Social Protectionism

Max Sawicky sawicky at
Thu Mar 16 13:57:07 PST 2000

>The AFL thinks it is easier to organize sanctions on
>foreign goods than change U.S. law re: secondary
>boycotts. . . .

Of course it's easier Max. Why is that? Perhaps the US capitalist state is hardly resisting the campaign for such foreign boycotts as they can be be used as a bargaining chip in game of US imperialist politics now that the MFA has to be phased out and the rampant abuse of anti dumping laws has come under scrutiny?

[mbs] Perhaps but I doubt it, and you have yet to demonstrate it with any substance. I would say it's easier because trade speaks to a broader political sentiment. Labor law is seen as narrowly for unions, more or less. But foreign trade is seen as threatening jobs whether they are unionized or not, as well as pertaining to the overall national economic health. Now there is some moonshine in the latter notion, but its political salience does not suffer much for it.

I've always said labor's fixation on trade is a defensive policy, but defense is better than laying down and dying altogether.


And who's talking about lobbying? Why not turn out the protest to revise US labor laws like it was turned out to reform the WTO? Because the US

[mbs] Here again we can casually toss out proposals that cost a bunch of resources without considering whether such posturing will get anywhere, in comparison to alternative uses for the funds. We may think general economic resources are unlimited, but the labor movement's resources clearly are limited.

capitalist state won't listen to the former as opposed to the latter or will respond with even greater repression to the former than it would to the latter? After all, the foreign boycott can be manipulated to win even more concessions, simply used unfairly as a device of the new protectionism, or kept on the books as a symbolic, toothless victory that justifies the AFL leadership's salaries. However, a secondary boycott against domestic producers...well then it's not a game anymore. That could be real class struggle!

[mbs] I would say "real class struggle" is what's really going on, not what some lefts imagine ought to be going on.


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