XII. THE GLOBAL PLANTATION
1. The Promotion of the Proletariat and Replacement by Third-World Labor
The short era of "Pax Americana" after World War I1 was one of completing profound changes for Euro-Amerikan society. Those expansionist years of 1945-1965, when U.S. military and economic power lorded over the entire non-socialist world, saw the final promotion of the white proletariat. This was an en masse promotion so profound that it eliminated not only consciousness, but the class itself.
Just as in the 19th Century, the Euro-Amerikan bourgeoisie both watered-down class contradictions and reinforced its settler garrison over the continental Empire by absorbing immigrant European nationalities fully into the U.S. oppressor nation. This 20th Century cycle had begun in the anti-communist "Americanization" campaign of the World War I period; it reached its decisive point in the accommodation between the imperialist State and the dependent, settleristic CIO unions of the 1930s. The process was sealed by the post-World War II imperialist feast, finally laying to rest the class contradictions of the period of industrial unionism. While the deproletarianization of the white masses was a historic pacification, it led to an increase in decadence and parasitism that has today reached a nodal point.
This mass promotion rewarded settlers for the U.S. Empire's "supreme triumph" as the world's No. 1 imperialist, Super-privileged life for the Euro-Amerikan masses was made possible by two factors: U.S. domination of world markets and the Empire's giant reserve armies of colonial proletarians, who took over a greater and greater burden of essential production from white workers. We must remember that World War II had physically devastated and bankrupted all the major imperialist nations save one. In the late 1940's U.S. steel mills supplied 50% of the world's steel (and now supply only 15%). U.S. aircraft plants manufactured almost 100% of the world's commercial airplanes. As late as 1949 the flow of U.S. trucks, diesel engines, elevators, pharmaceuticals, industrial tools, wheat, etc. accounted for roughly 25% of all world trade. (1) Of course, the largest single market in the entire world - the continental U.S. Empire - was "owned" by U.S. corporations. This produced the economic surpluses that started Euro-Amerikan society on its long retreat from essential production.
In these years the Euro-Amerikan workers moved upwards, increasingly handing over their places in basic production to colonial workers. Broom and Glenn summarized in the 1960's: "Between 1940 and 1960, the total number of employed white workers increased by nearly 12 million, or 81 per cent, while the total employed labor force increased by only 37 per cent. Hundreds of thousands of white workers have moved up into higher-level jobs, leaving vacancies at intermediate levels that could be filled by Negroes ... Negroes are now well represented in semi-skilled work and in industrial unions..." (2) Once driven, step-by-step during the 19th Century, out of U.S. industry they had created, Afrikans were recruited anew into the factories. They, along with Chicano-Mexicano and Puerto Rican labor, would keep production growing while most Euro-Amerikan workers laid down their tools, one by one.
By the early 1950s Armour's main Chicago meatpacking plant was 66% Afrikan. Of the 7,500 workers there almost all the younger men and women were Afrikan. The younger Euro-Amerikans hired by Armour went into white-collar jobs at the nearby 4,000-person Armour main office, which was all-white. 136 Swift's meat-packing plant in Chicago was also 55% Afrikan by 1950. The desperate Swift personnel department fruitlessly begged young Euro-Amerikans to work at their plant, with one white woman complaining: "We had so many colored people during the war and now we can't get rid of them." This had more than local significance, since at that time some 75% of all packinghouse workers in the U.S. were employed in Illinois-Wisconsin. (3) In Houston, Texas, as well, Afrikans and Chicano-Mexicanos made up 60% of the packinghouse workers by 1949. (4)
By the 1960's the transformation of labor was very visible. In the great Chicago-Gary steelmill district over 50% of the workers were Third World (primarily Chicano-Mexicano and Afrikan). In the Detroit area Chrysler plants at that time the clear majority of production workers were Afrikan (while the skilled trades, supervisors and office staffs were Euro-Amerikan). In some plants, such as Dodge Main, the percentage of Afrikan workers was 80-90%. Chrysler Tank Arsenal, the main producer of U.S. Army heavy tanks, was overwhelmingly Afrikan. (When it had first opened in 1942, Chrysler had decreed that only Euro-Amerikans could work there.) The UAW officially estimated in 1970 that 25% of all auto workers were Afrikan. The League of Revolutionary Black Workers disagreed, saying instead that Afrikan workers were then closer to 45% of the primary auto production force. (5)
Chicano-Mexicano and Puerto Rican labor played growing industrial roles as well, particularly in the Southwest and on the East Coast. For example, in the 1920s and 1930s the garment industry was composed primarily of East European Jewish and Italian workers. By the 1950's young Euro-Amerikans were no longer entering the needle trades. The children of European immigrant sewing machine operators and cutters were going off to college, becoming white collar workers, or going into business. The AFL-CIO garment unions, while still Jewish and Italian in their bureaucracy, retirees and older membership, increasingly tried to control an industry workforce that was Chicano-Mexicano, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Dominican, Afrikan, etc. on the shop floor. (6)
In the urban infra-structure we saw these changes as well. In 1940 only whites had jobs as transit bus drivers, mechanics or motormen in New York, Washington, D.C., etc. By the 1960's Afrikans, Puerto Ricans and Chicano-Mexicanos made up a majority or a near-majority of the municipal transit workers in Chicago, Washington, New York, and other urban centers. The same for postal workers. Young Euro-Amerikans didn't want these jobs, which were difficult and might force them into physical contact with the ghetto.
