[Marxism] Do Latino immigrants drive down wages (was: "RE: immigration issues")

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Wed Apr 19 23:57:52 MDT 2006

Andrew Pollack quotes some bourgeois bozo: "National wage trends confirm the
common-sense notion that immigration has labor market consequences: A larger
pool of competing workers lowers relative wages. This does not imply that
immigration is a net loss for the economy. After all, the wage losses
suffered by workers show up as higher profits to employers and, eventually,
as lower prices to consumers. Immigration policy is just another
redistribution program. In the short run, it transfers wealth from one group
(workers) to another (employers). Whether or not such transfers are
desirable is one of the central questions in the immigration debate."
And then he adds, "The last three sentences are worth quoting widely. Our
formulation of the very last sentence of course would be different..."

*  *  *

It is interesting to see how narrow economism leads a fine comrade like
Andrew to parrot imperialist propaganda -- with very different formulations,
"of course."

Contrary to what is asserted here, the "common sense notion" isn't that
immigration's effect is a net neutral robbing Peter to pay Paul operation.
But of course to see it, you have to go beyond the simpleton "racism" --or
whatever-- divides the working class and the corresponding political
approach, "Black and white unite and fight." 

You have to understand that capitalism rests not just on class exploitation,
but also on patriarchy and on colonialism, neocolonialism and imperialism.
Capitalism isn't just about class, it's about gender and nation, too,
irreducibly so. 

The main economic effect of immigration is a net transfer of value from
countries like Mexico to the United States. The United States gets an
expanded supply of labor power to exploit without having spent a penny to
produce it. The entire cost of raising children to laboring age has been
borne by Mexican or other societies.

It seems that American imperialist society is quite able and willing to
admit this when dealing with "intellectual labor," everyone --save, perhaps,
that living proof that humans descended from apes, Lou Dobbs-- recognizes
the "brain drain" is good for the United States, and more than a few cry
crocodile tears for all those other countries losing their best minds.

But what is true of complex human labor must also be true of simple human
labor else it would be false: in the last analysis, it is ALL labor power,
it can't be both ways.

This has been the U.S. stock-in-trade as a capitalist society since the days
the first illegal aliens came onshore from the Mayflower. Irish labor,
Italian labor, Polish labor, and --most especially-- Black labor. Labor
ready to exploit and create more wealth, without having to spend a penny
growing it.

The value of labor power is socially determined, which is simply another way
of saying that it is a function of the class struggle and the relationship
of class forces.

As the massive, glorious, disciplined, united protest movement of the Latino
and immigrant communities in the past few weeks has shown, the presence of
immigrants and their militancy and the traditions of struggle that they
bring from their home countries INTO the United States is NOT AT ALL a
factor depressing wages. 

What depresses wages is the U.S. labor movement, with its history of racism,
treachery, sellouts and betrayals.

And its not just history. 

With the mood TODAY among the Latino proletariat, any union that cared to
hire, train and empower a half dozen Spanish-speaking Latino immigrant
organizers could organize ANY mostly Latino workplace ANYHWHERE in the U.S.
in about two weeks.

If even a single union has TRIED, it has somehow escaped my attention.
They're all hoarding their pennies to pimp for some pig politician in

It sounds nice, "objective" -- competition from the Latinos drives down the
wages of the Blacks. But the truth is that competition among ALL workers
drives down the wages of all workers. 

WHITE PEOPLE and their unions and their government in this country have
sought to ameliorate that, not on the basis of CLASS solidarity, but on the
basis of WHITE solidarity, selling out the South and West with Taft-Hartley,
creating white job trusts, collaborating with the class enemy in keeping
darkies of all kinds down, refusing to organize the South, to organize the
farmworkers, to organize the immigrants, to organize the Blacks.

And then more white folks write "objective" analysis of how ironic it is
that Latinos are driving down the wages of Black workers. 


Las barras y las estrellas se adueñan de mi bandera
Y nuestra libertad no es otra cosa que una ramera
Y si la deuda externa nos robo la primavera
Al diablo la geografia se acabaron las fronteras
     --Ricardo Arjona, "Si el norte fuera el sur" 

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