But why? Why does the liberal just go on shooting his little gun, claiming that fascism is about “culture”, not “economics” — instead of both, in complex and sophisticated interplays? He is not a dummy, after all — he knows very many things. Yet somehow, he has made himself a fool, who cannot seem to understand the world.
The problem, though, is that in many nations, no one is teaching people that there is a way out of this dilemma — free trade, or a decent life? That way is reinvesting the gains from trade in better and better social contracts. Instead, intellectuals, leaders, and thinkers more or less all want precisely the opposite: weaker social contracts. Why? For reasons of ideology, mostly: Americans, for example have pledged their children’s lives (quite literally) to capitalism — kids can mow one another down at school, and that’s ok, but question capitalism? Invest in public healthcare? Never!! Commie!! But ideological dimwittery like this leaves people with no way out of the dilemma — free trade versus a better life? — than to demand the end of a global system that is not benefitting them.
Sure we can. Take a look at the Nordics. They are not protectionist nations. They trade away happily. But they also do something that the rest of the world does not so much — they reinvest the gains from trade in robust, universals, strong social contracts. Things like parental leave, healthcare, protection, insurance, incomes, are all guaranteed. So there is not the tension there — so much — at least of trade versus livability.