Adam Smith on Colonialism and Republicanism, Antique and Modern. Paris Talk III (Final Part)

We should think of Smith’s work on colonialism and empire as including relations between England, Scotland and Ireland, and relations between the Anglo parts of Ireland and Scotland, and the rest. This is largely an implicit issue,  though he does have a lot to say about the injustice of not allowing equal trade terms to Ireland with Great Britain. Smith is silent on what he thinks about the Jacobite Uprising and the means used to put it down. It seems reasonable to assume that Smith preferred the Hanoverian cause to the Jacobite cause, the latter at least symbolically linked to a return to the more absolutist model of monarchy preceding the 1688 Glorious Revolution. Did he approve of the harsh measures used to crush the social basis of Jacobitism after Culloden? That seems at odds with his general emphasis on justice in the state and sympathy in ethics, but maybe he did see some violence against savages/barbarians as necessary to the emergence and preservation of civil and commercial society. He was deeply aware of the fate of ancient states based on some measure of liberty and commercial life, and their defeat by more barbaric peoples, as in the domination of the Greece of free republics by the Macedonian monarchy or the defeat of the Roman Empire in the west by barbarians. He sometimes seems deeply pessimistic about the survival chances of liberty and commercial society in the modern world, for example having a rather exaggerated view of the triumphs of Louis XIV, the model of absolutist monarchy, over the republican and commercial Dutch Republic. He also shows great pessimism about the prospect of republics progressing in liberty for all, suggesting that it is a republic of the greatest liberty for its citizens that is most unlikely to extend rights to non-citizens. He fears that slavery will never be abolished, partly because the freest republics, like the American colonies will be unwilling to emancipate slaves. Their system of liberty is embedded in the political economy of slavery, so how is it possible to hope the citizens benefitting from that system will take it apart? He looks at the Roman Republic in the same light, though oddly does not refer to the amelioration in the conditions of slaves during the Empire. Sometimes Smith seems caught up in a pessimistic acceptance of a Ferguson or Vico style of cyclical history in which savagery or barbarism (the divine and heroic ages in Vico) will keep returning, which may also reflect a fear that ethical and civil progress means a loss of natural strength.

The American colonies appear to be a model for the future, as a repetition of the Greek colonial system, if Britain grants the colonies independence as Smith hopes. However, that proposed birth of perfected liberty in American republics incorporates both a the slavery which Smith fears persists the more republican liberty exists, and the liberty in the American wilderness which cannot be incorporated into republican or any ‘natural’ system of of liberty. Colonisation of the New World produces a model of pure political absolutism and economic robbery in the Spanish Americas, and a model of liberty so pure it collapses in the British Americas. That fear that American liberty could be torn between despotism over salves and extreme disaggregation of individuals in the wilderness might explain some of Smith’s silence about the dark side of monarchical-republican liberty in Britain, as if that was the best that could be hope for, rather than the experiment in pure liberty that Smith hopes for and fears in the Americas.

Smith hopes for an end to colonialism, though as with other hopes, in a manner tinged with pessimism. He argues that Britain would benefit from giving up the colonies, so saving itself the expense of providing external security and the broader economic costs of distorted trade. Despite the historical precedents he identifies in the Ancient Greek model of relationship, between parental republic and descendent republics, he seems to despair of the possibility of a voluntary termination of colonialism. The advantages of free trade and friendship based on voluntary association between states may never outweigh the narrow self-interests behind mercantilism. The unspoken issue, is should the crown and the real source of power in the semi-republican oligarchy, not only give up overseas colonies, but also Ireland  and Scotland, or maybe just the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles and the Gaelic parts of Ireland along with the Welsh speaking parts of Wales? Smith envisages a European ‘Empire’, by which he means a free trading confederacy, maybe with some shared form of representative government. The trade element would bring great economic benefits, and some kind of shared representative government is Smith’s ideal model for overseas colonies. The lack of the representative principle in antiquity made republican government impossible in the imperial stage of the Roman Republic and the fully Imperial stage of the Roman state. The political and moral decline of the Roman Republic, after the imperial expansion associated with victory over the Carthaginian republic, was an issue in the late republic, in Renaissance republicanism and in the European Enlightenment thought of Montesquieu and Rousseau. This is presumably in the background of Smith’s thoughts about modern empire. The two approaches to modern empire, dissolving it or establishing a confederation through representative government is never fully presented as an option, though it is mentioned as what the Romans lacked. The implications for the three core kingdoms of the British monarchy (England, Scotland and Ireland) are not fully explored, or at least the issue of coercion in the interests of crown and mercantilist oligarchy is not dealt with perhaps because in some respects Smith believed in the justice of a coercive civilising state, an impression confirmed by his doubts about pure republicanism.

