Keith Hart on Fri, 27 Jan 2017 16:32:09 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> A Third Way Between Protectionism & Globalization

Sir James Steuart was a Jacobite exile who brought the term 'political
economy' from Continental Europe to Britain. Almost a decade before
'The Wealth of Nations' he published 'Principles of political economy'
in 1767. For advocating a free Scottish  home market with initial
protection from international predators, he was soon labelled a
'mercantilist'. But his strategy has some relevance now, especially for
regions like Africa that are politically fragmented, economically
backward and subject to financial and other kinds of imperialism.

He rejected the idea that Edinburgh and Glasgow should be cleansed of
'riffraff' (a term for the informal economy popular among the elite
then) by sending them back to the countryside. What the world needs
least, said Sir James, is more farmers. By leaving home, migrants
reduce the number of farmers. As long as people who seem to have no
jobs survive in the city, they generate demand for food supplied by the
remaining farmers. With the money from commercial agriculture, farmers
buy more manufactures and services, thereby letting the city economy
grow, making migration from the countryside more attractive and
accelerating the rural-urban division of labour depends.

As demand rises, so does labour productivity, but it starts from a very
low level.The main threat to this benevolent spiral that we call
'development' is cheap foreign imports undercutting infant industries
and commercial agriculture. The home market must be protected at first
by high tariffs. But as local enterprises become more competitive, with
some firms driving out weaker (as they would have been if exposed to
the cold winds of the world market too early), the government can begin
selectively reducing tariffs protection in strong home sectors while
promoting exports. In this way the national economy will gradually join
the world economy as an equal.

The system of national economy was developed by Alexander Hamilton and
further by Friedrich List who famously told Germans, splintered as they
were between scores of states, that they were condemned to be 'hewers
of wood and drawers of water' for the British forever, unless they got
their act together soon. Like the European Common Market/Union later,
this took the form of building up the home market piecemeal for 50
years through a customs union and then forming a federal state based on
an alliance between the Prussian army and Rhineland capitalists. The
spur to all this was keeping the Austrians out, as well as the British
global free traders (the first neo-liberals?).

Last year I contributed to a multilingual set of publications organized
around the question, 'Is there an emancipatory politics for the 21st
century?' I wrote a chapter on Africa's prospects called 'Waiting for
emancipation' - - I argued for regional trade
federations as a step towards a politically stronger Africa. This is
not to be achieved by heads of government signing a piece of paper at
Addis Ababa, but through decades of conflict over political forms and
freedom of movement between classes and leagues of nation-states,
Africans and foreign powers, including wars with insiders and
outsiders, against a shifting patchwork of alliances.

The editors told me they liked the piece a lot, but could I explain how
you can have free trade and protection at the dame time. Today's left
has been brainwashed by the neo-liberals, so that they reproduce the
dominant paradigm when opposing them. Sir James could have put them


On Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 3:00 PM, carlo von lynX <> wrote:

     We have been sold the notion that Protectionism is very
     very bad and leads to "economic warfare".
     We have been sold the notion that Globalization (aka
     Darwinism), both physical and digital, is inevitable like
     a rule of nature and there is no way on Earth to regulate it.
     I challenge both assumptions and ask why a middle ground
     is such a difficult thing to imagine:

   Prof. Keith Hart
   135 rue du Faubourg Poissonniere
   75009 Paris, France
   Cell: +33684797365

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