Globalism, Neoliberalism and the Big Questions of Our Time 214


France is a standing affront to neo-liberals. Despite a failure to bow down to deregulation, despite extensive worker protections, despite complex health and safety, environmental and building regulations, despite strong and legally entrenched trade unions, France persists year in year in having productivity levels 20% higher than those achieved by unprotected, deregulated Britons. Despite the fact French workers put in 15% less hours per week, and refuse to be less Gallic.

You can find right wing economists who attempt to explain this away so as to make it consistent with the neo-liberal narrative. The most hilarious right wing propagandists like Professor Ryan Bourne argue that this is because the French economy, due to over-regulation, does not produce enough low skilled jobs. This is nonsense. There are not far less people picking vegetables, sweeping streets, serving coffee or washing restaurant dishes in France. A related argument is that high productivity somehow causes high unemployment. This is based on a strange fallacy that an economy is of a fixed size. If economic output was limited to x, then using less people to produce x would indeed cause unemployment. But I cannot readily conceive how stupid you would have to be to believe that. No, unemployment in France is caused by insufficient demand, which cannot be caused by high productivity. The answer to unemployment plus high productivity is a stimulus from public spending.

The truth of the matter is that deregulation does nothing to increase productivity. What deregulation does do is increase corporate profits, by decreasing workers pay and conditions, and decreasing public health and safety and environmental benefits. Deregulation transfers monetary and other goods from people to corporations. It is just a lie that it is anything to do with productivity – indeed the evidence is that a workforce with no job protection and few other rights is demoralised and less productive. That is certainly the obvious conclusion to draw from the comparison between France and the UK.

The concern on the left in France is that Macron is a creature of the corporations who wishes to introduce Anglo-Saxon style deregulation into France. This is, in a word, true.

Deregulation is a bad thing because it vastly reduces a whole stock of public goods.

Where confusion has arisen in public discourse is the notion, propounded also by neo-liberals, that globalisation and domestic deregulation go hand in hand. They do not and there is no reason at all that they should.

There are many definitions of globalisation, but I use it here as meaning the increasingly free movement of goods, capital and people around the globe. In that sense, I am a strong advocate of globalisation. Yet, at the same time, I am a strong opponent of deregulation.

Trade is a good thing. There are things that grow in different climates, there are raw material resources which make production particularly suitable in a particular location, there is local expertise and cultural flair. Trade has existed as long as men have existed, and is undoubtedly a common good. The increase in trade is a good thing too. There is not a single person in the UK who has not benefited from the massive fall in the consumer price of white and electronic goods caused by globalisation. I am today in Ghana where the availability of technical and trading partners from Turkey, Singapore, China etc, in competition with the traditional powers, is part of the revolution which has transformed the economy and the living standards of ordinary Ghanaians since 2000. The economy here grew by an average of over 7% over that entire period and is about to take off into higher regions again. (After a brief interlude of ultra-corrupt government very much sponsored by the USA and the multinational GE, but that is another story).

Globalisation is caused by a combination of technology and reduction of artificial barriers to trade and movement of people and money. It has beyond any doubt caused a huge amount of economic growth in Asia, and although from a very low base, in Africa too. Africa is the coming continent. The opponents of globalisation are those who wish to see a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources continue to be consumed in the old industrialised countries. They disguise this as protection of the working class.

Immigration does not depress living standards. Again, to believe that it does you would have to be extremely stupid and to imagine that an economy was a fixed size. If immigration depressed living standards, the United States and Germany would be among the poorest countries in the world. It is a complete and utter nonsense.

If it were not for immigrants, there would have been no growth at all in the UK economy for a decade, and absolutely no chance Britain could maintain its pensioner population. Immigration does not depress wages, it grows the economy. To take but one example, Polish immigration has contributed enormously to the British economy and to British society. It has given new economic opportunities to Polish people, and a Polish person is worth every bit as much as a British person. But the competition for Labour is also an upward pressure on wages in Poland, which is a good thing too.

I support globalisation very strongly as boosting the economies and raising the living standards of the entire world. That is the internationalist view.

But globalisation is not synonymous with the deregulation agenda. Neo-liberals have managed to establish in the public mind the idea that globalisation and domestic deregulation are necessarily part of the same process. The left has accepted the fight on this neo-liberal ground, with disastrous consequences to which I shall revert. But as is often my style when I say a truth outside the accepted political discourse, I am going to say this twice.

Domestic deregulation is not a necessary concomitant of globalisation.

Domestic deregulation is not a necessary concomitant of globalisation.

The neo-liberals, whose interest is that corporations rather than people profit from the process of globalisation, argue that domestic deregulation is necessary in the face of globalisation. This is the so-called model of the “race to the bottom”. Whoever pays the least, can shed labour easiest, has least health and safety and environmental regulation, will succeed in the global market. Therefore to face the challenges of globalisation, domestic protection must be dismantled.

I offer two irrefutable proofs that the neo-liberals are wrong:

1) France. And Germany too.

Annoyingly for the neo-liberals, many of the most regulated economies in the world continue to be the most productive countries in the world. This stubborn fact is extremely frustrating for the neo-liberals, and leads them to make fools of themselves coming up with the daftest possible explanations (see Ryan Bourne above). It is also why they are desperate to destroy the French model (see Macron above).

2) TTIP. And more or less every other multilateral trade agreement too.

Why did the neo-liberals have to stuff the proposed TTIP with proposals to destroy regulation within the EU market? If the neo-liberals believed their own propaganda about deregulation increasing productivity, then by a natural and ineluctable process the EU would be doing this as the invisible hand moved them to compete in the globalised market. But actually it is not a natural part of the process of globalisation at all, and has to be forced on by the corrupt political class in the pockets of corporations. Hence the deregulation provisions in the trade agreements, along with other corporation boosting measures like extra-territorial arbitration.

