Diversity, Capitalism, and Free Trade Agreements

2 minute read

And by the way, Jeb you mentioned Boeing, take a look. They [the Chinese] order planes, they make Boeing build their plant in China. They don’t want them made here. They want those planes made in China.

(Donald Trump, 6th Republican Presidential Debate)

They say, “We want deal!”

(Donald Trump)

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump agree on one issue: they both think that “free trade” deals are bad. Coincidentally (or not), many of Bernie Sanders’ supporters are racist. Although Bernie Sanders personally doesn’t seem to be racist, this is another area that Bernie Sanders supporters and Donald Trump seem to agree on.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these two things go hand in hand.

In this article, I’m not going to argue whether trade deals are good or bad in economic terms (I personally am opposed to the current trade deals we have now). Instead, I’m interested in the link between trade deals, race, and colonialism.

I have a few general observations that I want to make:

  1. The narrative of “shipping our jobs to China” could be thought of as a racist reaction to affirmative action. We had an averse effect on countries like China during colonialism, and I suppose that giving them jobs could be a way of making up for that. The problem is that we aren’t giving them good jobs, we’re giving them bad, dangerous, low paying jobs. In effect, it’s another form of colonialism. So why is it being portrayed as a reparations program by conservatives?

  2. Race can cloud policy. For example, the main reason why conservatives oppose higher taxation is because it’s portrayed as taking money from Whites and giving money to Blacks. Trade deals is another interesting example of this phenomenon.

  3. Recently, I talked to the former executive at a large company. One of the interesting things he told me is that diversity training is a necessity for large corporations: they hire all over the world, and their employees from America can’t be saying racist things to their customers/employees from overseas.

    One critique of diversity is that it’s not radical enough. Rather than seeking to overthrow racist structures (corporations, governments, etc.), diversity seeks to make those structures more inclusive, but not fundamentally change how those structures work.

    The trade deals are perhaps another example where pro-diversity politicians (Obama, Clinton, etc.) are more business friendly/conservative than people realize. More to the point, the very concept of diversity is pro-business. Why is that?

  4. In the article “Incoherence is ineffective”, one of my favorite bloggers mentions the idea of “market conform democracy.” This is the idea that democracies support the concept of the free market, even at the expense of the will of their citizens. This is certainly an idea to think about with regards to trade deals.