As discussed in my previous post, here’s how I imagine the political “spectrum” today (still a working schematic of course):
Within each quadrant, politicians will be conservative/progressive to different extents. For example, Trump is probably much more protectionist than Sanders (if we took his campaign rhetoric at face value).
Protectionism tends to be an ugly word. But in the quadrants above, I refer to it in a much broader sense, not just restraining free trade in order to artificially prop up struggling, weak industries at home. It means giving priority to certain interests above economic interests, and therefore curtailing market freedoms to protect those interests.
Most of the time these ‘interests’ turn out to be national interests (e.g. national security and the environmental and social well-being of the State), but may also be ethical (e.g. how certain countries outlaw individuals selling their blood).
In practice, public discourse almost exclusively focuses on national interests so the point I’m making may be irrelevant if preserving the idea of a “country” is no longer valued (e.g. if economic globalisation is followed by worldwide labour mobility, dissolution of national borders and transactional/flexible “citizenship” – or doing away with the concept altogether). Conservatism in this sense really means blocking certain transactions or dealings which may be economically beneficial to both parties, but may violate other principles. These transactions or dealings could be:
- Adani and the Carmichael mine project
- Chinese investors buying Australian farms
- Darwin Port lease, with the owner now using the Port as security to seek a $500 million loan from the Chinese government’s trade bank, and former Trade Minister Andrew Robb now consulting for the Chinese firm that owns the Port
- The Clinton Foundation and the Russian Uranium Deal
- Sam Dastyari pledging to support China on the South China Sea