Adam Smith on Colonialism and Republicanism, Antique and Modern. Paris Talk II

The completely anti-republican nature of the negative models of colonialism is matched by the purity of the republican forms of the positive forms of republicanism, which are Greek and British in north America. The British in North America model even presents a kind of liberty beyond republican liberty. Smith refers to the solitary freedom of the settler in the vast open spaces of North America. This is a liberty unconstrained by government and laws, republican or otherwise. Forms of liberty outside republicanism as understood by Greeks and Romans was understood by them and referred to with reference to barbarians, or even in philosophical limit situations like the god or animal Aristotle thinks of outside the republic (polis). Smith and other Scottish Enlightenment thinkers themselves had ways of thinking about this with reference to the savage and barbarian stages of human history, which contain a kind of liberty of natural force not found in civilisation and which threatens civilisation. We can find this discussion in Hume as well as in Smith, and most richly in Ferguson’s History of Civil Society.

We can see these analyses at the background of Tocqueville’s understanding of the United States in Democracy in America, where the liberty of the ‘Indians’ is an important counterpoint to the growth of commercial and political liberty amongst whites, particularly in the non-slave states. The bondage of African-Americans in the slave states providing another counterpoint round despotic social relations, and the possibility of unlimited force erupting between whites and blacks in a race war.

In Smith, in an area of tension he shares with other Enlightenment thinkers, the isolated liberty of an individual in the wilderness, has an intensity of natural liberty lacking in the natural liberty Smith discerns in civilised commercial states and which he wishes to improve. The idea of natural liberty itself leads Smith into concerns about what can go wrong with trying to make natural liberty too  systematic and perfect. The idea of the isolated settler in the wilderness of North America presents another extreme aspect of liberty, where it disappears in the sense that Smith and others generally use it, of the liberty obtaining in a community under law.

The way that Tocqueville used the Enlightenment historical stages to analyse the America of the 1830s, should itself remind us of the way that Smith, Hume and Ferguson were referring to distinctions within Britain and Ireland. The formation of their thought coincides with the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, which largely ended with the victory of Hanoverian forces at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Charles Edward Stuart drew on support from clans in the Gaelic speaking islands and mountains of Scotland, where different laws, customs and authority structures prevailed in comparison to the Scots speaking lowlands. The Hanoverian victory in defence of the settlement of 1688 did not end of all those differences, which traditional landowners in the Highlands using a feudal style of authority over peasants well into the 19th century, but a major state offensive took place against the self-governing Gaelic communities on the north and west of the Highland line. Crown authority became complete beyond the line, with suppression of distinctive language, dress and custom to create subjects of the crown rather than of Highland chiefs. Before and after the crushing of the 1745 Uprising, social conditions in the Scottish islands and mountains could be defined as barbaric or even savage in relation to the Enlightenment centres of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, or Smith’s home town, the commercial centre of Kirkcaldy. A similar way of thinking could be applied to the Gaelic speaking rural parts of Ireland in relation to Dublin, the English speaking aristocracy, and the Presbyterians of Ulster, who made their own contribution to Scottish Enlightenment through Frances Hutcheson. These are crude distinctions, and Edmund Burke for one would not fit clearly into the category of Protestant upper class cosmopolitan remote from Catholic peasant culture. Many other qualifications can and should be made to distinctions between civilised English speaking moderate Protestant Enlightenment Britain and Ireland, and the ‘barbarian’ or ‘savage’ opposites. Nevertheless, there is some reality to them, enough to push Smith and others in the direction of a savage-barbarian-civil and commercial society understanding of history, where the civil and commercial communities are perpetually at risk from being overwhelmed by the natural strength of the less civil and commercial communities.

