Worker Unity from China and Mexico to the U.S.

As economies crumble, we can expect political structures to as well. Both Mexico and China have received a fair amount of US outsourcing, and get blamed by protectionists for taking American jobs. It behooves the US working class to pay attention to what’s going on in those countries, because in some ways, the US, Mexico, and China are one extended economy, with one extended (though fractured) proletariat.

Imagine a general strike starting in a plant in Guangdou that makes micro chip parts, spreading to workers in a plant in Mexico, where workers set the China-made parts into processing units to be shipped to LA for final assembly and stamped with a Made in the USA label. Could such a tri-country workers’ movement ever take shape?

In Mexico, the peso crisis of the early nineties and the passage of NAFTA have left the economy in a shambles. Massive emigration, social upheaval (Zapatistas, Oaxaca uprising, 2006 elections, etc) and increasing privatization drives (especially against the state-owned oil company PEMEX) all indicate political instability to match the economic. The latest tragedy to hit the country is the opening of a ruthless drug war that exposes the Mexican state’s vulnerabilities and shows that there is no total monopoly on the means of violence. The Mexican state is under attack and could be said to be slowly breaking down.In China, the political system had been very stable since the Tiannamen Square protest of 1989, thanks in large part to a booming economy. With the onset of the global economic crisis, China’s manufacturing based economy has contracted, leaving 10s of millions of chinese workers unemployed. The boom itself opened up a rift between haves and have-nots that was much less acute prior to China’s meteoric economic rise, but the bust holds the potential to revive China’s Marxist legacy. It remains to be seen what the destiny of China’s rising left is, but conditions are ripe for its growth.

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4 responses to “Worker Unity from China and Mexico to the U.S.

  1. yo, Minqi Li is gonna speak at Modern Times bookstore (San Francisco) in early June. folk should roll out to that . . . will comment more substantially later

  2. The problem is, how is a fractured proletariat supposed to actually organize? I can support the Chinese comrades and express all the symbolic “solidarity” I want, but the only real solidarity comes from building an organization or many capable of making real connections with these other large proletariat, huge economy states.

    The beginnings of failed state status in Mexico, the economic crisis in China and the US, give a substantial opportunity for mass working-class organizing in that country. The objective situation is that US imperialism, Mexican internal militarism and Chinese party hegemony are all reeling in the face of these crises, leaving an opening for organizing in each country…probably the best one since the great depression. We gotta take it and meet in Shanghai in 10 years.

  3. first step to actually organize is to know that we have to organize on a working class basis here in the US. when this is firmly engrained in our minds, we can start to explore ways to do that. with trial and error we will improve. too many so-called leftists dont organize with workers and waste time arguing about far off places or only talking about the US ruling class instead of how to organize with workers. there’s an organization of workers called Soldiers of Solidarity in the auto industry that is really good because they criticize the union leaders for not fighting back against the capitalist attack. groups like them need to be supported by the marxist left.

  4. Esteban is right. Working class self-activity is vital. Many if not most workplaces have international links, even if only tracing the suppliers of raw materials. And the US working class is slowly being forced away from the productivist line held by union “leaders” for so long. Can’t demand a job making things nobody needs or wants. The key would be to identify the most essential, that is need-based, trade between countries and concentrate on organizing those sectors. In the US and Mexico, agricultural workers immediately come to mind. In China? Medicine?

    Outside of workplaces, there is communication between local immigrant groups. Bilingualism! I know of few explicitly multi-ethnic working class solidarity groups around the bay. Lots of pro-culture groups, but few if any of them seem down with class struggle. But these things are possible. When we launched a muni fare strike in 2005 we worked with a group from Chinatown and the Spanish-speaking Day Laborers. It was a cause every working/commuting person could relate to.

    It’s true we confront an opening right now, and we will see more local class conflict erupt. How will we respond?

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