The new globalized assault on labour


The first link below is to a CBC news article about the influx of Chinese miners in Canada and the second is about ‘right to work’ legislation in Michigan, but in other American states too.   Both stories are from yesterday’s National.  These stories may not seem to be linked at first glance, but they are.  They point to the internationalization of labour and the degradation of its value.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/12/10/chinese-miner-investigation.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/12/10/f-rfa-macdonald-right-to-work.html

I’ve written about this in previous posts, but it’s worth repeating Thorstein Veblen’s observation that countries are subservient institutions to private capital accumulation, which is currently our dominant mode of production along with it’s modus operandi, business entreprise and the factory system.  The concept of private property is the legal expression of power over commodity production and accumulation.  I repeat: countries are now and have always been subservient to the capitalist mode of production.  Initially, they were created in Europe as a way of opening up markets for commodities and to ‘free up’ labour to move around beyond the confines of their feudal estates.  Countries are just another step in the historical trend towards the global consolidation of political power.   Still, countries have often been a focus of group loyalty, nationalism or patriotism.  This is not always pro-capitalism.  The problem for capitalism is that once countries are created they become more than what was first intended.  People soon consider them home.  They fall in love with them.  They aren’t entirely sure why, but they do.  Well, we’ve been told forever that countries are the way the world is organized.  Our citizenship defines us.  We are proud to be Canadians, Americans, Australians, Indians, etc… We don’t question this, it’s just the way the world is.  So we get upset when we find out that our governments seem to be doing things that we perceive as harmful to us and to our country.  We can’t figure out why our politicians would do such things.  Why, when the unemployment rate in Canada is fairly high, it would encourage the importation of labour?  Why would the state of Michigan attack collective bargaining, guaranteeing a reduction of average wages there, like it has done in other states?  It’s not that surprising, really.  Some governments, not all, are more business oriented than others.  The Canadian government, for example, is extremely pro-business.  As pro-business, it buys into the argument that lower wages are generally good for business.  The cost of labour is a large part of what it means to do business, so any way of reducing the costs of labour becomes government policy.  Attacking collective bargaining rights, as in the US, is a way of reducing average wages, and it will eventually reduce the costs of labour globally, so will importing cheaper labour from other parts of the world to developed countries.  Ironically, reducing average wages will reduce our capacity to buy commodities, the essence of the capitalist mode of production.  So, go ahead boys, cut our wages, cut our pensions. By doing so you’re cutting your own throats.

So, Canada came into existence officially in 1867.  When do you think it will die?  There’s no question that it will. When and how are the questions, not if.  Will the death of Canada come from the outside, from invasion?  Not at all likely, unless it’s the US over water.  No, Canada will come apart at the seams, much like the US will, bit by bit.  Omnibus bill by omnibus bill.  Harper decree by Harper decree.  But don’t worry, it won’t happen for a few years yet.  A hint might be though that 95% of the petrochemical business in this country is foreign controlled.  Now with the Nexen and Progress deals paving the way, outright ownership is on the way.  And don’t believe a word Harper utters about tightening the rules.

Labour has always been a necessary part of the capitalist mode of production, but labour is being replaced by capital (by the use of technology and automation) or cheapened by the same process.  The inevitable result locally and globally will be a few very rich people and the rest of us.  How far do you think we are away from that outcome?

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