Global Autarky Is Totally Dangerous Or Something

The age of autarky is upon us, folks. And, per the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell, it’s totally dangerous!

The dangerous new age of global autarky

The age of autarky is again upon us.

Britain, in two weeks, will vote on whether to leave the European Union, that great postwar project to promote both peace and prosperity.

No matter that economists have almost uniformly warned that a possible “Brexit” would devastate the British economy, with an estimated cost of approximately $6,000 per British household. Disregard news that markets are already freaking out about the consequences for the pound and the overall financial sector; that high-skilled talent has become skittish about moving to the British isles, whose relationship to the E.U. in a post-Brexit world is as yet unknown; and that foreign clients have begun suspending or delaying contractswith British companies.

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Of course, there are plenty who say that the split would be good for Britain economically. It’s not like trade will just go away. And, so far, quite a few European nation in the EU are a mess. Greece and Italy are two that are barely surviving. GDP in the EU is low. Real unemployment is high. But, wait, what is autarky?

  1. self-sufficiency, independence; specifically : national economic self-sufficiency and independence
  2. a policy of establishing a self-sufficient and independent national economy

Kinda helpful to understand the definition, wouldn’t you say? The funny thing is that Progressives often complain about globalization, especially when it comes to Big Banks, Big Companies, and ‘climate change.’ On the flip side they want open borders (except within their own communities, of course)

Other E.U. exit portmanteaus — Grexit, Itexit, Spexit — speckle the headlines. Within Spain, Catalonians have once again been agitating for independence. Secessionists in the Flanders region of Belgium have reawakened. Even within Britain itself, Scotland not so long ago held a referendum to disunite from the United Kingdom.

You also have Russia doing its Russia thing, and

Likewise China, once seen as moving toward greater economic and cultural openness, has lately taken a more nationalist, xenophobic and protectionist approach. This spring the government even launched a propaganda campaign warning citizens not to get too cozy with handsome foreigners.

How dare China put China first!! But, you know this is all leading somewhere else, right?

And of course here at home in the United States, all three of our remaining major-party presidential candidates — Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton — have embraced anti-trade talk.

Of the three, Trump has offered the most isolationist, nationalistic vision, themed “America First.” To Trump, trade and diplomacy are never Pareto-improving — that is, making everyone better off without making anyone worse off — but always zero-sum. He not only laughs off the dire consequences of a trade war, he also actively stokes xenophobia at home and advocates large-scale disengagement from our allies abroad.

Yeah, it was working towards an assault on Trump. America First! How horrible!

Around the world, citizens are ignoring the improvements in living standards that have resulted from centuries of exchanges of ideas, products and customs, and are instead clamoring for more seclusion.

Yet, it’s not seclusion. Ms. Rampell utterly misses the point that there is nothing wrong with putting your own nation first, nor that some want sovereignty for their nation/region. International trade will not end. Nor will the exchange of ideas. As for customs, liberals are constantly complaining about “cultural appropriation”, so, does the exchange of customs matter?

Earlier precedents for deliberate pursuit of autarky include Burma under its military junta, as well as a host of mid-20th-century dictatorial leaders (Spain under Franco, Italy under Mussolini, Germany under Hitler, China and its Cultural Revolution under Mao).

You just knew there would be a Hitler mention, didn’t you? But, for the most part, no one is calling for isolation, the premise of the argument. They are simply calling for putting the needs of their own country first. What’s the problem with that? Oh, right, Liberals want to spread Other People’s wealth. They want unfettered immigration (for voting purposes). And they so rarely seem to like the country they live in.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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