Defending China's Right to Self-Determination

Michael Yates mikey+ at
Thu May 25 13:18:57 MDT 2000

The talk I gave in Troy, NY will be published (a longer and slightly
different version) in the summer issue (July/August) of Monthly Review.

Michael Yates

Jonathan Flanders wrote:
> <unconditional support for China's permanent normal trade status, and
> unconditional admission of China into the WTO are essential
> challenges to the hysterical and hypocritical moralism of the AFL-CIO labor
> bureaucracy, and many "human rights," "labor" and "environmental"
> groups.>Eric Mann
> Huh? I think Eric Mann is way off base. He's just putting a plus up where
> others put a minus. The GLW article that follows his on this list points
> out many reasons why the China deal is no good for Chinese workers. We
> can't be supporting it. It's just a formula for further capitalist inroads
> in China. I read one article after another about Chinese workers protesting
> the dismantling of the state-owned industries, which the WTO has in its
> gunsights.
> The challenge for labor activists is to put flesh and bones on the old
> slogan, "workers of the world, unite." How can we really link workers
> struggles around the world in a way that makes sense? Campaigning for or
> against a trade deal has little or nothing to do with this. That just traps
> us in an alien frame of reference.
> I wonder if Mike Yates could publish his May Day talk here. He made a good
> start in addressing the problem in that speech.
> Another point. The Yokich statement on the UAW's considering support for
> Nader illuminates another side of this question. Labor officials are
> confronting like never before their essential lack of political clout in
> the "New" Democratic party. Rank and file workers really are scratching
> their heads over the support for Gore, given the big campaign labor
> organized around the China-WTO.
> It's not the way I thought things would happen, but the fact is the issue
> of plant closings and globalization is driving workers away from supporting
> Democrats, not a vast strike wave crashing against walls of corporate
> power. In fact, the threat of plant closures has as much as anything
> precluded such action up to now. Look at the weakened state of the unions
> organized in GE, currently bargaining for a new contract.
> How many organized workers are left at GE? 40,000? Thousands of jobs have
> gone elsewhere in the world, and GE is on a campaign to convince it's
> suppliers to move to Mexico. GE perhaps more than any other corporations
> poses the question of international workers organization. We can ask the
> question, why don't our "International" unions include Mexicans? What are
> we doing concretely to aid Mexican workers?
> I think specific questions like these go a lot further than futile efforts
> to take sides in trade deals.
> Jon Flanders

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