Social Protectionism

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Wed Mar 8 06:25:50 PST 2000

Patrick Bond wrote:

>Thanks for the comments, comrade Max, and if I bent the stick too far
>in my argument, then I owe an apology... but I'll take you on...
>> From: sawicky at (Max Sawicky)
>> I see no automatic inconsistency between 'abolitionism' and the
>> 'Social Clause' (SC) position,
>Right, if a) the WTO isn't the enforcer of the Social Clause (people
>should be, whether university students studying sweatshirt labels or
>dockworkers) and b) the working class and popular movements affected
>by such people's sanctions are the ones calling for them. Right?
>If people-to-people sanctions movements want to use a Social Clause
>formulation, I'll be there.

How to you verify which are the authentic popular movements? You and Rakesh seem to disqualify ICFTU unions, which, despite their long list of problems, have traditionally had some degree of credibility as representatives of the working class. If not them, then who? NGOs? If so, which NGOs, accountable to whom by what mechanisms?

> > One interpretation is that abolitionism
>> (of the sort I favor, incidentally) is just the hard cop
>> counterpart to the soft-cop SC campaign. Both envision
>> some kind of WTO, IMF, and WB for at least the immediate
>> future, since the immediate future I hate to tell you is
>> capitalism.
>By which you mean neoliberal capitalism powered by financial/merchant
>circuits of capital, with an authoritarian global state giving out
>orders about what kind of economic policy to follow? Or can we not
>change some of those features by reducing the influence of neolib
>global statecraft so that nation-states have a bit more space to
>shift development strategies towards mass, popular interests? And if
>we're socialists, isn't that space a necessary if insufficient
>condition for a more radical rupture in local relations of

I could swear that most unions are pushing in that direction.

The ICFTU unions are profoundly flawed, I'll completely concede. Conservative, complicit, compromising, compromised. But that's not all they are. Like I keep saying, they're full of contradictions, and they've got good sides too. This stance of pure rejection seems like a dead end to me.

I was on a panel yesterday, talking to Tom Dickens' Drew University Wall Street program class, with Ron Blackwell of the AFL-CIO. He said they were vigorously supporting A16 and specifically mentioned debt relief. Not in the way you or even I would like, but that's better than nothing - lots better - no?

>Agreed, China's capital punishment should be opposed. What strategies
>are Chinese democrats proposing? Is there a critical mass of
>human-rights exiles demanding solidarity from the US working class,
>including, say, dockworkers who can keep Chinese goods out the way
>they did with SA goods? I ask out of ignorance... but my impression
>is that compared with the Burmese struggle, with equivalent resources
>in exile and contact with comrades inside the country, the Chinese
>movement hasn't chimed in visibly yet. Again, correct me if I'm

Blackwell said they can identify 75 Chinese unionists who are in jail for being unionists. So it's kind of hard to tell what "the Chinese movement" wants under those circs.


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