The G7 – blaming the victims for protectionism

Ann Pettifor: 15th February 2009

The G7 group of finance ministers’ statement today is full of the usual hot air, and includes their new finding. That the financial crisis has “highlighted fundamental weaknesses in the international financial system.”  Over the years many have tried to alert political leaders to these fundamental weaknesses. To no avail.

Perhaps even more naive is their protest against protectionism.  My viewpoint on protectionism is taken straight from Karl Polanyi’s great work: The Great Transformation.

Namely that protectionism is the natural reaction of the people to the imposition by the finance sector of a ‘self-regulating market society’.  In other words a society that hollows out democratic decision-making and relies entirely on the market to determine whether we have food, jobs, wages, care for the elderly and the sick or security from threats like global warming.   When the ‘market society’ fails to protect the interests of the people – then the people naturally resort to protectionism or worse.

For those guardians of the nation’s finances to blame the people for trying to protect their jobs and their security – when the guardians have most blatantly failed in their duty to do so – shows just how out of touch they are.

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3 comments to The G7 – blaming the victims for protectionism

  • Totally agree. The problem is not with protectionism, it is with the self-regulating market society.

    They are protesting about the wrong thing. Fix the problem not the sympton!

  • Patrick Vincent

    Protectionism is an understandable reaction to the current situation but I don’t see that policy makers should be led by that.

    The question should be whether protectionism at this moment in time will improve the situation for people or not. If not, then we should be

    arguing against it, even if that means going against the grain.

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