The COVID-19 pandemic-the catalyst for paradigm change: from globalism towards economic patriotism

12:57, 19 iunie 2020 | Actual | 214 vizualizări | Nu există niciun comentariu Autor:

The global crisis, caused by the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, has brought some key topics to the forefront of political debate throughout several countries, that are practically absent in the Republic of Moldova. Before reviewing them, let us mention the fields that this tsunami devastated with overwhelming force.

  1. Foremost concerns the catastrophic impact on public opinion. Despite claims of Covid-19 being a biological weapon deployed by the USA being disputed (although state officials from China and Iran insist specifically on this claim) there is sufficient evidence to point towards a center responsible for inducing a state of generalize panic on a global scale. The blame lies not solely with the media, that has been used as an “echo chamber”, but also our officials drawn in this game, naively following recommendations, and models from abroad. Equally obvious it is that not only the power structure, but also the opposition, remain entrenched in their obsessive self-image, and strive to captivate public sympathy on account of the unfolding crisis.
  2. Second impact, that flows from the first, concerns the psyche of every mass-media consumer. Sinister case scenarios and alarmist state of spirit inhibit a colossal mass of people. Here the advice is one. Excessive consumption of media products (especially TV) severely harms ones’ sanity.
  3. The third concerns the very essence of the current economic model, based on the neoliberal dogma of free exchange and circulation. The free flow of goods, services, capital, and people seemed an axiomatic truth, raised to the rank of catechism of the new one-only accepted thinking. Yet behold what has become obvious for all finally: international commerce is crumbling, long distance supply chains have also been ruined, economies are contracting, states are hermetically self-isolating, and migrants return to their countries of origin.
  4. The myth of a European Union functional in solidarity has been shattered. The Brussels bureaucracy, taken aback by the current crisis stumbled, completely overwhelmed by the crisis. Germany refuses to aid Italy (that finds aid from China), while the Serbian prime minister renounces the EU and applauds China etc. Every state found itself in dire need to resort to own forces or appeal to international bodies that lie outside western superstructures. The current crisis represents a crushing blow against the ideology of triumphalist euro-enthusiasm.
  5.  But the most severe impact, that sums together all the above, punches against globalism as dominant ideology, but also against globalization, as myth of a humanity fashioned according to a single matrix and directed from a single command center. Driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, the collapse of global economy is a truly catastrophic one.

 Keeping in mind all the above, we would rightly await that in Moldova as well, a break would occur not only in the political class, but also among the ranks of political analysts and commentators. Nevertheless, for the time being there is no movement towards overcoming old prejudices and performing a paradigm shift. What ought to concern us first and foremost is not this coronavirus that would nonetheless pass, but the “liberal virus”, that has infected the political class in its entirety- government and opposition, insiders, and outsiders. The severity of this intellectual malady is truly devastating, manifests itself in the nullification of any capacity of autonomous thought, and consequently, accurate assessment of the exact extent of the crisis that grips the country. More precisely there is a need to develop and implement a series of policies oriented towards overcoming certain chronic vulnerabilities that determine the national socio-economic degradation.

Economic nationalism determines political independence

In other words, as long as Moldova remains content to supply itself with models and solutions from abroad, she will remain an object of geopolitics, a vasal of greater powers, a colony of transnational corporations. It is high time we understood that nobody will neither think for us nor determine the appropriate solutions to be applied.

The current global crisis, accelerated by the Covid-19 plague, also caused the mass return of our economic migrants from EU countries and Russia. It is to be expected, that once the Coronavirus quarantine is lifted, the countries in question will resort to massive deportations of foreign migrants.

Under such circumstances, is Moldova ready to provide workplaces for the multitude of people to be repatriated? Of course not. The solutions to this problem depend on abandoning liberal illusions (be it on the left or right of the political spectrum) and embracing the concept of economic sovereignty. Under the new conditions, anybody engaging in politics should adopt as programme and action plan the concept of economic patriotism.

Therefore, through sovereignty or economic independence, economic nationalism, or patriotism, we understand a protectionist economic policy, with strong autarky tones. That is exactly what the global west forbids for us, through organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, EU and not least the United States as leader of the western world. Such a development strategy would require policy makers undertaking major risks, as it demands the urgent reviewing of all the international engagements of our state. There is no more time for hesitations and beating around the bush.

