Friday, January 04, 2013

TPPA: The NAFTA from Hell

Mobilization of US Filipino groups against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (Apollo Victoria)

We don't know beforehand the precise fiscal cliff "deal" Obama and Boehner will strike, but all versions will fire many thousands of government employees, as whole agencies are made to disappear. This will just be a warm up for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and its secret provisions! Now that Obama is re-elected and term-limited, there is no reason anymore to simply approve a raised debt ceiling. There is no desire to owe China more money, and when the bourgeois class feels ready for world war there won't be any reason to pay their debts either. The main enemy of the American workers is their "own" capitalist class, now hell bent on a "guns, not butter" policy! Meanwhile, with the TPPA they will be able to define the precise meaning of their "new world order." It won't be a philosophical question any longer, but a plan coming together to impoverish you!

At the November N.Y. City Central Labor Council meeting the President, Brother Vincent Alvarez spent 10 minutes belabouring his point that the re-election of Obama was a great victory for labor. But scarcely were the words out of his mouth when he had to concede that we will have to fight for every nickel we get from this 'lame duck' congress. So the CLC was to lay on a demonstration against the looming cuts to every social gain 'on the table' before the twin parties as they pretend to tussle before the "fiscal cliff." Was, except the leadership didn't have a call, an hour or a place for it to give the assembled Delegates! A serene world they must live in at their pay grade. You could, yes you sure could suspect them of being completely integrated into the state and complicit in concealing the nasty surprises the lame duck Obama will spring on us, his "legacy" as the leader of the executive committee of the capitalist class.

What we're talking about are the questions wherefore the "fiscal cliff" and where does the TPPA figure in the capitalists’ plans? Just at the moment there is growth, slight growth, in the U.S. economy, but palpable and not just paper. U.S. companies are gaining orders at the expense of their European and Japanese competitors in replenishing inventories of supplies for home construction, which replenishment had to resume some time. The ratio of government debt to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product hovers between 72 and 73%, a low figure for any modern state, so the hysteria about indebtedness is almost purely a camouflage driven by ideology. The banks want to call in 'theirs' and slash new borrowing by the state because everything that characterized the 20th century U.S. government, apart from being the trough for the military industrial complex and the paymaster for support programs for racist repression, is about to be shoved off the cliff and junked. This is the domestic content of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, a NAFTA from Hell!

What is in store for us, unless we as labor and behind us the great masses defeat the T.P.P.A., is the onset of the complete triumph of capitalist anarchy. It is styled as a trade pact, but this is only a feature of what it is. Including the U.S., eleven ruling classes and counting around the Pacific Rim are serving notice to their governments that henceforth there will be a visible hand at the top, above the mere state, which will decide the claims of "investor states" where they come into conflict with the laws protecting the nationals of any country. Decide to soak the treasuries of those countries for restraining their profits with 'prevailing wage" laws, with child labor protections, with trade union rights enumerated, with product safety and consumer and food and drug protections.

Internationally the TPPA has the aspect of a showdown between the old hegemonic power of the U.S. and the rising power of Chinese imperialism. This makes life complicated for the signatories, some of whom, like Australia and New Zealand are members of the US RIMPAC treaty pact already. The New Zealand Trade Representative seems to be Washington’s errand boy at the Auckland meetings, and looks to be unperturbed at the prospect of a trade war, an investment war and then a shooting war, with the U.S. Marines poised to move on any recalcitrant government from bases nearby. It has been revealed that the U.S. has arranged that his reward will be to become the head of the World Trade Organization!* Australian representatives have some idea of these war dangers and are so far opting out of the chapters that permit the TPPA courts to rule on what the Australian tax policies will be.

The left press credits Occupy Melbourne protests for this sudden sovereignty awareness, and we don’t doubt it. They named the TPPA a “Power Tool of the 1%,” and exposure generally works against easy ratification by the bourgeois politico drones. In the broadcast cited above a lawyer for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (U.S.) spoke of the fight against the TPPA as a “class war” battle. Funny how he can say this on cable TV in New Zealand. We never hear official representatives report to the union membership in these terms, and we don’t miss many meetings! So the road ahead for this treaty is not necessarily altogether a smooth one. But a TV appearance on the far side of the planet is not a great assurance, any more than the tiny December 6 Herald Square CLC demonstration was! Class war battles are only “won” in courtrooms after the actual victories are won by mass actions of the workers. That’s history, not opinion.

