Fair trade, free trade, and socialism

Submitted by martin on 9 February, 2008 - 9:17 Author: Paul Hampton

Trade is a vital part of the neoliberal economic, political and ideological regime that now dominates the world economy and most national states.

At various summits in recent years the world’s most powerful governments have promised to introduce a better deal on trade, aid and debt for the world’s poorest countries, especially in Africa.

At the same time, there are many charities and NGOs making proposals to make trade fairer. A number of organisations came together in 2006 in the Make Poverty History coalition, call for trade justice. Others advocate buying only goods with the fairtrade mark or concentrating on local, more sustainable production.

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL) rejects both these approaches. We reject the self-serving hypocrisy of the G8 and the capitalist magnates that stand behind them, whose only interest is profiteering and exploitation, whatever warm words the offer. We don’t believe they will unshackle the poorest countries of the world from the chains of debt and imperialism, unless they can make money from doing so. We know they enforce privatisation wherever they can get away with it.

But nor do we advocate alternatives that turn the clock back on global integration or offer small scale versions of the current big capital-dominated world order. The problem with global capitalism is capitalism, not its international scope. Our alternative is international socialism, the free association of producers, democratically organised and producing for need.

The AWL is active in the global justice movement, fighting against the imposition of neoliberalism on the peoples of the world, including on working class people in Britain. We play an active role in the No Sweat campaign, which organises solidarity with workers across the globe, from Mexico to Indonesia, from Haiti to Iraq.

In this pamphlet we try to grasp the essential features of the world economy, especially relating to trade issues. To orientate in today’s conditions, socialists have to base ourselves on the facts about world trade. But we make an assessment about the shape of the world trade system in order to change it. The pamphlet also evaluates the political responses of different organisations with the movement and sets out the Marxist approach.

Our solution is for workers to change the world. We want solidarity between workers across the globe, as a step towards workers overthrowing capitalism and creating their own socialist economy. If you agree with the ideas in this pamphlet, join our struggle for workers’ liberty.