Sri Lanka nationalists re-emerge after Trump win in the US
ECONOMYNEXT – A senior Sri Lankan minister has started to push nationalism and called for restrictions on consumer freedoms after white supremacists won an election in the US, even as industries asked President-elect Donald Trump to re-think his trade policies.
"When we look at the US presidential election and Brexit, what is clear is the global trend towards protectionism and nationalization," Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka was quoted as saying in Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper.
"Globalisation and free trade are no longer valid."
Donald Trump led a nakedly nationalist campaign appealing to the country’s 70 percent white majority, attacking minorities and immigrants.
In addition to politicians taking up nationalism, school children in the US have followed Trump’s lead, insulting their fellow minority classmates and calling for a wall to be built to intimidate non-white kids.
David Duke former leader of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan organization, and Rocky Suhayda, Chairman of the American Nazi Party have praised Trump.
Nationalism, which is an appeal to tribalism, is the easiest path to win votes in a geographical area where there is an ethno-religious majority.
Liberalism, which is an appeal to reason, is a far more difficult prospect for people to understand. In the US elections, most white people with college degrees did not support Trump.
Nationalists rely on making short pithy slogans, which are easy to repeat and remember.
"The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous," said Adolf Hitler, probably the most widely known European nationalist.
"In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan."
Hitler propagated version of European nationalism, called National Socialism, where autarky (self-sufficiency) was a key economic plank.
Ideas such as international division of labour, comparative advantage or sound money, which forms the foundation of free trade, are extremely difficult concepts for people to understand.
Protectionism helps Mercantilist or nationalist business interests to avoid competition and easily exploit poorer customers with higher priced goods.
The US, however, has many true-capitalist free enterprises that have built factories all over the world, many giving jobs to the hungriest in poor countries, lifting millions out of poverty in China and Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s apparel export trade is dependent on US true-capitalists.
Although Trump did not specifically mention Sri Lanka, he targeted Mexico, where US businesses have set up factories, as well as China.
Due to competition at home from free trade, which has made the US consumer sovereign, American businesses have to kneel before the customer, innovate and cut costs.
In the process, they have turned into true-capitalist free enterprises, which are among the most successful and innovative in the world.
Production is now global, where US companies produce all or parts of their goods outside in poorer countries, keeping millions in work both at home and in the countries where they operate.
US businesses cautioned the newly elected US president against (US manufacturing group urge Trump to re-think economic nationalism) following through with his protectionism, which ultimately harms the poorest consumers, as well as free enterprises.
"There are 2 million manufacturing jobs in this country that are dependent on our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico," Linda Dempsey, vice president of international affairs for the National Association of Manufacturers, was quoted as saying by Reuters, a news agency. "And so as we go forward, we certainly don’t want to put those jobs in jeopardy."
Many US firms would have to completely shut domestic production if taxes were put on foreign manufacturing.
In a message to employees after Trump’s victory last week, General Electric Co CEO Jeff Immelt said: "We believe in the importance of globalisation and investment."
Nationalism was exported to the rest of the world mostly from Eastern Europe as old empires broke down giving way to the popular vote and elections in Wesphalian style nation-states.
Emperors and kings, who ruled over wide variety of people speaking different languages and religions had no such strong incentive to pursue nationalism.
Nationalists usually raise their head in economic downturns, when people are looking for scapegoats to blame. Minorities, and immigrants and even ‘capitalists’ are the usual targets. Capitalists become targets in Europe partly because Jews were identified as capitalists. (Colombo/Nov17/2016 – Update III)