The Incongruence of Conservatism and Free-Trade | RSBM
Despite the move on the right in recent years away from the conservatism of Reagan and Thatcher, with the anachronistic capitalism-socialism dichotomy they espouse firmly kicked into the mud, conservative parties around the world continue to treat certain ideas or policies as infallible. To question the supposedly irredeemable and evil price controls, or to criticise the sacred cow of low tax-rates for corporations, is to be inevitably met with a thunderous hounding down by large swaths of the political establishment. In the UK, the Tory government pushes to rebrand the country as an optimistic and competent nation in the world after years of Brexit humiliation, proclaiming “Global Britain” and yet again it champions the policy of free-trade (more so now than ever before, if that was possible). You would think that after decades of misery and chaos brought on by free-trade that such a policy position would be political suicide by now, yet it is met with complicit silence from all major political parties and almost the entire journalistic class.
Nations around the world have been reduced to hollow commercial zones for capital, left as economic rump states in agonising interdependence. The utopian dream of all of the peoples of the world holding hands and throwing away borders to work and live together in a global economy has reached its bitter conclusion. The governments of most western nations in the post-war paradigm have willingly dismantled their own manufacturing bases and rapidly deindustrialised, leaving a chasm through which the strength of the economy as a whole has suffered. As free-trade advanced through the 70s, 80s and 90s the bedrock of the British economy fell out from underneath itself and with it the bedrock of British society. It’s surreal to consider that those in power could be so ideologically infatuated with the principle of comparative advantage that they allowed entire regions of Britain to collapse into unemployment, dole dependency and despair so that the international industrial markets could be more efficient and productive. It’s bad enough that the previous superpowers of the world had inflicted economic policies upon themselves comparable to something you would only find yourself committed to by force after a defeat in a war, but it’s worse than that. Because of the resultant inertia from the race to the bottom with regard to production factors, impoverished and most importantly cheap labour from the third world will always out-compete western industrial companies when put to an international market. Communities have been gutted and sacrificed on the altar of global market efficiency. Post-industrial wastelands still scar our country and what do we have to show for it? Britain right now is weaker than it’s ever been before. It’s dependent on continental energy companies, second-world oligarchs and third-world heavy industry.
If conservatives by now haven’t realised how disastrous this policy has been for the country or what a balance of payments deficit is, then perhaps they at least notice the cultural effects that free-trade has had on the country. Free-trade, in being the free flow of capital and products, has imposed upon the world an internationalised culture of consumption, greed and gluttony. What once united the world in the Europe-dominated colonial era of the 20th century was Christian morality and European sensibilities with respect to justice but that has entirely vanished and been replaced with the sort of secular anarcho-tyrannical liberalism which will always be content with whatever capital wants. Millennia-old community markets can be crushed and squatted over by Walmart ziggurats, ancient Roman ruins can be overshadowed by fast-food “restaurants” and anything that connected any people to the land from which they were born can be swept away if it means a few more pennies in the coffers of international finance. There’s an irony in conservatives always deriding socialist architecture and how ugly post-war brutalism is as they sit complicit whilst oligarch families with no ties to their home countries plonk great heaving obelisks of grey steel in the middle of their towns. Really, the entire conservative movement is an absurd clash of hypocritical talking points and for anybody to brand themselves as a conservative whilst cheering on the siege engine that has been accelerating modernity and tearing apart traditional Britain is bitterly hilarious. Could anyone really look at modern London and say it looks uniquely English when put alongside all of the other capitals of the world?
With the post-war paradigm that opened up the national economies of the world, capital as its own distinct power bloc increased in influence and efficiency tenfold as its interests swallowed up the political classes of the western nations and conglomerated into an international power structure beholden only to itself. What was once the slowly growing thorn in the side of the working class from the beginning of the industrial revolution onwards has become a golem; something that we allowed to come to fruition and has become our destructor. With the reign of this kleptocratic golem, we find ourselves living as husks in a soulless place that individuals scrape-by in. The creation of families is economically impossible, real wages are lower than they were 50 years ago, the option to have the mother at home nurturing and rearing her children is only available now to the metropolitan class who are the sole benefactors of the rising tide sold to us as being that which would “lift all boats”. All of the negative externalities of deregulated capital have proportionately increased along with its growth in strength as the world went from nationally broken up economies to a globalised economy built on free-trade.
As I touched on earlier, Britain has been left in one of the weakest positions it’s ever found itself. In the middle of a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, we could’ve really done with having a healthy national industrial sector detached from international supply lines, rather than being a consumption-based economy dependent on the health of third-world production centres which were the first to be hit and slowed down when the virus began to spread. Equally, as the ailing US Empire begins to crack from within, a Britain less dependent on the US military industrial complex for its defences would also be helpful. But alas, the idea of putting British companies first and attempting to create an autarkic economy that could stand strong on its own in the world was thrown away decades ago. Free-trade has been thoroughly shown in 2020 to be something which has stripped us of our security to the benefit of growth and profit. China is coming out on top after many years of utilising mercantilism like a cudgel against incompetent western nations that have thrown open their economies to the international market and ordinary decent people are left struggling under the consequences of it all. Britain finds itself in a smouldering heap of its own stupid decisions yet with the same corrupt political class dead set on continuing the failed economic policies that led us here.
Free-trade has exacerbated the erosion of Christian values, the dismantling of the traditional family unit and the corrosion of the nation state itself. Only a liberal could be happy about the current state of affairs; it’s the glorious abyss they’ve sought for centuries. Yet Liz Truss for example, serving as Secretary of State for International Trade, would still call herself a conservative. I’d be willing to pay good money for a journalist to do what they’re supposed to do and jab simple questions at her, and everyone else in the cabinet, such as “what makes you a conservative?” and “how are the policies you’re committed to conservative?”. I would like to think that at some point everyone would finally understand how disastrous free-trade has been for us all and we would get the conservative party we deserve that might actually serve the interests of the people and the nation.