Economic nationalism is a dead end for the left. The way forward lies in a rejuvenated, international labor movement. Here's how we get there.
Today, against the nationalist international of the dystopians, we need a new humanist international of the utopians - one stretching from the democratic socialist movement in the United States to progressives in Mexico City and London, from European movements like DiEM25 to climate defenders, migration and tax justice activists the world over. We need a movement of ideas able to shape public debate, inspire artistic creation, and run for office.
The guiding principle of a left internationalist approach is the same as that of left anti-racism – “an injury to one is an injury to all” – but extended across borders. This is a founding slogan of the left – “Workers of the world, unite!” The potential to live out this imperative is greater today than it has been at any point since WWII. As both right and left critics of globalization note, the development of global supply chains has served to create a “race to the bottom” across borders, which often provokes a protectionist reaction, on both the left and the right. It is true that the days of neoliberal “free trade” are likely numbered. But nationalism is not the only alternative, nor is it the progressive alternative.
[P]rogressives now have a historic opportunity to rewrite the rules of global trade to put people and the planet first. Above all, we must end the corporate court system “free trade” relies on, which tilts the playing field in favor of multinational capital, and replace it will strong standards that protect workers and the environment, backed by enforcement mechanisms with real teeth.