A bondservant state cannot protect its national economy, nor fulfill its protectionist duties towards its citizens, nor towards domestic economic agents. Here the space of maneuver of a state locked in liabilities towards western creditors is as long as a slave’s chain. Does the slave partake in the economic process? Yes, but the entirety of his output goes to his master. Isn’t it the same with the economy? Therefore, protectionism rises the only shield against the invasion of colonizing globalism.

The first step towards economic independence would mean repaying all debts towards globalist financial creditor bodies. This is to deny the USA and its instruments (IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc.), and deny the EU any pression lever, and thus deny their desire to dictate our economic policy. Because our creditors, also set our fiscal, custom, budgetary, and monetary policies. Consequently, there is no political independence without economic independence, the latter determining the former.

China as strategic partner in the decolonization process

Under such conditions, who could help us? One single country, China. This economic superpower that represents the only economic competitor for the USA globally, and considering China’s close partnership with Russia, another major geopolitical rival for the USA, it is clear that Moscow would support such a move by Chisinau towards Beijing.

The solution recommends urgently contracting a state loan with repayment terms in installments over a long period and at minimum interest, plus a grace period of several years. The contracted sum should be sufficient for repaying all loans towards the dominant western institutions, but also enable kick-starting a strategic plan of revitalizing the national economy.

Sectors of the economy to be considered priority for investment are agriculture(including processing industries)and industry. The mythos of an economy focused on the tertiary sector, that is service industries, as well as outsourced activities transacted towards foreign corporations will be shattered by harsh reality itself.

Recommendations include establishing a state organ that offers crediting on preferential terms for local economic agents. In this regards the creation of an investment bank with one hundred percent state capital is necessary. These credits must be offered at more advantageous terms than those offered by private banks. In other words, it requires significantly reducing interest rates, extending repayment terms for credits as well as for grace periods. Such a mechanism would also compel private banks to adjust their crediting policies to meet the new terms offered by state banks. Otherwise private banks risk of loosing market share. And to further curb the banker’s insatiable appetite for profit, the state should increase its taxes for their operations.

From free-exchange towards protectionism

Republic of Moldova should abandon the policy of free exchange with all countries and international organizations such as the EU. That is, reestablishing sovereignty over national borders is necessary, because locally produced goods cannot compete with imported goods via free exchange. For same reasons, the local producer has to enjoy the support and protection of the state, and not forced to compete on same terms with foreign economic corporations. This requires establishing tariffs of a protectionist nature. A clarifying example: the local farmer cannot compete on today’s terms with the Turkish, Ukrainian, or Polish. Therefore, we must return the market for local produce to the Moldavian farmer, squeezing out the foreigners. Another example: the home consumer should be able to purchase, let’s say, a locally fashioned suit or a pair of shoes at a price point at least ten times lower than a foreign imported one, that must be heavily taxed upon entering our market. A third showcasing example: Ukrainian confectionary, Belarusian dairy products and oak flakes from Germany (that have invaded our supermarkets should almost but entirely disappear, or become a rare commodity at much higher price points than home products, making space for the same home products). Same should apply to all Moldavian agricultural produce.

This is the picture of free exchange between colony and metropolis. We export raw materials (agricultural in Moldova’s case), and cheap labor, and import finished manufactured goods on increased value. Once more. We earn abroad to spend home on foreign goods. Therefore, the exchange is not equal at all. The circle has closed. We are trapped. Enough, this stratagem cannot go on.

Three decades ago, we believed that the economic disaster caused by western capitalism (always rapacious and looting!) over entire continents and civilizations has nothing against us. After the collapse of communism and our opening towards the West, we were unaware that we have been treated as any other Third World nation, ripe to be subjected to a merciless colonial exploitation. And until we caught on (at least some of us), the economic and social losses registered by our nations have reached monstrous proportions.

Therefore, here’s a key-condition to overcome the dire state of a colonized economy. A preferential tariff policy, with zero or low import tariffs, must be granted exclusively for technology imports that determine the industrialization of the economy, for raw materials necessary for internal industrial output, and the goods that we do not produce.

Republic of Moldova-a model of decolonization to put into action

We must aim towards the most complete economic self-sufficiency, abandoning illusions such as, a successful economy should rely first and foremost on export, and not on securing its internal markets. Of course, in such a scenario it is not difficult to predict the reaction of our “development partners”. Total hostility, accompanied by political pressure, economic blackmail and, inevitably, attempts at organizing “color revolutions” against the advocates of economic patriotism. Here, help against western “economic assassins” (John Perkins) can be obtained only from Russian and Chinese political and economic support. Everything else is just empty words, illusions, and globalist propaganda. The two countries, Russia, and China, must be convinced of two conditions. First, their political and economic support towards Moldova, goes against their geopolitical adversaries, first the USA, but also the EU, if the latter survives in its current form. Second, a cooperation of these geopolitical superpowers with a small country such as Moldova, would represent an attractive model for other regional countries. This would in its turn lead to undermining the positions occupied by westerners in the ex-communist space after their economic colonization of our region.

