[Marxism] One reason for rulers' assault against immigrants: Numberof Immigrant Workers in Unions up by 30 Percent over past 10 years

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Wed Aug 29 18:57:19 MDT 2007

Andy writes: "Joaquin should have remembered from his training when he was
still a Marxist that raw figures and percentages are also important as
indices of dynamic trends."

Leaving aside stupid slanders ("his training when he was still a Marxist"),
I challenge Andy to show, on the basis of the data that was actually in that
piece, how the conclusion drawn in the subject line followed AT ALL.

Andy says, "If you look at the importance of immigrant workers in
unionization struggles today (the "ization" as a suffix of activity is key
here), and in workplace struggles in general, you would understand the real
importance of these numbers."

Perhaps. But what we were told is that these numbers, in and of themselves,
revealed a reason for the anti-immigrant offensive. That was simply NOT SO,
as I think I demonstrated through an analysis of those numbers. 

In effect, by drawing in his other examples, Andy CONCEDES that what I said
is true: that conclusion did not follow from the data presented, contrary to
what was claimed.

So Andy argues that if I were "still a Marxist" I would see what is plainly
NOT THERE in the data. 

Which raises the very interesting question of what Andy understands as

And in order not to overly tax the analytical capabilities of people on this
list, I will tell you what I think Andy's Marxism consists of: a simplistic
class-reductionist syndicalist/economist schema.

*  *  *

I think something very significant is going on in the imperialist countries
in relation to immigrant workers. But I suspect its most important dimension
is not economic but social -- solidifying the majority nationality around
its ruling class by incorporating into the metropolis, but in an inferior
caste status, through a system of de-jure discrimination, the alien "other"
which represents internally the main external enemy, the force challenging
and threatening imperialist hegemony, domination and profits, the peoples of
the Third World.

The truth is that employers use immigrant workers, and especially the
undocumented, as a battering ram against unions and against the gains unions
have made. 

Andy cites the example of organizing in the meat-packing industry. But that
industry USED to be, a quarter century ago, quite well organized with
relatively decent rates of pay and benefits. The employers reversed those
gains taking advantage of the fact that labor in white skin in this country
has allowed labor in Black and Brown skin to be branded as inferior and
worth less on the market -- and especially "illegal" labor. 

Now Andy looks at Brown people trying to defend themselves including through
unionization and concludes, "aha! a resurgence of the CLASS movement." But
there can be no CLASS movement without the white workers also. And if you
look at the Smithfield wildcat against the no-match-letter attack a year
ago, those who walked out were from the half of the workforce at the plant
that was Latino: the whites and most of the Blacks did not join the
movement. That was a LESSON for the Latino workers -- that however much they
may understand class and class solidarity themselves, when push comes to
shove, American workers act as Americans and not as workers. They are not
reliable allies -- never mind true class brothers and sisters. 

Perhaps Blacks --a significant section, at least-- can be allies, but most
of all in the political/social sphere, not necessarily as much in the

But white folks are just that --white, Americans, first and foremost-- and
if you have to rely on them to achieve some goal or defend yourself, then
you're screwed. White people are traitors to their class because they are
loyal to their race. And they are loyal to their race because being a "white
American" carries with it tremendous social and economic privileges.

I AGREE COMPLETELY that this is "false consciousness" on the part of white
workers, that they would do better if they acted as part of their CLASS
instead of identifying with their race/nationality. But even if "false,"
this consciousness has a solid, material bedrock of economic and social
privilege that experience shows is not easily dislodged.

I am not saying I think this is the way things OUGHT to be. And it is
certainly NOT the way Marx thought things WOULD be. And I'm not saying even
this is the way things MUST be under current circumstances. But what I am
saying is this is the way things ARE.


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