kbevans at panix.com
Sat Feb 3 08:35:01 MST 1996
In the US the situation is simple. Mexican laws prevent unionism.
American laws both penalize illegals, and invite them in (labor laws
essentially do not apply to agricultural "migrant" workers, as if they are
geese or caribou, or something). California, which could not maintain its
high living standard for the wealthy but for Mexican apartheid, also denies
"illegals" benefits. This forces the illegals back to work. Thus we have an
endemic, disenfranchised minority.
Even the creation of labor unions in Mexico will not soon help these
people. Also, the creation of labor unions in Mexico would probably require
significant political upheaval. Clearly the problems of labor are
international. The question is this: If the US were to enforce its labor
laws and really kick Mexicans out, what would be the result?
To the extent that poor, jobless Mexicans would return to a country
in crisis, there might actually be movement on the labor front. On the
other hand, much foreign capital would certainly flee, deepening the crisis
to a dangerous level. That capital would be motivated to exploit more
distant, poorer labor pools, thus creating a worse situation for America
labor. On yet another hand, agriculture cannot move its capital, and thus
would be forced to employ American labor, which would be more inclined to
complain and quit in preference for welfare.
Certainly an international labor movement should lift all boats. The
question is whether international political action should be used to create
manageable crisis and thus stimulate the near revolutionary changes necessary
to evolve the system.
This is true both before and after the revolution in a particular
country. A new socialist state has the initial impulse of being economically
isolationist. This is an obvious step. The question is to what extent
internationalist concerns mitigate that impulse. My own, unformed opinion is
that a new worker's state will be very activist in trade policy. I think a
new workers state would set the level of tarrifs based on relative wage
levels and presence of competitive industries. Thus a socialist Canada or US
might trade freely with a still capitalist Europe, except for Holland on the
basis of Shell oil. We might trade at low tarrif rates with Chile, but get
into a trade war with the Mexican government.
This is another argument in favor of Market socialism. Changing the
nature of firm's ownership rather than the government, and allowing firms to
be privately held by their employees forwards the cause of internationalism.
Private firms will attempt to thwart international competition and derive
maximum benefit from international, non socialist, units. This will drive
the crisis in capitalism beyond the borders of the socialist state. Firms
will have to come to terms with differential wage rates, because although
they may try and profit from them, so will their competitors. Foreign
capital will find their investments absconded with in the socialist country
AND their home capital subject to competition AND their labor markets either
exploited or fomented.
State socialism has, as we know, the distinct disadvantage of
being a single target. Diplomatic, as well as economic, pressure can be
brought against the state. The state socialist government fights the war
on a single front, and like soldiers bunched tightly on the battlefield is
likely to be reeled by a single explosion. Market socialism/syndicalism
muddies the front and operates behind enemy lines.
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