By J. Alexander & Sarah E.

In the aftermath of one of the largest union strikes in recent amerikan memory, the First Worldist left is enthusiastic in their support for what they see as the militancy of the working class. They defend the strike as a resurgence of proletarian labor struggles in the united states, claiming that the unity of labor unions is a signal to the First World Communist movement that their ascension to “working class” leadership is underway. Though it would appear that they have not looked too long or too hard at the discourse of these unionists, or at what their demands and histories are, otherwise it may disgust those with principles or a conscience. It is well known that the labor history of amerika is riddled with colonial racism and its general pro-imperialist stance; so what of the modern revival of union struggles? The pro-colonial and pro-imperial element of the First Worldist labor struggle is far from weakened (indeed, it is the essence of such struggles), and it would seem that its message is unapologetically passed along by the First Worldist left.

The Imperial Demands of Labor

Among the demands of the communications workers of amerika (CWA; the union who led the strike) they made clear that the principle concern of theirs was the export of high-paying amerikan jobs to the Third World. In interviews conducted with the strikers themselves they complained of the company’s plan to export “amerikan” jobs overseas, and have made many standard nationalist overtures regarding the goals of the strike to preserve the integrity of amerikan labor.[1] Their demands come not only from an accusatory stance with regards to the Third World proletariat colluding with the verizon company to “steal amerikan jobs,” but by their own admission they are part of a privileged stratum of workers themselves. In fact, the average base salary of the strikers was about $82,000, and when factored along with benefits it reaches an average $100,000 or more.[2]

VERIZON

These are hardly the “proletarians” that the left has made them out to be, and their cause is hardly as noble. We are quite aware of how these workers have come to have such a privileged position in the arena of global labor. Their highly inflated wages are the result of the parasitic super-exploitation of Third World workers by the imperialist countries. This process, however aware of it they may be, has rarely—if ever—been the focus of their political projects. They seem more keen to ignore these conditions in favor of the conspiratorial accusations of “job theft” and focus primarily on the effects of capital export as it relates to their concept of “offshoring” rather than on the slave-like conditions of Third World peoples. When they do mention these conditions, it is always in a tokenizing fashion which is both logically inconsistent with their assertions and does little in the way of demanding solidarity with them.[3] For the amerikan labor aristocracy, they see the super-exploitation of Third World workers as a challenge to their profession, rather than some humanitarian crisis.

Their Connection to the AFL=CIA

What is even more telling about the CWA than their wages or rhetoric is their relationship to the major labor aristocrat cartel, the AFL-CIO (whom we affectionately term “AFL=CIA”), whose pro-imperialist record stretches back decades. The AFL=CIA has a long history to answer to, but more than that they have a continued record of collusion with imperialism. For example, a vocal supporter of the Verizon workers has been the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, an AFL=CIA union (the same union which lost the 1944 James v. Marinship supreme court battle in an attempt at locking out Black membership even in closed shops).[4] Anyone familiar with the AFL=CIA will know that the IBB routinely agitates for increases in military spending including “the need to modernize and expand the fleets of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy,” based on the fact that many of their members make their livings by producing amerikan weapons utilized in imperialist pillage.[5] This is just one group of workers which has tied its destiny and livelihood to amerikan imperialism.

The AFL=CIA also unionizes the most reactionary sections of the imperialist apparatus, namely the Border Patrol Union and International Union of Police Associations, true criminal syndicates in the eyes of progressive humanity responsible for untold suffering for the internal colonies in the case of the latter, and terror against refugees and the international working class in the case of the former. In fact, even the CWA itself is a junior-contributor to the protection of the security forces with a sector that serves over 16,000 local and municipal workers employed as deputy sheriffs, probation officers, city and state police, as well as county and state correctional officers.[6] From top to bottom, it is clear that the company kept by the labor aristocrats of the CWA, just like all labor aristocrats in general, is wholly rotten and reactionary.

So What Then?

It is telling that this episode garnered so much support and effort from so-called “progressive” (that is not to say anti-imperialist) organizations and individuals while the struggles of refugees and victims of imperialist war go unaided, the machinations for further imperialist subterfuge and realization of global surplus-value go unopposed. The imperialists gain the continued, peaceful operation of their system along with the renewed collaboration of the CWA, and more broadly all labor aristocrats, to continue all of the above.