Frequent USA/EU rows over Boeing vs Airbus illustrate my point very well. Each accuses the other continually, and fines the other continually, over state subsidy. But within free trade, why is it of any interest how the state(s) trading mobilise their own internal resources? Again, if neo-liberals really believed what they say they believe, then by subsidising aircraft production a state is damaging its own economy massively elsewhere and opening up other comparative advantage opportunities for its trading partner. It makes no more sense for states trading to try to police their internal mechanisms, than for a car manufacturer to argue about where another car manufacturer places its canteen in relation to its production line.

How a state organises its internal resources, how much it pays people and how it protects its inhabitants from unfair dismissal, pollution or bad food, even how it subsidises a particular industry, cannot give it any unfair advantage across the whole range of trade with another state. The most economically productive and successful states are those which do regulate strongly for worker and general welfare and health, not those who raced to the bottom.

Domestic deregulation provisions are unnecessary, inappropriate and damaging to trade treaties.

You can reject deregulation without rejecting globalisation. That is a largely ignored intellectual position and it is one which the Left needs to adopt if it is to distinguish itself from the far right. In France, Macron represents the neoliberal position of embracing both deregulation and globalisation. LePen stands for the rejection of both. A worrying number of people who call themselves “left wing”, in France, throughout the media, and on this blog, allow themselves to flirt with the notion that LePen’s position is preferable.

The anti-globalisation angle that attracts the left is recidivist. In the name of protectionism it opposes the movement of capital, of goods and, its strongest emotional pull, of people. Here it blends neatly into the fascist agenda.

I argued earlier that those who oppose globalisation are opposing the trends which have pulled a huge proportion of the population of the earth out of extreme poverty in the last decade. I have argued that those who oppose globalisation were happy with a situation where a massively disproportionate share of the world’s economic resources was consumed by those in the first industrial world, and wished to return to that situation. This in itself is an inherently xenophobic position.

But they are also racist in another way. The process of domestic deregulation – a different process to globalisation – has massively increased wealth disparities in western states. The Tories are parroting that the top 1% of taxpayers pay 28% of all taxes. That is because the top 1% of taxpayers consume over 28% of all income.

The ultra-rich have distracted the mass of the people, who are suffering increasing and real poverty and an inability to acquire housing and other fixed capital.

The wealthy and their political and media propagandists have pointed to immigrants and persuaded people that it is not the obscene share of resources sucked out of the economy by the ultra-rich, but rather the productive immigrants who are responsible for their poverty. And people fall for it. This is the attraction of the racist dog-whistle on immigration blown by Trump. LePen, UKIP and now shamelessly by Theresa May and the Tories. Some who consider themselves Left fall for this racism to the extent they are prepared to tolerate LePen.

LePen is a genuine fascist. She is in the tradition of the Nazis and Vichy. Her chosen senior colleagues are Nazi sympathisers and holocaust deniers. She is the grossest of crude Islamophobes. I detest the lies and callousness of neo-liberals, their complete absence of empathy, but there is no moral equivalence between a neo-liberal and a Nazi, and it is ludicrous to pretend that there is. Anybody who does so is not welcome, as I have said, to comment on this blog. I have no desire to associate with Nazis. The rest of the internet is open to you.

The Left has failed to formulate a coherent intellectual response to globalisation, largely because they have fallen for the neoliberal intellectual trap of believing domestic deregulation to be a necessary concomitant. The rejection of internationalism has led some who consider themselves “left” to be attracted to LePen and fascism, at least to the extent they do not recognise her extreme evil. Anybody who has felt that should be deeply ashamed.

Nick Cohen’s book “What’s Left” identified tolerance of Islam as the weakness of the British and European Left. In fact he was diametrically wrong. The weakness is an abandonment of internationalism and a susceptibility to racist anti-immigrant dialogue.


214 thoughts on “Globalism, Neoliberalism and the Big Questions of Our Time

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  • john young

    Craig have you read “A book of ideas” issued by the Common Weal,one of it,s main platforms is to have Scotland as a high earning country as opposed to our current zero hour/low paid economy,for me it is a must read and is free from political dogma/agendas,maybe we could persuaded to ally yourself with them as you are I believe principled and a free thinker,go on Craig give it a go.

    • Laguerre

      Shy socialists. They’re not going to admit it, if the boss won’t. Mélenchon said he’s going to vote. He just won’t say for who. Vote for Le Pen, will he?

  • Republicofscotland

    I’m no fan of Labour, but to listen the the media today harp on constantly about Diane Abbot’s inability to recall correct figures is nothing short of disgraceful.

    The Tory backing media are in full anti-Labour mode, jumping on any little mistake made by and Labour figure who is unfortunate enough to not have exact figures at hand.

    Meanwhile the Tory branch office manager in Scotland, has made veiled assertion that Jean-Claude Junker has a bit of a drink problem, and that we cannot believe, his version of the event regarding the meeting with Theresa May.

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/ruth-davidson-hits-out-eu-10340037

    Ruth-less Davidson, Theresa May’s Scottish lap dog, is quick to jump to the defence of her leader. Though I doubt Jean-Claude Junker, will pay any attention to May’s Northern minion. Davidson is trying desperately to acquire a ermine robe.

    • Sharp Ears

      Andrew Pierce from the Heil was referring to J-C Juncker as J-C Drunker last night on Sky. So witty or at least he thinks he is.

      • Republicofscotland

        Sharp Ears.

        Yes the ad hominem road is the road the Tory media goes down when they want to smear someone. In the past they’ve smeared Corbyn plenty, now it’s Johnny Foreigners turn in the shape if Junker.

        • glenn_uk

          There might be some truth in it. Private Eye was alluding to same, latest edition.

