Friday, May 30, 2008

Isolationism's Time Has Come

(Note- as will become clear, I am not 'The Devil's Kitchen')
The worldview expressed by Sir Simon Jenkins is often so soggy and precious that it's tempting to have a go at the old Establishment quangocrat, but not today. This is one of those 'more in sorrow than in anger' posts, because Sir Simon seems to be watching that very cultured worldview fall to bits around his ankles.
Perhaps the very title of his piece, 'Once, 'international' sounded saintly. Now it means bureaucracy and waste' should give some idea as to where not only the poor chap's coming from, but where he's going to. 'Saintly', the adverb he deploys so casually, is hardly one suited to the doings of those most beastly and pragmatic entities, nation-states. That I do something with my fellow man for the greater good is a good thing - that I do something with a North Korean solely because I am British and he is North Korean does not necessarily make it a good thing.
Internationalism of the kind Sir Simon describes is a disease. The nation state has been the foundation of all international relations since the Peace of Westphalia. It is here to stay, and the anti-nationalism, either hatred or loathing or despair for one's own nation, which is synonymous with 'internationalism' cannot, will not, ever undermine it.
The British problem is that we have had allowed too many Sir Simons and their ilk to wring their hands about how bad Britain is, and refuse to permit any sense of common civic British identity to develop. This is the real root cause of every significant social problem we face, from the drugs to the knives to Islam. The British are the one people in the world whom you can guarantee will stab each other in the back for a penny; 30 years of multiculturalism, 40 years of religious decline and 150 years of free trade have combined to flush any sense of community out of our souls.
Everything that the British have ever been told about 'free trade' is a lie. It is not a win-win game. It does not make everyone richer. It is ideology, pure and simple. It started off with free trade in corn, and soon became free trade in sugar. All that happened was that slave-produced Cuban sugar was cheaper than that produced by emanicipated Jamaican slaves. Everyone bought the Cuban sugar, the Jamaicans' standard of living fell, and this drop in living standards was one of the main causes of the Bogle Rebellion of 1865.
Oh, but tariffs are bad! Bad!
Tell that to the guys who passed the Safeguarding of Industries Act 1921, a pretty solid plank in the foundations of the country's economic recovery after The Great War.
But, hey, we abandoned it, so that in 1940 the Spitfires that won the Battle of Britain largely flew with American instrumentation.
Now, no doubt some expat libertarian will expat away about 'The Road to Serfdom'. I do not care either about Friedrich von Hayek or his 'Road to Serfdom'. I prefer history to ideology, and the history of free trade as practiced in the United Kingdom has been one of industrial decline married to stupid 'internationalist' sentiment.
Sir Simon and his pals, probably all great globalists (without being able to tell anyone what globalisation actually is), are 21st Century Jellabies. They much prefer to discuss how we must have peace with Bujumbonia through free trade, rather than break a sweat to try to clean up the mess they've helped to make in their own backyards. No more.
Let's have a period of isolation, a period when we can get the both the national head and the national act together. That means getting of Iraq, leaving NATO, stopping mass immigration, leaving the EU and erecting a 25% tariff wall. This will not result in war, calamity or catastrophe, but may result in 'import substitution' - what we can no longer import, we make ourselves; precisely what happened when Malysia refused to heed the IMF's advice during the Asian banking crisis of 1998.
Of course, there are those on both the left and the right who think that the British are either too stupid or too lazy to pull off an economic miracle. Me, I have more faith.

49 comments:

Rory Meakin said...

Holy crap - what utter stupid drivel?

"Everything that the British have ever been told about 'free trade' is a lie. It is not a win-win game. It does not make everyone richer. It is ideology, pure and simple."

I go to a shop, trade some of my own production (monetised into currency) for the shop's wares. That's free trade. I am better off, what I bought was worth more to me than the time(/money) for which I exchanged it. The shopkeeper is better off, he's made a profit. I won, he won. Is that a lose/lose scenario?

His profit and my gain - are we not richer? No? That's just "ideology, pure and simple."?

