China-MFN rally (re: this is progressive?

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Thu Apr 13 11:49:55 PDT 2000

Steve Philion wrote:
>Well, now you complain about how the media is distorting the message of
>the Teamsters rally that sposored yellow perilists like Mr. Buchanan,
>more rightwing than your average Cuban Exile Leader Harry Wu, and
>speeches that can easily be transmitted to the average American as

Let's be clear- there were two rallies, one sponsored by the Teamsters and one by the AFL-CIO. Hoffa Junior has been playing footsy with Buchanan, but the rest of the union movement has refused to give him a platform, both in Seattle and in DC, which is to their credit. Rich Trumka is threatened with being thrown in jail for trying too hard to keep Hoffa Junior from taking over the Teamsters, so it is just political mischief to tar the AFL-CIO leadership with anything Hoffa does.

And I said nothing about the media distorting the message; I complained about people on this list who attended distorting the main AFL-CIO rally. Yes, Becker's speech was pretty odious and many of the others were too nationalist from my viewpoint, but many of the speeches were clearly anti-corporate, anti-US government, and pro debt relief and workers rights globally.

And to repeat, the labor movement was not demanding new protectionism against China, since the debate is only over whether to have a yearly vote on MFN (which China has been granted each year). This is a vote about gutting democratic review of our trade relations with China, the goal of big business clearly, but it is a surprise that so many leftists think that, in the words of labor, a "blank check" on trade is the progressive position.

Look, I don't like a lot of Workers World or other sectarian rhetoric at many political rallies I attend, but I don't condemn the mainstream supporters of the rally because they allow a few fringe positions on the podium out of coalition-building. A few overly nationaalist speeches were made at the AFL-CIO rally, but most were focused on human rights in China and the rights of workers to organize. Big business is promoting the end of MFN annual review, and labor is opposing it.

For me, the core of the labor positions is righton and progressive, even if I don't like all the rhetoric attached. So what else is new, being a leftist? But as I said, I saw more non-white faces at this supposedly "racist" rally than at most oh-so-politically-correct left rallies where white faces usually dominate.

There are a lot of complicated changes happening in the world and in political coalitions nationally and globally. I happen to think that on issues where global capital is united and the unions and allied environmentalists are in the opposition, being on the side of the unions against the capitalists is the right position. Maybe I am too simple-minded in my "which side are you on" knee-jerk analysis, but so be it.

-- Nathan Newman

p.s. I am losing my computer for a few days while I head into the streets, so if you don't get a response until Tuesday, it's nothing personal. And if you don't get a response then, send bail money :)

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