      • Habbabkuk

        Sharp Ears

        I would not call President Juncker a drunkard but he is certainly fond of cognac and the white wine of his native country.

        I don’t know if you know this but Luxembourg white wine apparently has the effect of increasing excitability if drunk copiously and frequently. Just as a daily glass of red wine (but not white or rose’) is reckoned to be good for the heart, etc.

        I’m serious.

        • glenn_uk

          If a single daily glass of red is good for you, three bottles must be absolutely wonderful for one’s health!

          • lysias

            Since I retired from my job a couple of weeks ago, I substantially increased my intake of red wine at meals (at lunch, from one to two glasses, and at dinner from two to three glasses). I just saw my doctor, and it turns out my diabetes has turned into mere prediabetes, with the HbA1c dropping from 6.4 to 6.1. Only the increased wine can explain this.

          • glenn_uk

            Lysias: Congratulations on the retirement. I’m semi-retired myself, but unfortunately it’s tough to see a long term full retirement while yet on the young-side of 50.

            My comment about that vast quantity of wine was rather tongue-in-cheek, but the point actually was a serious one – red wine is completely different to the filthy industrial alcohol that powers “white cider” and so forth. People, such as the French for example, drink vast quantities of wine with no apparent ill effect.

            It’s kind of tough to take the warnings of our government seriously, that 1/2 a glass every third day might be pushing it.

          • John Spencer-Davis

            The Belgian writer Georges Simenon said he never drank less than three bottles of wine a day, and he died at 86. His liver must have been made of tough old leather.

          • Habbabkuk

            Glenn

            “People, such as the French for example, drink vast quantities of wine with no apparent ill effect.”
            ______________________

            Firstly I’m not so sure that the statement is true – or at least not so true any more.

            It was certainly true in the past, however.

            France in the 1950s (and perhaps before) had the highest rate of alcohol-induced terminal illnesses (eg liver cirrhosis) in the world.

            It might be of interest to you to learn that the one decent French PM of the IVth Republic – one Pierre Mende’s-France – was known (among other things) for his attempts to get the French to drink less alcohol. He was a milk man – which did not increase his popularity with certain interest groups….

            I am serious.

        • Theresa's EU pawn

          The wine has excremental properties though, it makes you want to start the de regulation of EU tax affairs to suit TNC and their CEO’s, make them smile in Davos, not that you’ll ever get their to see for yourself, despite being paid by the Queens/taxpayers shilling.

  • Stu

    “Immigration does not depress living standards. Again, to believe that it does you would have to be extremely stupid and to imagine that an economy was a fixed size. If immigration depressed living standards, the United States and Germany would be among the poorest countries in the world. It is a complete and utter nonsense.

    If it were not for immigrants, there would have been no growth at all in the UK economy for a decade, and absolutely no chance Britain could maintain its pensioner population. Immigration does not depress wages, it grows the economy. To take but one example, Polish immigration has contributed enormously to the British economy and to British society. It has given new economic opportunities to Polish people, and a Polish person is worth every bit as much as a British person. But the competition for Labour is also an upward pressure on wages in Poland, which is a good thing too.”

    As i pointed out last time this is errant nonsense. Citing the USA as an example is unbelievable. To argue that immigration leads to upwards pressure in Poland but no downwards pressure in the UK is beyond belief.

    The reality is that real wages have fallen and only the minimum legal wage has prevented further falls. The number of people on the legal minimum is predicted to double by 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/01/number-of-uk-workers-on-minimum-wage-expected-to-double-by-2020

    Further than this there has been massive downward pressure on terms and conditions and job security. Marx’s analysis of labour supply and the link to exploitation is as true now as it was 150 years ago. https://paulcockshott.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/brexit-imigration-and-exploitation/

    Craig is a great advocate on many issues but on class struggle and economics his position extremely naive and contradictory. To write that a country as wealthy as the UK could not support it’s pensioners if migrants suddenly got a better offer? I am flabbergasted.

    • Macky

      “on class struggle and economics his position extremely naive and contradictory”

      How can that possibly be, when he’s told us that he’s read so many, many books, even ones by that well-known intellectual giant, Nick Cohen ! 😀

      Ignorance or deceit ?

    • glenn_uk

      Stu: “Citing the USA as an example is unbelievable.

      True, it didn’t do the original inhabitants much good.

  • Republicofscotland

    “Immigration does not depress living standards. Again, to believe that it does you would have to be extremely stupid and to imagine that an economy was a fixed size.”

    _______

    I wish someone would tell that to Robert Goodwill at the Home Office. He and his ilk are stealthly and systematically removing god knows how many immigrants from Scotland. Most have come to Scotland to live and work here.

    Some have invested small fortunes setting up businesses that are employing locals. Scotland nedds control of immigration, and independence is the only sure way of obtaining that, if not the highland clearances will continue.

  • SA

    Does it really matter whether anyone thinks that Globalisation does not have to be followed by deregulation? The truth is that the dominant economic model includes deregulation as part of globalisation. That is because the underlying agenda is set by corporations who pay the politicians directly or indirectly, or failing that they can destabilise whole economies. Also given that productive trade of goods now accounts for decreasing amount of world trade, and that speculation is a major part of capitalist economy, it matters not one little bit that globalisation can proceed without deregulation. Craig quotes France and Germany as cases of regulated globalisation, but globalisation is a work in progress and the bet is that these bastions will fall in time and hence the concern regarding Macron (whose meteoric rise from nowhere has not been widely commented on, or if it has, I missed it) . That is not to say that any leftist should even remotely consider supporting Le Pen but we are now in the same situation as happened in the US elections, we cannot support either candidate and outcome is bad either way.

