FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail