I got caught up in a mild spat on Twitter with an individual who voted No to Scotland re-joining the rest of the world, and Remain for the UK staying with the rest of the world. A psychotic contradiction if every there was one: keep your tyrannical neighbour powerful but your own nation subservient. His replies were full of non sequiturs and hogwash ideology. My statements were disconnected. It made me question the detail of the disagreement – globalisation.
To save readers the trouble of a few days reading in the National Library, I’ve gathered my thoughts, and checked them against the opinions of social scientists and economists.
In the beginning
The notion of globalisation is normally restricted to economies driven by ‘the market’. If only it was that simple and uncomplicated.
You can say globalisation began with Marco Polo and the Silk Road. As soon as he discovered Chinese linen and ceramics, and paper, East traded with West openly and vice versa. Everyone was happy, from the makers to the traders to the buyers. Cut to the great clipper ships and world trade was on in a big way. In time, market forces took over the price of what we wore and ate and bought to use, values decided by wealthy merchants, but you could still haggle a price that suited you. Sometimes market forces were on our side, sometimes they were on the seller’s side.
Markets took lots of forms, barter, selling from a stall outside the walled city, village-to-village trader with a horse and cart, the blacksmith or carpenter or basket maker to whom you went for something special to be made. Today we call it the “free enterprise economy.” When you think about it that’s not quite true.
So, what’s new?
The big difference between then and now is, huge corporations control our market economies, effectively tyrannies that look to government for protection. And they get it. You can see how they are treated in comparison with the Grenfell Tower survivors, the casualties of that conflagration treated with disdain by the London’s local authority.
Look at any industry, technology, automotive manufacturing, whatever, invariably they were supported at inception with grants and subsidy, government and local, money paid from the public purse. They are expecting tariff subsidy when Brexit is in full force.
We pay the cost. It boils down to social subsidy, private profit. That’s neo-liberalism in a nutshell. Market forces discipline our spending, but not the spending of the power elite.
There but for the grace of …
I think one of the things that motivated normally sensible people to vote against remaining in the EU, even a reformed EU, was the way it treated Greece.
First of all, it wasn’t the EU that cracked the whip. It was the EU Bank, itself guided by the IMF. People talk about the IMF bailing out Greece. It didn’t do that. It bailed out the lender banks and the investors. That’s made plain in Yanis Varoufakis’ published journal, ‘Adults In the Room’, telling of his negotiations with those bodies, the so-called Troika.
The poor of Greece paid the rich of Europe to stay rich. Varoufakis tried in vain to have that money used productively to re-energise the Greek economy. Most of it went from one bank back into another. We don’t want to be another Greece, shout neo-colonials without realising the same could be imposed on the UK.
The reason we seem inured to some extent is because we are one of the G7 countries. ‘G7’ stands for the Group of seven: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The EU is automatically represented because three of its nations are members of that group. G7 countries have a summit to decide on economic policy. Russia joined late and then was ejected for annexing the Crimea.
It is an ad hoc group.
No one elected them to do what they do. They are not accountable to the electorate. No voter ever said, we should have only the wealthiest nations dictate economic systems to the remaining nations. The politically aware have spotted that anomaly and protest outside G7 summits. Their views are taken into account by riot police and water canon.
G7 decides on economic policy for – you’ve guessed it, G7 nations. To the rest of the world some states are more equal than others.
It’s like something out of Blade Runner
To recap: if you live in a poor, deprived area, or live in an underdeveloped country, you will get market forces rammed down your throat. That happened to South Korea, a country whose economy rose faster than a mercury thermometer in a blast furnace, until in the 1980s the USA moved in and destabilised it in order to buy up its banks and car makers at rock bottom prices. It’s only now recovering.
Our economies are controlled by the IMF, the World Trade Bank, and The World Trade Organisation. They dominate us, and they in turn are controlled by the USA. The USA delights in seeing European economic independence knocked for six. Farage and UKip did their job extremely well. (Ergo, Farage’s first stop was to glad-hand Trump.) The Tory Party couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
With middle-England voting to leave Europe, the Tory party could have decreed the outcome of the EU referendum null and void, merely indicating immigration control wanted greater reform. But it pursues it’s nefarious, anti-democratic goals because it hopes to gain much more than we realise, including permanent dominance of the devolved parliaments – us, Scotland. In that regard, Nicola Sturgeon is quite right to warn its nothing more than a blatant “power grab”.