(to be continued)

Adam Smith on Colonialism and Republicanism, Antique and Modern. Paris Talk I

First of several posts of the parts of a paper presented at the conference Scotland, Europe and Empire in the Age of Adam Smith and Beyond on 4th July 2013, in the Guizot Ampitheatre of the University of Paris IV: Paris-Sorbonne. The conference was hosted by the Centre Roland Mousnier. It was organised by the Eighteenth Century Scottish Studies Society and the International Adam Smith Society.

Smith’s account of colonialism is in some dimensions an account of republicanism, differentiating between Greek, Roman, and modern models. The Greek model is one of overseas colonies that are independent of the original republic though tied to it by family type relations. The Roman model is one of the extension of the territory of the original republic, so that it is a case of that republic expanding in size rather than founding new republics in a loose family. In both cases, colonialism is a way of dealing with population that appears excessive in relation to the resources of the home republic. The modern model, or that aspect which Smith draws attention to, is the overseas commercial empire where colonies are largely founded to further mercantilist schemes which aim, if misguidedly, for the economic benefits of the home state. Modern colonialism is often undertaken by states of a monarchical character rather than a republican character, but the issues of a republic, and associated concerns with liberty and government by consent of the people arise, even in the most monarchical colonising powers. Smith does not present a clear commitment to republicanism as a principle of government, and certainly does not deny the legitimacy of monarchical governments, or deny the possibility of progress in liberty and prosperity under a monarchy. Nevertheless, there is a preference for republicanism, if more as an underlying assumption than an explicitly argued claim. The preference for republicanism emerges most clearly in his account of modern colonialism, since  it is here that the destructive effects of monarchy and of the political power of economic elites (what was classically known as oligarchy) are most clear to the people so governed.

The account of colonialism in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations is itself part of an account of mercantilism, which is the product of monarchical and oligarchic distortions of government, which try to reserve economic benefits for the politically privileged parts of the community. Mercantilism in international commerce and colonialism itself has levels of injustice combined with economically self-destructive action. The worst is the Spanish (and Portuguese) colonisation of South and Central America, a form of direct grasping of economic resources by the crown in the colonising country, with economically destructive effects all round except for the crown and those closest to it. The monarchical colonisation of what is now known as Latin America.

The best is the British colonisation of north America, which has allowed the formation of self-governing republics with no hereditary aristocracy, as Smith emphasises with considerable republican enthusiasm (though as we shall see there is a critical aspect in his attitude), and a relatively good deal with regard to trade rights, compared with the inhabitants of India under the domination of the East India Company. Smith certainly deplores the restrictions on trade that Britain imposed on its American colonies, but notes that the terms were more favourable to the colonies exempting them from tariffs imposed on goods imported into Britain from outside the Empire. Danish colonial activities in the Americas are held up as a counter example of the bad that results from restricting the imports and exports of colonies. Smith does not say so, but was presumably aware that Denmark was an absolutist monarchy at that time, and so has a point to make in comparing a republican leaning monarchy as in Britain with a more pure example of monarchy. .

Somewhere the absolutist and republican models of colonialism, there are the regulated companies and the joint stock companies. Regulated companies, like one for trade with ‘Turkey’ (the Ottoman lands) are recognised by the state, have monopolistic power and are dominated by the self-interest of individual traders in the company who are rarely concerned with the good of the company as a whole, which is essentially an aggregate of individual interests licensed by the state. Joint stock companies (not really understood as what we largely think of as joint stock companies now) pool the risks and benefits for individual traders and so are dominated by the common economic good of the enterprise. These work more like states than the regulated companies, and in Smith’s time the East India Company was administering a large part of India, as a kind of junior partner state, or sub-state, of the British state, a situation which prevailed until the mid 19th century. The joint stock company is a more effective economic unit than the regulated company, but is in that case all the more complicit with the injustices and economic disadvantages of mercantilist colonialism. The joint stock companies subject colonised peoples to an alien government which is not concerned with their interests, but with the interests of investors in the home country.

Distributive Justice and Adam Smith (Istanbul Talk) IV (final)

A model for understanding Smith might be provided by Foucault’s discussion of ‘art of government’ and governmentality in the 18th century, not because Foucault was a a great Smith scholar, or that he was correct in every respect in his understanding of 18th century thought, but because his schema is so good at illustrating the general contours of thought. Foucault thinks of a model of ‘nature’ related to an emphasis on government becoming effective through learning to restrain itself. That self-limitation allows the natural growth of commerce and the emergence of natural man.