    • glenn_uk

      How can people fall for this BS? Doesn’t anyone remember Trump – equally racist, equally right-wing with fascist tendencies – campaigned on exactly the same basis? Needless to say, his maladministration so far is stuffed with billionaires, the only proposals will hurt the poor, benefit the ultra-rich, risk war, and cause destruction to the environment.

    • Resident Dissident

      bevin
      May 2, 2017 at 20:42
      “Here is a ‘leftist’ who appears to have no problem supporting Le Pen:”

      Well that’s two of you – three if we count your old mate Putin.

  • Syd Weinstein

    I agree with the basic claim that globalization doesn’t have to be Neoliberal. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is, seems certain to remain so, and that, after forty years of Neoliberalism’s dominance, we are faced with three facts that cannot be changed by elections when the two parties that dominate elections in virtually all countries are Neoliberal: first, and least, the bipartisan consensus to do nothing about the mushrooming inequality that damages or destroys ever more people’s quality of life; second, the bipartisan consensus to do nothing effective to stop global warming (viz. which requires actually leaving fossil fuels in the ground); and the neoliberal consensus for more and more war to protect and extend the hegemony of the US bloc, even to the point of hot war with Russia and/or China that could all too easy go nuclear. A vote for Macron strengthens the Neoliberal consensus. Anything that weakens it, even if horrible in itself, is better than doing nothing and continuing the drift towards a major extinction event, whether rapidly through nuclear war or more slowly through continued global warming. So, I won’t say vote for Le Pen, but I will say don’t vote.

      • K Crosby

        To see a qualitative difference between Le Pen and Macron is absurd.

        PS how many Muslims has Le Pen butchered in the last decade compared to non-nazis like Hollande and that chateau-bottled shit Sarkozy?

      • RobG

        That’s a strange statement from someone who’s well aware of what Uncle Sam & Co are doing in MENA and many other parts of the world.

    • glenn_uk

      Syd: “So, I won’t say vote for Le Pen, but I will say don’t vote.

      Some leading French union leader said yesterday (sorry, didn’t catch his name) that abstaining is half a vote for Le Pen.

      Maybe he was too kind. Any vote not going to the opponent of the fascist (Trump, Wilders, Le Pen) is support for the fascist.

      • Theresa's EU pawn

        For the same reasons some here might say don’t split the vote by voting for false liberals who end up going to bed with the Conservatives. Or for the Greens who want Labour to stand down for them, but are not prepared to reciprocate this, for example in Norwich South were they could easily let in a smiling, blind Conservative woman who is young and pretty, just like Chloe Smith.

        Do not split the vote this time, vote for the opposition, and I do not mean for the PLP who has been sitting silently carrying on the attacks on Corbyn. before the election has even commenced Alistair Darling has sharpened the knife saying that after unsuccessful elections leaders often change.

        New Labour is still in charge of much of the Labour party and the shambles they created with their witch hunt is irreparable, new Labour is responsible for the Labour parties demise, however many mistakes are made and blown out of all proportions.

  • giyane

    De-regulation doesn’t mean de-regulation for everybody.
    If I accidentally in a strange city get into a bus lane I am instantly fined .
    But if I am a terrorist, sponsored by a foreign government in a country not my own, I can rule by gun and bomb until every piece of civil order is deleted.

    I still take issue with Craig’s argument that revolution is justified for a limited period of time. This was the Thatcher argument, that after radical reforms the status quo would return for ordinary people. Instead what has happened is that unsatisfiable greed has continued to ravage the UK at the hands of a dogma-filled few.
    I strongly suspect that when Craig argues for globalism, he is prepared to include the wrecking of Muslim countries as justified. The Middle East is quite capable of equipping itself with the mod-cons of Western life without the help of the dogmas of political Islam.

    The dogmas of fascism may be repellent, but like the dogmas of the Catholic Church, political Islam, and Thatcherism, dogmas start off benign and morph into dictatorial ruin. Revolution is justified when it is against dogma, but never when it is for dogma.

    At this election we can see the signs of Fascism trying to change up a gear into full swing. Blair’s plan to charge for motoring is nearly complete. The right to hold a different opinion to the government’s is daily ridiculed by the BBC. The right to travel abroad may soon become beyond the capability of anyone who is friendly to government opinion. day by day China looks more liberal , while the UK looks to return to a situation where only the wealthy go to university, travel, hold forth or go abroad.

    We fought hard for centuries to rid ourselves of those evil African-slave-owners, those blimps who ruled India
    for 300 years, and those obnoxious warriors who played the great game against our more civilised European friends. Now at every turn the Conservatives want to bring those mentally-damaging paradigms fom the past back to life. I don’t give a toss if the boss class earns more than me but they won’t get away with re-inventing class distinctions which the Labour party has spent centuries working to remove. Nor will I ever accept the UK government re-installing systems of tyranny in Islam like that of President Erdogan and the Saudi Royals, which centuries of rebellion have successfully removed.

    Craig is right to ban supporters of Le Pen. He is much too liberal in his instincts for my taste in not condemning the Tories, Blairites and Lib-dems at home and neo-cons who support totalitarian regimes abroad. hitler conned his people. We are very very close to being conned.

  • Loony

    This latest post is arrant nonsense infused with delusional thinking.

    “If it were not for immigrants, there would have been no growth at all in the UK economy for a decade,,.” What does this mean? If you wish to measure the performance of an economy adjusted for population changes then the correct metric is GDP per capita. Looking at GDP per capita we observe a downward trend – it is the case that in 2015 GDP per capita marginally exceeded the figure for 2008. However since 2008 a number of “statistical adjustments” have been made to GDP – not least the inclusion of an estimate for illegal activities relating to drugs and prostitution. Strip these out and you find a real decline in GDP per capita.

