The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy

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The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy

Patrick J. Buchanan

Little, Brown and Company, 1998

As late as 1987, Pat Buchanan was committed to free trade ideology, which since the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s has prevailed within both the American Right and the American Left.

Later experiences on the presidential campaign trail caused him, however, to question his premises. As he met people and came to know their problems, he arrived at a very different understanding: that economic globalism, by flooding the American market with goods produced by workers who receive far less than the prevailing wage in the United States, undercuts the economic, cultural and political foundations of American society.

The Great Betrayal tells how Buchanan believes that the United States is ill-served by the current failure to protect its workers, its culture and its national sovereignty. Americans of all ideological persuasions - and most especially "conservatives" who care both about American national interests and the theory of free markets - will find it valuable to read this book. The only prerequisite is that they be as honest with themselves as Buchanan has been with himself. Such a prerequisite is, of course, a major obstacle; Buchanan exhibits traits that are as rare as they are valuable: fundamental intellectual honesty and a strength of character that allow him to admit when he has been wrong and to change course when facts and events demand it.

These are issues, however, that will dominate politics and social philosophy in the United States and elsewhere during the first half of the coming century. As Buchanan puts it, the conflict between nationalism and globalism "is the new conflict of the age that succeeds the Cold War."

Buchanan observes that the act of throwing the American labor market open to global competition is rapidly fracturing American society along class lines. A new transnational elite, he says, is becoming set off against the majority of the people, who are increasingly vulnerable economically and are even under threat of losing their national and cultural identity. Here are some of the features he traces:

The impact on middle-America, as even during a long "boom" period of the 1990s middle class anxiety grows, hopes become down-sized, family incomes stagnate, real wages fall, and more and more wives work so that families can tread water economically.

The plight of the United States as a whole, as the trade deficit continues for what will soon be three uninterrupted decades; the percentage of manufacturing falls, and with it the percentage of well-paid manufacturing jobs; in place of them, ever more poorly paid jobs come into existence; foreign ownership of American assets and debts increases; and the United States becomes increasingly vulnerable to the shocks inherent in global interdependence.

The on-going erosion of national sovereignty through a variety of factors such as the growth of worldwide corporations that have no national loyalties, the country's increasing dependence on foreign sources of supply, and the effect of trade agreements which subordinate the U. …