The Lawlessness of Globalism

Before commenting on the link between globalism and the ongoing, broad-based assault against police officers and against law enforcement in general, a clarification is required: political globalism is distinct and radically different from the global economic integration we are used to calling “globalization.”

The aftermath of the Brexit referendum has made this radical difference clear and even obvious to any fair and unbiased observer. The United Kingdom’s rejection of the political tyranny of Brussels’ political globalism has in fact improved its prospects of further integration in the global economy outside the protectionist confines of the EU. (See my earlier posts: here and here)

Political globalism is the agenda of promoting global government at the expense of national sovereignty. Political globalism exploits economic globalization as an alibi and an excuse behind which to conceal its true aims. As a political aspiration – namely the destruction of the nation-state – it has an ancient pedigree that long predates the emergence of the recent, post-1992 wave of economic globalization.

Political globalism has as its primary aim the destruction of the legal writ of the sovereign state. The current wave of violent mob attacks against law enforcement personnel and the coordination of those mob attacks with academic and journalistic propaganda against the institutions of law enforcement represent a high point in globalism’s long-standing campaign against the legal writ of the nation state – a campaign that in, effect, is a campaign of lawlessness.

For nearly three decades there has been a proliferation of specialized legal regimes that gobble up legal authority from sovereign states and administer international treaty-based public law in areas formerly covered by the writ of sovereign states such as trade law, environmental law, human rights, etc. Pressured by powerful lobbies and on advice of administrative and academic experts, national legislatures time and again have surrendered their lawmaking function to unelected supranational bureaucracies. They do so by voting vague administrative laws and assigning accompanying rule making and legal interpretation to the “experts” of these bureaucracies.

Unaccountable, globalist rulemaking has thereby replaced large swaths of law that used to be made by national legislators held accountable to the constituencies that voted them into office. The process has been gradual enough to escape the attention of the general public over the last nearly three decades. But the cumulative effects that are being felt today leave little doubt in the mind of the general public that significant portions of public life operate in lawlessness disguised as administrative rulemaking.

Administrative rulemaking is fine and good if the administrators are incorruptible public servants. But when powerful special interests and lobbies take over the administrators and carry out what is technically called “regulatory capture,” then we have a failure of government. Regulatory capture is followed by generalized corruption of public life which, if not reversed, eventually leads to failed states.

If those failed states happen to be former sovereign nation-states, so much the better for our political globalists.

This perspective gives some context to Hillary Clinton’s non-indictment and to the virulent anti-police rhetoric and street-violence of recent days. But, more to the point, it calls for a fresh look at what happened during and after the 2008 financial crisis and the twin doctrines of “too big to fail” and “too big to prosecute” that protected (and keep protecting) the major global banks responsible for that crisis. The first doctrine was promulgated by President Bush’s Treasury Secretary; the second by President Obama’s Attorney General.

The current wave of lawlessness targeting police officers today takes aim at the heart of the legal writ of the sovereign nation state in exactly the same way that Hank Paulson’s “too big to fail” and Eric Holder’s “too big to prosecute” damaged law and order in 2008 and in 2013.

But neither the volatile street rioters nor the more cerebral Paulson and Holder realize that their behavior is defeating their own purported intentions. Without the legal writ of the sovereign nation state there is no rule of law. And without the rule of law there is only tyranny – the tyranny of supranational corporate lobbyists and their administrative experts operating under “regulatory capture.” Neither “social justice” – the purported objective of the street rioters – nor well-regulated markets – the purported objective of Paulson and Holder – are possible in a globalist tyranny.

Murdering cops and shredding banking and securities laws are equally violations of the law. Murder of individual law enforcers is more heinous than financial crime but financial crime on the scale perpetrated destroyed millions of lives, many of them irreparably.

Brexit could wreck EU law across the EU

Following the meeting of the EU’s European Council (heads of state) last night, EU President Donald Tusk confirmed that “there will be no negotiations of any kind until the UK formally notifies its intention to withdraw.” He was referring to Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which London has indicated will not be invoked until October when a new Prime Minister comes in to replace David Cameron. Article 50 is supposed to regulate negotiation for withdrawal.

