[Marxism] Re: Phil Ferguson and Free Trade

Nick Fredman sra at scu.edu.au
Tue Feb 3 20:01:55 MST 2004

Bob Gould wrote:

>PS. One of the curiosities of this particular issue is that it is my
>understanding that the leadership of the DSP, with whom Phil Ferguson likes
>to agree from time to time, have a similar point of view to mine on this
>question. Despite the fact that they support every comma of Lenin's theory
>of imperialism. Does this make them nationalists too?

I would agree with Bob that Marxists have to have a strategic 
opposition to both free trade and protectionism, while sometimes 
tactically opposing reductions in tariffs, even while explaining the 
nationalist, class-collaborationist nature of protectionism 
(historically linked to racism and xenophobia) to workers. I also 
think we can also distinguish between the approach of the O'Neill 
leadership of the TCFU, which prompted this exchange, and the more 
explicitly left-nationalist approach of for example the Cameron 
leadership of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. I discussed 
some of these questions including the AMWU approach in an article 
criticising left-nationalist opposition to the Australia-US Free 
Trade Agreement http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2003/565/565p9.htm

On strategic anti-protectionism see the DSP program:

"Protectionist measures, such as import tariffs, which are 
professedly aimed at keeping jobs in Australia, are really aimed at 
allowing Australian corporations to charge higher prices and reap 
greater profits in the face of foreign competition. They are no less 
inflationary than devaluation of the dollar, which deprives workers 
of the possibility of purchasing less expensive foreign-made goods.

"Tariffs and currency devaluations are all aimed at imposing the 
burden of the capitalist economic crisis on workers, whether in this 
country or abroad. Instead, the workers' movement should demand a 
state monopoly of foreign trade with decisions about what goods are 
imported and exported subject to control by a central board elected 
by a national conference of workers' control committees representing 
each branch of industry".


On this and more tactical questions see a 1997 GL article "Tariffs 
and 'free trade'" by Allen Myers

"Unions can usefully intervene in the tariffs debate only by clearly 
and firmly insisting that no changes (from high tariffs to low or 
vice versa) are acceptable unless they include provision to protect 
existing jobs or provide new and at least equal jobs for all the 
workers affected".



Nick Fredman
Student Rights Advocate
Southern Cross University (Lismore)
Student Representative Council

Shop 9 Plaza, SCU Lismore

Ph: 6620 3044
Email: sra at src.scu.edu.au
web: http://www.lismoresrc.org.au/


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