ECONOMIC NATIONALISM

    The term 'national economy' is one that we hear regularly in day to day jargon. In fact it is a misnomer. Britain's economy, as presently constituted, is not national but international. Its stability and strength are constantly affected by the ups and downs of international trade. Its growth rests on the international market. Its whole direction and planning are subject to international conditions.

    Britain, most of all the world's powers, is not master of her economic policies.

    As long as the British economic machine is organised to depend for so much of its business on international trade this position will continue. Britain can hope to have no economic future except by permission of its foreign customers and suppliers.

    Everyone knows how this has come about. Britain pioneered the Industrial Revolution and was the first modem industrial power. The whole world then wanted her manufactured goods and the industries that supplied them expanded to cater for a market far in excess of that which could be found at home in the British Isles. At the same time these goods had to be paid for and Britain agreed to import huge quantities of food and other primary products to balance the trade. British output of these products contracted to make way for those from abroad. Our farming industry shrank, the land was deserted and the crowded urban slum became the dwelling place of millions of our countrymen and women. In this way we created the unbalanced,specialised economy under which we have lived since.

    Inevitably, our world domination of the industrial market has faded away as other powers have learnt our techniques and followed us into the field, creating intensive competition sometimes aided by cheaper prices, derived from sweated labour, which we could not hope to match except by paying our own workers atrocious wages. We tried to do this for a time, and hence the appalling conditions that characterised many of our industrial towns and gave rise to Twentieth Century Socialism. Socialism, however, failed to get to the root of the trouble — which was Britain's commitment to an international cut-price system. While an enormous proportion of Britain's produce had to compete on world markets with that of countries which paid starvation wages the British worker would forever be denied a fair remuneration for his efforts.

    The system has been with us to this day. Now we are just another industrial nation, with a manufactured surplus which we must somehow keep unloading in a market where foreign producers are all trying to do exactly the same thing and where supply is certain to eventually out-pace demand; also a market which can at times fluctuate crazily through bouts of speculation and political instability.

    It needs no great economic insight to see that where Britain is concerned such a system must lead inevitably to collapse. The danger signals of this collapse appeared during the Thirties, when British
industry almost ground to a halt and millions trudged the streets looking for work. It was postponed by the war, which first absorbed labour into the forces and armaments industries and later put some of Britain's main competitors out of the field while their damaged factories had to be rebuilt. Now, with these competitors recovered, all the old symptoms of collapse are reappearing and the desperate measures employed by recent governments to bolster up trade abroad — particularly Harold Wilson's policy of devaluation — represent nothing more than cardboard barriers erected to stem a tidal flood.

    Many extra factors have intervened in Britain's case to worsen the position still more: chronic laziness, inefficiency and an antiquated industrial relations structure have made us even less fit to maintain our place in the world trade jungle than we would normally have been. These abuses must be drastically remedied, but even when they are and industry is raised to the maximum pitch of modern capacity, it would only delay the collapse; it would not stop it.

    For just as simple mathematical law rules that you cannot pour a quart of water into a pint pot without half of it splashing over the edges and onto the ground, by the same law it is clear that an economy organised to cater for a market in which it cannot sell what it can produce must run down and eventually go broke!

    This, put in the most basic of terms, is the process that the British economy is following today.

    Essentially, the problem facing all the productive forces of Britain is that of finding a market which can be relied upon to expand and consume their goods at a rate commensurate with that at which they can be produced when industry is fully harnessed to the powers of modem science. Or put more simply; how can we make it commercially possible to sell what it is technically and humanly possible to produce?

    This was no problem to Britain in the early days of industrial supremacy; it is the crucial problem now. But in fact we are still organised as if these early days remained with us. Our Twentieth Century
economy is geared to Nineteenth Century conditions!

    It is the nations that are geared to the conditions of today that will inevitably control the world. It is the nations that can find markets for the full volume of modern production that will be the powers of the coming era.  This fact transcends all current arguments about Capitalism and Socialism. Industry, whether run under private or state ownership, is faced with the same laws of existence.  For every
producer there must be a buyer. Goods, as long as they rot in warehouses, are valueless. Machines justify their existence, not from the volume of goods that they can produce, but from the proportion of those goods that can be sold.

    Finding the market to absorb wealth produced — not disputes over its ownership — is the vital issue of economic policy.

    America has always been in a position to contend with the machine age better than we have in Britain. The reason is elementary. America has the world's largest home market in terms of purchasing power. This market can absorb everything, or very nearly everything, that American machinery can produce. The American economy has grown to a structure aimed primarily to cater for this home market, with foreign trade merely spice on the cake, as it were.  The latter represents less than 10 per-cent of America's total business, while it represents more than 30 per-cent of the business of our own country. Whatever the uncertainty of foreign markets, American producers have
such immense purchasing power at home that they have a head start on anyone else in the struggle for industrial expansion.

    Britain does not have this purchasing power at home and quite clearly the rest of the world is not going to stand still and halt its own industrial development in order to keep markets open for British producers to sell in as if by divine right. We will not, as long as our eyes are fixed on international horizons, discover new buyers in quantities that will replace the old or in quantities that will keep pace with the ever increasing power of industry to make goods. Our only hope for the future is to find a very large and growing market which we can control and organise ourselves, combatting foreign competition by protective tariffs and mobilising our productive forces to cater for this market in full. By being organised in this way America and Russia have become the world's foremost industrial powers. We must organise in the same way to survive alongside them.

