U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Canada, against the backdrop of Brexit and the U.S. presidential campaign, had many opinion leaders trying to dismiss concerns about free trade.
Now, we’re told, people who are against free trade are isolationists who want to entrench themselves in the past, in a parochial nostalgia for the nation-state. The ideology of free trade opponents can only lead to an inward-looking mentality that fosters wars and destroys the economy.
So say the free traders who have been fostering wars and destroying the economy.
But is it that easy: a fight between free trade, on the one hand, and isolationism on the other?
This false binary construct leaves little room for a third choice: the progressive concept of “fair trade” and the aspiration to build economies and trading relationships that are based on social and ecological justice, on the primacy of democratic rights over the profits of transnational corporations, and on the free movement of people rather than capital.