    It is probable that the number of illegal immigrants has also increased over the past 10 years. If this is the case then there will be an underestimation of population which will artificially inflate the GDP per capita numbers.

  • Loony

    So we learn that “There is not a single person in the UK who has not benefited from the massive fall in the consumer price of white and electronic goods caused by globalisation.”

    Good to know that the former workers in UK factories that used to produce these things can be safely classified as “un-persons” – very liberal and humanitarian.

    Presumably white and electronic goods are only of any value if you have a house in which to place them, Why not look at the cost of houses and ask who exactly has benefited from the seemingly endless inflation of house prices? How many people have remortgaged their homes on the back of this inflation in order to “benefit” from the massive fall in the prices of white and electronic goods?

  • Loony

    “There are many definitions of globalisation, but I use it here as meaning the increasingly free movement of goods, capital and people around the globe. In that sense, I am a strong advocate of globalisation”

    Let me tell you how it is in the real world. The movement of capital and people around the globe is based on simple arbitrage. Perhaps you recall making a song and dance about people who had moved their money into Panama. Money will go where it earns the highest return and has a minimal risk of confiscation. Hence lots of Chinese people buy property in London, Australia and the west coast of North America. They feel their money to be safe in these jurisdictions and they believe the governments are focused almost exclusively on impoverishing their domestic populations by ensuring that house prices rise for ever.

    So to with people. Some people will move for work because they can earn more money somewhere else. Take Ghanaian Doctors as an example. There are more Doctors born in Ghana who are working outside of Ghana than there are working in Ghana, How does this help Ghana?

    Perhaps you have noticed the ever onward march of technology which has served to eliminate many jobs. More jobs will go thanks to robotics and AI. Global population continues to increase. This means more people are without work and are reliant on the apparatus of social security. These people will migrate to jurisdictions that offer them the optimal package of benefits.

    But arbitrage works in both directions. At some point western house prices will cease to rise . This is based on the simple idea that that which cannot increase for ever will not increase for ever. China will over time make it more attractive for its citizens to keep their money in China thus reducing the incentive for “money exports” A risk is being run that circumstances will change and all foreign money will be subject to simultaneous withdraw. Just like a bank run which governments work so hard to avoid.

    At some point the number of people migrating for benefits will overwhelm the systems of social security and they will collapse thus removing the incentive for further inward migration. Once these systems collapse skilled practitioners (such as Ghanaian Doctors) will no longer have access to the infrastructure necessary for them to practice their trade. Thus they may well migrate elsewhere – perhaps back to Ghana. Stripping out a skilled cadre of workers at a time of collapse will accentuate the severity of the collapse.

    Good to know that you support the inevitable chaos that globalization will bring and think that people who wish to avert a “Mad Max” scenario are simply stupid.

    • Theresa's EU pawn

      I claim my £5,-
      Citing ‘Migrating for benefits’ as a reason to leave one’s country, family, children and social life can only be a Kippers view.

      loony is Paul Nuttall.

      • Loony

        According to the UN there are in excess of 200 million unemployed people in the world. The UN notes that job creation is at a lower level than population increases (i.e. global unemployment is rising and will continue to rise)

        So you tell me how these 200 million people are supposed to live.

        Exactly why should an unemployed person in the UK have access to food, shelter, clothing, housing, education and health care whilst an unemployed person in say the Sudan is left to starve. If you have nothing and no prospect of ever having anything then there is a pretty big incentive.to move.

        Of course people in the UK are unlikely to understand as they have full stomachs and on demand access to pretty much anything they may want. Try living in the third world for a while and see what incentives you respond to.

  • K Crosby

    LePen is a genuine fascist. She is in the tradition of the Nazis and Vichy.

    So are all the rest you ignorant booby; Le Pen is a liberal with dirty fingernails.

  • RobG

    What’s laughable about this is that the USA and UK are now fascist, authoritarian states (go look at the laws that have been passed if you don’t believe me).

  • Roderick Russell

    Craig refers us to “Ryan Bourn’s” article for further statistics on the relative productivity of Britain against France and Germany. Bourne states – “consider a set of statistics constantly used by our politicians. They regularly tell us that Germans and the French are 36 per cent and 30 per cent more productive than we Brits are in terms of output per hour”.

    These are absolutely amazing statistics and, what is even more amazing to me, the politicians don’t seem to have an answer. They should as these apparent differences in productivity are huge

    Either the statistics are bullshit (in which case can we trust our other government produced statistics), or (as the statistics, if true, suggest) the management of the UK economy is bullshit.

    • Stu

      It seems more likely that rather than French workers being more productive that there are more jobs in the UK than in France which are essentially unproductive regardless of how the employee performs in their job.

      Craig suggests that “This is based on a strange fallacy that an economy is of a fixed size” which is obviously true. But it also true that not all economic activity is equal and simply chasing growth in itself rather than productive growth is a mistake.

      • giyane

        The company I am working for now runs its daily targets for me on an internal App. I have to do all the assigned work in my hours or justify why – awaiting parts etc. My productivity is a combination of the load assigned and load done. Maybe in France less work is assigned.

        This government is constantly complaining about a Skills shortage. But the skills shortage was created by their policy of hiring labour by the day instead of retaining skills in-house, and then by creating new industries in training, providing training that was previously done in-house for free.

        Then they failed to implement the legal standards which meant that cheaper unskilled labour could be used and anybody trying to work by the legal standards the government failed to police was described as un-productive.

        Wankers of the world unite. rah! Rah! vote conservative on June 8 , Thatcher orgasm day.

  • Andrew

    “unemployment in France is caused by insufficient demand…The answer is a stimulus from public spending.”

    Unfortunately, German-imposed budget rules severely limit the ability of EU governments to increase public spending and borrowing, regardless of economic and social needs (by capping the permissible annual deficit at 3% of GDP and public debt at 60% of GDP).

