German philosopher Hegel postulated that history progresses through thesis, antithesis and then synthesis. Today we are seeing the first two dynamics with trade policy and attitudes towards globalization; we desperately need the third. For over 40 years synthesis meant unbridled support free trade and globalization. But after failing to deal with the contradictions that came with it, America is shifting to antithesis: protectionism and nationalism, whose consequences, if fully followed through, will be dire.
Rob Atkinsons explians in American Compass why America needs a new synthesis that takes the best of global economic integration while recognizing the need for asserting the U.S. national and worker interests in trade.
The globalists need to understand that a sclerotic WTO cannot effectively address Chinese innovation mercantilism in its current form, and at minimum, requires substantial reform. And even with that, they should embrace supplemental approaches to containing Chinese economic aggression, such as creating a new “NATO for trade.” The nationalists need to understand that a go-it-alone strategy that treats our allies the same as our adversaries, is recipe for U.S. isolation and decline. The United States is at a critical point in its history, on not just the trade front. We can only hope that “synthesis” will prevail.