Hot totally fucking stupid is that!

"Let's have a period of isolation. That means... erecting a 25% tariff wall."

Go and fuck your anushole with a cactus. You don't want to buy better, cheaper stuff made overseas? Fine - do what you like. But how the fuck dare you tell me I've got to pay 25% surcharge if I do, just because you don't understand simple economics? Fuck off.

V said...

Free trade is a lie?

Interesting article - in the same way that watching dwarf inter species erotica is interesting!

The reason free trade is a lie is because free trade as it is practiced these days is not free. Any limiting legislation ruins the advantages free trade gives both the buyer and seller.

The other thing free trade can't do is help a dying industry. If sugar is cheaper elsewhere, then free trade is about adding value to your expensive sugar to make it worth buying again!

A dying industry needs to be killed off and replaced with something better.

I am gobsmacked that DK allowed such a mad idea to be posted on the site. I'm all for free speech, but stupidity has its limits!!

ASG9000 said...

"All that happened was that slave-produced Cuban sugar was cheaper than that produced by emanicipated Jamaican slaves. Everyone bought the Cuban sugar, the Jamaicans' standard of living fell"

In order to expose free trade as a scam, you have to rely on a hundred and fifty year old tale which relies on the presence of slavery to work. As I read further I am amused to see that your solution is to not buy sugar from Cuba or Jamaica! By your own argument, this is lowering the living standards of everyone including us Brits who now have to grow sugar in an unsuitable climate. Your foolish answer is to lower the living standards of everyone. The rank stupidity of this idea is reflected in your somewhat underwhelming promises that it may not result in "war, calamity or catastrophe", well I should fucking hope not!

Naturally, I sympathise with your sadness at the loss of the crucially, some say strategically, important dye industry.

Anyway, if we're going for a spot of isolation, why not squeeze the Scots out? The last thing we want is for those sneaky jocks to snaffle the dye industry up for themselves. The Welsh? What if they cornered the ball baring market? Cornishmen? They were never really with us anyway. I mean for christ sakes man, are you committed to this idea or not?

silas said...

I agree with some of the points you've made Martin - such as pulling out of the EU and getting out of Iraq - and while I'm supportive of your idea for promoting production in the UK, I'm honestly not sure we're capable any more. You have your faith, I have none left.

The manufacturing base we used to have has gone, destroyed by successive governments and the ability to outsource to cheaper countries. While we do lead the world in certain areas of technology and aerospace design and development, engineers are thin on the ground and mass manufacturing would require an infrastructure we've spent 50 years taking apart.

Also, there would need to be a complete removal of the Welfare State (not necessarily a bad thing) in order to make some agricultural jobs seem attractive enough to get people to do them. Without enough people in the fields and processing plants, we'd starve the poorest members of society (who would be those needed to do the picking and processing) who couldn't afford the 25% tariff you suggest.

Food production is, I have to admit, one of my greatest areas of concern. Okay, so we'd thin out the population a bit, and perhaps stop people building houses on their gardens, but our climate is a touch on the temperamental side and doesn't really allow for widespread vineyards or banana plantations.

Yes we could change our eating habits, and yes we could actually enjoy a diet similar to that of our ancestors. We could also have rationing, rickets, and food riots.

And in regards to one of your earlier points, I would take issue with your assertion that despairing about Britain is synonymous with internationalism. Isn't disliking aspects of the country part of what being British is about?

We're not forced to pretend to like everything, we don't have to support a particular political party, and we aren't all identical in outlook. And we're all the better for it.

Only by having differing opinions about the country can we ever hope to improve it. If ideas come from overseas, welcome them and improve them for our own needs. If ideas we already have no longer work, change them.

It's not about internationalism or isolationism, IMHO, it's about teaching people that we should have some control over our futures, rather than sitting back and letting other people take the decisions for us. We need to take the power back.

I am the Revolution, and I want my country back. What country remains, however, is looking increasingly bleak.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

This is a load of old bollocks. I can only assume you abused DK's libertarian instincts to get it posted.

