From email@example.com Thu Aug 10 13:37:30 2000
Toward a New Internationalism
Monthly Review, Vol. 52, no. 3, July/August 2000
Those on the left who have abandoned all hope in social relations or who, in desperation, have turned to the idea that only global (no longer national) struggle is now possible and that we have to think and act in cosmopolitan terms - as a "global civil society" - are simply the dialectical twins of those who preach that globalization has ended all possibility of change. What has really disappeared is the kind of middle-ground, mixed economy often lauded in the Cold-War years. Social democratic and Keynesian strategies, supposedly the result of a class accord, are no longer viable under today's global neoliberalism. But all of this merely points to the need for a much more radical, universal, internationalist strategy, rooted in national realities and struggles as the only way forward for the movement.
Marx and Internationalism
It is not uncommon within social science today to acknowledge that Karl Marx was one of the first analysts of globalization. But what is usually forgotten, even by those who make this acknowledgment, is that Marx was also one of the first strategists of working-class internationalism, designed to respond to capitalist globalization. The two major elements governing such internationalism, in his analysis, were the critique of international exploitation and the development of a working-class movement that was both national and international in its organization. A scrutiny of Marx's views at the time of the First International offers useful insights into the struggle to forge a new internationalism in our own day.
The Language of Globalization
The distinction between technological globalization and the globalization of power is critical - not only analytically but also politically. It raises the question, "What might the other possibilities be if the two were separated?" We should speak of the existing combination of technological globalization and the globalization of power as really existing globalization; that would highlight the possibilities of an alternative globalization. Opponents of the damaging consequences of really existing globalization, from left as well as from liberal perspectives, are divided on the appropriate response to it. The slogan from Seattle in regard to the World Trade Organization (WTO) - "fix it or nix it" - and the equivalent suggested in the Washington demonstrations in April as to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) - "shrink it or sink it" - and the related questions about whether we want a seat at the table or a different table or no table at all show an ambivalence about goals. The issues are difficult indeed.
Teamsters, Turtles, and Capital's Designs
In Seattle, the critique of accumulation reached a new level of mass consciousness and breathed life into alternative visions. The "street heat" put muscle behind the challenge to labor exploitation, environmental degradation, and poverty. We may be seeing a shift of historical importance. Yet social change is a slow process and we need to assess the impact of Seattle and the increased social activism with both an optimism of the spirit and a more critical intellect. We should look first at the connection between the institutions of global governance and the leading sectors of capital and then at elite designs in this post-Seattle period, focusing briefly on this year's meeting of the World Global Forum in Davos, Switzerland; turn to the long-term perspective of globalist policy makers; note issues surrounding labor regulation and sustainable development; and end with a closer look at the significance of the WTO decision on sea turtles and the future of progressive struggle. The contours of class struggle are changing. Seattle and the response to it is a helpful lens through which to examine some important aspects of those changes.
"Workers of All Countries, Unite": Will This Include the U.S. Labor Movement?
Many progressives and leftists, in their desire to see improvements in the lives of working people, have too frequently ignored reality and jumped on the New Voices' bandwagon, leaving their critical faculties behind. They ignore the obvious. U.S. labor leaders, with very rare exceptions, are not radicals and never will be. The twin ideologies of nationalism and imperialism cast long shadows over them, and the failure to understand this poses a number of dangers.
The Future of the Labor Left
Today, there is great urgency in reflecting on the labor left. This is because no coherent labor left exists today, though one is very badly needed. The "New Voices" leadership represents an opening for labor left. As the anti-World Trade Organization (WTO) demonstrations in Seattle illustrate, there is now a willingness on the part of organized labor to engage in what have been for its leaders fairly unconventional struggles, and there appears to be a growing basis for a coalition of forces against neoliberalism and globalization. Unfortunately, there are also signs today that the alliance that brought forth the New Voices leadership is fraying.
World Labor Needs Independence and Solidarity
The transformation of national economies around the world, in which privatization plays a key role, has forced world labor to debate the meaning of international working-class solidarity. Part of that argument surfaced in Seattle over the issue of international labor standards and their enforcement. This debate will grow even more heated as workers discuss not only ways of fighting growing corporate power but revisit even more basic questions. Should profitmaking and high productivity be the overriding criteria in making economic decisions? Do countries have a right to control their own economic development? And should labor challenge private ownership itself or merely argue about the conditions under which workers sell their labor power to corporate employers?
After Seattle: Strategic Thinking About Movement Building
The overwhelming majority of people who participated in and supported the Seattle demonstrations would not define themselves as radicals, but their understandings and motivations demonstrate receptivity to a radical understanding of capitalism and socialist-oriented political action. The post-Seattle period thus represents an important and exciting opportunity for those of us committed to building strong and democratic movements for socialism.
Defunding the Fund, Running on the Bank
The IMF and World Bank are central to imperialism's reproduction, both in terms of their power to dictate how the poor countries will "develop" and their power to displace the effects of capitalist crisis onto the world's poor. They carry out their mandate in a way that entails both universal suffering by subordinate classes and damage to the environment. But in the wake of the April protests, there are prospects for a more sustainable and radical resistance strategy. For even if the Fund/Bank represent merely institutional vehicles (through which crisis displacement and uneven capitalist development are coordinated), they are exceptionally important targets, at least until more serious challenges are generated by shop-floor, community, feminist, and environmentalist protest to local and global manifestations of the mode of production itself. Indeed, campaigning to abolish the Bretton Woods institutions and the interests they serve offers possibly the best focus for global class struggle in all its various spheres that the left has yet witnessed.
Where Was the Color in Seattle? Looking for Reasons Why the Great Battle Was So White