Populism

Sam D Fassbinder sfassbin at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu
Fri Feb 17 15:10:21 MST 1995


On Friday 17 Feb 1995 Doug Henwood says:

But then there's the larger issue, NAFTA itself. The nationalist/populist
position on both sides of the Rio Grande is a simple No! This is very
different from the classically Marxist position, which, as stated by Marx
himself in his famous 1848 Brussels speech, is that since free trade
heightens the tension between capital and labor he cast his vote for free
trade. Anyone want to step into *that* minefield?

My response: I'm afraid that I don't believe that free trade heightens the
tension between capital and labor.  What might IN REALITY (and not in some
economistic fantasy) heighten tensions between capital and labor is the
existence of a labor force that can agree that action against capitalist
interests is better than no action against capitalist interests.  This is not
going to happen as the result of some calculable behavioral stimulus-response
to free trade.  It might happen as a result of a change in the way workers
negotiate the system, which might be affected by free trade, lower wages etc.
for sure.  But you have to try to understand worker subjectivities and worker
culture if you want to know what motivates them to become Marxists,
unionists, fed-up populists or whatever is needed to get the job done.  Don't
you?  I kinda doubt that macroeconomics will tell you all that.

Samuel Day Fassbinder
Department of Communication
Ohio State University
3016 Derby Hall, 154 N Oval Mall
Columbus OH 43210


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