Social Protectionism

Dace edace at
Fri Mar 10 22:47:05 PST 2000

Max Sawicky wrote:
>Casting an interest in labor rights and environmental
>protection as somehow a ploy of U.S. capital is simply
>absurd. NO corporate interests have indicated any
>sympathy for this, except as a political sop to facilitate
>trade deals. Framing this as a U.S. national-corporate
>interest is precisely backwards and is contradicted by
>what all the elites in the U.S. are doing, which is
>denouncing labor on this every day.
That corporate interests oppose "social protections" indicates nothing. Are you talking about CEO's? Productive-capitalists? Investor-capitalists? Big-time bankers? These people are not necessarily in the loop. They make their money. They do their thing. But they don't always see the big picture. They have to be helped along, like when Nixon pushed US banks into recycling petrodollars during the "oil crisis." They wanted nothing to do with his wacky scheme. He had to provide incentives in the form of matching loans from IMF/WB to get the banks to turn the petrodollars into the massive Latin American and East European loans that set off that wonderful debt crisis in the early 80s. Not that Nixon could see exactly that his ploy would set off such a lucrative crisis-- and so soon-- but he had the basic idea right. Nixon was not a mere capitalist. He was at the top of the heap. He was a natural born imperialist.

If everything were left up to the capitalists, they'd let it all go to seed, the whole global imperialist project. It's the Fed Chairman and the Treasurer and the President, along with their legions of advisors, who set the strategy. It was the Reagan administration that picked up on the usefulness of high interest rates and a high dollar policy to squeeze the debtor nations to the max, so as to force them to their knees and accept structural adjustment with a smile on their face. The first SAP, wielded against S. Korea in '85, was called the Baker Plan, not the Iacoca Plan. If Reagan had followed the advice of his rightwing corporate pals, he'd have scrapped that "socialistic" IMF/WB, but he saw the light and revamped them into what they are today, the foreclosers of the global farm. It was the Bush administration and their Harvard point-man, Jeffrey Sachs, who orchestrated the opening of Russia to orgies of speculation and pillaging. Capitalists are rabid dogs waiting to be cut from their leash so they can pounce on the little rabbit that happens by. The rabbit has to be steered into its destiny. This is not easy. Ruben and now Summers, Volcker and now Greenspan, Clinton and then Gore-- these people are good. They're pros. Clinton knew perfectly well, back in '97, that if he could lure Thailand and Indonesia into liberalizing their finances, the Hedge Funds would attack their currencies and tear them to pieces. Clinton is the master, Soros the pit bull.

"All the elites in the US" you say? Is anyone in the Clinton cabinet voicing opposition to a "social clause" for the WTO? The president sees this as another possible weapon, another tool for keeping the South plowed under. He knows that Sweeney et al will endorse labor protections whether or not they have any teeth, and that their primary effect will be to the advantage of economic statecraft. Maybe a few conservative elites still reflexively oppose Clinton, but surely there are many who've learned to recognize tactical genius when they smell it.

One could say the problem of imperialism is primary, and that capitalism is merely a tool for the imperialist. But when you take the long view, it's clear that capitalism is the real deal. Empires come and go. Capitalism is like a vampire, with America its latest "donor." The vampire feeds on a country, then spits it out. Been doing it for centuries. While we are clearly the fairest maiden this beast has ever had the pleasure of digging its teeth into, eventually it will move on, leaving us to rot atop the great pile of ex-empires.

>In a different era, capital was national and would
>construct "free trade" and "protectionism" according
>to its narrow interests. If capital is transnational
>now, it has no more use for protectionism of any
>sort. Nor for social regulation. Marx et al may
>have been right about the 19th century, but some
>revisions are likely to be in order now.
American foreign policy, military and economic, is 100% America-First. The Nixon-Reagan-Clinton path has never veered one inch from the path of national glory. It's all about America-- not England, not Germany, not Japan-- America. Those presidents take an oath, and they uphold it by God. This is about US, and protectionism can still play a role, as revealed by the recent upgrade of steel industry protection. As to new social regulation, if this provides another weapon for beating the shit out of our miserable subject states, then let's have it!


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