    It’s true that the biggest EU countries have overshot these limits in the past but unless the rules are changed (and Germany shows no sign of permitting this), Macron’s hands will be tied, which suggests that social unrest could increase, especially if he tries to “deregulate” the labour market and privatize public services and natural monopolies as in the UK.

    • RobG

      Nah, Macron wouldn’t try to “deregulate” the labour market and privatize public services.

      He’s a nice, cuddly Rothschild banker.

      I’ll tell you one thing: if they manage to foist the Macron con on the French people there’s going to be major trouble, as is now happening in America with The Donald (none of which ever gets reported).

    • giyane

      Not if, when. Is Macron Berlusconi?
      We assume in the UK that there is no difference between the modern spy state, Islamic terrorism at home and abroad and organised crime, because that’s how things are in the neo-con corporate UK .

      But Thierry Meyssan at voltairenet .org has been suggesting recently that false flag events in France have been the work of MI6 working with the French intelligence services. Why else would the MSM be working so hard to create an illusion of faux tension between the UK and our European partners?

      I know our highest deviousness will never penetrate the deviousness level of the international neo-cons but they’re always up to something is our best guide, and it ain’t Global sweet nothings for the benefit of mankind.

  • Hieroglyph

    “The Left has failed to formulate a coherent intellectual response to globalisation, largely because they have fallen for the neoliberal intellectual trap of believing domestic deregulation to be a necessary concomitant.”

    Interesting article, longer than usual so I’ll have to re-read at some point (it’s allowed). I find the paragraph above to be most intriguing, as I wonder whether it’s less of a ‘trap’ and more of a kind pf psychological choke-hold. There is a longer discussions here, vis the use of violence to induce a kind of catatonic acceptance, to presume inevitability – and violence is of course being used. Alas, no time, work for The Man calls …

    • giyane

      Violence is indeed being used. Good question. Is it the honey-trap of the good cop talking nicely to the cornered man, or the knife held to our face by the bad cop against the terrifying screams of his girlfriend being tortured in another room?

      Hilarious to see BBC John Humphrys and PM May playing bad cop hard bitches while Lavrov, Putin and Xi Jinping all seem to think good-mannered common-sense is more befitting.
      The Tories are a runt of a party that collapsed in 1997 Do they really think the public are going to rally round this female Edward Woodward clone/clown?

  • Habbabkuk

    I urge all uncommitted and interested readers to disregard all the talk on here of .Macron deregulating the French labour market.

    That is because no commenter on here – not Craig, not Bevin, not RobG, not Laguerre and not even I – knows enough in detail about French labour market regulation, its extent and its consequences to comment en connaissance de cause and, therefore, with any degree of authority.

    • bevin

      Are you suggesting that Macron does not promise to deregulate the labour market?

    • Laguerre

      You’re being serious for once, Hab. Thanks.

      I wouldn’t claim to know much about the French labour market, though I am faced with its problems on a daily basis.

      The success or not of Macron’s plans, though, is not to be judged through knowledge of the labour market, and its regulation, but through public reaction to previous attempts to do the same thing. I.e. Sarkozy, And he failed. Macron is not a fool. You need one thing to be elected, another once in power. Movement is unlikely to be fast, if Macron is elected. First he has to construct a coalition (not having a single député), then get them to agree. Not a recipe for radical change.

      • Habbabkuk

        Laguerre

        Thank you.

        I think we agree for once and that is pleasing. You have added a good point, which can be summed up as follows : there is no certainty that M. Macron will be able to put through his ideas on deregulation (the Sarko example illustrates).

        But I think my original point still stands, and that is that no one on here really knows what his ideas (insofar as we know what they are) would mean in practice if he were to carry them through because no one here has sufficient overall and in detail knowledge of the French Labour Codes as they stand at present.

        • Habbabkuk

          I’m not blaming anyone for this lack of knowledge but I do blame them for going on about Macron deregulation while knowing squit about the system he says he wants to to reform. My objecton is to the constant sloganising I’ve seen so far on here.

  • Habbabkuk

    RobG

    You write frequently of serious riots, vast protests and general mayhem on the streets of various countries, usually France and the US.

    And you at the same time tell us that all of this goes unreported.

    My simple question to you is therefore the following : you have told us you live in a rural backwater – so how do you know?

  • K Crosby

    http://michael-hudson.com/2000/01/speech-to-the-communist-party-of-cuba/

    Everyone says that globalization is inevitable. But what kind of globalization are we going to have? Whose globalization? Can we still influence what kind of globalization the world will have?

    A century ago, Marx supported the globalization of his day – colonization – to the extent that it would break down the institutions of backwardness in Asia, the Near East, Latin America and the Far East.

    Marx saw globalization even in its British colonialist form as a catalyst for industrialization, and an organization of the labor force along economically modern lines.

    But this is not what is occurring today. In retrospect, Marx was overly optimistic.

    Today’s globalization does not replicate the economic relations of the core.

    Instead, it creates something else – something that nobody spoke of a century ago.

    Today’s globalization is much like the Enclosure movement in England from the 16th through 18th centuries. The enclosers carved out the land for themselves, displacing labor from the land and its traditional means of support, and herding it into the cities.

    The result was inequality, not equality. But the result also provided the labor for industrialization.

    From the 16th to the 19th centuries, the rural exodus into cities in England, France and other countries formed the foundations for industrial capitalism.

    However, although today’s globalization is bringing manufactures to many developing countries, and also goes hand in hand with a great rural exodus to huge overgrown cities, it is in many ways a relapse back into pre-capitalist economic forms.

    It is precapitalist in the sense that what the large global corporations – and the stockholders and bankers behind them – what they seek is rent and interest.

    Many of you here criticize the drive for profits made by multinational firms.

