Marx today would tell IMF to support protectionism

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Alarm bells ringing at the IMF

Protectionism is a logical response to national insecurity, but it doesn’t have to be left to the right, suggests Colin Hines

Guardian Letters

Saturday 21st Apr 2018


There is a link between your warning that the International Monetary Fund needs to change policy to ensure that the benefits of global economic activities are shared by the majority (Editorial, 20 April) and Yanis Varoufakis’s gung-ho ode to The Communist Manifesto (The long read, 20 April).

It is clear that the economic insecurity inherent in ever more open borders, and the fetishism of exports and international competitiveness, has generated a backlash, and that era is coming to an end. However, the only ones who have turned this crashingly obvious downside of free markets to their own political advantage are the likes of America First Donald Trump, France First Marine Le Pen and Hungary First Viktor Orbán.

Progressives are floundering because they let their distaste for the motives and personalities of “nation first” politicians obscure the approach’s potential to strengthen progressive causes if couched within the vote-winning promise of a more secure future. Key to this is protecting and rebuilding national economies, allied to a cooperative working together of nation states to take back control from international capital and big business in order to achieve this goal.

Protectionism is a logical response to the insecurity that is roaring up national class ladders. The key debate will be between those shaping it to benefit the majority nationally and cooperating to spread its advantages globally, and those fence-sitters leaving the field open to rightwing populists.
Colin Hines
East Twickenham, Middlesex

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