    For the British economy to develop in such a way we need a vast economic area capable of supporting an expanding population as a continually increasing fund of home purchasing power and practically self-supporting in the raw materials needed to sustain modem industry under present conditions.

    Today some unthinking people are suggesting European Union as an answer to this need. It is no answer. A great part of the European economy is based on the same predominance of manufacturing as is that of Britain. Europe, like Britain, has a shortage of space and raw materials. It only recreates the problem of our island economy on a larger scale. Furthermore, and most important of all, its peoples are not united by kinship and cannot be kept together by any bond other
than mutual economic interest — which is the very last bond that they in fact have. The politicians who hope that by scuttling into Europe they will create an economic United States are sadly out of touch with the realities of modern economic power and of the human factors that play a part in it.

    Britain, however, has an alternative to the small island economy of the present and to the flimsy trading alliance of Europe. She can exploit, as she has never yet seriously tried to do. the mighty potential of a united Commonwealth — of Greater Britain.

    Within such a Commonwealth, bound together by the ethnic unity of the peoples of British stock, there exist all the prerequisites for an economy of American-type dimensions: abundant space for the rearing of a huge population without unhealthy overcrowding, creating the same kind of purchasing potential that has enabled America to exploit mass production to the full; at the Same time almost every raw material in super abundance to supply the wheels of industry without
recourse to international exchange except among kindred peoples operating through a central coordinating machinery.

    In this way all the dangers and insecurities of the present anarchic world system could be avoided. Industry could produce for an assured market the expansion of which could be guaranteed. Primary products would be in assured supply. The planning so much desired by Socialists would be possible by way of being freed from the unplanned impact of foreign crises and depressions. The enterprise that is the cornerstone of the Conservative faith would be fair enterprise, not subjected to the hinderance of cut-price foreign competition. The best features of both doctrines could be made to work by their synthesis in a higher doctrine: economic nationalism; the organisation of the production and distribution of wealth within the secure framework of a mighty nation-state.

    In the same way as Commonwealth Government should supervise trade between its parts so should it supervise the all important forces of finance. Today International Finance rules our lives, with its supra-national loyalties and objectives. It transfers its activities crazily from one part of the world to another according to where capital can be deployed for the greatest profit. Based in one country, it may finance the industries of another to compete with those on its doorstep which are crying out for investment. By controlling the means of productive and purchasing power it can ruin. not only whole industries, but whole nations which fail to comply with its own policies of self-interest.

    In recent years in particular the forces of International Finance have become dangerously involved in political developments which are clearly subversive to the interests of the Western nations — the uprooting of Belgian power in the Congo, the world sanctions campaign against Rhodesia and the financing of student revolution everywhere being prominent examples. Many people are coming to believe that International Finance has a vested interest in the creeping internationalisation of the world, and that behind all the slogans about 'peace' and 'brotherhood' lurk sinister designs which are likely to place total world control in the hands of a few ruthless financial operators.

    The British nation must be freed from the clutches of the international financial system and must firmly control all the financial forces by which its economy is fed. This means strong government
direction of financial enterprise within defined national and Commonwealth bounds, and based on a regular equilibrium between the creation of money and the real wealth in production.

    All this should not be taken to infer that either Britain or the Commonwealth should withdraw from international trade. To suggest that would be ludicrous. But a national system such as that proposed here would mean that our reliance on international trade would be greatly less than at the present time, and that we would therefore be equipped at all times to adopt extra national measures in any world emergency. At the same time by basing our productive machinery on a vast and wealthy home market we would, like America, be able to be much more competitive internationally. World trade should represent, as has been said before, the spice on the cake — not the bread and butter.

    Again the objection to a Commonwealth system will be raised on the grounds of feasibility. It will be claimed that Commonwealth countries have evolved too far away from Britain and towards American and Asian trade contacts to readily come into line with such an arrangement. However, we must remember that it is precisely the lack of a proper Commonwealth policy here in Britain that has caused our old partners to travel in this direction. We are not right now trying to get into Europe because we have lost the support of the Commonwealth; we have been losing the support of the Commonwealth because, among other reasons, we have been turning to Europe. Present attitudes of pessimism with regard to Britain's influence with the Commonwealth commit the fault of confusing cause with effect. If our influence has declined it has been because of our policies at home, not because of the desires of the Commonwealth.

    The task of persuading Commonwealth countries to adopt our system will not be an easy and straightforward one. such as it would have been several decades ago. But, as was pointed out in the last chapter, much wilder and less feasible schemes have become the governing policies of our current leaders, whether Labour or Conservative. World systems, alliances, trading areas and mutual security blocs are espoused, plotted and blueprinted which have none of the unifying elements such as are needed to make them work, whether the elements of complementary economic structures, common political interests or plain and simple kinship. In this concept of the Commonwealth — which, as has already been explained, consists mainly of the White Commonwealth — the basic unifying elements do exist, even if changes have to be made from the policies and trends of the last 20 years. Of all the alternatives facing us this is the most feasible.

    Within a national system utilising to the full all the immense resources that our Commonwealth has to offer in both natural wealth and human skill we can develop a new economic strength of such
magnitude as to not only secure our future prosperity and standard of life but furthermore bring about a complete revolution in the existing balances of world power — confronting the Communist and American blocs with a new giant of not so far off their proportions and with much greater homogeneity. It could mean a British future brighter and more fruitful than even the greatest periods of the British past.

    This is the meaning of the choice between national organisation and international chaos.



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