Global Capitalism

This class has highlighted Globalization and resistance throughout the world. Capitalism has played a major role in the daily lives we live. The free market’s adage of “stay out of my way and I’ll stay out of your way” has long been how it is viewed by the world. It has driven society apart ever since it took its place in the global system. Exploitation from large corporations has widened the gap between the rich and the poor. Capitalism does not have a place in the direction the country needs to go.

Global capitalism has exploited countries all over the world. It is important to emphasize the fact that even in developed countries, the working class is being exploited. In the Article by Pratap Chatterjee, he focuses on the multinational corporation Amazon. He states that, “one in ten Amazon employees in Ohio needs government assistant to make ends meet.” This is despite the fact that the state has given Amazon over $125 million in subsidies to expand. Amazon has turned into the most profitable and most used online retail industry in the world. The corporation has started opening warehouses all over the world in order to win business from local competitors. This is very concerning because the United States is supposed to have one of the best economies with sufficient working wages. Big corporations are exploiting in the very countries they are based in. This means they are and have been exploiting developing countries even more.

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Developed countries succeed through the free market by exploiting developing countries as seen in the article posted on Global Exchange. Ted Lewis wrote an article called New NAFTA proposal falls short on jobs, wages, human rights and the environment which highlights the possibilities a trade agreement like NAFTA could exploit the working class. The North American Free Trade Agreement was first passed in 1994 and governs more than $1.2 trillion worth of trade among Mexico, Canada, and the United States. It has drawn huge controversy over the fact that the agreement has been exploiting Mexico’s natural resources and only has benefited the corporations while affecting millions of workers. The newly revised NAFTA by the Trump administration only focuses on new free trade laws and does not work to improve the working conditions or wages of the workers. Lewis states, “The Trump administration’s current NAFTA proposal fails to include the critical changes necessary to raise wages, and defend human rights.” This shows how the pact only provides benefits to corporate elites while giving poor working conditions to the working class. This would only exploit the poor and negatively affect the economy in Mexico. This is directly related to the article we read on the Zapatista movement. The Zapatista movement was a reaction to NAFTA. It was a revolt against the globalization of neoliberal capitalism. The government was exploiting them for their natural resources. The Zapatista’s known as EZLN started from a group that was set up to protect peasants from cattle ranchers and coffee barons. This is another example of the government trying to exploit the working class. The inequalities and low wages are global problems that have existed for many years. The Zapatista movement was an example of how residents and the working class can voice their opinions through collective action. The NAFTA agreement was an agreement that was only going to exploit the working class even more. The Zapatistas were right as we could see how free trade did end up affecting Mexico and exploited the poor. This is concerning because they want to revise NAFTA to decrease exploitation and not to improve the human rights of the exploited.

Poverty is a historical consequence of capitalism. It has widened the gap between the rich and the poor. Large corporations are making it difficult for developing countries to sustain economic independence. It is seen in an article focusing on the Global South. The article Walmart-flipkart deal: continuing attack on retailers, producers, farmers & labour, and on India’s digital sovereignty, highlights the dangers a multinational corporation like Walmart poses on developing countries like India. Walmart recently acquired flipkart which is India’s biggest e-commerce firm. This is going to undermine India’s economic and digital sovereignty and is going to affect millions. This puts a strange hold over India’s consumer goods by foreign companies. This article emphasizes how local manufacturers and suppliers will suffer from this because Walmart is well-known for its global supply chain. It is only going to make the economy worse by doing this. As stated in the article, “the concentration of economic power, now constituting in India, it will render them too powerful to be meaningfully regulated.” This shows how this corporation is too big and too powerful. Walmart is going to exploit the workers by giving them low wages and poor working conditions that are not going to be regulated by the government. It also states, “We call for urgent national debate on this important issue of economic independence, affecting many Indians in the working class.” This will hurt India’s economy and not help it sustain economic independence. This is very much alike the book Southern Insurgency. Immanuel Ness’ book focuses on an era of globalization and multinational corporations. He focuses on the Global South which is the new international working class due to rapid industrialization. These developing countries are being exploited by who those who dominate the global markets. The movement to the south by capital was motivated by the search of low wage labors and maximum surplus value. He states that developing economies in the South are at a complete stop due to capitalism. A big reason the South is being exploited is based on how these multinational corporations determine the wage of these workers. Instead of determining the value of these industrial goods through the direct surplus value, they use the basis of GDP. They do not acknowledge the labor input of the southern production workers which is bringing in more profit than ever before. This is like the picture professor Robinson used in his lecture as an example. He showed a picture of the cumulative percent change and it showed that in the last decade productivity has gone up 74.4 %, but the hour compensation has only gone up 9.2 %. (Robinson, lecture 4)