Eat your cereal
Colonials keep telling us we must learn caution and responsibility. They tell us welfare must be cut, the NHS contract, pension age rise. But those changes never apply to them. They squander millions, secrete millions in tax havens, and avoid bankruptcy rescued by government subsidy. Globalisation works for them, not for us.
What we, the voter, have allowed to happen over a period of decades, is to have power concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, giant companies, financial institutions, and conglomerates that are essentially transnational in activity, making them almost unaccountable for their actions.
As I publish this essay a £14 billion class-action lawsuit against MasterCard for allegedly overcharging more than 45 million people in Britain over a 16-year period has been blocked by a British court. How’s that for protecting the power elite/
They don’t only control our economy alone, they control the international economy. Where they appear not to exist, they do by owning affiliates. This situation is unprecedented in the history of capitalism. Companies own politicians who in turn protect and enhance company profits by removing restrictions on their behaviour.
Goldfinger lived in the stone age
The damnable aspect is, very little of the ebb and flow of capital is productive. Foreign exchanges fly trillions a day this way and that, very little staying in one place more than a day. Old Auric Goldfinger shifting gold bullion by car across Europe is history.
By ensuring only a tiny percentage of capital lands in our pockets – 5% according to Nobel economists – our economies are denied investment. Money that used to be circulated in the community, dispersed to aid development, is kept in the tax exempt accounts of speculators. Put another way, 95% of the money is destructive. When Tory politicians lament the loss of an investment company from the City they tell us such institutions create most of our wealth. They do, but not for us. Thatcher saw to that, followed by Blair, Cameron, May, and now Corbyn who won’t dismantle a thing.
That’s the reason we see so many lawyers and investment personnel moving into politics. Their money, their backers, seek power. UKip has never explained where a lot of it’s election finance came from. It didn’t come from its membership. In Scotland, boss of a water bottling company, Highland Spring, let’s it be known voter empowerment can go to hell. His company is what must prosper. No one thought to ask him how much in grants his company received from local sources, or from banks, banks we subsidised.
For my part, I wonder how the global internet was privatised. I watch documentaries telling me of this or that clever computer boffin who invented bits of the Internet, and then handed it over to the nation to use for free. But it isn’t free. We pay to use it.
How did that happen? I can’t tell you. It just happened over time.
A concentration of power
So, we have a vast concentration of power in investors and speculators who control money, and in turn control government policy. What they don’t like they block or have over-turned, or watered down.
The SNP does all it can to regain civil rights for all of us in Scotland, to bring power back to the people, but is faced by a hostile Labour party blocking every new power we could gain. The Tories are happy to let labour do its worst.
Labour in Scotland is highly successful blocking powers that could lead to stopping capitalists currently free to undermine the economy in all sorts of ways, like massive export of capital. This is ominous for a Scotland thinking of reverting to that party. All Jeremy Corbyn is selling is tins of English air marked ‘Manufactured and Packaged by Westminster’.
The last thing the Labour party is, is a socialist party. They even halt or slow down social programmes, union rights, welfare entitlement, spending on health and education, and then have the temerity to claim the SNP isn’t doing enough to install those programmes.
Is there hope?
Leaving Europe is a guaranteed disaster because so much of our economy is foreign owned. Scotland independent, governing its own economy, recirculating wealth within Scotland, offers the best start to any nation reborn, particularly if it refuses to take any of rUK’s toxic debts, and institutes its own currency.
Until we regain self-governance, efforts to stimulate the economy, reactivate North Sea oil revenue in our favour, redistribute income in any manner, our efforts will be wasted. The money men of globalisation can stop us in our tracks simply by withdrawing capital from the country. They are Westminster by another name.
I am certain a good many who voted No to independence sensed that, but were deluding themselves if they thought linked to isolationist England we are protected.