Speaking to his European Council colleagues earlier that day, Prime Minister Cameron used impassioned language to stress the UK’s commitment to keeping its trade relations with the EU intact. He also said that the modalities of withdrawal will be decided by his successor.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, his likely successor and leader of the Brexit movement, wrote an article in The Telegraph two days after the Referendum containing the following intriguing passage:

“The only change – and it will not come in any great rush – is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU’s extraordinary and opaque system of legislation: the vast and growing corpus of law enacted by a European Court of Justice from which there can be no appeal. This will bring not threats, but golden opportunities for this country – to pass laws and set taxes according to the needs of the UK. Yes, the Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry. Yes, there will be a substantial sum of money which we will no longer send to Brussels, but which could be used on priorities such as the NHS. Yes, we will be able to do free trade deals with the growth economies of the world in a way that is currently forbidden.”

Now, suppose that the British Parliament – beginning either now or when the next prime minister takes office – begins to annul all or most EU laws and regulations, including those pertaining to immigration, without the government’s invoking Article 50 of the EU Treaty, and thus without  any negotiations with the EU.

What can the EU do about it?  The short answer is: Nothing.

The EU Treaty has no provisions for expelling a member state. There is no legal way in which the EU can expel the UK if the latter decides totally to ignore that much vaunted acquis communautaire.  Legally, the EU can do nothing to expel. Not. A. Thing.

It could, however, theoretically at least, suspend “certain of the rights” of a member state – but if, and only if, certain conditions are met as prescribed in Article 7 of the Treaty. These conditions are:

All the heads of state (except the UK) must unanimously determine that the UK is in “serious and persistent breach of the values referred to in Article 2”.

 But before such determination can be made, four fifths of the heads of state (23 out of 28) must agree to make a finding that there is a clear risk that the UK might be in “serious breach” of Article 2.

Moreover, action for such a finding cannot be initiated unless a “reasoned proposal” is made either by one third of the member states, or by the European parliament or by the European Commission.

 Now, the “values referred to in Article 2” are: “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.” The odds of the EU unanimously declaring that the UK is in violation of these rights are as high as NATO declaring war on the UK, i.e., virtually non-existent. And even if these odds were overcome, the EU could still not expel the UK. It could only “suspend certain of the rights.”

If the UK were to follow the indicated path and dismantle the legal and regulatory burden of acquis communautaire without disturbing its trade relations and without invoking Article 50, it will have demonstrated to all members that the overreaching EU bureaucracy is impotent in the face of determined sovereign action by its member states. The common economic interests of the sovereign European nations can be preserved together with their sovereignty.

Relevant passages from the EU Treaty:

Article 2

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

Article 7

  1. On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure. The Council shall regularly verify that the grounds on which such a determination was made continue to apply.
  2. The European Council, acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2, after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations.
  3. Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons. The obligations of the Member State in question under this Treaty shall in any case continue to be binding on that State.
  4. The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide subsequently to vary or revoke measures taken under paragraph 3 in response to changes in the situation which led to their being imposed.
  5. The voting arrangements applying to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council for the purposes of this Article are laid down in Article 354 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.



Economic Vs. Political Globalization

The following was published in the current issue (Spring 2016) of the journal The International Economy as my response to a symposium of views on the question Brexit: The Unintended Consequences:

The Brexit referendum will test the veracity of the claim that international economic integration is impossible without supranational governance. This is what the opponents of Brexit claim, while the Brexit proponents argue that international economic integration will be better served with a reassertion of national sovereignty over supranational governance.

Indeed, the EU insists that if a country wants to have access to its markets it must accept the entire body of acquis communautaire, i.e., the entire body of EU legal acts, court rulings and bureaucratic regulations that have nothing to do with free trade and touch on matters ranging from sports team uniform designs and barmaids’ cleavage regulation to speech code, cultural/ education policy and immigration, and politically correct law enforcement. Most if not all of this acquis communautaire serves no purpose other than the assertion of supranational governance and subversion of traditional national sovereignty.

If Britain votes to exit the EU, it will be voting to get rid of the 13,000-plus acts, rules and regulation of the acquis communautaire, but otherwise to continue Britain’s economic relations with the Continent.

One unintended consequence will show up in the reaction of the European Union leadership to a probable British vote to exit the EU. A lengthy period of UK-EU negotiations will follow Brexit, whose purpose will be to redefine UK-EU relations. The European negotiators will have a choice between preserving the mutually beneficial economic relations  (the EU maintains a healthy trade surplus with the UK) even after Britain has rejected the rest of the acquis communautaire, or terminating/curtailing those economic relations in order to punish Britain for its rejection of the EU’s oppressive legal scaffolding.