Republic of Moldova could show the way of economic decolonization to other nations, that would constitute a world first. Let’s leave aside our complexes of provincials, of a small and powerless state, at the beck and call of others!A country like ours must learn to play skillfully, using as space of maneuver, the contradictions between the greater powers. Careful! Now, that the unipolar world is irreparably collapsing, and the multipolar world is in inception, we Moldova must ride the peak of the wave. Otherwise this wave will drown us.

Rare are the times in history when the entire world is gripped by such a torment. As I was saying, the old world, that we have known is dying, whereas the new one has not yet materialized. Here’s the opportunity that must be grabbed with both hands, swiftly and efficaciously. Do we possess political figures that can rise to the challenge of this exceptional historical moment? Where are our leaders capable to act with maximum wit, and daring under extraordinary conditions?

As long as our political parties suffer from chronic Electoralism, limited to a perspective of maximum four years, drawing up a national strategy lies beyond their agenda. And, as long as the political scene remains populated by factions that gravitate around foreign centers of powers, it is useless to expect from them national projects. Because emancipation from factors of foreign influence, and escape from the captivity of political marketing are precisely the minimum conditions for forwarding politics in the national interest.

Our state must surpass its bogged down condition, that of consumer of foreign policy supplied from foreign centers of interest and become a supplier of independent foreign policy and new models of international cooperation.

Similarly, if for the collapse of communism, daring and even revolutionary approaches were required, the collapse of neo-liberal globalism demands a revolutionary thinking, political courage, and ability for wise and reasonable risk taking. As Professor A. Dugin rightly remarks in his article “THE POST-GLOBAL ORDER IS AN INEVITABILITY” (http://4pt.su/en/content/post-global-order-inevitability), when the communist regime collapsed the task that was passed to countries from our region was simpler. It was sufficient to reproduce through imitation the politics and economic models of the West and everything should have solved itself. However, this time, when globalism collapses, the political elites have no other models to imitate. Here, resourcefulness, dynamism in action and fearless spirit.

Foreign investors and goods-undertakers of national economy

I return to domestic policy. In the context of promoting protectionist politics, it is necessary to orient the entire national economy towards that of small owners, towards molecular structures, towards practicing a proximity economy, where the distance from producer to consumer is minimum. The entirety of our national economy must be viewed as an autonomous and self-sufficient organism, comparable to a cloth of interwoven and intertwined fabrics.

Here, limits on the economic activities of foreign investors are also necessary.

That is, admittance only for investors where domestic business still lags behind, legislating them to establish shared holdings, in membership with domestic partners that owe a minimum of 51% from respective companies, as well as not allowing them to externalize their profits until after a set period necessary to develop that respective company. The radical reduction in the quantity of imported goods on the domestic market, I repeat, is also a condition for abandoning the vicious model of a consumer economy. Let us keep in mind this principle universally valid: foreign investors and foreign goods are the undertakers of national economy. Exceptions merely confirm the general rule.

Here’s another example of vicious economic structuring imposed according to models imposed by transnational corporations: industrial parks or the so-called free economic zones. To whom does this system benefit? Obviously, the hunters of cheap labor from the colonized countries, hunters of “fiscal paradises” and total lack of ecologic norms, and never does it benefit the countries that shelter them. The political class that perpetuate this model, either faint crass ignorance in economic matters, or simply take advantage of the fact that others, not them, must employ themselves in creating work places. Let us not forget that “banana republics” such as our country, offer these “strategic investors” not only cheap labor, but also outlandish provisions such as customs, tax reductions, and annual rents bellow the market price. That is, these economic mobsters profit not only from exploiting our labor force at incomparably lower wages than in their country of origin, but also from fiscal and customs evasions offered to them. Additionally, the so-called insulation of national economy, that is the respective areas bear no connection to national economy. Whereas, the national economy, must develop a structure focused on complementary interactions between its components.