    But if you look at the statistics, you will find that these firms do not make a profit – or rather, they take all their profit in a few small islands throughout the world. These islands are called offshore banking centers. They are tax havens, extra-legal and criminal havens, which do not levy any income tax. Multinational firms in the developing countries, in Europe and North America give the statistical appearance of not earning any profits at all.

    This means that any country that tries to make a profit-sharing agreement with a foreign investor runs the risk of ending up with half of almost nothing. Ctd….

  • FranzB

    CM = “There is not a single person in the UK who has not benefited from the massive fall in the consumer price of white and electronic goods caused by globalisation”

    One aspect of globalisation is about capital finding the best conditions for itself to reproduce and increase.

    A number of people use to work in factories in the UK producing white and electronic goods. Many of those factories have been closed and production moved overseas so that prices can be reduced in a competitive market. The people who worked in those factories lost their job. Most of those people are worse off today than when they had a reasonable job.

    The Hoover factory at Merthyr is one example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hoover_Factory,_Pentrebach

  • Laguerre

    My opinion is that globalisation is simply a fact of life. Nothing any politician does can stop it. You can be accepting, as Craig is, or you can try to resist. But neither position will make any difference. If the means are available to transport goods around the world, and it’s more economical, then people will do it.

    One of the things I work on is globalisation in medieval times. Although most people stayed close to their birth-place, because the means of transport didn’t exist, it is astounding how far away products were sourced. For example, in 13th century Cairo cobalt oxide, necessary for ceramic production, was sourced in Silesia. And that’s leaving aside such obvious points as the Silk Road, where the Chinese exported silk cloth for Roman ladies to wear, while guarding the commercial secret of how it was made. The Chinese haven’t changed much since then.

    Deregulation is quite a different matter, as Craig says. Commercial interest is to produce anything that sells, however toxic it is. Diluted contaminated milk for 19th century Londoners is an example. Only government regulation can keep it within limits. For the moment, that means national governments, the only supra-national control being the EU.

    So adapt yourself to the globalised economy, you don’t have a choice.

    • Habbabkuk

      Very much agree with that.

      It is also worth pointing out the following to the mindless critics of globalisation: to wish the end of globalisation from where we stand today is, objectively speaking, to wish to return to the world of the 1950s, ie to a world of colonies, to a place where much of the world’s population was infinitely worse off than today, to a world where important areas of the world (notably China and the vassal states of the Evil Empire aka the Soviet union) were not actors of the world economic stage.

      To unwish globalisation is to wish (impossible, as you point out) a return to that status quo ante.

      • Stu

        Habba your posts are becoming more nonsensical. Opposing globalization means colonisation…. why?

        The desirable future is a sustainable one of mixed economies where a nation’s resources are used for the benefit of it’s citizens and nations cooperate on an even footing to ensure that technological advances benefit everyone rather than a tiny number of rent seekers.

        Globalisation as it stands now means Africans going hungry while they export food to Europe. It means African doctors and nurses migrating to Europe while Europe sends it’s toxic waste to be dumped in Africa.

  • Alf Baird

    Very informative piece Craig. Having researched ports and shipping matters for quite a long time, this reminds me of a theoretical framework I developed on the matter of port privatisation. Three ‘elements’ of ports could be sold by the state: operations, land ownership, and regulation. Most countries ‘concessioned’ the port operations to private actors and defined this as privatisation, whilst port land remained in the public domain as did regulation. These were referred to as ‘Hanseatic’ (city-owned) or Latin (state-owned) port traditions. The main exception to this globally was the UK, where ports were sold off in their entirety: i.e. operations, land, AND regulation. This became known amongst international maritime economists as the ‘Anglo Saxon’ Model. The legacy, in Scotland, is outdated Victorian port infrastructure and high port charges, with port/estuary monopolies now owned by offshore private equity funds. The consequence is an ongoing decline in trade. At the UK level, the ever worsening trade balance demonstrates the failure of this totally deregulated approach. The UK as a whole is no longer a competitive trading economy. Having undertaken a PhD on global shipping strategies, I agree with you Craig that there are immense benefits from globalisation. And you are right, it is the form of deregulation adopted that severely inhibits economies such as the UK as a whole, and Scotland. Airports are the same, and energy, and..

    • James Dickenson

      Some of the ‘immense benefits’ from globalisation?

      “While the numbers of people living in extreme poverty has indeed halved, many of those people are still poor, deprived of their basic needs. A more accurate measure of poverty shows that the number of poor worldwide has overall increased.
      As the London-based development charity ActionAid showed in a 2013 report, a more realistic poverty measure lies between $5 and $10 a day. World Bank data shows that since 1990, the number of people living under $10 a day has increased by 25 percent, and the number of people living under $5 a day has increased by 10 percent. Today, 4.3 billion people — nearly two-thirds of the global population — live on less than $5 a day.
      So really, poverty has worsened in the Age of Progress. And now the un-sustainability of this equation is coming home to roost even in the centres of global growth, where wealth is most concentrated.”
      https://www.actionaid.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/unga_post_2015_briefing_final.pdf

      • Habbabkuk

        Is much of that not explained by population growth? I suggest that the position would be much better if population growth in the regions you have in mind had been at European rates (I realise this is an “if” argument)

      • Alf Baird

        I don’t think you can blame all poverty on globalisation of trade/industry. There are other factors at play, not least the level of regulation within countries, and corruption. Global economies of scale in shipping (e.g. larger ships) have dramatically reduced transport costs which in turn has made far greater trade flows possible. This has led to production and sourcing of products in many more countries, bringing new economic development opportunities to more and more countries and regions. Container shipping in particular is one of the ‘critical enablers’ of globalisation. It is therefore no surprise that almost all trading nations focus on developing and expanding container terminals as a national priority. Consider the rapid growth of classic transhipment port-cities, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Panama etc and their development on the back of trade. Now we see another development phase of offshore container transhipment facilities – e.g. Salalah, Colombo, Malta, Tangier, Freeport Bahama, Suez etc. Good access to such hubs and the global low cost shipping connections they provide is vital for a nation’s global competitiveness. These attributes surely provide the potential (e.g. production, jobs, incomes etc) to help address poverty through trade growth.