We will not tell you that there was—or is—one single alternative to the recent pro-imperialist circus on-which the efforts of progressives could have been better spent. But rather any number of things could have been undertaken with as much determination and effort. This past week heralded the 6-year anniversary of the solitary incarceration in a men’s prison of the heroic Chelsea Manning. Small and sporadic efforts at solidarity with her and other political prisoners were eclipsed by the Verizon “strike.” The imperialists continue to carry out conspiracies against nations like Venezuela and Brazil, wage imperialist war on Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and otherwise terrorize the world. The imperialist machine continues to extract global surplus-value unhindered by any significant strategic internal opposition.

And why? Because, in our estimation, the debilitated north amerikan left relies psychologically on petty, assured victories delivered not by their effort in solidarity with oppressed peoples, but the machinations of the monopolies mediated by the Democratic Party. Such “victories” are in actual fact nothing but defeats. They represent the successful integration of supposedly progressive forces into the left boot of imperialism; the phenomenon known as opportunism which stabilizes the parasitic social contract, purchases peace and further includes the forces of progress as an eager party to their own degradation. It is a process which must be understood, critiqued and thoroughly rejected.


    1. http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/13/technology/verizon-strike/index.html?iid=EL
    2. http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-verizon-strikers-shrinking-world
    3. https://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/3/3/1191214/-On-Elaine-Chao-and-Racism
    4. http://www.blackpast.org/primarywest/james-v-marinship-1944
    5. https://www.boilermakers.org/resources/commentary/V42N2
    6. http://www.cwa-union.org/about

Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. “……Their (Working class) demands come not only from an accusatory stance with regards to the Third World proletariat colluding with the verizon company to “steal amerikan jobs,” but by their own admission they are part of a privileged stratum of workers themselves. In fact, the average base salary of the strikers was about $82,000, and when factored along with benefits it reaches an average $100,000 or more.”
    Good reading! American “Left” is as good as “Right”, as far as proletarian revolution is concerned!

    Reply
  2. […] via The Verizon Strike: The Left Boot of Imperialism — Anti-Imperialism.com […]

    Reply
  3. You have and could never provide any evidence that First World workers consume profits extracted from the labor of Third World workers. I know you can’t because this ridiculous theory has been debunked time and time again.

    Reply
    • One of many articles on the phenomenon that you seem to have entirely ignored. However, there are many more than just this, whether it be anything written in Divided World Divided Class or half the other works by similar authors that tell the same, nothing will convince you. So why bother? It seems no matter how many times we go over this that people still insist we’ve never answered for it.

      Reply
      • You should not bother worrying about how to convince imperialist parasites of their imperialism. Chances are most of them are already aware of it, but will forever deny it anyway, because to admit it openly would potentially hurt them financially.

        What instead you should focus on is more analysis about the completely corrupt nature of the US imperialist labor apparatus (along with the Western European labor institutions like the ITUC). For instance, there is a recent book out titled “Southern Insurgency: The Coming of the Global Working Class” by First-World labor scholar Immanuel Ness. This book is essentially nothing but imperialist parasite lies about the nature of the global labor movement. It is an attack on the communist controlled labor unions in China, South Africa (COSATU) and India (where most of the labor movement is run by one flavor of communism or another). In the place of the communist controlled unions, the other is openly supporting reactionary business unions like the AMCU in South Africa.

        We need a corresponding Third-Worldist analysis of the trends in the global labor movement. It is high time we STOPPED trying to convince parasites that they are indeed parasites. We have to go to the rest of the world. We have to expose the “labor” institutions of the parasites on a global scale.

        This means going back to being Marxist-Leninists. Marxist-Leninists are supposed to be inside the trade union movement, fighting the imperialists AND the Labor Aristocracy. Well, this is how we do it. With our own GLOBAL analysis of the current state of the world labor movement. It is absolutely imperative we begin moving in this direction, and away from trying to convince the parasites to stop lying about being parasites.

        Our analysis of “working class” parasitism is essentially complete. What we need to do now is formulate counter-strategies inside the global labor movement about to fight these tendencies.