Another example of an ill economy. Malls, hypermarkets and supermarkets, these havens of consumer society. The consumer conditioned with an artificially stimulated desire, that is triggered through advertising of a consumer’s narcissism is incessantly seduced by slogans such as “ You deserve it”, “You deserve more” etc. This model must be resolutely abandoned. The return to a reasonable consumption, based on real necessities, must become a priority for the entire society.

An economic nationalist must hold this position: instead of a large foreign investor, better 10 smaller domestic investors; instead of a foreign enterprise with 1000 employees, better 10 local businesses with 100 employees each; instead of a mall or hypermarket with foreign owners, better 10 shops, property of domestic merchants that deal domestic merchandise.

In other words, we require a pragmatic patriotism, people with enterprising spirit, that live for practical efficient economic action and do not get seduced by liberal dogmatic illusions. Without practicing an economic patriotism, we wave the flag and evoke our forefathers. Resorting to Anglo-Saxon management jargon, we Moldovans if we do not desire to be leeched off by foreigners until the end of times, should appropriate what it is called “practical wisdom”.

How to consolidate budgetary capacity from internal resources

Going through these lines, our reader could ask himself. Well enough, yet funds for such radical measures where from? Answer: If, until harvesting the fruits grown by the stimulus measures presented above some time is required, here are at least several types of economic activities that would substantially and unrelatedly boost budgetary gains.

We deem it necessary to institute state monopolies over the following economic activities:

  • Banking activities;
  • Energy sector (import, extraction, processing, and distribution);
  • Currency exchange;
  • Importation, production, and commercialization of pharmaceutical products;
  • Importation, and commercialization of alcoholic and tobacco products;
  • Public transport.

Similarly, notary activities and judicial enforcement rebecome the exclusive prerogative of the state. At that time (post-Communist liberalization) the state delegated these two activities to specialized bodies. Now, in order to boost its revenue, the state reassumes them once more. The list above can be expanded further. Under the circumstances of a state of emergency in the economy, such measures are perfectly justifiable and vitally necessary.

Whoever has access to intelligence on businesses’ accumulated revenues in the sectors listed above, could forward an estimative figure of additional revenues to the State Budget. Here, doesn’t only concern us being able to substantially consolidate public finances, but also an elementary application of the principle of social equity. Why should some make obscene profits during times of crisis, while others are left wanting for their subsistence? And why in Moldova we have more pharmacies than hair saloons? And why medicine here is more expensive than in Romania, Ukraine, and Russia? And the eternal tobacco contrabandists, why should they rapidly expand their illicit fortunes? And does the “Tanase bill- Minister of Justice”, that offers judicial enforcers 10% from every sum recovered from debtors in favor of creditors, does it serve the public or group interest?

Let us not forget, article 125, “Economy”, from the Constitution establishes in Section (1), among others, the following: “Economy in the Republic of Moldova is a market economy, socially oriented ()”.

Is even a faint remain of the constitutional principle of a socially oriented economy left? No. Consequently, the stare remains in severe debt in this chapter and must take appropriate measures to normalize the situation. Section (2) of the same article establishes at paragraph c) the following: “With regards to economic, financial and monetary activities, the state must safeguard its national interests”. And because ensuring a decent living standard for all its citizens directly concerns national interests, the measures listed above fit perfectly within this constitutional norm.

Back to the main topic. For over three decades more than several hundred thousand fellow citizens have sought their salvation abroad. Thus, our state saw itself absolved of any responsibility for creating employment to absorb this labor force on the internal market. Now this foreign choice disappears. Consequently, in order to be able to face the new challenges and create new employment opportunities, totally new and special measures must be taken, measures that know no precedent (because our current predicament also knows no precedent!)

Another point. If we wish that prices correspond the purchasing power of our citizens, let us lower them by limiting super profits in an entire row of fields. Let us curb the insatiable profits of speculators, that hide themselves under the principles of market economy in order to leech onto others. Let us end the model of plutocratic capitalism, kleptomaniac, oligarchic, that has been established over the past decades.

Shouting “Down with oligarchy” and Plahotniuc’s(Moldova’s prominent oligarch)arrest and sentencing is insufficient. The entire system must be reformed to its foundations. The state must not permit the excessive accumulation of capital anymore, on the contrary, must aim towards distributing its national wealth as widely amongst citizens as possible.

