Of all the labels attached to various political/economic philosophies – conservatism, liberalism, libertarianism, capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism, mercantilism, protectionism, globalism, consumerism, etc. – none ever seemed to fit my/our philosophy precisely. Elements of each can be found in the approaches I’ve advocated. I think I lean much more heavily toward capitalism than communism; more toward protectionism than globalism. But none is a good fit.
Yesterday I came across one so obscure that I’d never heard of it, but prominent enough to be defined in Wikipedia. It’s “producerism.” Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article:
And here’s Wikipedia’s description of the general position of “producerism”:
Producerism sees society’s strength being “drained from both ends”—from the top by the machinations of globalized financial capital and the large, politically connected corporations that together conspire to restrict free enterprise, avoid taxes and destroy the fortunes of the honest businessman, and from the bottom by members of the underclass and illegal immigrants whose reliance on welfare and government benefits drains the strength of the nation. Consequently, nativist rhetoric is central to modern producerism (Kazin, Berlet & Lyons). Illegal immigrants are viewed as a threat to the prosperity of the middle class, a drain on social services, and as a vanguard of globalization that threatens to destroy national identities and sovereignty. Some advocates of producerism go further, taking a similar position on legal immigration.
In the United States, producerists are distrustful of both major political parties. The Republican Party is rejected for its support of corrupt Big Business and the Democratic Party for its advocacy of the unproductive lazy waiting for their entitlement handouts (Kazin, Stock, Berlet & Lyons).
The Reform Party of the United States of America often uses producerist rhetoric. Populist producerism (and nativist policies) are also seen in the rhetoric of Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, Jörg Haider in Austria, and similar dissident politicians across Europe (Betz & Immerfall, Betz).
Producerism is sympathetic to the idea that labor is an end in itself, inherently ennobling, and thus should be protected at least to some extent from the chaotic forces of consumer choice and market competition. In some Commonwealth of Nations countries, this position is used as an abstract definition of producerism, which is then held as the opposite of an abstract consumerism, the position that the free choice of the consumer should dictate the economic activity of a society. In other parts of the world, especially the United States, such a clear-cut definition is not feasible.
As described above, producerists seem to be a bit xenophobic and a bit over-nationalistic. So I’d prefer to describe myself as a “producerist with a rationale.” It’s not illegal immigrants’ over-reliance on welfare and government benefits that concerns me. (They may very well be less of a drain on benefits than American citizens.) It is, of course, their contribution to worsening overpopulation that concerns me – their contribution to eroding per capita consumption and, thus, worsening unemployment. And it’s the role of population density disparities in driving trade deficits that makes free trade with badly overpopulation nations bad trade policy – not a fear of competition.
It’s interesting that the Wikipedia article describes “producerism” as “widespread, but rarely commented-upon.” I suspect that a significant fraction of people would identify with this philosophy, but I doubt that many have ever heard of it.
You’ll probably hear me use this term more frequently in future posts.