Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Primrose Path

The world is changing fast and the chief causes are Globalisation and Neoliberalism which are two words to describe the same issue of overly unregulated markets.

Voters in America, made poor by Globalisation have opted to vote for Donald Trump, a man with no experience for the job of being President.

Voters in the United Kingdom, made poor by Globalisation have opted to vote to leave the European Union.

Both these events will cause brutal economic results in the short to medium term, we have already seen the pound lose 15% of it's value since the referendum result; this is just since the referendum, let alone what might happen after Brexit actually comes into being. Remember the pound is the main way other countries value us as a nation state on international markets. Post referendum food prices are higher, banks are pulling out of London, which is the biggest financial centre in the world.

I don't want to cause alarm, my view is the UK economy will eventually recover and be stable after Brexit. But I voted remain, as I felt a better strategy was to put pressure on the EU to reform, yet stay in. My remain in a reformed EU plan was all too long winded for the Brexit voters; understandably they had had enough, not enough jobs, not enough affordable housing. I'm pro immigration, but we had too much immigration too fast; these Brexit voters just pulled the plug; with scant regard for the economic fall out, they just didn't care anymore. And for similar reasons voters have just pulled the plug in the US, voting in Trump.

Voters, frustrated by the lowering in their living standards created by hyper-globalisation are turning to the other extreme, a perspective Skeptical of Globalisation. But the Skeptical perspective, with it's closing of borders, high tariffs on incoming goods from other countries won't work either. The only way you could make a Skeptical approach work is to completely shut all borders and make your country an 100% independent self sufficient nation state; this is clearly impossible in an interconnected world, with the internet and cheap freight of goods etc.

People naturally opt to buy the good or service they want at the cheapest price point. If you try and build a wall to stop this happening, people can sail around the wall, dig a tunnel, or fly over it. One wall won't stop humans getting to the best deal they can.

As ever, we need to strike a middle ground here; the Transformationalist perspective acknowledges the unstoppable phenomenon of an interconnected globalised world. But Transformationalism seeks to mitigate Globalisms worst excesses. For example if China is currently flooding world markets with cheap steel, whereby the steel's cheap price is putting UK steel factories out of business; we temporarily put a tariff on China's steel imports to us, I mean just the steel, not introduce a tariff on all products from China as President-elect Trump suggests. The tariff could be lifted when Chinese steel returns to a more normal price on the market. Transformationalists cunningly interfere with and regulate the free market here and there, when it's appropriate.

My view is America and the UK need to give up their false hope that the Skeptical of Globalisation approach, i.e Ukip/Trump type stuff will provide answers, because it won't. Even if you managed to feed and clothe and house everyone in a completely closed border nation state, that same nation state would be pretty weird and isolated from the rest of the world.

We need to engage with the rest of the world, but also we need to drop the false belief that entirely free markets with little or no regulation will somehow provide good for everyone. The growing economic problems since 1979, which was when Reagan and Thatcher started this  Neoliberalism project that we are still suffering from, has proved that they won't.

Let's become Transformationalists and lobby our mainstream/centre leaders to adopt this approach too. Let's engage with politics today and tomorrow so that people, who haven't the time to do a big study on politics are no longer taken in by and pushed into the arms of demagogues like Mr Trump and Mr Farage. The Skeptical alt-right won't save us; they are too far along the other way.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who since becoming PM has shown signs of being somewhat better than David Cameron, gave an interesting speech where interestingly she talked about some similar issues that I describe here. Mrs May warned that government's must heed people's concerns about the impact of globalisation on jobs and communities' and talked about a fast changing world. I only just first got to read Mrs May's speech after already completing 95% of this post, so I was interested to find out we have some similar ideas. Although if Mrs May truly wants to get to the centre political ground, she still has some left travelling to do.

Let's not be tempted by escapism, the allure of drifting through life on the primrose path; the allure of the Trump's and Farage's who make us temporarily feel good with their entertaining speeches; but who don't have any real answers; in fact these men have ideas that could make our lives worse.

We need  our politicians to give up their blind faith in Neoliberalism; and become converts to the idea that if we are to thrive well in this fast changing world, we all need to become Transformationalists.

James Bickle