FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Neither the TPP Nor National Sovereignty

Though disparaged by millions of people from across the political spectrum, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (who referred to it as “the gold standard in trade agreements” before changing her position), the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, refuses to disappear.

Memorably described by Global Trade Watch Director Lori Wallach as “NAFTA on steroids,” and widely regarded as the largest “free trade agreement” to come along since the creation of the WTO in 1995, Obama’s recent suggestion that he will try to push the tremendously unpopular agreement through Congress before leaving office should come as little surprise; because it does much to contain China, not to mention Russia, the TPP is a key component of Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” central to Obama’s overall political-economic agenda.

Promising to further impoverish people throughout the world, plunder the environment, virtually enclose much of the public domain via patent and copyright protections, and further aggrandize corporate power while continuing the privatization of the planet, the TPP is an unquestionably bad deal for all but the rich (of its “member-states”). Notwithstanding this, however, the argument that the TPP’s passage will weaken governments’ ability to regulate corporations and constrain corporate abuses is an odd one, particularly since Obama’s support for the TPP illustrates the fact that corporations already pretty much run the political-economic show. In other words, so-called “national sovereignty” (which many TPP protesters fear is being undermined) does not risk taking a back seat to corporate interests for the very reason that they aren’t ultimately distinct to begin with.

To be sure, although it’s constantly hammered into our heads that we live in a democracy, the fact of the matter is that we live in a “representative democracy.” And a “representative democracy” that represents the wealthy, in which money is equated with political speech (see Citizens United) , is nothing short of a plutocracy – the rule of the rich. That is, contrary to ideological assertions, there is no democracy. And there’s little difference between so-called national sovereignty and the sovereignty of the plutocracy.

In addition to the fact that the Democratic and Republican parties are corporate parties through and through (who represent the interests of the rich nearly exclusively), those decrying the loss of national sovereignty sound particularly perverse when one considers that they’re voiced in a political environment characterized by extreme abuses of sovereign power – abuses such as Obama’s “disposition matrix” (which, for those who haven’t been paying attention, allows the Executive to assassinate anyone she likes, without any meaningful due process of law). And Clinton and Trump promise even greater abuses of this “ultimate power to command.”

Rather than lamenting the loss or diminution of national sovereignty to corporate hegemony, then, we should instead consider the thoughts of the late Zapatista Ramona who maintained that, instead of seizing power, emancipatory political movements ought to break power apart so that all will be able to exercise (non-coercive) power and that none will be subject to (coercive) power. That is, corporate sovereignty ought to be rejected, but not in favor of national sovereignty (which empowers Obama to kill people with drones abroad as much as it empowers cops to kill people domestically). In order to reject the TPP, as well as the social relations that give rise to exploitative trade agreements like it (empowering corporations and other coercive institutions), national sovereignty, along with the institution of the nation-state itself, ought to be rejected too.

More articles by:

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com and on twitter @elliot_sperber

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail