rc-am rcollins at netlink.com.au
Sat Nov 13 11:21:24 PST 1999

max wrote:

> The elimination of limits to migration increases the bargaining power of
> capital relative to labor. Control of migration has the reverse effect.

not true. first, migration restrictions are rarely limits on sheer numbers; they are restrictions on certain kinds of migration relative to others and these restrictions only operate to make certain kinds of migration clandestine and/or insecure. second, the significant variable for the bargaining ability of workers does not have to be premised on the exclusionary logics bequeathed to us by craft unionism and suchlike, a system that more importantly is both historically redundant given mass education and politically suicidal for any kind of strategy remotely concerned with unifying workers viz capital. third, what is decisive for workers' bargaining power is the creation of a labour shortage as well as the use and threat of labour stoppages -- and that comes with things like union coverage, welfare entitlements, etc. i've been following the AFL-CIO debates on migration law and unionisation, and the significant theme there is that the migration laws of '96 [is that right?] are little more than a union-busting mechanism.

where have migration controls increased the bargaining power of workers? certainly not in australia: the increasing restrictions have accompanied the degradation of that power, as had the subsidised migration schemes of the postwar period accompanied increasing bargaining powers. either the relationship between the two is the opposite of what you claim (which i doubt), or there are other much more important factors at work. union coverage seems to be much more important.

> There's going to be more action in Seattle, of a multi-national,
> multi-issue (i.e., not 'class essentialist') character, than any one
> has seen in quite a while. I predict that little of it is going to be
> devoted
> to hand-wringing about the chauvinist component of protectionism that I
> hear on LBO and PEN-L. Although I don't see all facets of it with
> equal enthusiasm, it seems to me that right now this is the most
> important development on the left of the past 25 years. You assorted
> softies here, in respect of free trade, seem to gloss over that.

i've glossed over nothing at all. in fact, i've held both j18 and the anti-wto protests up as instances of new oppositional forms, without thereby pretending that they are without problems. i've no inclination to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the sierra club. but i will note that economic nationalism did not get such a play in europe as it will in seattle -- the transition from the slogan of 'our resistance will be as transnational as capital' to the seattle one of 'anti-globalisation' is not a step forward. i think it's an indication of just how much the US as a global power is rather perversely drifting into nationalist resentments. a sign of a collapsing empire, and petty empires, and little more.

Angela _________

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