Malaysian social imperialism?

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at Princeton.EDU
Wed Mar 1 06:08:15 PST 2000


You have already argued that the WTO governing body will not get it together to impose sanctions on any country that violates these standards--so what does he think such standards would actually mean?

We have already seen how this idiom of labor rights has worked in the case of Cambodia; first as a condition imposed to secure a bigger quota and then when met, increase in quota denied anyway. Did you ask Rajakekaran what he thinks about that? Now of course he is probably hoping that with such standards, a Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or indeed Cambodia will face barriers from the imperialist countries, thanks to US labor unions, and thus won't be able to capture some of Malayasia's low value-end production now that its attempt to develop a new Silicon Valley has foundered.

Yet will codification of core standards in the WTO prevent that flight of productive capital? How real is the threat of such flight anyway? Instead of actually organizing real class struggle within frighteningly authoritarian Malaysia, is it in his interest to conceive the biggest threat to the Malaysian working class as flight of productive capital as a way of justifying spending his time (in august assemblies no doubt) and wasting the union's resources hammering out a WTO that will putatively check this putatively greatest (though in reality quite exaggerated) threat?

And if he thinks that only through the WTO can the Malaysian working class confront its greatest threat, viz. loss of productive capital to very infrastructure-poor countries in which illiteracy and health maladies are severe. isn't he then agreeing to accept all the rulings of that institution, e.g., those on tech transfer, property rights, rights of capital repatriation and mobility, liberalization of services, etc.

Doesn't the putative, crying need for core labor standards become a way of accepting the WTO by AFL-CIA friendly third world union bureaucrats, no matter its other faults? Did you ask whether he should chart a more independent course?

And did you ask whether he was happy with the AFLCIO's silence, if not tacit, support of the imperialist provisions in the WTO?

Or is he really the mouthpiece for business unionism that he seems?

Yours, Rakesh

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