Your economic argument is illogical and fatuous. Your appeal to nostalgia is telling. It's the kind of sentimental false reasoning that the BNP use to entice the weak-minded to their cause. It's based on false premises, the logic is appalling and it doesn't contain the word "cunt".

0/10 -- must try harder!

Alexis said...

Jesus. I'm glad you aren't the DK because this is absolute nonsense. Stop imports? Have you read Dickens? It used to be that poor people would freeze en masse in winter because they had coats that were "threadbare" i.e. old and thin. Do you want to jack up the price of clothing again so that people can't afford to buy cheap, warm coats anymore? And repeat this for every other industry.

Budgie said...

Martin is putting forward the BNP argument: nationalism (defined as us alone) is better than internationalism into which bucket the BNP put such disparates as free traders, the EU and international socialists.

I'm all for leaving the EU but because it is corrupt, corporatist, statist and undemocratic. What the EU is not is internationalist. Look at its propaganda - it is nationalist; EU nation-alist.

There is no difference in principle between British Nationalism and EU Nationalism.

clive templeton said...

Dude, saintly is an adjective, rather than an adverb. But that's the least of your mistakes.

This is a deluded, messy, childish article.

I bet your worthy host here is cringing at this splash of slop in his sulphur...

Blue Eyes said...

Somebody seems to have forgotten about division of labour and specialisation.

Prodicus said...

The Flat Earth Society is alive and well and can be found here.

Tomrat said...

"It started off with free trade in corn, and soon became free trade in sugar. All that happened was that slave-produced Cuban sugar was cheaper than that produced by emanicipated Jamaican slaves. Everyone bought the Cuban sugar, the Jamaicans' standard of living fell, and this drop in living standards was one of the main causes of the Bogle Rebellion of 1865."

"Slave-produced" cuban sugar is hardly representative of free trade is it? Whilst I happen to agree with you about the decline of Britain through years of multiculturalism and religious decline it doesn't have anything to do with free trade. It is a philosophy and theory that has never been fully embraced in any real sense of the word.

Johnny said...

If what you say is true then sanctions on, say, South Africa under apartheid or Rhodesia should have strengthened their economies and bolstered the regimes. Apparently it didn't quite work out the way you envisage.

It's true `free trade' needs some kind of different name and a better definition so's one could stand some chance of understanding what is really meant by the term.

Gman said...

Its never a good idea to leave the default password as "password"

Frederick Davies said...

I thought April Fool's Day was two months ago!

yokel said...

As the Devil himself is a Libertarian, and as many of the commenters above have said that this article is incompatible with Libertarianism, my mind has been clarified greatly. Thanks for the help.

The author of this post has merely indicated that Great Britain would be wise to look after its own interests for a while. For however long it takes to address the mess that an unholy alliance of free trade and socialism (red or blue, it matters not a jot) have got us into. On the basis of this straw poll, Libertarianism is about as relevant to this country's present needs as top down dictatorial Socialism. Great comments folks, keep it up.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Yokel, get back to molesting your sheep.

Britain needs to look after its own interests, those interests are NOT making everything more expensive than it already is. There is no unholy alliance between socialism and free trade, socialism is dressing up in the rags of what is left of free trade in this country.

Now fuck off.

one night in bangkok said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gladstone turns in his grave said...

What utter fucking bollocks. Although I have my disagreements with The Devil, I've always maintained a respect for him/you. I hope you'll, at the very least, express a disagreement with these statements.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the part about leaving the EU and putting an end to mass immigration. Other than that it is pure unbridled tosh.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Martin, you have chosen your examples very selectively. I agree to get out of EU, NATO, UK, UN, end mass immigration, but free trade has always been A Good Thing, you've missed the point somewhere along the line.

Besides, Sir Simon did a tip-top article on why we should legalise drugs recently. He is right at least half of the time (which is more than most people).

STRENGTH said...

