Faux shows how class solidarity transcends patriotism, when it’s a question of maximizing wealth: “As globalization integrates investors, managers, and professionals across borders, it merges their class interests across those same borders.” Nation-states, in fact, are increasingly powerless before international capitalists. Informal world government by corporations already exists. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization are accords that trump national laws on environmental protection and worker rights.
There’s a problem
But the first big free-trade zone without restraints, NAFTA, has riled the working class and many of the middle class in the three affected countries. It has pushed millions of small Mexican farmers off their land because of cheap US agribusiness imports. So a quarter of Mexico’s workers are now in the US, many illegally, and their immigration has provoked a sharp national debate. NAFTA also has pushed hundreds of thousands of workers out of their factories in Canada and our country (per capita, Maine has been the state the worst hit in the loss of manufacturing jobs). There is an economic law that it is to capitalists’ benefit to have prosperous workers/consumers, but globalization has severed the interests of the corporate elite from North American working people because they can get their workers elsewhere.
Outsourcing, however, has made the US import-addicted. We have been buying far more from the rest of the world than we are selling, and governmental, consumer, and corporate borrowing — to a large extent, from our overseas suppliers, including China — finances this huge trade deficit. The US has become the world’s largest debtor.
Because of this enormous debt, whatever prosperity nonrich Americans have is illusory, and it’s an illusion even for many of the rich. When the smoke clears, there will be economic and political hell to pay. Faux predicts a financial crisis — soon. The wealthy elsewhere on the globe will only follow class solidarity so far. When these creditors lose confidence in our ability to repay the debt or in the stability of the dollar — since the debt is in dollars — like a bank getting tough on a family, they will, so to speak, call the loan. The result? Like that family, as a society we will have to drastically lower our standard of living or go bankrupt. Maybe both.
But there’s a solution
How to avoid or minimize this calamity? Faux doesn’t believe we can escape through sheer protectionism, which would ignore how far globalization has developed. Instead, he has a highly original strategy for North American working and middle-class people to win or achieve a truce in the global class war. It also is a strategy that could be a model for other regions of the world: the creation of an integrated North American society to combat the China price, or complete globalization.
And the regionalization he suggests has a model it could follow: the European Union. Under NAFTA, the US, Canada, and Mexico have regionalization that only protects investors. In Europe, there is an emerging regional government that also protects workers, consumers, and the environment — in other words, a free-trade zone with a social conscience. Faux suggests beginning our similar effort with a continental economic Bill of Rights, a citizens’ Continental Congress (a discussion group, at first), and a US-Canada fund to help Mexico mesh its poor, corrupt economy with its richer, less-corrupt neighbors to the north.