      • On the whole, I absolutely agree with you. I think that the motivation to still outline things like this from time to time is to exercise the framework that we have developed and also to strike through the bullshit and really help delineate those who are with us from those who are against us. It has been useful in doing this and I think it helps give clarity to those who are still somewhat confused on the matter but are ultimately in agreement. So I think that these kinds of things still have their use overall.

        That said, I absolutely agree that presenting counter-strategies is important, and so far we have made progress toward (however not far enough) in this direction. I think that the earliest understandings of Global People’s War, Global New Democratic Revolution and the JDPON have helped pave the way to a better strategic understanding, but moving forward on these questions is vital and therefore it is difficult. So I think that it is vitally important that we focus much of our capacities to this effort, in understanding how we can build a base of support (even if only a minority) which can sustain the growth of a genuine anti-imperialist movement, and how to cleave off sections who will help form the rear-area of world revolution in the First World. Ultimately I personally remain skeptical of how much we will be able to do to this effect while communism is trying to labor itself back to life, but I do have hope and I do have the intentions to do all that I can to this effect. So I think that coming up with new notions on how we can initiate a practice which matches our analysis is key. Like you say. Though I think that stuff like this still has its purpose.

        Thank you for your insights though, and I have heard of that book by the way (funny that you mention it today when I was just looking into the title). Though I wonder how far work with/around trade unions in the First World can really get us, I think that an accentuation of specificities in the country we are working in is key, and for the united $tates I feel like that has always been in the movements for national liberation and the potentiality of a woman’s movement which can be split off from the liberal and democratic roots into something more outwardly revolutionary. I think the trade unions are a bankrupt path overall, but I think that as well the movement of prisoners is as well a promising place to start. Overall I think developing practice from theory is another big hurdle that we have to continue to attempt. We have already the basics, we need to bring them into being now.

        P.S. Would you mind having a limited conversation via email? The site’s contact information is listed in the “contact” tab. I would be interested in exchanging ideas with you if you wouldn’t mind.

      • Perhaps the paper you link to could actually use proper methods for using acronyms, like telling what the acronym stands for before using it. In any case, Zak Cope’s paper is nonsense. Here is a link to good analysis and refutation of the labor aristocracy thesis, the central passage of which is the following:

        “The mere threat of moving production ‘off-shore,’ even if the vast majority of industrial investment remains within the advanced capitalist societies, is often sufficient to force cuts in wages and benefits, the dismantling of work rules and the creation of multi-tiered workforces in the United States and other industrialized countries. Neoliberalism’s deepening of the process of primitive accumulation of capital – the forcible expropriation of peasants from the land in Africa, Asia and Latin America – has created a growing global reserve army of labor competing for dwindling numbers of fulltime, secure and relatively well paid jobs across the world.

        “Put simply, the sharpening competition among workers internationally more than offsets the ‘benefits’ of imperialism for workers in the global North.(28)”

        https://www.solidarity-us.org/node/128

  4. This is to say nothing, for the moment, about the fact that Third Worldists exist only in the First World, and their “politics” amounts to nothing but guilt-tripping identity politics.

    Reply
    • “the fact that Third Worldists exist only in the First World”

      you don’t get out much do you

      Reply
      • Sure, there are, and I’m sure you ally yourselves with them: Naxalites. Yeah, that’s the revolutionary front.

    • By all means, if you believe the path to victory in the west comes through tailing the racist and reactionary pro-imperialist union workers then go for it. Never mind the history of failures that follow this trend in the west, and furthermore the change in conditions since even the new left, let alone the 1900’s or before. Your sheer unwillingness to reexamine the world around you shows how shallow the “scientific” aspects of your framework is, and furthermore how committed you are to the understanding of the national boundaries of the united $tates or any other western country as the confines of your political movement.

      This is the same shit that reinforces the need for the oppressors to join with the oppressed to defeat capitalism, simply because “the oppressed nations are the minority within amerika!” while simultaneously discounting the collective might of the Third World as a whole. So I mean, if you want to follow along with the demokkkrats and claim their victories as your own, go ahead, you won’t fool anyone but yourself.

      Reply
  5. Who said anything about “tailing” unions in the FW, or following along with “demokkkrats” (your childish spellings do nothing to support your argument). My point is that deriding, nay, even jeering mockery of the working class in the FW is actually anti-communist and supports the class enemy. That you do so speaks volumes of your class allegiance, and also is probably indicative of your class provenance.

    Reply

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