Very poor working conditions whether it’s through the corporation itself or through subcontractors is a huge issue in today’s global capitalism. The developing countries are creating high surplus value for the global corporations. An article published by CorpWatch Blog, author Erin Gifford, and highlights the ongoing human rights abuses faced by the agricultural workers in Mexico who pick tomatoes for Wendys. In 2011, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) launched the Fair Food Program in the US that focuses on tomato farms. This was a program to guarantee fair wages, humane working conditions, and allowed farmworkers to monitor and report on their own situations. Within recent years, big food chains like McDonalds, Chipotle, and Burger King have all agreed to this agreement. On the other hand, Wendys took a different approach. They outsourced their tomato purchases to Mexico. The article states that in 2014, ” Bioparques de Occidente, a company based in Jalisco, Mexico that supplies to Wendys, provides a “sub-human” working conditions to its workers.” By hiring subcontractors these corporations are not taking accountability because they are technically not working directly for the corporations. Big corporations can avoid accountability to workers by doing this, resulting in lower pay and bad working conditions. Wendys hid behind the code of conduct which shows they don’t really support the human rights of farmworkers. Capitalism has eroded national boundaries. This is also seen in the film we saw with the workers in Los Angeles. The workers were subcontracted by factories that were making clothes for Forever 21. These workers were working in horrible working conditions. It would get extremely hot in the factories where they would make the jeans. They would get paid very low wages and decided to sue Forever 21. The court came back saying they could do nothing about it because it would be impossible to prove Forever 21 knew of these allegations. Forever 21 commented saying they could do nothing about it since they can’t prove they manufactured for them. This is another example of how big corporations avoid responsibility for its workers through contracting subcontractors. They are able to evade paying realistic wages.

One of the big reasons these corporations continue to exploiting the poor working class is that formal traditional unions have failed to protect the workers in the developing countries. The new and improvised resistance are composed of more efficient unions with rank and file militancy. South African Federation of Trade Unions posted an article called South Africa: The Working Class Movement Must be Independent. Representatives from 147 South African working-class unions met in Soweto on July 21st, 2018 to unite workplace and community struggles. They stated, “It made huge strides forward to lay foundations for building a new, independent, democratic and militant mass working-class movement to turn the tide against the attacks on jobs and living standards which are pushing more and more South Africans into Poverty and despair.” The working class summit unanimously agreed that capitalism is the common cause of the misery experienced by the majority. They also agreed that the movement had to be independent and adopt a bottom up approach to democracy. They agreed to defeat the capitalist accumulation that has not only exploited workers across the continent, but has caused the biggest inequality ever recorded. Their approach to defeating this is to build the working class power in every workplace. The other big statement from the article is stated, “the working class summit recognized that the crisis of the system, in which the working class and the poor are the primary victims, is caused by capitalism and the policies implemented by the ANC government. The people that make up these local unions show how they can stand up to big corporations through collective action. (we are the poors example)

Capitalism has no place in the direction we need to go. A new radical democratic approach would need to be socially just and ecologically sustainable. In the Article by Richard Wolff called Capitalism and democracy: Year End Lessons, he emphasizes that capitalism and democracy can’t co-exist successfully. He starts off by stating that, “2013 taught millions of Americans that capitalism repeatedly contradicts the democratic idea that majority decisions should govern society as a whole. The system’s tendency toward deepening inequalities of income and wealth operated across 2013 in direct contradiction to the will of substantial American majorities.” He then goes on and says how the Great depression showed a mass movement from below reversed capitalisms inequalities. It only temporarily helped inequalities as the rich made a movement after World War 2 to bring capitalism back up. Capitalism systematically undermines democratic decision-making about economic affairs. He states at the end of his article, “To secure democratic decision-making and the kind of society most Americans want requires moving beyond capitalism.” The processes and results of capitalism and democratic rights are contradictions that can’t co-exist. This is relatable to the approach Umair Mohammad has on reforming democracy. Radical democracy is the change Mohammad believes needs to be taken. We need to see ourselves as citizens and less as consumers. We need to transform the economy from one based on profit to one that meets human needs. Society would need to be reformed in a way that individuals must be democratically constituted. He expresses how capitalism is at the end of its time and has to be abolished. Society as we have seen it in this book has been negatively affected by the corporate powers of the world. The new democratic approach would need to be one that focuses on human rights and meets the needs of the citizens. As seen in Professor Robinson’s Into the Tempest chapter 1. He states,” democratic socialism founded on a popular democracy may be humanity’s last hope.”(PG 29) His approach to a counter hegemonic movement is relatable to that of Wolffs and Mohammads. There needs to be a change and it will have to go against the norm everybody is used to.

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