Our general view of George Monbiot is that he spends far too much time thrashing around in ignorance to be a reliable guide to anything very much about the world. Yet there are indeed those times when the frantic search produces the odd nugget of interest. As with this demand of his:
He gets almost everything wrong. But last weekend Donald Trumpgot something right. To the horror of the other leaders of the rich world, he defended democracy against its detractors. Perhaps predictably, he has been universally condemned for it.
His crime was to insist that the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) should have a sunset clause. In other words, it should not remain valid indefinitely, but expire after five years, allowing its members either to renegotiate it or to walk away.
George insists that all trade treaties should have such sunset clauses.
Note what a sunset clause is. It isn't an assumption that matters will continue as long as there's no vote against it. It's also an insistence that one decision once isn't the end of matters. It's an insistence that without a positive vote in favour of some treaty then it falls. No one does get to say that's just part of the settled system, it has to be positively approved every 5 years.
Which would make for an interesting world, wouldn't it? That Single Market of the European Union is a trade treaty. It would need a positive vote in favour of it every 5 years, would it? The Customs Union seems to be similar. And if this applies to trade treaties then why not to other ones? Membership of the UN, the Paris Climate Agreement, Montreal Protocol, why shouldn't these all be subject to that approval requirement? They all failing without it?
Well, of course, we know why not. Agreements approved of by George won't and shouldn't be so subject, those disapproved of should be. But it would be an interesting world if all such agreements were subject to that positive democracy, wouldn't it?
Chaotic but interesting.