If the European leadership chooses to preserve UK-EU economic relations, they will be signaling to the other members of the EU that it is not necessary to accept the comprehensive supranational overlordship of Brussels in order to enjoy the benefits of international economic integration and free trade. But if, in order to whip into line the remaining EU members, the leadership decides to destroy the hitherto beneficial UK-EU economic relations, the EU leaders will be signaling that their true institutional interest is not international economic integration but the political power of supranational governance arrayed against national sovereignty and the democratic institutions that underlie that sovereignty.

In opposing Brexit, the ideologues of political Europeanism argued to the British public that their Europeanism is motivated by their solicitous concern to preserve the benefits of international economic integration. If Brexit wins the referendum, these ideologues must either accept that international economic integration can also be served by strengthened national sovereignty without supranational governance, or they must resort to the unintended consequence of demolishing economic integration in order to preserve supranational rule.

Myths of free trade and protectionism

In October 1913, the United States broke with a solid 124-year-old protectionist tradition and enacted the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Reduction Act, lowering import tariffs by an average 5.1 percentage points.  Eight months later, in June 1914, World War One was triggered; but nobody ever thought of blaming America’s flirtation with “free trade” for the Great War.

In June 1930, the United States enacted the Smoot-Hawley Act that raised import tariffs by an average 3.6 percentage points.  The stock market had already crashed eight months earlier, in October 1929, triggering the Great Depression.  Yet there are people who to this day blame the Great Depression on the “protectionism” of the supposedly protectionist Smoot-Hawley Act that took effect long after the Great Depression had begun.

Raising tariffs does not cause depressions, any more than lowering tariffs causes war. Continue reading

Debt, Trade and the Trump Insurgency

May 4, 2016

Donald Trump was propelled to the GOP nomination by the soaring tide of voter opposition to our national bipartisan policies on trade and immigration. Most likely he will be propelled to the presidency of the United States by the same relentless, popular (both Republican and Democratic) opposition to those same policies.

These bipartisan policies, in force without interruption since the 1989 inauguration of President George H.W. Bush, unleashed unilateral free access to US markets for foreign goods, services and workers, while simultaneously permitting our trading partners to preserve and augment their protectionism against US goods and services and to engage in wholesale theft of intellectual property and industrial espionage. Continue reading

Debt and Civilization – Part 1 (An Overview)

“There is simply too much debt in the world today.”

Jaime Caruana, General Manager, Bank for International Settlements

June 27, 2014

One year ago, when total global debt had reached its highest level in human history both in absolute terms ($199 trillion) and as percent of global output (286%), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS – the global economy’s central bank of central banks) concluded that “there is simply too much debt in the world today,” warning that the global economy is more vulnerable to collapse now than it was prior to the 2008 failure of Lehman Brothers.

Remarkably, the BIS had also warned as early as 2003 that the global debt of financial institutions and households was becoming “too much”, predicting that if not curbed it would lead to financial crisis. When BIS warnings went unheeded and the predicted crisis finally arrived in 2008, a complete meltdown of the global economy was barely avoided through massive new debt issuance when governments borrowed trillions to bail out private financial institutions.

The result has been that the original debt crisis of 2008 has grown to be a much greater menace to the world economy today. The size of the crisis has reduced the world’s private financial industry to an impotent dependent on government subsidies, as these taxpayer-funded subsidies to private financial institutions resulted in an explosion of government debt from $33 trillion in the beginning of 2008 to nearly $60 trillion today.

The world responded to the private debt crisis of 2008 with a tsunami of government indebtedness that has nearly doubled global sovereign debt, leaving governments enfeebled by over- indebtedness and weakened revenue raising capacity, unable to generate effective policies, and running out of time, money and legitimacy.

The colossal size of global debt makes today’s debt crisis a crisis of civilization. It is a crisis that can neither be understood nor addressed effectively without a comprehensive inquiry into the links between debt and civilization as these have unfolded from the dawn of history. Continue reading

Does Europe Need Debt Relief?

In response to a question posed at a forum by The International Economy magazine in its Spring 2015 issue:

Debt relief per se will do nothing to solve Europe’s problems, and could exacerbate them.  Under current political circumstances, debt relief would penalize pensioners and other fixed-income groups, reward the incumbent governments’ fiscal profligacy, and do nothing to stimulate growth while failing to make the total debt burden sustainable.

Continue reading