Ed: and capital can then be reinvested in the communities from which that capital was accrued).
Hines argues that the Treaty of Rome needs transforming into a ‘Treaty of Home’ that will allow peoples to protect what they hold dear – and Read thinks politicians on the Continent need to read his book if they are to prevent further exits, starting possibly with France. Read ends:
“This book is a necessary read. Perfect it ain’t; it’s slightly repetitive, and there are problems of substance too: most Resurgence readers will (rightly) dislike how soft Hines is on economic-growthism, and will wish that he were readier to embrace the post-growth future that is demanded by the acceptance that we are already breaching the limits to growth. But if there is to be a future, then progressive protectionism will surely be part of it. This book is crucial thought-leadership for us, away from the political dead-end of globalisationist fantasy, and toward a localisation that can transform the debate – and then the world”.
Progressive Protectionism – Park House Press, 2017; ISBN 978-0-9544751-2-3
Colin has recently taken a lot of ‘flack’ because of his views on immigration rather than his economic prescriptions, but many post-election (Corbyn, Brexit, Trump) analyses now recognise the widespread anger on both counts.
Under the Guardian’s heading: Trump’s victory a wake-up call for Europe, he opens by saying that journalist Martin Kettle is correct (It is easy to hate the man, essential to learn from him, 11 November) that Trump will be the first president in recent times to be both anti-liberal socially and also economically.
Pointing out that the extreme right in Europe is going down the same electorally successful path, with policies geared to both limit immigration and replace globalisation, Colin sees them filling the vacuum left by the failure of the Democrats and the centre-left in Europe.
This was/is a failure to understand economic insecurity was the cause of voter dissatisfaction – and inadequately controlled immigration.
Trump and Farage offered a solution to worries about job losses with a promise to tear up trade agreements and oppose the TTIP and addressed widely held worries about levels of immigration. Colin ends:
“To have any chance of seeing off next year’s otherwise inevitable electoral rise of the extreme right in the Netherlands, France and Germany will mean that the centre-left, continent-wide, will need to develop a vote-winning programme for tackling both economic insecurity and uncontrolled immigration between EU countries.
“It must begin by calling not only for managed migration, but also demand controls on the free movement of capital, goods and services to allow the rebuilding of national economies, and to bring an end to the damaging deification of open markets, which has bought us Trump and Brexit and maybe next year a President Le Pen”.