The 18th century understanding of the ‘savage’ promotes a natural man who can be the individual of political economy and of contractual relations (as in the political contract which Smith did not advocate, and the importance of voluntary contracts between free individuals, which Smith does advocate). There is an idea of ‘natural liberty’ in Smith which is what allows commercial society, and the benefits that commercial society brings to all classes free of too much design and political schemes.

The influence on Smith of the model of ‘nature’ can also be seen in his tendency to see agriculture as more natural and therefore more important to wealth than manufacture, and to understand financial and banking sectors as less important than either, even if necessary. Similar evaluations can be found in his attitude to countryside and city, particularly the capital city of a monarchy where luxury is concentrated. Smith does have a critical attitude to the maldistribution of economic goods through politically centred concentrations of wealth, but it is the weakening of such impositions on the natural development of trade which is important to Smith, not schemes of redistribution.

There is a theory (largely implicit) of distributive justice in Smith but not a justification of redistribution, and it is important to maintain that distinction. There is a Smithian desire to remove distortions of ‘natural’ distributive justice, with the welfare of the poor in mind and conditioned by disdain for the luxuries of the rich, but no desire to re-arrange property and income distribution through state power, and in general no desire for measures which limit the ‘natural’ growth of wealth except at margins which will not have a major impeding effect, as in the proposal for free education for the poorest or direct taxes on the luxury goods of the rich. Other interpretations of Smith tend to make false equivalences between concern for the welfare of the poor, or criticism of measures which harm the poor, and enthusiasm for state re-arrangement of the distribution of income and wealth.

 

Distributive Justice and Adam Smith (Istanbul Talk) III

In Smith distributive justice has a rather accidental aspect then, as we can see it emerging when other considerations are taken into account rather than having  structure of arguments of its own. This could be taken as simply the consequence of Smith not writing a book on justice, or the principles of politics. However, we do have his Lectures on Jurisprudence for the law and theory of justice, The Theory of Moral Sentiments for his moral principles, and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations for his political economy, and much associated thought about the state, taxes, poverty, public works, luxury and so on. There is a theory of distributive justice which can be constructed from these texts, and others, but that is not to say a theory of redistributive justice.

One of the problems with Smith commentary is that admirable scholars and political theory thinkers, like Rasmussen and Fleischacker, who are disposed favourably to a theory of redistributive justice see it in those elements of Smith which express a wish for distributive justice. There is distributive justice in Smith in the sense that he favours the distribution that emerges from freedom in economic activities, and in the state measures he favours to benefit the poor rather than the rich. However, that is not the same as the kind of belief in a predetermined pattern of distribution of justice which Rawlsians, or egalitarian liberal favour, at the extreme a completely flat distribution as argued for by G.A. Cohen and which is in the basic assumptions of Habermas‘ thought on norms, ethics, and discourse.

It is important to note in this context that there are people who favour a flat income distribution who do not favour a state designed plan of redistribution. That includes individualist anarchists like Roderick Long and Gary Chartier, who believe that markets and property exist best through voluntary protection and law enforcement agencies, as without the power of a central state which monopolises violence, there is no strong force favouring large scale concentrations of property. In that case the state acts that favour financial services and large companies cannot exist and such economic entities would not exist. Without such large entities there can only be a diverse and broadly equal range of small companies and the self-employed. That kind of analysis draws on Smith and David Hume, referring to the way that government bonds ground a financial market by transferring money to bondholders from the tax payers in general, the monopolies granted to companies, the layer of senior state bureaucrats who have an impact on general income distribution  and naturally favour the existence of a private bourgeoise, interact with and find ways of getting family members into it. Smith does  not favour the anarchist solution, but the existence of that option in the terms I have just described, clarifies something about Smith’s attitude to distributive justice. That it is possible to favour increasing economic benefits for the poor and to attach more importance to that than increasing economic benefits for the rich, without favouring state imposed schemes of redistributive justice, but favouring that distributive pattern that emerges from state enforcement of the rules of a market economy. There is some modest state action to promote public goods and relieve the conditions of the poorest, but beyond that Smith is arguing for withdrawal of the state, not expansion of the state.

