Globalisation and Constitutionality, II
Free Trade Agreements, as presently conceived, are really global constitutions for global corporations. They are designed primarily to create a beneficial transnational habitat for corporations to grow and flourish in a World Economy because the fact is that corporations are no longer sedentary, but chase their resources, labour, and markets around the world. These FTAs are designed to provide a favourable business climate for investment and profit-taking. And no one, and not Mr. Trump, is going to command them to heal, sit, and stay.
Labour used to be the mobile social factor and the corporation (or capital) was the fixed or sedentary factor. This situation has reversed itself, and this fact is connected not only with “rootless capitalism” (as even the UK’s Conservative PM Theresa May put it), but also with the “Precariat” and what is called “job churn”. As a former IBM executive put it, “money knows no country”.
Recently, Canada’s Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, advised young people to get used to the reality of “job churn”, the basic condition of what is called “the Precariat“, which we are all gradually falling into not only because of the transience of capital but of automation as well. Global security for capital has basically meant global insecurity for everyone else. In those terms, “growing the middle class”, promoted as the rationale for FTAs, is in fundamental contradiction with the reality of “rootless capitalism” and the facts of “job churn”, and the resultant ever-expanding class called “the Precariat”.
Does anyone really think that Mr. Trump is going to interdict and arrest this global movement of capital and corporations while restoring what we might call “primitive capitalism” itself?
“Job churn” and the “Precariat” and “rootless capitalism” are the facts of the “new normal”. The question here is whether they are only symptoms of “chaotic transition” or represent the new status quo. The “iron price” (to crib from The Game of Thrones) for the security of capital is increasing insecurity and precariousness for labour. And how does one reconcile this social fact with the objective of “growing the middle class”? I have yet to hear any policy, apart from a compensatory “guaranteed annual income”, that would effectively square the circle and reconcile this contradiction, which is basically Double-Think.
Apparently, the economist Peter Pogany did address this problem of the contradictions and of “chaotic transition” in his book Rethinking the World and in his posthumously published book Havoc Thy Name is Twenty-First Century. I don’t think too many of our Keepers of the Economic Orthodoxy have heard of him or bothered to learn of him. But at least someone is exercising still some foresight and hindsight, and thinking about the problem in more than generalities.