Editorial from Irish Political Review, March 2009


Globalism is not a policy but a fact, Bill Clinton said when he was President, laying down a policy.

He also defined Democracy as Liberty plus free markets. Or was it that he defined Liberty as Democracy plus free markets? Does it matter which it was? The essential thing was free markets.

Freedom is an absence of restraint and obstacles relative to something. Strictly speaking it has no meaning in itself. In the matter of Globalism it is in the first place freedom for US capital to be invested anywhere in the world. Next it is freedom of British capital investment. And finally Europe joined the game.

Europe and the US obstruct each other's freedom to some extent, but they are agreed in demanding freedom of economic action in the rest of the world.

The Celtic Tigger is (was?) a phenomenon of the US/EU freedom which dominated the world situation after 1990. Its tigerish qualities were those of a pet in a playground. It flourished briefly in a world which it had done nothing to create.

Ireland developed economically for about half a century through its own resourcefulness in a world which did it no favours. It had a slightly protected market for industrial products at home, but its economy was chiefly agricultural and that had to function in the free world market in agricultural produce which Britain had arranged for itself as a purchaser. Then it gained access to the protected agricultural market of the EU before Europe became globalist. Finally it held a very favoured position in the US/UK/EU development of total Globalism.

What else could it have done? Utopia arrived and offered itself and would not be refused.

But now it transpires that Utopia is subject to the trade cycle of capitalism too.

There was never any real doubt that it was. But how could "any ordinary person—any ordinary business person" (to quote a Labour spokesman on RTE radio recently) take account of the inevitable bust when the boom is going full blast? Gather ye rosebuds while ye may is the operative rule in globalist capitalism in its heartlands. If you stop too soon, you lose. If you stop too late, you lose. You must stop at the right time. And the right time is only known after the event, when it is too late.

In pre-Utopian days, when banks were backward and almost parochial, you could make a bit of money and save it and reckon on it holding its value. You could gather some rosebuds and put them by. What a marvel that seems now! Today the rest of the verse applies:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may  
Old Time is still a-flying:  
And this same flower that smiles to-day  
  To-morrow will be dying.  
(Robert Herrick)

The population at large has, as never before, been drawn into the financial manipulations of capital in its Utopian phase of the last fifteen or twenty years. And, now that the trade cycle of capital has bitten, we hear futile denunciations of those who were running the banks by the democracy that has been bit.

The Utopian phase of capitalism saw the invention of all sorts of ingenious new financial devices, which have now come to grief, and of a vast increase in the circulation of goods. The increase in the circulation of goods (called prosperity) did not happen despite the ingenious financial devices (which it is now tempting to call chicanery). It happened because of them.

The trade cycle is inherent in the procedure of producing goods by private enterprise for an unknown market. Production increases at an accelerating pace in response to effective demand—demand that can pay—and production meeting demand and demand meeting production have a stimulating effect on each other for a time. But the situation is necessarily uncontrolled. Lack of control is necessary to the evoking of enterprise and ingenuity. Control—at least in the kind of social and political arrangements which we have got and which there is no realistic prospect of replacing for the time being—stifles enterprise.

So there is no way of knowing when the mutually reinforcing expansion of demand and production achieved by tricky financial devices is reaching the point of breakdown this time round. And if it could be known, what could the bankers, the businessmen and the politicians do about it? The thing is beyond the control of the politicians at that point. A particular businessman with exclusive knowledge—or who happened to guess right—could do something to the advantage of his business. But if all businessmen did it together they would only accelerate the breakdown.

As for the bankers at the cutting edge of capitalism, they have been doing reckless things with the expansion of credit for generations—for centuries—expanding the system and getting caught by it.

There was a time when it might have been meaningful to say: If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen. But today where is there to go?

Ireland has been in the thick of the globalising process for a generation, doing its utmost to expand the system both by participation and exhortation. And in recent weeks John Bruton, whom we had almost forgotten, has emerged as globalist spokesman for the EU. He propounds the only permissible cure for the crisis, which is the hair of dog—more of the same, on an expanded scale.

A decade ago there was a maverick state in Asia that refused to enter the globalist system. Dr. Mahatir in Malaysia kept up a system of controls against the operations of foreign capital, and was denounced. The Editor of the Irish Times devoted a number of editorials demanding the removal of this rotten apple from the barrel. The kind of language then very much in use against Haughey was directed at Mahatir—"corruption" and "crony capitalism". But a couple of years later Malaysia coped with the Asian Flu much better than other States that surrendered to propaganda against crony capitalism and went for Utopia. And we do not hear of Malaysia being a basket case today.

Protection works.

The world in its predominant US/UK/EU ideology is committed to making the world a single, uniform society. We cannot understand the attractions in this obsession. The word peace is usually used incoherently in connection with it. In Russian the word mir means both peace and the world, but the world in question seems to have been the backward village commune where there was peace.

The global village, of which there was much talk thirty years ago, is far from being a reality, and if US/EU persist in trying to realise it, there will be little peace on the way. And, if it should ever be realised, what then? The human race would be at a loose end.

Imperialism is perfected civilisation, according to Oswald Spengler in a thoughtful book written as the Great War was ending: The Decline Of The West. Civilisations culminate in Imperialism. Having ceased to develop internally, and to be preoccupied with their own development, they merely expand. And of course in demonstrating their power by merely expanding they must destroy civilisations which are content to live within themselves.

That pretty much describes the position of the West with relation to the rest of the world today. The rest of the world copes with this as best it can, and parts of it seem to be coping in ways that appear ominous for the West.

Not many generations ago Ireland was "The Alien of the West". Is it now absolutely aligned with the West in what the West is committed to doing to the rest of the world?



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