the wise men knock on the rich men’s doors

October 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

The wise men knock on the door’s of the rich men.  Here’s a fine example.

Mr. Niblett seems to operate on the unfounded assumption that trade liberalization and “integration” is the answer to all our political woes because it’s taken as an article of faith that economic interdependence engenders peace and cooperation. But why should we assume this if economic integration also means loss of autonomy? It’s dependence, after all, so what it means in practice is that if these people, let’s say the middle east, have a strategically important resource, like oil, then the incentive for aggression and imperialism arises, especially if they are weaker states, because, as it turns out, you can win better trade terms if you smash a democratically elected government (like Mossedegh’s in Iran in 1953) and install cronies who are happy to bend over backward for you against the interests of their own people.

But even if we’re not primarily motivated by positive incentives like better trade terms, we will certainly be motivated by potential negative consequences inherent in any loss of autonomy, would we not?  Consider the example of Japan:

Why did the Japanese imperialists decide on a policy of conquest after 1929? The Japanese economy industrialized in the mid 19th century after the Meiji Restoration and, being a resource poor country, had been made *dependent* on international economic structures for access to the raw materials which are essential to any industrial system. When those structures could no longer be counted on to produce strategically important resources, the Japanese found themselves as the major military power in a region of weaker states who, having lost the protection of the western imperial powers who were preoccupied with the breakdown of the European system, could scarcely be able to defend themselves against Japanese aggression.

Now if the Japanese needed the resources and they’re surrounded by lesser powers which have those resources and can’t defend themselves, and if the Japanese can no longer expect to rely on the Western imposed system of international trade to get them, then in this situation, what is the most rational course of action? This isn’t rocket science, is it?  Before Pearl Harbor and the United States’ subsequent entry into the war, the Japanese for one brief moment occupied and controlled most of Asia.

You would seriously have to be willfully obtuse and rationalizing to ignore the cause and effect. And if there is any lesson to be drawn from it, it’s that “economic integration” and “free trade” isn’t some magic, fool-proof recipe for international coooperation, but may actually be the opposite. If there is any lesson, it’s that “democratic peace theory” is little better than “humanitarian intervention,” a holier-than-thou justification for imperialism.

Mr. Niblett refuses to recognize the current economic and political challenges that he references in this interview as the failure of his own set of assumptions. The reality is that we are in this mess precisely because muppets like him have been giving the keys to the candy store to the free trade cultists for a generation now. The reason people like him are regarded as “experts” is precisely because they say what powerful people who can advance their careers want to hear.

And what do investors and their apologists want to hear? They want to be told they’re responsible for material prosperity of modern economies, that they’re on the vanguard of modernity, that the rising tide lifts all boats, that if they are allowed to do what is in their immediate financial interests to do, then all of society benefits because they’re the job-creating ubermenschen of the new meritocracy which will lift the world up into a global bourgeoisie rather than condemning it to becoming a global neo-feudal peasantry. This is why shills like Mr. Niblett miss what is obvious, because their career depends on them not seeing it. If this is all we can expect from academia, it’s little wonder we’re on the cusp of ecological, political, and social disaster.

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