Economist Herman Daly once said sarcastically that capitalists in rich countries are generously offering to share the high wages of their compatriots with the poor in the Third World. Under global capitalism, there is an objective alliance between capitalists in the First World and workers in the Third World. The natural enemies of workers in high-wage countries are workers in low-wage countries who underbid them. How can there be common interests, as Marxists claim, between a highly paid worker in the US and a poorly paid Mexican worker who would like to take his job?
Under national capitalism there is far more harmony of interest between capital and labour than under global capitalism. National capitalism is a regime in which capitalists only employ labour of their own country, that is, there is no immigration and no export of capital. In such an arrangement, no matter where companies invest, they will invest at home and employ domestic workers. No matter whom they hire, they will hire domestic workers.
But once capital is free to move abroad or import foreign labour, they are in a position to use foreign workers as strikebreakers and put downward pressure on domestic workers. Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont estimates that under the tenure of George Bush Jr. five million American workers have lost their jobs in a squeeze play. Some jobs have been out-sourced to cheap-labour overseas while the rest have been lost to cheap immigrant labour. “I don’t why we need millions of people coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than the American workers and drive down wages even lower than they are now.” Harvard economist George Borgias found that American workers lose $152 billion annually in job displacement and depressed wages from illegal and legal immigration.
The relative mobility of labour and capital can be likened to a comparison between landlords—capitalists---and tenants---workers. A landlord resident in Toronto, Ontario can own apartments in Vancouver, British Columbia and remain in Toronto. But a tenant occupying a Toronto apartment can’t live in a Vancouver apartment without moving there. While movement between regions of a country poses problems, international movement is usually insuperable--- though 30 million people are currently attempting it.
The iniquity of this situation led a group of marchers in Ottawa in June of 2005 to demand an end to the deportation of illegal immigrants under the banner “No One is Illegal”. Their declaration was that all people, not just the wealthy, should be able to decide where they live and work. Their slogan? “No Borders, No Nations”.
But open-borders is the agenda of migrant workers, not resident workers. And the American AFL-CIO, the Canadian Trade Union Congress, and the British Trade Union Congress have all decided to betray the latter in an attempt to pander to the former as potential recruits. This evidences a strand of misguided internationalism which still runs through the leadership of the labour movement, which the membership doesn’t share, mainly because they don’t want to share their jobs. The stubborn determination of resident workers to worry about their own welfare in defiance of the party line on how they should link arms with those who would under cut it is commonly referred to, in Marxist parlance, as “false consciousness”, or more fashionably, “racism”.
Marxists are certainly right in their contention that labour should distrust capital. But they are wrong when they demand that labour should seek alliances with foreign labour. Instead, labour should persuade capital to put national interest above class interest. Since 90% of the population of a modern nation consists of labour, including self-employed professionals, the national interest and the interest of labour are almost synonymous.
It should be apparent that the true purpose of globalism is to free capitalists from any national loyalties. Why should the Left be complicit in this evil enterprise by freeing workers of any national loyalties?
What we need is not proletarian internationalism but more proletarian nationalism. For the reality is, a world without borders, or even porous borders, does not offer, the reasonable prospect of a utopia of the universal brotherhood of the working class as heralded by Marx in 1848. It is rather the ultimate capitalist dream of the uninhibited movement of people and capital that will drive down wage levels to their lowest common denominator.
Those who would break down national barriers to migration in the name of international solidarity are serving globalism, not internationalism. As Ralph Nader said in his 2000 Presidential campaign: “We cannot have open borders. That’s a totally absurd proposition. It would depress wages here enormously, and tens of millions of people from all levels, including scientists and workers, would be pouring into this country.”
Workers of the world unite---with your national bourgeoisie!
POSTSCRIPT: WHAT ABOUT THE FRIGGIN’ ENVIRONMENT?
A quick word about the environment. Hello? Marxists? Remember the environment? Remember that you live in a biosphere and not in an “economy”? Gaia doesn’t much care how humanely or democratically we run our affairs, whether it is a “socialist” or a “capitalist” arrangement, but it will have its revenge upon us if we ignore it too long. No socialism on a dead planet comrades. It is not all about social justice and HUMAN rights, it’s about preserving biodiversity from human encroachment and curbing GHG emissions which are directly correlated to population growth.
Population growth is NOT a global problem. It is the sum total of 194 national problems. To demand a global solution is to pre-suppose a global government. We can only clean up our own back yard and set an example of population stability. By throwing up your hands and waiting for a miraculous “global” solution when developing countries finally get their act together and agree to stabilize and reduce their populations is like Waiting for Godot.
Russian Marxists once thought in a similar fashion. “No point in trying socialism-in-one-country, better to wait until European workers start a socialist revolution, then it can come to our rescue to solve our problems here.” Then it finally dawned on the Russians that maybe they should go ahead anyway and do their best to solve their own problems at home, and by their example be a catalyst for the rest of the world.
Canada too can be a leader and catalyst. It can develop a Population Plan and be the first among developed nations to do so. As a nation we can sit down and determine not what our carrying capacity is, but what our OPTIMUM population level should be. Our constituency would not be “the working class” or even the people of Canada. And it certainly wouldn’t be the people who want to come to Canada. For immigration policy should not be a foreign aid project. It’s purpose is to serve Canadian interests.
Our constituency is the totality of Canada. Its people AND its wildlife habitat. Canadian wildlife have been bigger victims of globalist immigration policies than any section of human society. In their obsession with “human” rights, Marxist, Green and Christian internationalists leave animal rights completely out of their factoring. The volume of humanity that refugee advocates wish to pour into Canada would kill biodiversity, and therefore, ultimately, all Canadians eventually.
Trashing Canada’s environment, or that of Australia or the United States by mass immigration, helps no one. It can’t relieve world population when the world is growing by 2.5 Canadas every year. And it cannot help the migrants to take up residency in a country already exceeding its carrying capacity. Accept more shipwrecked swimmers into your lifeboat than it can accommodate and it capsizes-- you drown but so do they. Garrett Hardin, as usual, put it best: “Overpopulation can be avoided only if borders are secure; otherwise poor and overpopulated nations will export their excess to richer and less populated nations.”
Quadra Island, BC