Admirable though the work of Rasmussen and Fleischacker on Smith is, they are too inclined to see an underlying drive towards redistribution though they acknowledge that there is no explicit argument along those lines. One compensating argument is that  no one else was arguing for redistribution at that time, or previously, so Smith could not make that argument. Though it is true that recent ideas of comprehensive redistribution through the tax and benefits system, maybe combined with strong trade unions and collective bargaining legislation, lack precedents from before the emergence of the modern welfare state in the 1870s, there are some precedents. Plato and Aristotle favoured some restraint on accumulation of  wealth, and Rousseau evidently preferred a flat income distribution, though not regarding it as plausible in a large modern commercial society.

Various ancient, medieval and early modern states have had a confiscatory attitude towards large accumulations of private wealth, particularly where it threatens political power, and bought consent from the lower classes on the model of the ‘bread and circuses‘ provided for the poor of Rome during the Empire. Smith himself notes the way that land was transferred to army veterans through colonies in conquered territories.  Thomas More’s Utopia provided a Renaissance example of a literary thought experiment about an egalitarian communist society. Radical Protestant movements of the Reformation, such as the Anabaptists at Münster provided examples of egalitarian communism. None of this seems to have been attractive to Smith. It could be argued that he would have been attracted to a Thomas Paine type program of taxation, but despite living into the time of Paine’s notorious (to mainstream British opinion) major writings there is no evidence that Smith was impressed.

Distributive Justice and Adam Smith (Istanbul Talk) II

There is a welfare, or ethical, aspect to Smith’s political economy, which includes a bias towards the interests of the poor, and against wealth that arises from the less productive parts of the economy. However, these aspects of his thought do not lead him to state designed schemes for distributive justice. Rather he demands an end to those state activities which harm the poor, and the most productive parts of the economy. The assumption is that state action is to very limited, and beyond education, which Smith still  believes should be largely private, he does not suggest expanded state activity on behalf of the poor, as distinct from the re-ordering of taxes and the regulation of the economy which itself tends towards deregulation. Herzog refers to negative externalities and asymmetries of power in the economy which are not addressed by Smith and which might have led him to expand the field of state action if he had lived long enough to see those issues become of more concern in political life and in political thought.

Answers to this kind of question are necessarily speculative, but we can get some idea by looking at where Smith can be located in relation to other thinkers of his time. Wilhelm von Humbolt who was writing a bit later in The Limits of State Action puts forward an eloquent case for minarchism, minimal state liberalism, which he refers to as proper polity or a state based on negative welfare. This includes a rejection of the kind of modest proposals Smith has for state activity with regard to public goods and the condition of the poor. There is not precise equivalent for Humboldt on the side of a very active state. Rousseau had a strong belief in the justice of income and wealth equality, but he thought it was only relevant circumstances where not much state action would be necessary to maintain that situation. There is some attention at some points to measures the state might take to restrain inequality, as in the proposed constitution for Corsica, though the concern is just as much with the moral corruption of leaving a locality and immediate community. The major arguments for an active and expanding state of Smith’s time come from the actions and brief texts of political actors, most famously the French minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, and from a conservative position of maintaining an existing aristocratic-monarchical state.

The difficulty in comparing Smith with current thinkers is that ‘progressive’ thinkers of the 18th century favoured limited government, and now support expansive government. Those elements of 18th century thought which anticipate statist-active government progressive positions now are only accepted by Smith in their most moderate form and more than balanced by state limiting proposals. This suggests a libertarian-egalitarian liberal cross over, but more leaning to the libertarian side. The likelihood therefore is that Smith would have favoured very limited moderate steps on the issues raised by Herzog, and would have wished to cut back on big schemes to restructure the distributive effects of the market.

