[Marxism] David Bacon on Labor in Occupied Iraq

Derrick O'Keefe sankara83 at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 24 18:18:04 MST 2004


Iraqi union label:
An interview with David Bacon

February 21, 2004

from www.SevenOaksMag.com

America is today, as it has been throughout nearly all of its history, a 
nation at war overseas, as well as against elements of its own population. 
Activists like California-based David Bacon, and organizations such as the 
one to which he belongs, U.S. Labour Against the War (USLAW) are, in terms 
of the Bush Doctrine, enemy elements within enemy elements. Seven Oaks’ 
Charles Demers recently sat down with Mr. Bacon at the Canadian Autoworkers 
hall in New Westminster.


SEVEN OAKS: You were recently on a delegation to Iraq?

BACON: Yes. I went with the former secretary-treasurer of the San Francisco 
longshore union, Clarence Thomas. The two of us were sent by U.S. Labor 
Against the War to go to Iraq in October, make contact with the new unions 
that have been organising there and find out about the conditions of work, 
and the wages, and the general condition of Iraqi workers under the 
occupation.

S.O.: That’s not the Clarence Thomas that Canadian readers will think you’re 
talking about?

BACON: No, we call Clarence the real Clarence Thomas.


S.O.: The real Clarence Thomas, okay. We’re definitely not encouraged to 
talk about class in terms of our own political situations here in North 
America. How do people in North America react when you start talking to them 
about “Iraqi workers” or the “Iraqi working class”?

BACON: First of all, I think, people are very interested in finding out what 
is happening to workers in Iraq. It’s, I think, sometimes a surprise, 
certainly a surprise for workers in Canada and the U.S. to find out that 
there are unions in Iraq, and even to think about Iraqi people as being 
workers, partly because the images that we’re getting from the media from 
Iraq are all about war, essentially. And, Iraq is being shown to us as sort 
of like a place of terrible destruction -- which in a lot of ways, it is -- 
but in which there’s no sense of what life is like for ordinary people 
there, or working people. And Iraq is a huge country of 24 million people, 
with Baghdad as a city with 5 million people and, by and large, those people 
are pretty completely invisible, and so the first reaction that we’re 
getting is interest, because we’re telling a story that people have not 
heard before. And then, I think that people in both Canada and the U.S. are 
finding that there are things they can recognise very easily that are going 
on with Iraqi workers, that they can recognise from their own experience.

Full interview: http://www.sevenoaksmag.com/features/01_iraq_bacon.html

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