Today in Bulletin: Could globalization end with a whimper? … Christian Democracy in the USA … China’s Marxist millennials … and more.
Bulletinis a chronicle of socialist comment and analysis from Jacobin’s Seth Ackerman.
Christian Democracy in the USA
Will Trump’s election end the hegemony of anti-government conservatism in the Republican Party?
Hard as it is to recall now, that was a question pundits were asking in 2016 and 2017. Trump’s promises to protect Social Security and Medicare, his flirtation with single-payer health care, and his opposition to trade agreements all prompted repeated, failed predictions of a Republican turn to some nationalistic form of Christian Democracy.
Well, two years have passed and Trump still hasn’t dislodged anti-government ideology from its pride of place in the GOP. But you know who has forced it to budge? Striking teachers:
Again, these were losses in Republican primaries.
On a related note, if you want to see what much of the US right would probably look like if the US allowed opposition parties to freely compete, take a look at the campaign website of R. Travis Brenda, an evangelical public school teacher in a poor, 98 percent white county, who recently ousted Kentucky’s Republican house majority leader in the GOP primaries.
“Travis Brenda is a life-long conservative, an advocate of the 2nd Amendment, pro-life and believes in common sense solutions,” the site reads, followed by a three-point platform: “Protect Public Education. Enhance Our Communities through Economic Development. Address the Opioid Epidemic and Strengthen Families.”
The New York Timesprofiled Brenda last May: “It was clear Mr. Shell [Brenda’s opponent, a high-ranking Republican who was pushing for public employee pension cuts] had miscalculated, Mr. Brenda said on Wednesday. About one-fifth of workers in District 71 are public employees, according to census figures, and Mr. Brenda said many of them are educators. ‘It’s hard to find someone in Garrard, Rockcastle and western Madison Counties that do not have some connection to a state employee,’ he said. ‘That made the difference.’”
Could Globalization End With a Whimper?
For years, the sages of global capitalism have been warning left nostalgics that globalization is irreversible except at the cost of catastrophic economic disruption. Now we might get to find out if they were right — thanks to an experiment conducted not by the Left, but the Trumpian right.
One of the main components in the intricate machinery of global capitalism is the network of cross-border value chains in which multinational manufacturers shuttle materials and parts from factory to factory and nation to nation. Entrenched globalized manufacturing, premised as it is on tariff-free trade, is said to preclude a return to national capitalism.
Well, we’ll see:
Implicit in the globalizers’ warnings was the suggestion that imposing twentieth-century style tariffs under twenty-first-century conditions would result in some awful economic smash-up. By that standard, the quotes above — “reshuffling manufacturing,” “production will move around” — make the expected economic reactions sound rather benign. If anything, multinationals owning “122 factories around the world,” as Volkswagen apparently does, would seem to obviate the costly and time-consuming need to build new plants from scratch during a transition to more localized production.
Is the economic smash-up near? So far, over the last month global stocks are down about 2 percent. Either way, it’s something to watch.
Meet China’s Marxist Millennials
Is Yanis Varoufakis’s Parallel-Currency Idea Coming to Italy?
Lost in the commentary around the formation of Italy’s new populist government was this tidbit: It seems the governing Five Star-Lega coalition wants to implement a version of former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’s ultimately stillborn plan for a parallel currency, which would have done an end-run around Greece’s monetary overlords at the European Central Bank.
Except that Italy’s version seems to lend itself more to tax evasion than to Keynesian stimulus. Here’s a report that ran several weeks ago in the Financial Times:
Is this plan still in the works?
Friedrich Engels to the Anglo Left: Why Can’t You Just Be Normal?