[OPE-L:2470] Re: the transnational working class?

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Thu Mar 02 2000 - 11:41:09 EST

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Re Hugo's [2449] & [2452]; Nicky's [2450]; and Steve K's [2451]:

I think there is truth to both sides in this debate. On the one hand, I
think that there is considerable evidence in support of Hugo's position
regarding the increasing transnationalization of workers' struggles. On
the other hand, this is a very uneven process and the dynamics that Nicky
and Steve K describe are real enough as well.

While I am sympathetic to Hugo's position, it does not logically follow
that since capital is becoming increasingly transnational that,
therefore, workers' struggles will necessarily become more transnational
during the current period. We would like to think that this will be the
case -- and it probably will be when viewed as a *long-term* process --
but there are many obstacles to the furthering of transnational
solidarity and international bargaining among workers that will have to
be overcomed. Some of these obstacles include different historical
traditions and cultures of struggle. Especially important obstacles, imo,
include the generalized acceptance of the *labor-management cooperation
perspective* both by union "leaders" and significant percentages of union
members in the post-WW2 period and the degree to which *nationalism* (and
racism) maintains an important influence over the consciousness of
significant segments of workers.

It is one thing to talk about what is *necessary* for workers' struggles
to become more successful. It is quite another matter, though, to believe
that in the current period workers' struggles *will* become more
transnational and successful.

Yet, there are signs to the contrary. E.g. the protests against the WTO
meeting in Seattle seems a very positive development in the sense that the
protesters were "thinking globally" and attempting to build solidarity
across nations and social movements. The international movement that arose
as a consequence of the Chiapas revolt in Mexico is another important

One should also note that there are advancements in communications
technology -- like the *Internet* (!) -- which have important implications
for the process of building transnational solidarity movements and
overcoming many of the obstacles that I listed above. Indeed, I think
that the expression "The whole world is watching!" will become more of a
reality and less of a slogan in the next period.

In solidarity, Jerry

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