Daily Archives: January 10, 2011

A sane alternative to globalism

Economic history suggests that the most effective general strategy to promote  economic development in a country is to allow  competition within the domestic market (where it does not create serious  social discord)  whilst regulating international trade through protectionist measures sufficient to maintain the general capacity of a country to point where it can maintain itself in an emergency such as war or blockade and be sovereign in most circumstances.  This would require the judicious use of embargoes, tariffs and quotas to ensure that all the vital industries remain as a presence in Britain.

A few industries should be in principle wholly supplied from the British market. These are defence equipment and the various energy sources. The reasons for defence equipment provision being domestic are simple: any foreign supplier can cease to supply goods for political reasons  or simply be unable to produce the goods when wanted at all or in sufficient quantities.

Energy supplies should be domestic because if they fail the whole of society is brought to a halt. Self-sufficiency in energy in any advanced country could be achieved in the medium term by nuclear power supplemented perhaps by new sources of energy such as wave and current power and bio-fuels.

A country should also build up a stockpile of essential materials such as metals and the minerals used in the chemical industry. Five years national supply should be a minimum.

A country should be able to feed its  population from its own production at a pinch. In Britain this is possible with modern crop yields and animal husbandry. Crop yields are considerably  greater than they were even in WW2 and the opportunities for increasing the volume of animal products have multiplied greatly over the past 60 years, for example, in the massive development of poultry farming since 1945.

 75% of the market in every other vital industry should be reserved for the domestic market.  What is a “vital industry”? Try these for starters: metal (especially steel), chemical, biotech,  computers, robotics, motor vehicles, shipping, aerospace, clothing, building, machine tools.

I would also reserve to domestic production at least 25% of the market for goods that are useful but not vital to provide a base for an expanded home  production  in times of  emergency.  Trade  in wholeheartedly nonessential goods – Christmas trees, pogo sticks and suchlike – could be “free”.

I am not arguing for autarky. What I am advocating are trading circumstances which allow a nation to defend its national interests, particularly in time of war or international crisis. The measures I propose would produce self-sufficiency in food where necessary, the maintenance of the ability to manufacture a complete range industrial goods and most importantly the maintenance of an arms industry which can produce a full range of weapons necessary for the defence of the country.

Such a system would provide the security the state requires and permit very substantial international trade even in essential goods.

Obviously such a regime could not be followed in its entirety by most states. However, all could exist within those parts of it suited to their circumstances, for example, Britain could manage the  entire regime, many third world countries could be self-sufficient in food.

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