Free Trade

Scott Marshall Scott at rednet.org
Wed Feb 22 17:13:39 MST 1995


Biju says:

>Theoretically speaking both the attitude of American
>labor right now - "protect our jobs" and the attitude of Third World
>Labor - "send the jobs here, what me worry about American labor" are both
>regressive. But these are precisely the effects of the last fifty
>years...

I don't think either of these positions are particularly regressive. But to
a degree both miss the main point. Workers in the US or India do not sit at
any table where these matters are decided. Capital calls the shots now. If
the US workers were to say tomorrow - oh my god we've got to help the Indian
workers by sending them our jobs it would amount to nothing. And the Indian
workers certainly have no control over US corporate investment policy.

Perhaps the US workers are in a better situation for resisting, but thats
all. The point I think we would agree on is that even international trade
union consciousness is not suffecient to defeat capitalism anywhere. Class
and socialist consciouness is required. As you point out neither postition
above is there yet.

I would add that the Indian workers certainly have the right to resent the
attitudes they see in parts of labor in the developed industrial countries.
And Biji is right about the last fifty years in terms of the AFL-CIO top
leadership. But what is more important to focus on IMHO is the changes down
below on this score. Labor for Peace, Labor Committee on Central and Latin
America, Labor Against Aparthied, the anti-NAFTA fight - a growing trend
from the 60's throught today - all had rank and file support and included
top labor leaders moved to action by their rank and file.

Then Biju says:

>Scott raises
>a voice against "paternal" attitudes... I agree... but how does one
>imagine a negotiation which eliminates the effects of some very material
>differences in context? IF American labor starts from "we want to protect
>our jobs" then how can a negotitation unfold coz, third world labor is
>probably also saying exactly that - we want to get/protect jobs?

Workers in capitalist and developing countries have a common enemy. Both
have to demand jobs etc and organize fights for them with all their might.
And in that fight they don't get to decide "hey I only want to keep this job
if you were not going to give it to someone in a developing country" or "hey
I'll take your slave wage job but only if you promise me that it isn't a
runaway job from a fellow worker in an industrial capitalist country."

Rather both have to fight the transnationals for all they can win based on
the internationalist notion that anything you do to weaken or limit our
common enemy is good for us all.

*And* class and socialist conscious workers have to tirelessly fight for
positions in struggle that show that national chauvanism and racism will
make it impossible for workers to unite and win the big battle with capital.
Every instance of common struggle with workers of other countries helps win
this postition if the left helps draw the conclusions. Like in the fight
against NAFTA a "wider union of workers" was won.

As to the different material conditions - these are not the doing of either
group of workers.

Of course there is alot more that goes into it, but this is just for
discussion right......:-).

Scott

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Scott Marshall                             *
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