Smith’s view of distributive justice early on in Lectures on Jurisprudence, where he invokes Aristotle and Grotius to discuss the distinction between commutative justice and distributive justice. Commutative justice refers to what cannot be taken from us or attacked, because it rightly belongs to us, or is part of us. It is a very strong form of justice relative to distributive justice. Commutative justice is enforced through the state legal system, distributive justice is a matter or morally preferably outcomes in which we prefer to see wealth going to those in need rather than those who already have many luxuries. Smith never directly says that all distributive  justice should become a voluntary matter never enforced by the state, though that might seem to follow. He also refers, as we have seen, to the relation between politics and issues of ideals of distribution, the inevitability of the ways that the state tries to maintain itself though distributive strategies. Smith may think that distributive justice is in a middle position between the institutions of criminal justice which enforce commutative justice (strictly speaking) and the purely individual voluntary nature of charitable giving. Distributive justice is something pursued by the state for the sake of social peace, and the maintaining of itself, as a precondition for social existence, but not a matter of absolute justice.

Distributive Justice and Adam Smith (Istanbul Talk) I

Based on a presentation for a panel I convened on Adam Smith at the conference Pluralism and Conflict: Distributive Justice Beyond Rawls and Conflict, Fatih University, Istanbul, 6-8th June 2013.

There are two aspects to distributive justice in Smith, referring more to the underlying themes of his work rather than his explicit claims. One aspect is the manner in which states maintain themselves by bringing advantages to enough people for it not to encounter too much resistance to enjoy and orderly existence. The second aspect is more morally guided with regard to protecting the poorest from complete destitution and preserving the sense that justice is being applied to all. The first aspect might not seem like justice at all, because it is what people in power do in order to keep their status, and associated economic goods, rather than what anyone does for the sake of justice itself.

Smith himself was not, however, an advocate of a form of moral theory detached from other interests. Theory of Moral Sentiments gives psychological and social bases for moral rules and judgements, and though Smith strongly resisted the idea of an egotistical reduction of ethics, the criterion of satisfying the invisible spectator does not establish a sharp distinction between self-regarding acts and altruistic acts. Ethics on  a collective level grows and and improves over time. The idea of social and political justice emerging from state craft is in this case not a big jump from Smith’s explicit thoughts about justice. The second aspect flows from Smith‘s explicit thoughts about ethics and justice, though it does not give us a fully explicit theory.

 

The second aspect is developed in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, mostly with regard to distributive injustice. This itself has two aspects: injustice towards the poor and injustice between sectors of society. The first brings us closer to the more pure form of distributive justice questions, and the second closer to the state craft issues. In these threads in Wealth of Nations, the cause is largely the activity of the state rather than the results of markets being left free of state legislation and government schemes. Smith sees injustice as resulting from collaboration between merchants in the same sector, but sees this as more the consequence of state intervention than of free commerce. The state enabling, encouraging and even requiring enterprises to form corporate bodies (such as local chambers of commerce in Britain) in the same sector is the biggest reason for merchants conspiring against the public. That is the source of the famous quotation about merchants conspiring against the public, though that quotation is often used to support demands for increased state regulation. The great injustices that Smith mentions to the poor come in part from the way the Poor Law tends to tie the poor to their locality of birth, under suspicion that they might apply for public funds in a parish (minimal unit of local government in Britain) where they lack previous connections. There is a concern here with the suffering of the poor, but also with the negative consequences for the economy of restricting labour mobility (concern which can and should be applied now to migration between countries).

A related concern is that lingering requirements from the Middle Ages for seven years of apprenticeship, before practising a craft, limits the chances to the poor to improve their economic situation. The poor are less able to offer skills to make a good living if faced with an artificial seven year delay before putting their skills out on the market.  Again there is an interlacing of concern for the condition and rights of the poor, with the negative consequence for consumers in general and what we might now call the public good.

Another source of injustice to the poor is the application of taxes on the necessities of life, in which case the concern is more purely one for the condition of the poor. Smith’s favours taxing luxuries rather than necessities, but he nowhere calls for graduated (progressive) taxes, and only a tortuous interpretation of his work can support such an idea. Public debt results in a distributive injustice for Smith, the understanding of which includes the assumption that ‘natural liberty’ is a better basis for political economy than state interventions. Public debt leads to a forced transfer of income from the productive sectors of the economy to creditors, that is the financial sector of the economy. That includes a transfer (also noted by Hume) from tax payers of low income to rich holders of government bonds (a very relevant issue at present, though it tends to be egalitarians now who are less concerned with debt than conservatives and libertarians).The solution that Smith advocates is reducing debt, which includes reducing public expenditure, particularly on war, so again an approach different from most egalitarians at present, though on the specific issue of military spending there could be some agreement.