Headline: Donald Trump’s clash of civilisations versus the global community
Sub-headline: Human affairs are too interwoven to be the product of purely national decision-making
How did I miss Mr. Wolf’s July 11, 2017 essay extolling the G-20 as:
The G20 embodies the ideal of global community.
This ‘community’ is not about the promotion of republican political virtues, nor the aspirations/welfare of the citizens that constitute that ‘G-20’. Mr. Wolf as an exponent of ‘The Dismal Science’ is incapable of the realization about the actuality of Cosmopolitan Ideal, and its reality in the political present, as presented by Ulrich Beck in his many books, but especially in his ‘Cosmopolitan Vision’, the English translation of 2006, and ‘Twenty Observations On A World In Turmoil’ the English translation of 2012.
That Dismal Science is not a science but is ‘Political Economy’ with the heavy garnish of ‘Scientism’, and in this context, the Mt. Pelerin Philosopher Kings supplied the necessary propaganda about the emancipatory potential of ‘The Free Market’. Yet, we live now with the political constant of the realization of the failure of that theology.
Mr. Wolf seeks to tie the Nihilist Politics of Mr. Trump to the ‘Clash of Civilization’ of Samuel P. Huntington. Mr. Wolf wisely puts that ‘clash’ in lower case so as to remove the taint of Mr. Huntington’s paranoia of ‘The Other’. But the reader can quite clearly see that Huntington’s ethnic/religious/racial animus is clearly in tune with Trump and Trumpism. Look to Huntington’s ‘Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity’ for his paranoia of the Mestizo Hoards about to over-run and utterly dilute America’s Anglo-Protestant virtue.
But Mr. Wolf ignores the vogue that this ‘Clash’ has enjoyed, in the chatter of policy experts and pundits, who were looking for a framing device in the Post-Cold War period: a rationale for their unslakable war mongering: the ‘Clash’ provided an ‘enemy’ that was ubiquitous.
On the Warsaw speech: Mr. Trump’s senior advisors share the Free Market Vision as foundational, not just to America, but is in the interests of the whole of the G-20. ‘The business of the G-20 is business’ to paraphrase Calvin Coolidge.
The speech took further the stance of two of Mr Trump’s senior advisers, HR McMaster and Gary Cohn, in an article published in May: “The world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, non-governmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.” They argued that “America First does not mean America alone”.
One marvels at Mr. Wolf’s myopia, if that is what the reader chooses to call the next two paragraphs: ‘The War On Terror‘, now fought on eight fronts, is ‘The Clash of Civilizations’! Our 30 Years War began because of the political ascendancy of the Neo-Conservatives, and their animus to Islam as prima facae heretical! To engage in augmentative reductivism, if Zionism has political legitimacy, so does Political Islam! Then Mr. Wolf advocates his own form of Economic Cosmopolitanism, sans Beck’s all embracing vision of human freedom, as currently practiced by actors across borders in the political present.
If the west is asked to unite for a war of civilisations, it will fracture, as it did over the Iraq war. It is easy to agree that what Mr Trump calls “radical Islamist terrorism” is a concern. But to judge it an overriding existential threat is ludicrous. Nazism was an existential threat. So was Soviet communism. Terrorism is just a nuisance. The great danger is that of overreaction. This could poison relations with 1.6bn Muslims worldwide.
We must beware the self-fulfilling prophecy of a clash of civilisations, not just because it is untrue, but because we have to co-operate. The ideal of a global community is not airy-fairy. It reflects today’s reality. Technology and economic development have made humans masters of the planet and dependent upon one another. Interdependence does not stop at national borders. Why indeed should it? Borders are arbitrary.
Then we have this advocacy for ‘economic integration’:
Global economic integration is not a malign plot. It is a natural extension of market forces in an era of rapid technological innovation. Such a world inevitably exposes countries to the policy decisions of others. As we all learned in 2008, the global financial system is no stronger than its weakest links. Those who depend on international trade need confidence in the terms of access to the markets of other countries.
Enforcing that ‘global economic integration’ are the ‘Trade Agreements’ NAFTA, TPP and the TTIP, that render useless the laws of the countries that sign these Treaties! This Intercept news story by David Dayen provides valuable information about the ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) used as profit centers for Casino Capitalism.
Headline: A Monster Payday in Argentina Shows a Flaw in Trump’s NAFTA Renegotiation
A company that specializes in bankrolling lawsuits has won a huge payday from the government of Argentina, in one of the biggest examples of financiers using the secret courts embedded in trade agreements as casinos.
Burford Capital, the world’s largest firm for “litigation finance,” will earn $140 million on a $13 million investment in an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) case against Argentina over the nationalization of Aerolineas Argentinas, the nation’s flagship airline. The case was brought under Argentina’s bilateral investment treaty with Spain; the investors in the airline were Spanish.
Under ISDS, part of over 3,000 trade agreements worldwide, corporations can sue governments for changes in law or regulation that violate trade agreements, and win awards equaling “expected future profits” they might have otherwise gained. The idea was to protect investors from seizure of assets, outside the court system of the offending government. But instead of helping companies resolve legitimate disputes over seized assets, ISDS has increasingly become a means for rich investors to speculate on lawsuits, winning huge awards and forcing local taxpayers to foot the bill.
That ‘malign plot’ is in fact a reality, of the ‘economic integration’ that Mr. Wolf sees as emancipatory. Does the Party Line of the apologists for Capitalism ever change? They simply reinvent their arguments as opportunism dictates. Mr. Wolf then attempts in his last two paragraphs to place himself were?
How, one might ask, has this clash of civilisations now emerged, not so much between the west and the rest as within the west — a clash symbolised by the contrasting perspectives of Germany’s Angela Merkel and Mr Trump? For that tragedy I blame the rise of US “pluto-populism”. Behind this is something remarkable: the US income distribution is now more like that of a developing than an advanced country. Populism (of both left and right) is a natural consequence of high inequality. If so, Mr Trump may be no temporary anomaly.
The transformation of the US we are seeing might prove enduring. If so, the world has moved into a dangerous era. “The US”, argues former state department official Richard Haass, “is not sufficient, but it is necessary.” He is right. If the one “necessary” player is absent, disorder would appear to be inevitable.
‘Pluto-populism’ of both Left and Right are identified as the twin Enemies of a ‘Political Center’ completely colonized by the failed Neo-Liberal Dogmas. Mr. Wolf wears the red hat of the Cardinal, and quotes from Foreign Policy Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in American Exceptionalism Richard Haass, on the necessity of the American Hegemon. Haass is a Thomist, in an age demanding Gustavo Gutiérrez!