What You Wish For Might Ruin Your Country, Research Time, 20/06/2018

Life is often ironic. Sometimes, you can laugh at the irony. Sometimes, all you can do is cry.

One thing I cry about, when it comes to folks who self-identify as progressives, is how everyone feels about globalization. In many contexts, most of us think it’s bad.

That’s the simple version. I mean, the modern popular movement against new liberal economic policies and political philosophies began with a demonstration against a World Trade Organization summit. One of the major controversies in Canadian politics right now is the Trudeau government signing the country into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement among many Pacific Rim countries.

When you demand the return of economic borders, you open yourself
to seduction by people who want borders closed overall. When you
blame trade with foreigners for the ills of your economy, it's easy to
start blaming all the people outside your country, not just the
powerful ones. That's how an anti-globalization activist becomes a
racist nativist.
People’s problem is that these trade agreements give too many rights to transnational corporations, which allow for increasingly intense concentrations of wealth among the oligarchs’ class.

Typically, all the major political parties jockeying for electoral control of state government institutions in the West have supported these corporate-driven trade agreements. There have been different emphases in those agreements and treaties.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party here in Canada focussed on resource extraction sectors. Typical of a party with a strong support base among Alberta’s petro-industrialists. Jean Chretien’s and Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party encouraged growth in the financial sector. Typical of the party that has represented the interests of Canada’s banking sector since the founding of the current state. Both of those parties doubled down on our continental trade deal, met with opposition from social and economic justice activists around the country.

There has been plenty of resistance to these legalistic acts of corporate piracy: networks among the multitude, groups of radical anarchists who’ve largely dropped out of society, trade union and student movements, progressive electoral political parties, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations.

Then, amazingly, in the heartland of the Washington Consensus, a political movement that put people first ripped apart all the presumptions of one of the most revanchist state parties in the West. The movement against corporate-led globalization had a new champion, and against all expectations, he entered the White House as President of the United States.

The politics of rage, demonization, and hatred are all too often
depressingly effective.
You see the problem here now.

Globalization in itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s the intensification of many physical, financial, and communicative processes that have linked different regions of the Earth for centuries already. It’s passed several major thresholds in the last few decades, which is why it feels like an entirely new phenomenon.

Yeah, it’s had plenty of drawbacks. Massive industrial pollution, the exponential growth in the power of global oligarchs to hide from public accountability and to hide their wealth.

But there are also plenty of benefits. Communication among people around the world can happen with incredible speed now, and we can learn about people in all parts of the globe. We can make friends from the other side of the planet. Communication connections can help build camaraderie, friendship, and community among people throughout the Earth.

People can move more freely than they ever have before. The late 20th century’s globalization had an amazing impact on a lot of the West: Asian, African, Pacific, and South American immigrants could come to our countries. If our labour markets throughout the Earth ever become truly open, it would be a genuine revolution of working people.

Imagine the economic and cultural booms that would result if Indian and Pakistani workers could come to the UAE or Saudi Arabia and have full rights, responsibilities, and legal protections of citizens who’ve lived there all their lives. If we had no borders, practically speaking, and everyone could move wherever the work was as long as they could learn the language(s) of the majority.

Globally open labour markets and globally-organizing union movements would take people out of the yoke of corporate wage slavery and state suppression as second or third-class citizens. Or worse.

Globalization can open our society to fantastic, unpredictable new paths of cultural creativity as traditions, languages, ideas, and moralities all merge and interact.

At this point, Earth’s progressives have to accept that globalization is a fact. You can’t turn it back now, without becoming the kind of xenophobic racist you hate. Those among the left who are taking advantage of the current moment to turn back economic globalization are racists and xenophobes. So screw them.

The 21st century left needs to accept that full-on anti-globalization is a failure. It’s been co-opted by some of the West’s most brutal racists and revanchists. The task of progressive politics now is to do globalization right. Globalization for the multitude.

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