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We note that Colin Hines is pushing his progressive protectionism again

Summary:
One of us got rather shouted at a few years back for describing Colin Hines' idea of "Progressive Protectionism" as fascist economics. Note, well please, that we did not go further and describe his ideas in toto as fascist, nor he himself. Just that there's a great deal of similarity between the one of the economic ideas he is currently advancing and those of various fascist movements across history.This is the idea that this international trade thing is a very bad idea indeed and we should all be content with what we can make at home. Hines rather doubles down on this in a letter to The Guardian:Your editorial on the French elections (11 April), with its encouraging mention of the rise of the higher tax and spend candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, failed to mention possibly his biggest electoral draw: the fact that he is a leftwing protectionist. Prior to the 2012 election, polls showed that over 80% of French across the political spectrum thought that free trade had a negative impact on employment. So it’s not just immigration that is fuelling ever-broadening support for Marine Le Pen, it is also the fact that she too is an overt protectionist.These trends have obviously not been lost on the unholy trinity of free trade pushers the IMF, WTO, and the World Bank (Report, 11 April).

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One of us got rather shouted at a few years back for describing Colin Hines' idea of "Progressive Protectionism" as fascist economics. Note, well please, that we did not go further and describe his ideas in toto as fascist, nor he himself. Just that there's a great deal of similarity between the one of the economic ideas he is currently advancing and those of various fascist movements across history.

This is the idea that this international trade thing is a very bad idea indeed and we should all be content with what we can make at home. Hines rather doubles down on this in a letter to The Guardian:

Your editorial on the French elections (11 April), with its encouraging mention of the rise of the higher tax and spend candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, failed to mention possibly his biggest electoral draw: the fact that he is a leftwing protectionist. Prior to the 2012 election, polls showed that over 80% of French across the political spectrum thought that free trade had a negative impact on employment. So it’s not just immigration that is fuelling ever-broadening support for Marine Le Pen, it is also the fact that she too is an overt protectionist.

These trends have obviously not been lost on the unholy trinity of free trade pushers the IMF, WTO, and the World Bank (Report, 11 April). Having forced nations across the world to accept their open-borders, export-led growth mantra they are now busy crying crocodile tears for the “left behind”, the inevitable result of their policies. They still rail against protectionism, despite the fact that if it has a progressive end goal, it could enhance the economic and social conditions of the globally disadvantaged.

In terms of the relevance of all this to the UK, and at the risk of intruding on public grief, what are the Labour party’s views on these under-publicised protectionist trends? The likes of Trump and Le Pen have been able to turn it into a politically potent and successful issue, so why are so many progressives over here absent from this pivotal debate?

Ourselves we would hope that even progressives can note that this neoliberal globalisation has had really rather a large effect upon the globally disadvantaged. That collapse in the absolute poverty rate out there should be a clue - this last generation has seen the greatest reduction in poverty caused human misery in the history of our species. We think that's a pretty good recommendation for an economic policy really.

But a little point we would make to Hines. If your economic policy recommendations could have come from the manifestos of Le Pen, Melenchon, Mussolini, Moseley or the BNP then we would recommend a reconsideration of those economic policies you're pushing.

Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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