Siol nan Gaidheal

The New Protectionists

Scotland is the spiritual homeland of the Scottish people and the land of Scotland is Sacred. These are the highest principles of Siol nan Gaidheal. It is not surprising therefore that Siol nan Gaidheal takes the spiritual dimension of Scottish nationalism into its discussion of the fundamental questions of Land Use and the Economy.

Siol nan Gaidheal believes that the community of Scotland has grown and evolved from spiritual and social roots which stretch back in time to the first human footfalls on our land at the end of the last ice age. There is for us an essential almost mystical continuity linking the past with the present and future.

As a result of our deep belief in the essential continuity of the Scottish Spirit and Nation, we consider that the present generation of Scots merely holds the land and the physical resources of Scotland in trust for our children and the future generations of the Scottish people.

In conformity to our Celtic traditions we share a world view similar to our indigenous brother-peoples, the native Americans and Australian Aboriginals who consider the earth as one might consider a "mother divinity" who will sustain her children or clans only if the clans sustain and respect her.

Siol nan Gaidheal takes both a national and international, local and global perspective to the Land Question and Economics. Of course we recognise that the planet and humanity are interdependent and this is especially the case in the areas of ecology and the environment. Scotland cannot survive alone against global natural disaster and the largely anti-humanistic economic forces that shape the world. Co-operation between communities and nations is essential if humankind is to survive into the next millennium.

Yet to take an entirely global view of the threats facing the human race is to create a fatalism that the individual is powerless to overcome forces which are thought of as being too great and too complex for the individual to tackle alone. Better to leave the complexities of global economic and social problems to the experts, the multi-national elite of corporate bosses, media moguls, E.U and U.N. bureaucrats who seem to understand and control the world.

Such a view of "leave it to them" and "we alone can do nothing" is fostered by the media brainwashing of the present global elite who, it would seem, wish to prevent any form of democratic accountability over their selfish activities which at present, are rapidly destroying our planet.

This global elite does want a new world order, but it is one based on control and allows the elite to act as well as dictate what is right whilst denying the rest of us little or no meaningful power to shape our own future.

The global elite and new world order naturally resent nationalism of all forms, for it is nationality and the social solidarity of a natural community which unites all its people and stands against the self interest and activities of these bureaucratic, media and eco-criminals.

Nationalism is the only force strong enough to impose democratic control over the global economy and world institutions. Democratic Nationalism is the intermediary between the popular sovereignty of the individual and world institutions. True inter-nationalism must be based on a new global democracy where the collective interests of a particular community's individuals are represented in a genuine international forum of nationalities and communities where each national community is given equal weight and respect. New evolving communities must be represented along with the component parts of many of the present so-called nation states. The new nationalism believes in the spirit of co-operation between peoples rather than in the conflicts and confrontation that in the past has led to war.

A genuine national community with respect for its own history and heritage and its own particular individual way of living together, must have the same respect for other national communities with their own unique yet similar social configurations. Just as democracy developed as a compromise between the selfish separateness of the individual and the collective interest of the community, so too can a genuine international democracy evolve a unity based on mutual interest and respect for diversity.

Economics, the sharing of material resources for the benefit of humankind is also an area where one should think globally but act locally. The twentieth century has seen many different ideologies attempt to challenge the economic orthodoxy of free enterprise capitalism and free trade where goods, services, capital and labour have unrestricted access to world markets in order to meet supply and demand.

Communism and socialism attempted to set up a planned economy where the producers or workers controlled the means of production (the factories), distribution (transport and warehouses) and exchange (markets and shops).

Fascism and national socialism attempted to create a sort of compromise between capitalism and socialism where the corporate state managed a market system for the nation and its citizens.

With the destruction of fascism after the second world war and the demise of communism by the early 1990's only the alternative economic theories of the Green Movement threaten the apparent triumph of the free enterprise-free trade ideology.

Scotland as one of the inventor nations of advanced industrial capitalism is very familiar with the free trade package and its social effects. Advocates of free trade assert that some countries are better suited to doing things than others, therefore, let them find what best suits them, this is the theory of comparative advantage.

Free traders argue that the private sector is always better than the state sector because the dead-hand of bureaucracy quickly stifles initiative and wastes money. State regulation of private industry should therefore be abolished.

Living standards say the free traders rise under free trade. Even though there may be inequalities in wealth as a result of entrepreneurial activity some wealth will trickle down to the poorest so even they ultimately benefit.

Free trade is said to give consumers more choice and more information to enable them to make choices and free trade promotes the most efficient use of resources, people and capital.

