Just so. While Americans bemusenthemselves that they have no collectiveneconomic interest, Japan has long sincenliberated itself from such 19th-centurynsuperstition and is aggressively pursuingnpolicies intended to enhance not only itsnown wealth but also its power. It may notnactually plan to dismember the UnitednStates and Canada, but the long-termneffect of its policies is to promote just thatnresult. As the fortunes of “Cascadians”nfall hostage to the well-being of Japan andnother Asian nations, so will their affectionsnand their loyalties, and eventually politicalnidentity will go with them. Of course,nthere’s no reason to think that the artificialn”unit” of Cascadia will endure, anynmore than any other political unit foundednmerely on economic self-interest willnlast. As soon as patterns of trade, technology,nand ownership change, Cascadianitself can be expected to disappearnthrough the fiber-optic tubes of the NewnWorld economy.nIt is entirely appropriate that ownershipnof the local baseball team should ;nbe the immediate reason for Seattle’s lovenaffair with Tokyo. The chairman of Nintendonno doubt understands that whatna lot of Americans in the New World economicnorder really want is not nationalnsovereignty or the protection of theirnnational economic interests and identitynbut fun. Unwilling or unable to supportntheir own baseball team, the goodnhuman resources of Seattle are perfectlynhappy to let the Japanese provide it fornthem, and anybody who challenges thenoffer is simply not a fun-loving American,nlet alone a productive resource.nIf the ideology of free trade recognizesnonly individuals and their interests,nit also implies that the only interestsnthat matter even for individuals are thosenconnected to consumption, and consumptionnin the postindustrial economicnculture means fun. As long as Americansncan cough up credit cards, live from paychecknto paycheck, survive on junk food,nand stack their attics with every videongame, electronic toy, and New Age gadgetnthe wizards of Nintendo can weldntogether, what difference does it makenhow they earn a living? The slogan—perhapsnthe epitaph—of free trade logicnis the bon mot reportedly uttered bynone of its major champions in the Bushnadministration, Council of EconomicnAdvisers Chairman Michael Boskin.nInformed by critics of free trade thatnthe Japanese were systematically takingnover America’s microchip industry, Mr.nBoskin replied, “Potato chips, computernchips, what’s the difference? They’renall chips. A hundred dollars worth of onenor a hundred dollars worth of the othernis still a hundred dollars.”nMr. Boskin is correct that a worker whonmakes a hundred dollars producing potatonchips is earning the same as one whonearns a hundred dollars making computernchips, and each worker can use hisnearnings to buy whatever gadgets henwants (except American computer chips).nFrom the point of view of the individualnas consumer, there is no difference. Butnfrom the point of view of the societynor the nation, there is, the most obviousnbeing that Patriot missiles and the othernhigh-tech toys of modem war don’t mnnon potato chips.nNational security alone thus refutesnfree trade ideology simply because thenability to muster the technical powernnecessary to protect national securityncontains and always will contain an economicncomponent, and limitations onntrade on the basis of defense considerationsnhave been recognized as legitimateneven by the architects of free trade sincenthe days of Adam Smith.nBut national security is not the onlynconstraint on foreign trade and investment.nThere is also the matter of whatnwe want to be and can be as a nation.nAfter all, Haiti can produce potato chips,nbut it will be a long time before its populationnis able to turn out a computernchip, let alone design a better one. Freentrade ideologues like Mr. Boskin believenAmericans ought to be contented cattlenhappily punching buttons on the assemblynlines in an economy based on fun andnimmediate gratification, but my bet isnthat he’d rather his own kids learnednmore about making chips for computersnthan slicing potatoes. At this historicalnmoment, the design and production ofncomputers happens to be the culminatingnpinnacle of Western and American sciencenand engineering, and to claim thatnit makes no difference if we lose thisnindustry is as much a renunciation of ournidentity and our heritage as teachingnour children that Cleopatra was black.nFree trade doctrinaires, of course, carennothing for that identity and heritage ifnthey can’t think of a way to sell it, eat it,nor copulate with it. In their economicnvision, not only all human beings but allneconomic interests are equal, and nonenis entitled to special protection any morenthan any other. But as with egalitariannideology applied to men and women.nnnso with the same superstition applied toneconomic products. In the real world,nsome men and women are better thannothers and more deserving of protection,nand some economic products, skills,nand ideas are worth more than others.nContrary to Jeremy Bentham, a father ofnfree trade ideology, there is a differencenbetween pushpins and poetry, and therenis also a difference between computernchips and potato chips.nClassical liberal economics certainly hasnits merits, but it and its parent politicalnideology have long since been discardednin almost every aspect of economic policynexcept trade. It just so happens thatnit is the free trade part of classical liberalismnthat comports well with the interestsnof emerging transnational elites.nBureaucrats at the United Nations andnthe other transnational institutions thatnspeckle the horizon, the managers andninvestors of multinational corporationsnthat depend on trade with foreign nationsnand have ceased to be American in anynsense other than their post office boxes,nand the tribe of lobbyists that haunts thenDistrict of Columbia (and the campaignsnof almost all of this year’s presidential candidates)nall stand to make more moneynand gain more power through policiesnthat promote the dismemberment ofnthe United States through free trade (andnthrough massive immigration and politicalndenationalization) than by strongnaffirmations of national interests andnidentity. Through their combined economicnand political interests, they havenbegun to disengage from the underlyingnsoil of their nations and cultures andnto form a new block of interests thatntranscends national boundaries. To them,nas Mr. Schell avers, international boundariesn”mean very little.”nWhat global free trade and the otherninstmments of denationalization promise,ntherefore, is not the “end of history” ornthe triumph of democratic capitalism forevernand ever or a “neutral” or “minimal”nstate umpiring a “level playing field.”nWhat marches in their train is the emergencenof a new world power bloc separatednfrom and in contradiction to thenpower, interests, and civilization of particularnnation-states and the prospect thatnthe new transnational power will eventuallynpreside over the decomposition ofnnations. How long the new elite will letnus play baseball in its new regime is anquestion most Americans have not yetnbegun to ask.nMAY 1992/9n