[OPE] President Bush campaigns for labor rights... in China

From: glevy@pratt.edu
Date: Tue Aug 12 2008 - 19:58:26 EDT

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------

Subject: President Bush campaigns for labor rights... in China 
From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <adsl675281@tiscali.nl> 
Date: Tue, August 12, 2008 2:06 pm 

Speaking in Bangkok on August 7, the leader of the free world
said interestingly: 

"We speak out for a free press,
freedom of assembly, and labor rights not to antagonize China's leaders,
but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for
China to develop its full potential. We press for openness and justice not
to impose our beliefs, but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs.
As Chinese scientist Xu Liangying has said: "Human nature is
universal and needs to pursue freedom and equality."

It sounds real good, deep and profound to me, but how about "a free
press, freedom of assembly, labor rights and equality" in the United

Some 57 million American workers who currently don't
belong to a union would join one tomorrow if they could, according to a
2006 survey by Peter D. Hart Research Associates.
http://www.sharedprosperity.org/bp182/bp182.pdf The AFL-CIO rounds the
number up to sixty million
http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca/57million.cfm (it's
about 40% of the employed US workforce, in round figures; the majority of
these people are lower-income earners). 

Everybody knows that
in America today you can get harassed, sacked or denied promotion even if
you just try to join a labor union. Maybe Mr Bush would be better off
setting an example by endorsing the US Employee Free Choice Bill ! It is
true that in the history of the USA, there have been plenty "union
mafiosi" (gangsterism and extorters), but that doesn't make ALL labor
unions a mafia. There's plenty of highly principled US unions working
within the law to get justice for workers. 

While visiting
Burmese refugees in Thailand, Lady Bush declared: ""We know that
Burma is a very rich country, rich in natural resources. And the junta
uses those resources to prop themselves up for their own benefit, not for
the benefit of the people of Burma."

As a European observer, I would say: if that's true, how about
the oligarchy of the United States? Somehow American ideologues always get
away with pontificating about the plight of other countries, while being
very uncritical of their own country. Well, if we are going to sit on
moral high horses, the least you might expect of somebody who pretends to
objectivity is the ability to be self-critical about his/her own

In reality, with inflation rising, no bourgeois
governments are interested very much in increasing "labor
rights". But the leftist rhetoric of the bourgeoisie is splendid
indeed. It's all about showing your good intentions for other countries,
never mind your own. It's a sort of reified internationalism which
mystifies the problems back home. Either you love America, or you hate
America, and if you don't love America, we hate you. Then you're the
enemy, and then there's more dollars for the Pentagon to fight it - in
this way, of course, you can fabricate a lot of enemies, necessitating a
lot more dollars. 

Problem is, that is not really where it's
at, for non-Americans, even if Americans don't understand that and are
unable to make the necessary distinctions. Example: a workmate of mine has
been to the US for quite a few trips, travelling long distances in the US,
he loves the countryside. I asked him in all naivity: would you ideally
like to live in the US? He says, no. I ask, why? Paraphrasing,
"Because their social system is f**ked up, I don't like their idea of
social justice". 

Recently, I acquired an old tarnished
copy of Michael Harrington's "The Other America; Poverty in the
United States" (1963), supposedly a source of inspiration of the
1960s "war on poverty" in the US. Harrington has had his critics
over the years, but the book still makes interesting reading. How very
different from the contemporary discussions about a "war on
terror" with the ism dropped off. "Real poverty" is
supposed to be somewhere else, outsourced in some other country, while in
our own country, people are just making the "wrong
life-choices". Yeah. As if terrorism has nothing to do with extremes
of wealth and poverty. 

We are not distinguished by what
country we live in. We all face the same kinds of problems. 


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