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Vladimir Gligorov

Assume that United States leaves the World Trade Organisation and in addition
ditches the United Nations. More generally, there are no multilateral (e.g. EU), let alone
universal international institutions (UN). Assume, as many do, that cross-border trade can go
on without trade agreements of any kind. Indeed, every country is sovereign to choose its
own policy mix targeting whatever ends it cares for. Sovereign means irrespective of what
any other state chooses to do.
That is akin to global deregulation and liberalisation together with national
protectionism. I.e. it is global system of protectionist trade. How are, in that context, global
public goods going to be supplied? E.g. security. Is security a global public good? It is, but it
takes global wars to see that, argued Kant at one time. We have had them in the meantime,
wars that is, so the fact that we are in it together, at least when it comes to security, should
have been empirically demonstrated to everybodys satisfaction. While protectionism in
international trade can coexist at least theoretically with global market anarchy, anarchy does
not supply public goods.
Enters power politics: Concert of the World. Basically, global security is entrusted, by
usurpation one assumes, to the Big Powers. They maintain order, by force if necessary, and
by compliance preferably, but not by international law. There will be problems with entry and
exit conditions, as we know from those world wars, but let us assume that the problem can be
solved somehow. A country can enter the club, or stay a member, without demonstrating that
it is a big power by sending troops or bombs, but just by providing evidence that indeed it has
them and that it has the capacities e.g. economic means to sustain them. Also that it has
the will to use them, possibly by demonstrating the use of them, if not accepted in, or even
more likely if pushed out of, the Big Powers Club that make up the Concert of the World. In
other words, the Club is formed and maintained by self-selection.
That is the illiberal alternative to legal, economic, and political globalisation:
Protectionism in trade, and in other international economic relations, in an anarchic global
market, with Big Powers looking after security. By implication, also there is no international
law, but rather global legal anarchy, because the Big Powers Club rules.
Why illiberalism again? In other words, what is the ideology of neoilliberalism?
Clearly, that is nationalism. Now, there is the long tradition of liberal nationalism. Mazzini
for one, but also most continental liberal movements, was nationalistic, relying on national
mobilisation for state building. However, liberal nationalists were not necessarily
protectionist and not against the universalistic idea of rights and thus were not unilateralists
and opposed to international law. Thus, neoilliberalism is nationalistic in the sense that one
associates this word, illiberalism, with the 1920s and 1930s right wing and, in part, with the
Bolshevik, or rather Stalinist, nationalism. Thus, the prefix neo.
One colloquial way to see the content of this ideology is to consider the meaning of
the rising disdain for political correctness. Political incorrectness allows the truth to be told
about races not being equal, other cultures being inferior, different life styles not being
acceptable, rights not being human but specific to identity, and liberals being hypocritical
when arguing otherwise (when they are not fools, stupid, useful idiots, or corrupt with the
understanding that they can be all of that at the same time). These truths can be spread,
indeed need to be spread, by the means of just mentioned ad hominem arguments, insulting
ones preferably. That is political incorrectness in actu.
Summing up: neoilliberalism is protectionist, nationalist, and realist (in terms of
power politics). The world is in anarchy: no treaties, no international institutions, and power
rather than rights, so no international law.
How is it supposed to work? What does it mean to work? Assume that nationalism,
protectionism, and realism can separately work globally. Then, are these elements of the
neoilliberal modus vivendi at least consistent?
So, assume unilateralism in trade policy. The trade system as it is, is completely
deregulated. One could argue that there is no inconsistency of anarchic international trade
with international law because there is no need for the latter. So, protectionism is consistent
with nationalism, i.e. with national sovereignty.
How about consistency with balance of power? There are two problems here. One is
with the assumption that differences in trading power, i.e. the differences in price setting
power, can be neutralised by protectionist measures. The other is that nationalisms are
territorially consistent. Assume that is the case in both cases. Political power, however, is not
equally distributed. There are super powers, big powers, regional big powers, and then all
kinds of powers in between all the way to small or zero weight powers.
Security would be supplied by Big Powers (or by Super Powers if there are two or a
handful of them). That would be the Concert of the World. Let us put aside the issue of the
reimbursement of the members of the Concert for their security services. And just look at the
way the equilibrium between them is maintained. They would have their individual spheres
of interest. The stability of the Concert would then be maintained by changes in the spheres
of interest as relative power changes. That, for one, means that nationalisms of smaller
powers will have to be constrained, if territorial changes will be needed to accommodate
changing spheres of interest. For another, protectionist policies of any smaller power will
have to be assessed from the point of view of their influence on the changing relations of
power and thus of spheres of interest.
So, neilliberal system would not prove to be stable. But we know that from the
experience of the World War I, when one system of, arguably liberal, but imperial balance of
power collapsed, and from the nationalistic and protectionist system of balance of power that
collapsed ahead of and in the World War II. The neilliberalism is closer to the latter than to
the former because it is destructive of the existing system of international legal and trade
universalism with nationalistic, and often racist, justification as the means to change the
distribution of global power and spheres of influence.