The EU question

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Tue May 1 10:19:24 MDT 2001


Julio Huato:
>As Louis Proyect suggested, there are no easy analogies between the European
>Union and economic and political "integration" in the American Continent.
>My instinct tells me that if "integration" in Latin America has not
>translated yet into a "Latin American Union," it is because Latin American
>capitalism is yet to mature for that.  But let's not forget that the EU
>began, not as the crystallization of some European "exceptionalism" or any
>other Euro-ideology, but as a series of less ambitious trade deals that
>became a monetary arrangement, which "evolved" into a broad political
>arrangement.

Julio, it is a little hard sometimes for me to figure out where you are
coming from ideologically. But in any case I must challenge the notion that
Latin America can develop anything like the European Union. This would
presuppose a level of political autonomy that is at odds with the
underdevelopment of the Latin American bourgeoisie. Class formation in
Latin America has been stunted by imperialism. The EU was formed as a kind
of sub-imperialism that would allow the European bourgeoisie to challenge
the USA. If anything, the evolution over the past 25 years or so in this
hemisphere has been in the opposite direction. NAFTA and FTAA are just the
opposite of the EU. They are expressions of deepening dependence rather
than a bid to challenge US hegemony. They are part and parcel of moves to
dollarize economies like Argentina's, Ecuador's, etc. Nestor posted
something the other day from a Brazilian bourgeois figure who lamented how
FTAA would destroy any shred of national independence. You might as well
just fly the American flag over the country.

>I could list references to the long history of trade, banking, and political
>deals that predate the Mercosur, the Andean Pact, the Central American trade
>arrangements, and even the current's FTAA initiative to show that EU-type
>structures have also been insistent south of the Río Bravo (Rio Grande is
>called in the US).  If interested, visit the ECLAC web site at www.eclac.cl,
>a UN agency.  But let me focus on NAFTA, as I've been invited to do.

Mercosur and NAFTA: two different things entirely.

>Even if the asymmetries between Mexico and its North-American partners (US
>and Canada) in productivity, welfare, and culture are one order of magnitude
>larger than those among current Euro-partners, the process exhibits a
>similar profile.  NAFTA is now a well-established trade arrangement, but the
>dynamics that underlies it doesn't (cannot) stop there.  As far as Mexico is
>concerned, all substantial political forces, including the
>nationally-organized Left are in favor of NAFTA or some renegotiated version
>of it.  And they only reflect the opinions of a broad cross-section of
>Mexicans, including workers who are the majority of the population.

The nationally-organized left? You mean like the intellectuals around La
Jornada who support Vicente Fox?

>Maybe, the only notable exception is the EZLN, which has criticized NAFTA
>sharply and gained much of its ascendancy from opposing it... but as things
>go by, I'd place the emphasis on "maybe."

If the EZLN ends up supporting NAFTA, then new forces will come along to
reclaim the legacy of Zapata.

>Notice that it's been the Mexican government which has taken the initiative
>to further "integration" by calling the US to take the process one step
>further by allowing free transit of people across borders -- just like in
>the EU.

Free immigration to the USA is something that revolutionaries can and
should support.

>Well, the US may not be "ready" yet for that, but as Mexico's capitalism
>gains relative strength, they may change their mind.  Notice that, in the
>last 50 years, Mexico's average GDP per worker has increased from 30% of the
>US's to over 50% and that's the average.  Mexico is a country of tremendous
>disparities.  If one considers only Mexico's northern half, the average GDP
>per worker is not that far from Canada's and some regions of the US,
>particularly in "manufacturing" and "services."

When Mexican industrialists set up shop in New Mexico or Arizona and hire
gringos at minimum wage to make goods sold in Europe and Asia, then it
makes sense to talk about closing the gap. I wouldn' t hold my breath.

Louis Proyect
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