What the fuck do you people think you’re doing? You know who I’m talking to; the South East Asian farmers, so concerned with their own well-being they don’t give a toss if the rest of the world goes to complete bollocks; the suburban anarchists who’d overthrow the state if only they could work out where they’d buy their groceries afterward; and the government-suckling bureaucrats, more eager to ensure their own potential for future employment than to secure a place for the advancement of humankind. You people are the reason the Doha round of the World Trade Talks has failed, and you people are nothing more than fascists.
It’s understandable that you might be confused. After all, you’re much more accustomed to making use of such rhetoric yourself – you flail wildly hoping to tarnish your opponents with the tar and feathers of National Socialism, but the sad truth is that no modern politician movement has more in common with died-in-the-wool Franco, Mussolini and Hitler, let’s-kill-a-bunch-of-Jews fascism than the anti-globalisation movement, which is apparently, and ignorantly, glorified by the Far Left. Come May Day you no doubt descend on the pseudocommercial centre of Wellington that is Manners Mall, to smash a few windows of multinational fast-food corporations and in doing so prove to your bourgeoisie families that you’re ready to assume your position as a responsible member of the adult class. But are you ready to admit that deep down you’re much more inclined towards goose stepping and straight-arm salutes than to brawling for worker’s rights?
Sixty-years ago we dreamed of a united world, the end of all wars and the global enforcement of basic human rights by a competent yet benign international authority. And it wasn’t just a dream, it was tantalisingly possible; all we needed was devotion and perseverance and by the year 2000 we’d all wear shiny onepiece jumpsuits and vote for a single globe-spanning democracy. Things didn’t work out that way. We have no planetary democracy. We have no united world. We don’t even have shiny onepiece jumpsuits. People will tell you that was just a naïve fantasy we were indulging in, a pretty idea that masked more sinister undercurrents, and it was pretty much impossible anyway, I mean, we’re all so different, y’know? And so it just happened that we began thinking of global harmony as a bad thing. Well you know what? Anybody who tells you international solidarity is a bad thing is a fascist, just as buying New Zealand made is politically regressive.
Fascism, as we all know, is one of the major political innovations of the last century. Which doesn’t mean it’s a good thing, far from it, it’s just that it’s a peculiarly modern mindset that hinges around that most modern of ideas – the nation state. Now there’s no issue with a little bit of patriotism now and then, taking some pride in your country, be it New Zealand, Austria, Tonga or Costa Rica. The problem is when you start to think that your country’s fantastic, and think “gee, wouldn’t it be great if the whole world was like my country.” When the mythic past from which your country sprung is bold and strong, and the future is even bolder and stronger again, it might be the sign that we’re headed off in the wrong direction, especially if we’d like to reach that ‘state of world peace’ anytime soon. Other warning signs include the consolidation of authority and an increasing sense of aggressive militancy. Crowds begin to fall in line and toe the line, recite and chant the party line and before too long no one knows exactly where to draw the line. And then we’re fascists, we don’t like difference, we don’t like change, but we do like big talk, simple symbols and the nation state that commands our loyalty.
Globalisation is about much more than trade, just as trade is about much more than economics. If you are an economist and like to oversimplify the real world into broadly drawn models, then sure, trade is just cash flows and arrows. But anyone who spends a considerable amount of time in the real world realises that trade isn’t just cash changing hands – it’s cultures shaking hands. You don’t just turn up with a cargo of tea and expect someone to swap it for their opium, you’ve got to negotiate and barter and communicate in other similar ways, which requires some degree of crosscultural interaction. And that’s before we begin to consider the social qualities that are embedded in commodities such as tea and opium. You don’t even want tea unless you’re versed in some aspect of Englishness, and the tea only corroborates that trend, gradually transforming its drinkers into stereotypical Englishmen who wear monocles and gripe about the weather. And opium is hardly culturally neutral, just as flour, rice, coffee, oil and Peruvian nose flutes are neither.
So when the anarcho-eco-femi activists take to the streets to demand that we retain tariffs and quotas – tariffs and quotas that, more often than not, subsidise goods seen as somehow central to national identity – they’re saying, “we don’t want to interact with these others”, “ we don’t want the multinationals to make more money.” Multinationals who obviously upset their sense of national purity by sprawling across several states at once. A desire to buy New Zealand made is a desire to support our own country; as if New Zealand goods were somehow superior to foreign goods’ as if New Zealander producers were some how more deserving than those from other, apparently inferior in their minds, countries. All of which reeks of some sense of national purity, a desire to keep other impure forces at bay that could somehow worm into the national spirit and corrupt it. No Logo is like their Mein Kampf, communes are their inverse concentration camps and flowing hippy robes are their brown shirts. To oppose globalisation is to oppose internationalism; to try and retain national purity. The economic stability of the state becomes the ultimate end in itself, and the multinational corporation is a symbol of the dreaded cosmopolitan enemy. Anti-globalisation is undeniably nothing more than fascism in dirty clothes.