Autarky, Autarky!

Europe must wean itself off its reliance on the Chinese and American technology that underpins its societies or it will be vulnerable to cyberattacks and other kinds of interference, Finland’s prime minister has warned.

Sanna Marin also said that the European Union’s dependency on outsiders for food, energy and medicine made it fragile. Marin, 36, the world’s youngest prime minister, said the bloc needed to become more self-sufficient and independent in the face of the great power tensions between the US, China and Russia.

This is fascist economics – note the qualifier there, economics. That the nation must be self-reliant.

Salazar, Franco – to give examples where the system survived long enough for us to see long term results – kept their nations poor by doing this. Upgrading it to the EU means the captive area is larger but it’ll have the same result. Relative decline.

22 thoughts on “Autarky, Autarky!”

  1. @jgh: “Does nobody have any memory?”

    It’s always “They did it wrong, we’ll do it right”.

  2. Cyberattacks? Eh? What?

    Cyberattacks have very little to do with where you buy the hardware or software from. It’s more about what an individual organisation did with their deployment. About the most common cyberattack is from companies not patching software.

    And why would *not* buying from China help? One of the benefits of trade is that your sellers don’t want to piss you off. Shutting them out means no incentive for them to be nice to you.

  3. When an economy is directed by the State in the interests of the State (Fascism), then invention and innovation has little opportunity to flourish, cut off from competition internally and externally by regulation and import tariffs, and resources only allocated to activity decided by the State.

    Why anyone is surprised that the EU is in its essence Fascist, is a mystery since its origins are in the post-war European Coal & Steel Community, which begat the EEC which begat the EU, and these were set up by bureaucrats and politicians, and their heirs and successors, from former Fascist Countries, Germany, France (Vichy), Italy. Do we believe all Fascists converted in May 1940?

  4. You free trade zealots are as bad as the Leftists who decree that there can be no alternative to the NHS but some sort of uber free market healthcare system where the poor are allowed to die in gutters because they have no insurance.

    Just because one might consider that a society has certain basic requirements to continue functioning that might be better procured by methods under its own control, even if that is slightly more expensive than letting some foreigners sell them to you, does not make you a fascist. It makes you sensible. Just because you can buy X cheaply from abroad today does not mean you will always be able to, either buy it cheaply or buy it at all.

    As for decline, remind me again which country seems to be getting stronger and stronger thanks to globalisation and unilateral free trade and which ones are getting weaker?

  5. Eh, I think we’re way beyond fascism now Tim. Loveable dagos Salazar and Franco were humble Catholic authoritarians, doing their best to spare their people the blood-soaked insanity of the early 20th century. As long as you weren’t a Communist, a pornographer or a separatist you could happily get on with your life, and people did.

    Neither had insane dreams of forcing you to take experimental vaccines, micromanaging your daily activities, reducing your living standards to net zero, encouraging your children to get their genitals removed, or ultimately replacing you with Moors and Hottentots.

    That said, it seems obviously true to me that if you’re dependent on Vladimir Putin’s good graces to keep the lights on, Xi’s to put needful things on the shelves, and increasingly woke-authoritarian hypermegaglobalinternet companies based in the rotting corpse of the US to have a digital economy, you’re probably gonna have a bad time. It’s just that the Eurasian option looks no better than Oceania’s.

  6. It seems to me that Western countries should be a bit wary of dependence on China for critical goods or services. And a case can be made that they should have the ability to find critical goods and services from multiple sources if not domestically. Look at the risk most of Europe faces of freezing this Winter if Putin wants to play hardball.

    That said, not sure how to trust Gov’t to focus on the right things as opposed to those who are politically connected – we can’t keep our homes warm, but we’ll never run out of truffles!

  7. Since I’m a paranoid xenophobe, fascist economics does appeal. Perhaps you’ve noticed my liking for nukes rather than foreign oil and gas. After all the energy density and the relative cheapness of uranium per kilowatt hour mean that it’s easy enough to keep a decade or so of fuel in reserve.

    But I do have to concede the validity of your argument Tim.

  8. If you insist on defining things in binary terms, you are no different from the Leftists: Autarky or Total Free Trade aren’t the sole options.

