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imperialism & war wto hong kong

Down with the WTO and its manipulation by the big powers...!

SAIC leaflet condemning the World Trade Organization (WTO) in light of the upcoming (December 13-18) WTO meeting in Hong Kong.
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee:
Down with the WTO and its manipulation by the big powers to force the masses of the developing countries into poverty and ruin!

International trade relations are a main focus of imperialism in today's world. With the founding of the World Trade Organization (WTO), these relations have become more and more contentious as the conflicts between the industrialized countries of North America and Europe and the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America sharpen. The upcoming ministerial conference of the WTO in Hong Kong promises to be a new arena for these conflicts to show how the industrialized countries use trade relations to exploit and oppress the developing countries, especially in the areas of trade in agricultural commodities. In the past, many countries have protected and subsidized these commodities in order to develop their economies. However, for international trading partners, such protection is an obstacle to their access to the internal market. The industrialized countries have highly mechanized and extremely productive agriculture sectors, enabling the production of much lower-priced agricultural commodities. Importing large amounts of low-priced food products from these countries into an economy could depress the prices of agricultural commodities below the cost of production, driving the subsistence farmers of the developing countries out of business on a massive scale.

Agriculture is a main focus of the Hong Kong WTO meeting from December 13-18. The US proposals going into this meeting are a very complicated attempt to manipulate the developing countries and the European Union and Japan into making the most cuts in their agricultural policy programs while allowing the US to make minimal cuts in its programs and gain the most market advantage as the Doha Round objectives are met. This approach is dishonest in its adherence to the supposed goals of "free trade" and will ultimately result in enlarged advantage for the US while increasing the impoverishment of subsistence farmers and family farmers in developing countries and the smaller developed countries. This approach is doomed to failure and should be exposed as a total fraud before the eyes of the world.

The WTO meetings are supposed to work out the "rules" for trade relations between the various capitalist countries. But the people who speak for these countries are members of the rich ruling classes and these delegates put forward the interests of the ruling classes and leave the interests of the working masses behind. This is why there are never any serious calls for the defense of the right to form trade unions and engage in strikes for higher wages at these meetings. And since all decisions about trade relations are driven by the desire to establish the "rule of the market" over everything, matters like the reduction of environmental pollution get left out as well, because the market does not consider the environment as a factor. The effects of outsourcing on the jobs of working-class people in the developed countries is another factor that never will enter into the discussions of trade relations under the WTO because the capitalists who carry out these negotiations view these effects as a good thing and want this process to continue. And the cries of protest from the many workers downsized out of their jobs fall on deaf ears.

In industrialized nations such as the United States, workers have many times fought against attempts to outsource work, or to stop plant closings, or to demand large benefit packages if an employer moved production overseas. These are just and necessary struggles against the effects of capitalist globalization, a globalization that increasingly throws the workers of all countries into a competitive "race to the bottom". But the trade union leaders have repeatedly betrayed these struggles, most notably by uniting with the employers to force through concessions contracts that would allegedly "save jobs". (Hence, they had nothing to offer the workers other than that they should join in the race to the bottom.) Moreover, in industries hard hit by overseas competition they've worked hard to line up the workers behind their own exploiters' demands that duties be levied on their foreign rivals' goods.

The trade union leaders' service to the American steel magnates during the 1999 Seattle anti-WTO protests is a good example. They cried about American jobs going overseas but were silent about the fact that American plant-modernization has caused the layoffs of many hundreds of thousands of workers during the last few decades. They supported the employers' demands for duties but were silent about the unemployment and suffering this might cause the workers of Korea, Europe, or China. In short, their politics were to have an alliance between the capitalists, government and workers to save American jobs, and to hell with the workers anywhere else! Moreover, they "forgot" that duties or tariffs can never for long shield the workers of a country from being forced into the downward spiral of competition with their overseas comrades. No, retaliatory duties are imposed, etc.

Mass unemployment in all countries is the result of the economic laws of the capitalist mode of production itself. As capitalist production develops in agriculture it uproots tens of millions of people from the land, leaving them nothing to sell but their labor power. And everywhere, the capitalists are driven by competition to introduce new productive techniques and equipment which replace living labor with the products of past labor---resulting in more unemployment. As a system, capitalism creates a "surplus population", the unemployed, much faster than expanding production can provide jobs. But the AFL-CIO and Change to Win Coalition (CTWC) leaders are diehard defenders of capitalism in general, and of "their" (American) capitalists in particular. Their outlook is reformist and national-chauvinist, and from this outlook they betray the immediate struggles of the workers against the effects of this system of production. Moreover, they're a tool of the capitalist political establishment that continuously works to hide that capitalism is the cause of the effects the workers are struggling against. And the consciousness that there is an alternative, that another world is possible, immeasurably increases the fighting capacity of all the working people.

The present doctrine of the WTO is neo-liberal free trade. The results are ruining small farmers all over the world, throwing the workers into increased competition with each other, and wrecking the environment. Nevertheless, beneath this doctrine, a system of government subsidies, duties, and protected markets still exists---especially concerning agricultural products. Moreover capitalist governments ultimately always want free trade for industries where they have the advantage on the global market, and protection of those that are at a disadvantage. But protectionist measures, although they may temporarily shift the burden between who suffers more and who suffers less, are no solution. They only lay the groundwork for increased international competition and rivalry, and, during past periods of protectionism in international trade, trade wars (with their resulting unemployment, etc.) have developed that ended in real wars. The solution for the working class and all oppressed humanity is to continue to rise in struggle against the devastating effects of neo-liberal globalization while also building up the movement to overthrow the cause of these effects: the capitalist system of production itself. With each passing day, history is proving that instead of the reformism and national chauvinism of the AFL-CIO and CTWC, we need the revolutionism and internationalism of the proletariat.


Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee, December 5, 2005

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