Letter: The new consensus

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The Independent Online
IT IS OF some significance that the traditional right as well as the traditional left is beginning to distance itself from the post- ideological consensus advertised under different brand names by all the major parties (Roger Scruton, 16 August). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, real political debate almost disappeared as those who questioned the consensus were told that there was no alternative to a globalised free market.

Now that the fall-out from that collapse is settling, a new political landscape is coming into focus and the old maps no longer apply. If our only philosophy is to resist inflation, maximise trade and export our way to the Promised Land, we can't respond coherently to the pollution, scarcity, inequality and social collapse created by unrestrained market forces.

Market-oriented international institutions such as the World Trade Organisation are now setting the political agenda. The recent victory in a North American Free Trade Agreement tribunal of the US Ethyl Corporation against the Canadian government's attempt to ban the dangerous pollutant MMT is a foretaste of what is in store.