Sunday, September 09, 2007
In “Their Globalization or Ours?” (ZNet, August 27, 2007), I stated that free trade and protectionist policies both serve the capitalist class and that working people must unite across national borders to raise their living standards. In response, one reader wrote,
I also believe that if all unions in the world work together we can achieve more, but many countries don't have unions, and in some that do, like my birth country
The answer to that question lies in two basic principles of the labor movement: self-determination (what we wish for ourselves, we want for all) and solidarity (an injury to one is an injury to all).
“What we wish for ourselves, we want for all” means that all people must have the right to determine their own affairs. That includes dealing with their own leaders and governments, however corrupt.
The more the
In The New Military Humanism: Lessons From Kosovo, Noam Chomsky documents how NATO bombed the former
Imperialism presents itself as humanitarian intervention in order to override domestic opposition to war.
It is impossible to support workers in other nations and also support our own government invading or meddling in those nations. Capitalism forces us to choose: be loyal to your nation and betray your class or be loyal to your class and betray your nation. (By “nation,” the capitalist class means its own interests, not those of the majority.)
The loyalty of the labor movement is divided. Without the awareness or consent of their members, top executives in the AFL-CIO have helped
There’s no solidarity when labor becomes a go-between, laundering funds and resources from the Bush administration and passing them to groups abroad. That role is more appropriate for government agents — agents of empire…We believe that international labor solidarity must come from the heart of the workers in one country to the heart of workers in another country — a…reciprocal relationship.
My first demonstration was at the
Mutual aid (solidarity) is basic to human nature. Over 70 percent of Americans think that the government should ensure that no one goes without food, clothing or shelter. More than three-quarters of the billions of dollars raised by
Worker solidarity has a special power. In the fall of 2003, thousands of dockworkers shut down ports in
As the world becomes more integrated, the need for solidarity grows. An increasing number of goods are now manufactured by Chinese workers, assembled by Mexican workers, sold by American workers and serviced by Indian workers. Although workers are divided by national boundaries, global capitalism is forcing them to unite to defend their common interests.
United we stand. Divided we fall. The political relationships we build today make possible more effective solidarity actions tomorrow.
American unionists are sponsoring Iraqi unionists to tour the
Every year, people from around the globe gather at World Social Forums and demonstrations against the G-8 summits. Last year, I attended a Labor Notes conference in
An Irish nurse and I found much in common and began writing to each other. One by one, we have included other health workers in our discussion. There are now six of us, from three different countries, corresponding by email. The challenges we face on the job and in our lives are remarkably similar. We want to build an organization of international health workers.
You might be wondering what six people in three different countries could possibly do. Knowing that you are not alone, that others are struggling with the same rotten system, is essential to staying sane and continuing the fight. That, alone, is priceless. But we want more than that. The relationships we are building today will be the foundation of tomorrow’s solidarity actions.
There is only one world. Economic booms and slumps spill over national borders and ripple around the globe in synchronous waves. Internet technology allows people to communicate from anywhere on the planet in seconds.
To keep us divided, our rulers insist that we are more different than similar. We are discovering that the opposite is true. And in the process, we are beginning to build a very different world based on sharing and cooperation.
Susan Rosenthal is a practicing physician and author of Market Madness and Mental Illness (1998) and POWER and Powerlessness (2006). She belongs to the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981. She can be reached through her web site: or by email
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