Progressive Protectionism

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* Book: Progressive Protectionism. Colin Hines.



From the publisher:

"Colin Hines’ view is that in 2017 progressives should be pushing for control of borders to people, capital, goods and services because this would help see off the rise of the extreme right. It would also return a sense of hope to the majority of people because with such policies in place governments could set effective policies to achieve more job security, a decrease in inequality and protection of the environment.

Colin Hines said ‘To effectively counter the extreme right will require a mind-wrench by all those who think themselves to be progressive away from the usual cloth eared, cosmopolitan condescension shown to those sensibly worried about large scale and inadequately controlled immigration. This concern is real and has to be politically acknowledged, Most importantly, only when it is will be a movement against the adverse effects of globalisation be possible. If we now move towards a rapid reintroduction of border controls for people, goods, capital and services we can look forward to the day when stating that globalisation and large scale immigration is inevitable will be seen to be as quaintly passé as asserting that the sun will never set on the Empire.’

With a suitable Indelicacy Alert, Hines added that ‘Every time that old chestnut about Britain is open for business is trotted out, we should understand that in reality Britain’s legs are open for business and we are being screwed. Foreign steel and other imports hit manufacturing, overseas companies snap up British ones, foreign landlords leave investment homes empty, the ghastly gig economy increases job insecurity and mostly because of inadequately controlled immigration the population grows alarmingly ever higher’.

‘Progressive Protectionism’ proposes detailed policies to shift the global economy away from open markets. In place of that now discredited system of global economic governance nation states would be allowed to really take back control of the scale of capital, goods, services and people entering and leaving their country. The end goal is to allow national economies to rediversify and prosper by maximising local economic activity. Domestic businesses and funding sources would then meet the needs of the majority in society in all countries. They will do this in a way that reduces inequalities and power imbalances, improves social welfare and job security and adequately protects the environment. The prospect of such increasing economic improvements for the majority could result in widespread political support ranging from those on the left, the centre, the greens through to small ‘c’ conservatives.

Such an ambitious agenda will require cooperation amongst regional neighbours and a re-orientation of the end goals of aid and trade rules to help rebuild local economies and local control worldwide. It will enable groupings of countries such as the European Union to challenge open borders and international competitiveness and thus wean themselves off export dependence." (



‘Progressive Protectionism’ will require the introduction by nation states of a set of interrelated and self-reinforcing policy priorities:

  • Replacing international competitiveness and export dependence by the reintroducing protective safeguards to ensure revitalised local and national economies. These will include the reintroduction of tariffs, quotas, capital controls and the ability to strengthen constraints on the numbers and pace of immigration. This is the fundamental mind wrench that will do most to curb the present power of big business to play countries off against each other and to threaten to relocate unless countries bow the knee to open borders and global competition. It is the necessary precursor to being able to introduce the rest of the policies;
  • Introduce a site-here-to-sell-here policy for manufacturing and services domestically or regionally;
  • Control and localise finance such that the majority stays within its country of origin;
  • Control the numbers, rate and ability of new immigrants to stay and work temporarily or permanently
  • Introduce fairer and socially positive taxes and resource and pollution taxes and tackle aggressive tax dodging nationally and globally in order to fund social and environmental improvements and help pay for the transition to permanent, sustainable and flourishing local economies;
  • Increase democratic involvement both politically and economically to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the movement to more diverse local economies;
  • Implement a local competition policy to eliminate monopolies from the more protected economies;
  • Re-orientate the end goals of aid and trade rules such that they contribute to the rebuilding of local economies and local control worldwide."


==Why This Form of Protectionism is Progressive

The term ‘progressive’ covers support for policies which respond to the democratic wishes of the majority, but in a way that improves social conditions overall within and between countries, which drastically increases environmental protection and helps improve conditions in poor countries in particular.

Progressive Migration Controls

The most contentious aspect of Progressive Protectionism’s policies for many is the question of controlling the influx of migrants into their country. The book looks at the scale of global migration and the reaction to it, particularly from those people living in the richer countries which today experience high levels of immigration. It explains why the present open borders to movement of people within Europe is undemocratic and anti internationalist, as it steals the brightest and the best from poorer countries, for example their doctors and nurses.

Also detailed is the kind of migration policy that fits in with the end goals of Progressive Protectionism i.e. an end to new permanent migration. To tackle the reasons why people migrate from poorer countries will result in all future foreign policy, aid and trade agreements being designed with the priority of helping minimise migration globally. This will allow a range of progressive policies from fair tax to limiting arms sales, from decarbonising economies and reducing resource use, to finally escape the realm of moral handwringing and become political priorities.

Job Security Through Tackling Social And Environmental Needs

‘Progressive Protectionism’ with its strengthened border controls allows governments to concentrate on rebuilding their own economies. To return a sense of hope for the future and economic security for the majority, all governments would then be free to embrace a ‘jobs in every community’ programme.

There are two localised and secure labour intensive sources for this. The first is employment in a range of social services, especially the new growth area of looking after the elderly. The second is decentralised infrastructure projects focusing on a decades long, multi skilled programme of energy refits of all nations’ millions of dwellings, a shift to localised renewable energy and food production and the building of local transport and flood defence systems. The former could be predominantly funded by governments’ borrowing at historically low interest rates and the latter by Central Banks e- printing billions of euros, pounds and dollars via ‘Infrastructural Quantitative Easing’, involving no increase in the public debt." (


Richard Murphy:

"A new book called Progressive Protectionism by Colin Hines, who is the convenor of the Green New Deal group, provides some such uncomfortable thinking. I do not agree with all Colin says, and nor do many in the Green New Deal group, and yet what Colin has to say is now both timely and maybe even necessary. . . he argues . . . that the Treaty of Rome that underpins that whole edifice should be amended and replaced by what he calls a Treaty of Home.

Colin is a long time environmentalist and argues that we should replace global capitalism with strong local economies. This is not only green, but he also argues it is the way to tackle many other issues. Capital controls, for example, would let us more effectively tackle tax abuse and so build a more equal and just society. They would also end a focus on speculation that is creating massively harmful inequality in our country, and others. Controls on trade would, Colin argues, support local economies and jobs and massively reduce the enormous carbon cost of much of world trade.

But, and this is where for many the argument will be uncomfortable, this also requires control on migration. Colin does not argue that anyone should have to leave their country of residence. And nor does he suggest there should be no migration: he is quite explicit about the fact that there will be many reasons why it can and should exist. But equally he argues that economic migration is not a virtue, and even that is troubling for many. Colin has been banned from some left of centre discussion forums for even raising it as a concern.

Colin carefully documents that our open doors policy for those who train in poorer countries and then work here denudes those countries of the skills they need to provide a better standard of living for those who live in their home countries and is little better than a new form of economic colonialism on occasion. We extract people and their incomes from other countries as surely now as we once extracted the raw materials and products of those countries at an undervalue in the past.

In that way Colin argues that a policy that deliberately fosters the idea of encouraging people to stay where they are, and builds foreign and aid policy around that goal is now not just a priority, but an issue of social justice when data shows that most migrants move the minimum distance possible from their homes to achieve their goals . . " (