The task of champions of the liberation of the international working class is to close off this road to war! The U.S. seeks to line up the workers of the Pacific Rim countries as cannon fodder with promises of more jobs. We say there is nothing in this for the worker but misery and death. Down with the TPPA! Solidarity with the Chinese workers and all Pacific Rim workers! Their battle against their bosses is the same fight as ours! We want a Socialist Federation of the Pacific!

We see the various reformist and Social Democratic tendencies freaking out over the TPPA. The reason they do so also invokes the fate of the international and domestic working class, but does not derive from the workers’ interests. For the reformist and social democrat type, the diminution of the powers of parliaments and judiciaries in favour of the U.S. Executive Branch MEANS Bonapartism, which in fact it is. Their gradualist, linear and exclusive strategy of governments peacefully reforming themselves into workers’ democracies is wrecked at one swoop by Obama and the robber barons. The TPPA puts these Bernsteins out of business, whether they realize it or not.

It gets worse! Everything activists thought they defeated in the SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act,) the PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act,) and ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Act) is brought back with a vengeance in the TPPA, the signal feature of which thanks to the 600+ top U.S. and U.S.-owned multinational corporations who dominate the exclusive sessions is that this treaty (TREATY!!!) will not be modifiable, subject to reform or repeal except by action of all the signatory countries!

It has been pointed out that this could become the world's "last trade pact," {link to Lori Wallach} since membership would be open-ended in the future. Ask yourself what ruling class would not want to be above all provisions of the pesky laws resulting from the resistance of their working class. All the "Tax the Rich" campaigners will immediately be caught on the wrong foot as millions of additional jobs will be deported to a whole Pacific rim of sweatshops like those now in the Marianas. Should Japan sign the TPPA, it will want to do so to become the world’s largest importer of US natural gas. Under provisions of the TPPA the state-by-state struggle against hydro-fracking will be obviated by the courts it establishes. State governments will find themselves powerless flak catchers. This is the American "disaster capitalism" Magna Carta of superior bourgeois right, subordinating all parliaments and coming home to roost as an invader, like a Mafia Godfather who says with justification that this is "just business."

This Act is a supremely American project and an alliance, in secret chapters, against China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This despite the spin-only, faux invitation to join the pact extended to China by Ron Kirk, the U.S. "Trade Representative," in the lead up to the December meeting of the secret membership of this capitalist cabal in a casino (!!) in Auckland, New Zealand. This alliance dovetails perfectly with the Pentagon's "Pacific Pivot" and makes a joke of the "theory" of the various neo-Kautskyans who see no special significance to the pact and believe there is now a stateless super-class of capitalists who practice a supra-imperialism. So for example, with this theory neo-Kautskyans can imagine –and do they ever! – ‘progressive governments' that will not participate in this alliance.

In New York the reformist pro-Bolivarians ignore the murders of the Marikana miners and characterize the South African government as "progressive." Internationally this anti-Leninist trend has grown to a whole constellation of sects among the "3rd worldist" petit-bourgeois currents at the fringes of the workers movement. Many of these drank the Obama electoral Kool-Aid. Reformists in Occupy Wall Street had their own reporting general assembly subset known as "Occupy Canvass," which worked to get out the pro-Obama vote, a fool's errand given how the New York tally was never for a moment in doubt.

Sadly, New York had no fighting workers' labor party to expose this Treaty in the context of what it will do to the state's ability to respond to emergencies like Hurricane Sandy or the nor'easter that followed, when corporate income taxes will also be overruled by the judges in an international T.P.P.A. court, a Grover Norquist wet dream! A fighting workers' labor party would aim at nothing less than the complete smashing and suppression of the bourgeois political power, destruction of their state and eradication of the worksite dictatorship of the capitalist class.

Brother Alvarez, like Brother Trumka, loves Obama, who is foursquare behind his handpicked "Trade Representative" Kirk. He loves Obama even though perhaps a third of the Central Labor Council Delegates are members of the AFL-CIO's "Association of Retired Americans." Think for a moment how 'Obamacare' was supposed to be a great boon to the elderly and was put up in our view for the last two years by the cynics on staff and the credulous Democrat suckers as the one accomplishment of Obama's first term. The T.P.P.A. will ban Obamacare's formulary group shopping provisions! This will be a windfall for "big pharma" and a death sentence for millions who no longer work. AIDS patients will once again feel outcast. Millions are already working indefinitely after age 65 (remember "retirement age?") to buy medicine AND eat.

