I take a jaundiced view of this.
Trade agreements are always negotiated in secret by the Economic Elite of the countries involved. They do this with one end in view – to make themselves richer. Their wealth may make others richer also (the trickle-down effect) – but this is an accidental by-product.
Let’s look at what happens in practice – using NAFTA as an example. American companies rushed to move their manufacturing to the Mexican border – because Mexican workers were so much cheaper. And because environmental restraints were more relaxed. Many of these workers were young women – and the crimes against them were horrible – because the Mexican Police were so ineffective.
This should not have been a surprise – businessmen are short-sighted. And industrial conditions in Mexico were deplorable. A few people got richer (as is usually the case in Latin America) but the working classes got poorer – if they managed to stay alive.
In what I have just written, I can detect Marx’s critique of the Industrial Economy – which formed the basis for Liberalism. Two isms that have failed miserably. And have produced the world we have now – which is simply terrible.
And people who have adapted to this terrible situation by becoming terrible people themselves – who can see nothing wrong with the way things are. Who have also responded by going on a contagious destructive frenzy. Their world is so awful, they are going to destroy everything in it.
Note the double-bind here – this is the world that created them, and for reason they owe it some allegiance, just as they do their parents – but if your parents are bad – if you are the product of a dysfunctional family – you hate it and want to destroy it.
But you will also continue to do what your parents have done – you will have children yourself, and treat them the same horrible way.
Lots has been written about the failure of Capitalistic Liberalism. Places such as MIT and Stanford are among them. They desperately want to make it better – often by using a form of group therapy, where businessmen get together, talk about their problems, as businessmen – and work to solve them. These were called Encounter Groups, by the SDS, the Students for a Democratic Society, back in the Sixties.
But the Sixties, which lasted until the early Eighties in some places – failed, and failed miserably.
And no one noticed.
Why? This is the question I keep asking myself. Lots of people have been answering the what question “Wha happened?” And answering it very well – the Beats in particular. But no one has tackled the “Why?” question. Because the answer is too painful – and reveals a deep flaw in all of us.
We are Stone-Age people in a High-Tech World.
This sounds like a simple explanation – but it is not. Part of our Collective Mind can create rapid social changes – but the rest of it rejects these changes completely. We have a built-in basic conflict between radical change and its conservative reaction.
This has been made worse by the collapse of the Industrial Economy – and a catastrophic loss of jobs. A whole way of life – is no more! And we have no idea what to do about it. And so we have decided to do nothing – and just let things take care of themselves.
This is not a smart response, but that hardly matters – it is the only response we can make.