    Economics doesn’t exist in a vacuam. People don’t only – or even, often – act in their economic self-interest. Power, ego, culture, religion, tradition, etc. all have as much as, if not more, say. It might not be in Putin’s, Xi’s, or Erdogan’s economic interests to act as they do, but I don’t think that is what motivates them.

  9. Dennis, Pointing Out The Obvious

    Of course, the only feasible way for Europe to begin the process is to abolish the EU. Given that we haven’t heard as much from her, it’s safe to assume that Sanna Marin’s talking out her ass.

  10. “People don’t only – or even, often – act in their economic self-interest. Power, ego, culture, religion, tradition, etc. all have as much as, if not more, say”

    That old straw man. There’s no contradiction: all those things have economic value to people.

    “Autarky or Total Free Trade aren’t the sole options” ; “one might consider that a society has certain basic requirements to continue functioning that might be better procured by methods under its own control”

    This is definitely a more interesting discussion topic. I would argue that you should not impede free trade at all. Strategic maintenance of certain capabilities, like farming, might make some sort of sense. They should be advertised as such, though.

    The risk is the state will endlessly extend the list of strategic capabilities. I’m not sure we want a nationalised semiconductor fab, for example.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’m all for free trade but when the bully starts flexing his muscles its time to take precautions.

    China has removed Lithuania from its customs schedules which means that in trade terms they don’t exist. No exports or imports. This is completely against WTO rules but not a peep. This is on top of the trade sanctions against Aus and anyone else who offends their communist elite.

    Maybe the EU is going too far but that doesn’t mean nothing should be done.

  12. Jim,

    “You free trade zealots are as bad as the Leftists who decree that there can be no alternative to the NHS but some sort of uber free market healthcare system where the poor are allowed to die in gutters because they have no insurance.”

    If you wanted to make sure that the poor have health cover, you start by deregulating the hell out of health. Allow anyone to set up as a doctor or nurse, in the same way that anyone can easily set up as a car mechanic, plumber or gas fitter.

  13. Why is she saying this? Marin knows that Finland is on Putin’s list, not far down from Ukraine.

    You can’t deter and punish someone you are reliant on. Do not trade normally with bad actors. The notion that nations do not trade is an idiotic pretence. Less than two months ago France threatened to cut its supply of energy to the UK (motives: fish, Brexit, French elections). The correct response is to ensure that we never need that energy.

  14. I’m all for free trade, but only with people who play by the rules. So let’s have free trade with those that follow the Rule of Law. For the rest? Happy to buy what they want to sell, but I’m not going to rely on them for existential goods.

    And if that sounds like a call for an Anglophone Union I won’t demur.

  15. Dependence on outsiders for food … So why did the last version of CAP require British farmers to set aside fields reduce crop production and limit the amount of milk produced so that we could import some of France’s surplus? [Of course I know that it must be British farmers limited so that French ones are not but if the EU had a food shortage, why should either be limited?]

  16. John B is right. A high number of the EEC’s founders had been in fascist youth movements back when it was fashionable.
    The book that shows this is (I think) “The Tainted Source”.

  17. Spot on as usual Steve.

    Conversations like this in the age of “You will own nothing and you will be happy” seem laughably quaint.

  18. Putin needs to sell gas rather more than Europe needs to buy it. As sclerotic as the EU is, it’s vibrant compared to Russia’s economy.

    I’m still trying to work out the answer that Jim thinks is correct. In my world free trade has pretty much always enriched. Certainly it turned NZ’s economy around in my lifetime. The previous attempt at autarky was a disaster.

  19. Certainly it turned NZ’s economy around in my lifetime.

    Yes, but even dull Jacinda has realised she needs to stop it turning into New Xiland; and she’s having to do so ever so carefully so as not to upset them.

  20. BTW, there’s a good chance that the spam filter crippling of comments here was sabotage by the hosting company (or employee thereof) as punishment for the thread about the Black Bitch pub name change. See also PayPal.

    You do need to be careful about who you trade with.

  21. “I’m still trying to work out the answer that Jim thinks is correct. In my world free trade has pretty much always enriched. ”

    So are China and America stronger or weaker than they were (say) 25 years ago? And why?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *