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7/11/2004

Protectionism and Progress

Norman Solomon has an article at Tom Paine on The Media's Class War:

"Whether praising Edwards, bashing him or somewhere in between, the mainstream spectrum of media punditry is on the same page about “globalization” (the misleading buzzword for corporate globalization). Media coverage often equates promoting the trade agendas of huge corporations with providing responsible leadership.

And, in the simple algebra of corporate media, “protectionism” equals “demagogic.” So, in the media worldview, economic populism is like a dog that must be housebroken and kept on a leash. Sometimes, to maintain discipline, it needs to be whacked on the nose with a newspaper.
Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of "globalization" and its embrace by the DLC, is that it has been defined as the progressive position. Opposition to it is seen as retrograde, reactionary. From Pierre Bourdieu:
In order to break with the tradition of the welfare state, the 'think tanks' from which have emerged the political programs of Reagan and Thatcher and, after them, of Clinton, Blair, Schroeder, and Jospin, have had to effect a veritable symbolic counterrevolution and to produce a paradoxical doxa. This doxa is conservative but presents itself as progressive; it seeks the restoration of the past order in some of its most archaic aspects (especially as regards economic relations), yet it passes regressions, reversals, and surrenders off as forward looking reforms or revolutions leading to a whole new age of abundance and liberty (as with the language of the so-called new economy and the celebratory discourse around 'network firms' and the internet). All of this can be clearly seen in the efforts to dismantle the welfare state, that is, to destroy the most precious democratic conquests in the areas of labor legislation, health, social protection, and education. To fight such a progressive-retrogressive policy is to risk appearing conservative even as one defends the most progressive achievements of the past. This situation is all the more paradoxical in that one is led to defend programs or institutions that one wishes in any case to change, such as public services and the national state, which no one could rightly want to preserve as is, or unions or even public schooling, which must be continually subjected to the most merciless critique.
Pierre Bourdieu, For A Scholarship with Commitment, Firing Back: Against the Tyranny of the Market II, 22-23. To abuse Duncan Kennedy and his theory of loopification articulated in The Stages of the Decline of the Public/Private Distinction, 130 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1349 (1982), this is another case where the ends of a continuum appear closer to each other than to the middle.

 

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