That means, establishing a true economic democracy, whose existence is conditioned only by the existence of a strong state, not minimalist, reduced to the role of lackey of high finance. The following must be kept in mid. Economic patriotism does not imply solely the state’s obligations towards its citizens but also the attitude and sense of responsibility of its citizens towards their own country. A genuine patriot, that seeks the wellbeing of his nation, should not be indifferent to where he works, home or abroad, nor whether he pays or not his taxes home, if he purchases foreign or domestic goods. Therefore, economic prosperity can become a reality through the common contribution of every citizen. More precisely, facing a common danger demands urgently adopting national solidarity as a means of expressing our commitment towards our country. Naturally, man is likely to follow such rallying cries when he has models to orient himself towards- honest statesmen, modest and true to their kin. In this chapter, lamentably we fall short.

We cannot but fleetingly point towards another issue. It concerns our schooling system. Nowadays, the flood of universities churns out specialists in international relations, political science, law, and economics. But it is practically impossible to find a mechanic, welder, or electrician. Plagued by the spirit of our times, the young pursue occupations that would bring them maximum profit on minimum effort. Mere cries for change remain terribly insufficient. However, need will dictate abandoning the illusion of an easy life and pursuing practical economic activities. These circumstances call for rehabilitating and restructuring vocational training.

Agricultural land- Moldovan inalienable property

A true patriot, a fervent adept of economic patriotism, must acknowledge the tragedy that affects the two neighboring countries, Romania, and Ukraine, similarly amongst almost all other countries from the ex-communist space, except, it seems only Hungary. Namely, the grave fact that agricultural lands have become accessible to foreign investors, the agrarian market having been almost completely seized by the latter. Considering that the XXI century is rightly considered one of struggle for food and drinkable water, obviously, Moldova with its fertile soils is the target of foreign mega-corporations. Companies such as “Monsanto”, that promote genetically modified organisms (GMO), seek to dispossess us of our most important national wealth – our land. In order to escape foreign pressures to open our agrarian market, we must resort to the most democratic and certain countermeasure: a national referendum to forbid for ever selling away our agricultural fields This principle must become a special constitutional clause, to be included in the chapter 142 “Limits of revising”.

Another principle to be reinstituted, reestablishing the primacy of the political over the economic. We need not a market society, but a market economy, that works according to strict rules, within our borders, decentralized, dynamic, diversified, with complementary fields of activity, with imports reduced to the bare minimum. That is, statesmen must direct economic processes to the advantage of the entire society, and not be at the beck and call of plutocracy that finance their electoral campaigns and line their pockets.

Vehement opposition towards such proposals would burst out from professional economists. That’s because these are cast in the standardized molds of economic liberalism, learned by them as sacrosanct axioms. Hence, in most cases, when some countries successfully liberated themselves from the colonial status, they owe it to non-economists, be it the engineers, military, law men, etc. Oftentimes our economists are not even aware that economics are neither an exact science nor an autonomous one. It is merely a branch of governing, strictly dependent on Weltanschauung, on the paradigms employed in interpreting it, on political theories, on ideology. Therefore, oftentimes their dogma is counterproductive. These would be more useful under the new conditions [post-globalized world] rather on subordinate positions below political agents, that charge them with supplying the necessary data for implementing the national development strategies.

Such a reform would demand revising the status of the National Bank, that must be removed from IMF subordination, and returned to the service of national economy. The National Bank of Moldova cannot and should not be independent from the political authorities of the state, but independent from international speculators.

Thirty years ago, with the collapse of the old regime, we abandoned the proletarian internationalism of the communist make. That is, without deriding or denying the interests of other states and nations, and live from now on according to the principle: I pity you, but heartbroken about my fate. (Romanian original: ”Mi-e milă de tine, dar de mine mi se rupe inima”)

We close on a lyrical note, returning to the poem “I am a nationalist” by Grigore Vieru, well known within Moldovan cycles. Every quatrain of this manifesto-poem ends with the outcry “I am nationalist”. It synthesizes our revolt against the nomenklatura of the time, used against us to stigmatize and discredit us. Vieru transformed it into virtue and weapon. Matchless work! Today we can attach it an additional purpose, snubbing the new globalist nomenklatura and shouting all in one united voice: “I am an economic nationalist!”

Iurie Roșca 

P.S.: Those wishing to delve deeper in the subject matter discussed above could refer to the lecture notes that I delivered at the Moldovan Academy of Sciences on the 23rd July 2013 “Republic of Moldova: from political independence towards economic independence”. (http://iurierosca.md/fisiere/CarteIuRosca_INDEPENDENTArom.pdf).

Translated by: Mihail Hașiu

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