Wadsworth,

I agree we should legalise drugs. It just enrages me that all the fucking mongs that read the Scum and the Daily Heil get prohibition through by being cunts.

I personally would smoke a bit of weed. I'd also take magic mushrooms, peyote, and possibly LSD if it was good quality (which it would be if legalised & regulated). I'd avoid shyte like coke and heroin though.

chris said...

The crime rate reached its lowest point in about 1910, about when globalisation reached its highest. Crime began to gradually increase during the beggar my neighbour protectionism of the 1920s and 1930s, before really exploding after 1955 when the effects of socialism (also highly protectionist) began to kick in. So to equate free trade and increased crime does not follow. It is only as the great effect of Thatcher breaking the country out of its socialist spiral of decline that crime began to decline again in 1995 according to the BCS.

The corrosive effects of Socialism and the Welfare State, not Free Trade, is what has been eating away at our society.

Autarchy has been tried in several countries but the results have always been the same, stagnation and misery. Trade on the other hand does have a track record of improving living standards.

Andy Cooke said...

Hmm. We need a snappy name for your idea.

I know - we could call it Juche ...

John Trenchard said...

anyone going on the circle line booze cruise tommorow?

last chance to have a drink on the tube before the ban comes in.

according to the london evening papers, theres going to be a flashmob of thousands doing it... Liverpool Street.

Thon Brocket said...

Who the fuck are you, and what have you done with Chris Mounsey's body?

xoggoth said...

I can't believe you haven't spotted this yet

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/politics/threelinewhip/may/how-libertarians-undermine-liberty.htm

Anonymous said...

Dear DK

Please don't allow this person to post on your blog again. My spare time is limited and I simply can't afford to waste it on reading skank like this: if I wanted the opinion of retards, I'd be watching the BBC.

Corsair

Anonymous said...

"I go to a shop, trade some of my own production (monetised into currency) for the shop's wares. That's free trade."

Does it matter if the shopkeeper doesn't want your "production" because you have been left illiterate and unable to count by a society in terminal decline?

Are Libertarians against intervention in the education market? If those who can, do - rather than teach (even through apprenticeships) - that knowledge may be lost to the next generation. How would Libertarians "protect" against that, if at all? Please bear in mind the recent bridge collapse in Liverpool Street station in considering your answer.

I assume that Libertarians are at least in favour of intervention in the justice market (i.e. payment of the police and judges out of the public purse rather than relying on the voluntary sector)? That would seem to be a necessary requirement of enforcing your prohibition against interfering in another's liberty.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous.

Read 'The Constitution of Liberty' and/or 'Anarchy, State & Utopia'. They should answer you questions. Or, if you can't be arsed with books, look up 'Libertarianism' on Wikipedia.

Corsair

a nice bowl of curry & naan bread said...

Fuck off. Fat wanker.

All the fucking mongs at my school used to strut round like they were something special, but the're all on the dole now. WTF makes them better than me? Fucking ahoot the cunts in the head.

This doesn't make any sense, but I'm fucked up the arse by Iain Dale if I care.

Rory Meakin said...

"Does it matter if the shopkeeper doesn't want your "production" because you have been left illiterate and unable to count by a society in terminal decline?"

Listen retard. No one forces the retailer to take my pounds, or "production", so who the fuck are u to question if he wants it or not. You may consider yourself 'illiterate' and in 'terminal decline' but, frankly, that's your business. When your have something that affects other people, come back.

William Gruff said...

Martin: To whom are you referring when you write of 'the Br*tish'?

Doctor Syn said...

I would pay good money to read Worstall's reaction to this economically illiterate claptrap. I really would.

freetrader said...

Every time we say we support free speech, an idiot comes along spouting gibberish and making us wonder if we are doing the right thing in allowing expressions of gob-smacking ignorance...

Well, I suppose in a free society idiots in terminal decline like this author (a dyed-in-the-wool bollocks-bearing man if ever there was) should be allowed his say.