In the eponymous movie the capitalist big (Mr.) Lebowski tells the Dude "Your revolution is over; my condolences. Your side lost!" This film was much funnier than anything we are likely to experience in years to come if the T.P.P.A. is ratified and becomes the law above the law. It is not funny to think of how much the actor who played the big Lebowski resembles Warren Buffett or how what he said prefigured Buffet’s remark that there is a class war and his side is winning. It is time for the working class' side to have a great deal more fun at the capitalists' expense. We can begin to win by defeating the TPPA.

First we have to trash illusions in Obama and "friends of labor" in the two wings of the bourgeois party. Obama wants to "fast track" the approval of this pact. This means he would sign for the U.S. in place of the Senate, a body that pretends it would read and debate its contents and provisions, but is itself the plaything of the same corporations and multinationals, corrupted by their "contributions" in thousands of ways and even staffed by "revolving door" corporate loyalists temporarily on the taxpayers' payroll.

Some reformists want you to continue to support this grand edifice of flimflam and simply demand that the Senate get their hands on and debate the T.P.P.A. Then of course they'll reject it. That's one pipedream. Other reformists say to stake everything on supporting Obama against those who want to drive all social gains ('entitlements,' including Social Security) over the "fiscal cliff." That's another pipedream.

The TPPA presumes a shrunken state that goes out of the business of the welfare of the taxpayer or anyone without a portfolio, a state that is a domestic and international force projector for Capital with a propaganda mystifier operation and some covert assassins on the side. Preparations for a world war to reassert U.S. imperial hegemony will pre-empt and exclude meaningful action to address global warming and its action on the environment and ecology.

Seen in this way all workers will face having nothing to lose but our chains, just like the oppressed populations the rulers try to con us to despise. It's past time to finish with all of that ignorance, to unite with and defend the oppressed, because we have a world to win, as the old saying goes from the Communist Manifesto, for now we truly have no alternative.

We like the example of the November 14th Eurozone Strike Against Austerity, as far as it went. We wish it had been planned as more than a one day, symbolic and blow-off-steam action by union leaderships who spend their days at spas with parliamentarians and the big money. But its international dimension is indeed the way to go. We see multinational Pacific Rim strikes against the T.P.P.A. as the best way to smack down this NAFTA From Hell. In the U.S. such action will immediately require rupture of the Taft-Hartley Act, which our current generation of 'labor leaders,' really just Gompers-men, have grown to think of as the absolution from class conflict handed down by Moses. They forget that even Harry Truman called it a “slave labor act” and that it was a product of the witch hunt passed over his veto! Brother Trumka spent our dues money on a movie last spring applauding all the solidarity the membership exhibited in the preceding 12 months, then putting us up to stealth Obama electoral support work, in the form of a nationwide campaign for "America Wants to Work" legislation that was forgotten almost as soon as the film was developed.

The CWG believes we will not see the Trumka leadership or any leaders of that ilk organize anything like the battle it will take to defeat the T.P.P.A. Remember EFCA? When Obama stopped mentioning EFCA so did the limousine set pie cards. Clearly we need union renovation, with new leadership rising from the rank-and-file. We will help those who try! Fighting rank-and-file caucuses that develop class struggle program and action are what we need for our unions to survive and thrive. We need a fighting workers labor party based in and upon these union caucuses, nuclei of workers’ councils and political power!

The Fight against the TPPA is a general emergency requiring general strike action because the ruling class is intent on sneaking this by in a fascist style “fatto compli.”

Obama and Boehner! Back Off! The Fiscal Cliff is a LIE!

Abolish Taft-Hartley, Victory to the Port Workers!

T.P.P.A.? No way! No U.S. Bonaparte! No W.W. 3 Pacts!

No Cuts! No Layoffs! Jobs for All!

For Labor Defense of All Class War Prisoners!

Build Labor/Community Defense Guards to protect the Communities of the Oppressed!

End 'Stop and Frisk' now and forever! Cops out of schools! Billions for union jobs for youth! Not one penny for war with China!

We must see the Chinese working class as our allies in the class war! American workers need to solidarize with Chinese workers on both sides of the pacific workers need to learn our main enemy is the capitalist class at home. Solve capitalism’s crisis with a socialist federation of the Asia-Pacific!

TPPA is a power tool of the 1% and that tool is a Chainsaw! Save your own neck: Down with the TPPA!


No comments: