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I think it's a good description of Keynes evolution on the subject of
protectionism and free trade. He ends  with the last word on the subject by
Engels where he writes:

"*“the question of Free Trade or Protection moves entirely within the
bounds of the present system of capitalist production, and has, therefore,
no direct interest for us socialists who want to do away with that system.
Whether you try the Protectionist or the Free Trade will make no difference
in the end.”*

Quite honestly this a useless position Engels takes. It's akin to some
groups that argue that the national question can only be resolved by
working class unity for socialism which can *then* deal with the issue. No,
the workers movement needs to take positions on these questions and offer
immediate and transitional perspectives that in fact reject both the Free
Trade argument and the Protectionist one.

What is ignored...and I will add that along with some other questions (like
US expansion into Mexico) the "tilt" of Marx and Engels is toward Free
Trade as they spend most of their meager writings on this important subject
attacking tariffs. It is one of the weakest areas of Marx's writings, IMO,
and this is compounded by being totally Euro-centric in their examinations
of the issues. Ignore or out of ignorance, was any examination of the use
of the tariff in *developing* economies like the United States, whose
record growth (built of course along the colonial and post revolutionary
accumulation of capital from the slave trade) was based solely on the
Hamilitonian/Federalist tariff imposed on the early U.S. by Congress.  This
spurred the development of, as Hamilton called them "our native
manufacturies" by basically keeping most British and French goods out and
provided enough money to run the Federal government.

But the real problem is not looking at tarrifs and their more modern
sibling, direct quotas on manufactured commodities, in the dynamic sense.
It's one thing to oppose tarrifs for the obvious reasons of inflationary
pressures and as a form of exporting one nations unemployment to other
countries, but it's another thing entirely to call for their removal (as
advocates of Free Trade do) after the economies of the countries in
question have adapted to strong tarrif legislation. Socialist might oppose
the *removal* of tariffs and quotas if it means the wholesale destruction
of a nations manufacturing sector, and thus the proletariat in that section.

The problem with Robert's blog is that he doesn't recognize (nor did
Marx)...that it is not just "trade" as a function of Free Trade but also of
what he notes as the cause for massive unemployment and whole destruction
of segments of industry and that is capital delocalization for purposes of
reducing the cost of labor in a product to boost profits (or maintain
them). These are *always* part of so-call Free Trade agreements. Only the
most naive observer would not understand that NAFTA was more than a trade
agreement but involved wholesale removal of subsidies to poor farmers in
Mexico, privatization of the ports, fiscalization of the economy, and, most
importantly, the removal of barriers to US capital wanting to invest in
Mexico.  The sort of artificial segmentation of the discussions around
"Free Trade" usually ignore this. And why, some groups on the left, took
neutral positions back in the Clinton years over the question of NAFTA (and
Europe as well!). . . ultimately siding with those wanting to impose NAFTA
on the people of all 3 countries in North America.

David Walters
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