And when we have finished scratching our heads at Martin's "logic" and stopped sniggering at his ludicrous ideas we can get back to normal.

ben said...

"40 years of religious decline and 150 years of free trade have combined to flush any sense of community out of our souls."

Thats right Martin, it's the decline of religion. How can society ever progress in this country if we stop believing in the rightful Lord.
What a load of bullshit.

Spent Copper said...

Well Chris, if your intention was to garner some controversy you certainly succeeded. I can only believe that it was either that, or you posted it for a bet?

Best wishes

Umbongo said...

In the absence of DK, what's the next posting going to be about? Could I suggest:

1. how useful ID cards will be (after all "if you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear").
2. how the great chancellor Gordon Brown has morphed seamlessly into the greatest PM of the last 200 years.
3. how the EU benefits all of us as it is the great engine of democracy and representative government (at hardly any cost to the taxpayer).
4. An encomium to the selflessness of our MPs and MEPs

I'm sure there are many more subjects on which DK's co-posters could enlighten us.

Bishop Brennan said...

If we're looking for a name for this policy, how about the North Koreanisation of the UK? They're obviously benefitting massively....

As for import substitution, it's worked once when other countries didn't close their borders in retaliation (for political reasons) and provided massive aid to fund it. There are plenty of examples of its failure - just talk to any Mexican, Indian, etc.....

DK - can we have this cunt's address, so we can string him up please?

Little Black Sambo said...

I did not agree with most of this article, but, for a thoroughoing believer in free trade, isn't the free movement of labour an essential part of the system? Isn't the restriction of immigration an interference with free trade?

And as for Rhodesia being an example of sanctions damaging an economy, I had the impression that in many ways the economy rose to the challenge and developed in new directions that might have been of lasting benefit under a different sucessor regime.

Andrew said...

The last sentence in the second paragraph essentially destroys your case for isolationism:

That I do something with my fellow man for the greater good is a good thing - that I do something with a North Korean solely because I am British and he is North Korean does not necessarily make it a good thing.

Precisely - if you do it because you both consent and mutually benefit from the exchange, it s a good thing regardless of your locations. The only person claiming that a trade is better because of the geographical location of the participants is you, when you argue that Brits should only (or should first) exchange with Brits. The only difference between you and those advocating for supranationalism is the arbitrary groups into which you decide to commit people without their consent.

As for your nonsense about safeguarding industries from competition, perhaps you might like to M. Bastiat's comprehensive refutation.

Anonymous said...

"Read 'The Constitution of Liberty' and/or 'Anarchy, State & Utopia'. They should answer you questions. Or, if you can't be arsed with books, look up 'Libertarianism' on Wikipedia.

Corsair"

- That is not an argument. That is an appeal to prestige. (You can look that up in a book if you like.)

"Listen retard. No one forces the retailer to take my pounds, or "production", so who the fuck are u to question if he wants it or not. You may consider yourself 'illiterate' and in 'terminal decline' but, frankly, that's your business. When your have something that affects other people, come back."

- That's not an argument either - just the use of (highly) emotionally toned words.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

And as for Rhodesia being an example of sanctions damaging an economy, I had the impression that in many ways the economy rose to the challenge and developed in new directions that might have been of lasting benefit under a different sucessor regime.

The economy may well have risen to the challenge, but things were more expensive than they needed to be. And that, ultimately, is the cost of any tariff or sanction.

yokel said...

I guess that what we have assembled here are the political thinkers assisting in the development of Libertarian Party policy and attitudes. Keep digging folks, its the Libertarian Party's grave you're digging even before Ian Parker-Joseph has had a chance in the Henley by-election.

And no, Pope Obnoxious III, I won't be coming back here. Keep your little cess pit special for your bunch of bigots. Chance to do something about the fact that both main parties have policies and actions that you can't tell apart, and the people are crying out for change? Destroy it! Make sure that you keep yourselves pure and separate from such evils! Actually addressing the harm that has already been inflicted on this nation might be offensive. Just keep on asking for more harm. Too much EU the problem? The solution must be even more EU!

