"Protectionism" has received an undeserved bad name of late, thanks mainly to the steady barrage of propaganda leveled by the master builders and profiteers of the global economy--the transnational corporations, or T.N.C.S. They charge that any attempt to preserve regional or community values, traditional economies, local jobs or natural resources is an assault on the higher cause of globalism. But the global economy is itself a vast protectionist scheme used by T.N.C.s and banks to expand their own power, unfettered by the inconvenient checks of democracy. It's time to take back the term protectionism from the corporations and restore it to the people.
What we call the New Protectionism aims to regenerate interest in the preservation of communities, economies and livelihoods. It would foster a return to the security provided by local self-sufficiency based on local economic control and local production for local consumption and protected by a modern trade philosophy that does not close the door on all trade but restricts unnecessary international trade and other harmful activities.
As working people all over the world have become acutely aware, the need to halt the lockstep march of globalism is urgent. The rapid replacement of secure jobs by short-term contracts, part-time or lower-paid work or technological unemployment sharply accelerates a spreading sense of insecurity, while lowering overall effective purchasing power, a prescription for eventual global economic disaster. In 1995 the International Labor Organization announced that one-third of the world's willing-to-work population was either unemployed or underemployed, the worst situation since the thirties.
Globalization unquestionably leads to lower-wage economies. The British economist Adrian Wood has calculated a not insignificant shift of 9 million jobs from North to South in recent years. It is not hard to understand why. In 1993 manufacturing labor costs in West Germany were the equivalent of 24.9 U.S. dollars per hour; in Japan, …