AFL-CIO president blasts globalization (kind of)

Dace edace at
Thu Mar 2 22:46:20 PST 2000

>Sweeney took issue with media coverage of the WTO in Seattle which he said
>unfairly played up the street violence.
>"The violence was a relatively small group of agitators," Sweeney said. "We
>an organized march of somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000, and it was as
>a march as one could ever see."

Genuine agitation seems to make Sweeney uneasy. Perhaps he thinks the "street violence" could upset the orderly integration of labor into the WTO-IMF-WB axis. If so, then vandalism, along with street blockades that trigger police violence, are both eminently useful tactics.

>Instead, the AFL-CIO believes that the WTO must work more closely with the
>International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the International Labor
>Organization to formulate new rules for global business.
>Those rules, he said, should safeguard environmental protection, the right
>workers to join unions and basic human rights.
>"We're interested in more than just a new trade policy," Sweeney said. "We
>a new direction, a new internationalism."
>Sweeney called for an end to child labor and prison labor and the worldwide
>promotion of democracy.

In other words, imperialism with a friendly face.

>Sweeney characterized labor's efforts to bring U.S.-style democracy and
>rights around the world as "a crusade."
>"At the beginning of the last century, we faced a similar challenge over
>for our domestic economy," he noted. "We outlawed child labor, we wrote
>antitrust laws, we established wage and hour standards, workplace health
>safety and environmental protections and banking regulations, and we
>the freedom of workers to join unions."
>Such far-reaching reforms, Sweeney declared, "grew a huge middle class that
>two world wars and one cold one and set standards of human rights for the
>of the world to follow."

And what else did this wonderful country of ours go on to achieve? Let's see, after 1971 the dollar became the world's currency and Wall Street its chief banker, giving the US the capacity to wreak havoc in international monetary relations, systematically destabilizing the more vulnerable countries of the world, primarily in the South, which then had to borrow loads of cash on the Anglo-dominated private financial market. When they couldn't meet their debt obligations, they fell under the iron grip of the IMF and its Structural Adjustment Programs, whose sole intention is to enable the indebted to keep making their payments. In other words-- global imperialism. Was America subject to anything like this in the early part of the 20th century? Was a network of foreign powers keeping us perpetually indebted and impoverished and unable to develop our own base of capital? As a matter of fact-- No. As long as the underlying elements of imperialism remain in place, the implementation of progressive reforms in the South will do nothing to bring those countries wealth and prosperity.


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