  • Zeke

    Excuse me, but did yu not say that anybody even mentioning that French political leader that you have named. by name, would be banned from this blog?

    • glenn_uk

      Zeke: No. You can mention Le Pen, by name, and you will not be banned from this blog.

      Campaigning for her will apparently get you booted though, which reminds me of something.

      Anon1 called me a coward yesterday because I supposedly didn’t criticise any religions other than Christianity (although this isn’t actually true). Naturally, he’d like to see criticism of Islam and nothing else. Despite proving in a direct reply this wasn’t true, he’s yet to note that fact.

      So is Anon1 brave enough to tell the truth about Le Pen, and admit how he’d like to see her win? He weaselled out of the question last time round.

  • bevin

    ““The Left has failed to formulate a coherent intellectual response to globalisation, largely because they have fallen for the neoliberal intellectual trap of believing domestic deregulation to be a necessary concomitant.”

    The first part is right: the ‘left’ has certainly failed, if only because it is far too broad a grouping to come up with any coherent analysis-half of it, for example, favours capitalism, half of it believes in ‘progress’ and economic growth.
    The second part is wrong: globalisation of the sort that exists, led by corporations and aiming for maximised profits for capital, does not and will not tolerate domestic regulation. In fact much domestic regulation is banned by the trade agreements which form the structure of globalisation. This is particularly true of the EU. Domestic de-regulation is a necessary concomitant of actually existing globalisation. It is not a necessary concomitant of humanity living in peace and amity but it is inevitable in a system in which the rights of property are privileged above those of the population.

  • Geoffrey

    The proof is in the pudding. I imagine there are far more French people living in the UK than there Brits living in France,and I suspect that many of those Brits living in France do so because of the food and rustic life style, ie because it is less globalised.

  • glenn_uk

    “[Polish immigration] has given new economic opportunities to Polish people, and a Polish person is worth every bit as much as a British person. But the competition for Labour is also an upward pressure on wages in Poland, which is a good thing too.

    Perhaps I’m just being a bit thick here, so please help me out…

    Surely if the competition for labour in Poland, caused by Poles coming here by the million, causes an upward pressure on wages there, wouldn’t the same mechanism cause a corresponding downward pressure on wages here? And if every migrant that arrives without question increases our GDP, how can millions of Poles emigrating Poland do anything but lessen Poland’s GDP?

    In addition, we know there are nothing but cutbacks to social services and infrastructure under these Tory administrations. All inward migration is going to result in further demands on roads, schools, hospitals – everything. Perhaps GDP does go up a bit with each new incomer – heck, even if they make £250/year and rely on the taxpayer for the rest, that’s still an increased GDP.

    But it hardly improves matters of infrastructure and services which is already under more pressure than it can take.

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      It is an interesting question- the effect of emigration and immigration. I noticed some time ago, right from the start-when the movement of people in Europe became common, that the people who were arriving in the UK , by and large, were healthy young adults, and were the more adventurous and vigourous, and also commonly, very well educated, capable, with several languages.
      The same is true of some Asian and African countries, where we encourage the immigration of qualified and educated people (often educated in the UK but paid for by the parents in the original country).
      I often wondered -what is the effect of this ‘brain’ drain on the countries providing, what is in essence, human assets- to this country. Of course the position is rather complex. Many well educated Eastern Europeans work in ways unrelated to their training and education, and there is of course a remittence culture, where earnings are shunted back to the original country.
      I don’t for a moment doubt that there is a considerable academic literature on the topic, but I am pretty sure the effect is far from neutral, although it appears as if there is an assumption within some political circles that this complex to-ing and fro-ing is essentially neutral-in the sense that negatives and positives, more or less, cancel each other out.As far as I can tell there are many Greek medical professionals here in the UK who have fled the difficult economic position there. What is the effect of this (presumably a deficit of qualified medical professionals) on the Greek population? I would suggest it is negative. Or is there a compensating immigration of (say) Syrian medical professionals into Greece who have fled the dire circumstances there.
      Free movement of people is of course on e of the planks of neoliberalism. I have memory that the idea of free movement in the EU was set up in the (much admired) economic image of the US, where it is a feature of the population, due to their ‘pioneering’ (ie. migrating) history, and their immigrant origins, often fleeing persecution, or economic privation, and the absence of social support systems, that labour was a. much less unionised and organised and b.much more readily persuaded to depart what was, in effect, a temporary home, and move to where the work was-all part of the westward quest for new horizons and always leaving a trail of destruction in its path in what must have at one time seemd like a limitless horizon.
      I sense that the whole issue of migration has been much misunderstood and especially in the last three decades in the EU, where i suspect that the prospects of profits and reduiced costs has been a dominating theme.
      While I am highly sympathetic to the idea of freedom of movement at a personal level, i am also aware that the movement of people is not really an accident, nor in view of our experience of the last few decades, neutral, but is also a feature of a world which allows a concomitant neglect and loss to established and stable communities, while providing the opportunity to erode such systems makes the exploitation of individuals more accessible to the large organisations that require labour.
      Essentially the devaluing, disruption and destruction of community, ‘the commons’, and that held in collective, if intangible and undefined (non-monetisable) ownership, is sacrificed to the financial benefit of some advantaged individuals.
      Essentially it is ‘ponzification’ of human existence.

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