The great rival to free trade was protectionism. Classic protectionist measures include tariffs, embargoes, quotas and exclusionary specifications or regulations. Protectionism was used by countries such as the USA and Germany to stop competition from the first industrial state, Britain, by imposing a tax or tariff which made British goods too expensive to compete in their home markets thus enabling the German and American industry to stabilise and expand in their home base until they were efficient enough to out-compete British products in foreign markets.

The British were annoyed because they had free trade throughout their Empire which allowed foreign goods to come in. Here however, Britain was excluded from European and American markets. Free traders argue that for free trade to work, it has to be universal for if it is not, free trade countries such as Britain, lose out.

Free traders argue that protectionist measures reduce the international specialisation of labour and decrease global wealth. Protectionism is perceived as perpetuating production in uneconomic areas and preventing maximum economies of scale and efficiency. It is claimed that this results in a lower standard of living for the people of the protected country since protectionist measures mean more expensive goods or services. Inefficient, uncompetitive domestic industry is allowed to survive and any pressure on them to become more productive, that would arise in the free market, is lessened. Such industries will lobby their native government to ensure their continued protection from international competition.

Free enterprise, free trade capitalism is what the world economy or globalism is all about. The world trade organisation rewards and punishes countries according to how they maintain a new world order which is meant to maintain free trade under conditions of perfect competition and full information where individuals choose to buy through a price mechanism of balanced supply and demand which in turn leads to an efficient allocation of resources.

It all sounds wonderful, but unfortunately the long experience of a branch factory economy like Scotland demonstrates that absolutely unfettered free trade largely does not work, but rather, it works in the interests of the privileged few rather than that of the deprived many. Free trade holds out instead, the prospect of continued job losses and endless, ruthless competition, the growing power of unaccountable trans-national corporations, more distant government and painful economic restructuring that brings in its wake the human crises that follow from instability and job insecurity.

New Protectionism protects everyone's future; not just that of the few, which is what free trade and our current levels of protectionism offer. New Protectionism aims to protect the Scottish "global" environment by reducing international trade and re-orientating and diversifying the Scottish and other national economies towards producing the most of everything that can be made locally or nationally and only as a last option relying on global international trade. Maximum national self-reliance in economics is the only way to protect local jobs, prosperity and the environment.

Instead of organising the world's economy to become ever more internationally competitive, new Protectionism wants the reverse, economies to develop locally and nationally encompassing local production to meet local need and encouraging co-operation rather than competition.

The destruction of local economies such as Scotland's as jobs depart under the pressure of international competition undermines the capacity of local communities to look after their population. New Protectionists want also to see this process reversed with the goal being to increase the number of opportunities for work. A diverse local economy will require the encouragement of a network of community initiatives which could be the source of new employment, resource allocation and support for those in need.

There should be trade and aid throughout the world for self-reliance fostered by an exchange of appropriate technology and skills, there should be less physical transfer of goods around the world which is at the moment environmentally wasteful. Why import match-sticks from the rain forests of Brazil when they can be made from sustainable forests in Scotland. Why sustain the slave wage and sweatshop economics of transnational carpetbaggers exploiting Third World poverty, when products made there should more effectively and indeed morally help to raise levels of income in those countries? The same goes for all those products, industrial, consumer and agricultural that we can produce in our own country.

To protect the future there needs to be a free and equal exchange of skills and technical knowledge to produce goods and services in localities but not an increase in wasteful international trade. Information should be freely available on the Internet, not hidden away and chopped up to be bought and sold as job lots of intellectual property by multi-national companies.

The activities of trans-national corporations should be controlled by the establishment of a powerful international monopolies and mergers (anti-trust) commission whose purpose would be to break up cartels and trans-national corporations.

A properly controlled United Nations accountable to the nationalities and peoples of the earth would never have dismantled the U.N. Centre on trans-national corporations. A timely reminder of where real power lies in the world.

World trade should be environmentally sustainable trade. A general agreement for sustainable trade should be set up to replace all so-called free trade international bodies. The rationale behind trade rules should be to protect employment, encourage and diversify local economies, improve environmental standards and reduce gross inequalities between peoples and nations.

Under new protectionism jobs and resources are produced by and shared among the local community. Multi-national companies in order to maximise profits by keeping labour costs down, move work and jobs all over the world.

Restrictions on such movements of capital and labour would benefit local people, break the monopoly enjoyed by employers and return control of labour to local people. Expenditure on unnecessary on international super-structures such as the British and European unions would be reduced by fostering local trade and industry.

New Protectionism is a clear and workable option to free enterprise, free trade capitalism. While its implementation might require a period of strict economic control by a new Scottish government its benefits in returning economic and political control to the Scottish people over a sustainable environment with re-newable resources outweigh any short-term measures of adjustment. New Protectionism is the way forward for Scotland and will bring benefits to all our people and the Scottish environment.

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