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Chance to do something about the fact that both main parties have policies and actions that you can't tell apart, and the people are crying out for change? Destroy it! Make sure that you keep yourselves pure and separate from such evils! Actually addressing the harm that has already been inflicted on this nation might be offensive. Just keep on asking for more harm. Too much EU the problem? The solution must be even more EU!

And that, kids, is why you should never post on the internet after ingesting LSD.

Martin said...

Er, Bishop Brennan,

If you ever post anything about wanting to do me violence again, I will find you out and have you arrested. You went too far.

Richard Allen said...

To anonymous who said

"Dear DK

Please don't allow this person to post on your blog again."

You may or may have not noticed but DK has explained more than once that one of the reasons he has invited so many quest contributors is to allow differing points of view. A position that seems extremely libertarian. Perhaps you are so insular that you only wish to read things that you agree with.

Anonymous said...

This view is timid. We must have a strong presence in the world. Then we can have total freedom and liberty. It's the time of the Neo-Con World Order.

Laban said...

"f what you say is true then sanctions on, say, South Africa under apartheid or Rhodesia should have strengthened their economies and bolstered the regimes"

I believe the Rhodesian economy stood up to sanctions remarkably well.

"The economy may well have risen to the challenge, but things were more expensive than they needed to be"

So you open to imports and things are cheaper - but you have large numbers of unemployed and high taxation in order to make transfer payments to said unemployed. Sounds familiar ? (I know it's a little more complex than that). Japan and Korea became world industrial superpowers with hefty doses of government intervention.

Ben - "Thats right Martin, it's the decline of religion"

It's difficult to know how to respond to such foolishness. Ben seems to think that a massive cultural shift - like the decline of Christianity after 1500-odd years of dominance - will have no effect on a society. Culture's effects are tremendously important - including economic effects.

Take a look at Greg Clark's work - here presented at gnxp

http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2007/08/
10-questions-for-greg-clark.php

"While much of the discussion of Clark's book has focused on his "survival of the richest" hypothesis, Clark himself appears to be equally devoted to demolishing the widely-held view that economic institutions are the key to modern economic growth. He notes that the British people had solid property rights, limited government, and sound currency for centuries before they had their Industrial Revolution. Drawing on early work by Nobel Prize-winner Douglass North, he argues that economic institutions are largely endogenous and relatively efficient, at least when we're talking about time horizons lasting a century or more. If institutional change wasn't the driving force behind modern economic growth, then what was? In Clark's view, the driving force was change within human beings themselves.



1. In some early work, you wondered why workers in British cotton mills were so much more productive than workers in Indian cotton mills. You discuss this in the last chapter of A Farewell to Alms. You looked at a lot of the usual explanations-incentives, management, quality of the machines-and none of them really seemed to explain the big gap in productivity. Finally, you seemed to turn to the idea that it's differences between the British and Indian workers themselves-maybe their culture, maybe their genes-that explained the difference. How did you come to that conclusion?

Clark: I came to economics as an undergraduate expecting, as is the central view of economics, that the explanation for wealth and poverty would ultimately be located in social institutions and that people everywhere have basically the same aspirations and abilities.

But unlike most of my colleagues in economics I have always been interested in the mechanisms, and the fine details, of how things actually function. Much of modern economics is entirely theoretical, and even most empirical work in economics involves just looking at very high level correlations between variables such as income per person and education, or democracy, or the openness of trade.

When I set out in my PhD thesis to try and explain differences in income internationally in 1910 I found that asking simple questions like "Why could Indian textile mills not make much profit even though they were in a free trade association with England which had wages five times as high?" led to completely unexpected conclusions. You could show that the standard institutional explanation made no sense when you assembled detailed evidence from trade journals, factory reports, and the accounts of observers. Instead it was the puzzling behavior of the workers inside the factories that was the key."

Bishop Brennan said...

Martin

I'm sorry if I went too far - of course I have no wish to do you any harm whatsoever.


BB