This tendency could not reach the theoretical totality of having no settler workers at all, of course, (any more than the capitalist tendency toward the concentration of Capital could reach its theoretical totality of only one capitalist who would employ the rest of humanity). The growing re-dependence on colonial labor has been masked not only by industry and regional variations, but by the fact that at all times a numerical majority of manufacturing corporation employees within the continental U.S. are Euro-Arnerikans (although this represents only a small minority of their settler society). This seeming productive vigor was only outward. U.S. imperialism was moving the weight of Euro-Amerikan society away from toil and into a subsidized decadence.
Essential production and socially useful work occupy a gradually diminishing place in the domestic activity of U.S. corporations, in the work of its settler citizens, in the imperial culture. Decadence is taking over in an even deeper way, in which non-essential and parasitic things become the most profitable, while worthless activities are thought the most important. Always present within imperialism, this decadence now becomes dominant within the oppressor nation.
We can see this in the dramatic increase of the non-productive layers in economic life. While this phenomenon is centered in the rule of finance capital, its manifestation appears in all imperialist institutions. Advertising, marketing, package design, finance, "corporate planning," etc. mushroom with each corporation. Management on all levels grows as numbers of production workers shrink. When one includes the large army of white-collar clerical workers needed to maintain management and carry out its work, the proportions become visibly lop-sided. At Weyerhaeuser, the large timberland and natural resources corporation, top executives and professionals alone (not including supervisors, foremen and clerical workers) account for one out of every six employees. At the Southern Pacific Railroad, one out of every ten employees is in management. (7)
There has been a historic trend, as an expression of decadence, for the growth of management. The New York Times recently noted: "By December 1982, there were nearly 9 percent more managers and administrators in the American economy than in January 1980, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is in sharp contrast to the nearly 1 percent decline in overall employment and the 12 percent drop in blue-collar jobs... In manufacturing businesses that are thriving, such as office and computing companies and pharmaceutical concerns, administrators and managers account for 11 percent of total employment." (8)
This is an aspect of an overall change, in which technology plays its part but is secondary to the corpulence, the affordable self-indulgence of an oppressor nation. Peter Drucker, the management "guru," writes on capitalism's "Midriff Bulge".
...instead of disappearing or even shrinking, middle management has been exploding in the last few decades. In many companies the 'middle' between the first-line supervisor and the corporate top has been growing three or four times faster than sales ... The growth hasn't been confined to big business; middle management in small and medium-sized companies may have grown even faster ... And it hasn't been confined to business; managerial growth has been even greater in government, the military and a host of non-profit institutions ... A liberal arts college I know had, in 1950, a president, a dean, and an assistant dean of students who also handled admissions and a chief clerk who kept the books. Enrollment has doubled, from 500 to 1,000; but administrative staff has increased six-fold, with three vice-presidents, four deans and 17 assistant deans and assistant vice-presidents ... five secretaries did the same work now being done by seven or eight deans, assistant deans and assistant vice-presidents - and did it very well. (9)
The historic trend has been to sharply dilute the role of productive workers even in vital industries. In food products, for example, the percentage of total employment that is non-production (managerial, supervisory, technical and clerical) rose from 13% in 1933 to 32% in 1970. A similar development took place in the chemical industry, where non-production employees rose from 16% of all employees in 1933 to 37% in 1970. (10) In manufacturing industries as a whole the percentage of non-production employees went up from 18% to 30% in 1950-1980. (11)
When we look at the overall distribution of employed Euro-Amerikans, we see that in 1980 white-collar workers, professionals and managers were 54% - a majority - and service employees an additional 12%. Only 13.5% were ordinary production and transportation workers. That is only 13 out of every 100 employed Euro-Amerikans. By 1982 there were thought to be more Third-World domestic servants in California alone than Euro-Amerikan workers in the entire U.S. steel industry. (12)
2. New Babylon
The observation was made by the Black Liberation Movement during the 1960's that modern Amerika was just "slavery days" on a higher level - in which U.S. imperialism as slavemaster made the entire Third World its plantation and Amerika itself its "Big House." The real economy of the U.S. Empire is not continental but global in its structural dimensions.
The U.S. oppressor nation itself has increasingly specialized into a headquarters society, heavily dependent upon the super profits of looting the entire Third World. This is more than just a matter of dollar transactions. Born out of the slave trade and the conquest of Indian lands, raised up to power through colonial labor, the U.S. oppressor nation has again developed a one-sided dependence, even for its daily necessities, on the labor and resources of the oppressed nations.
The Wall Street Journal said recently: "By last year the U.S. sales to Third Worlds countries had swelled to 39% of its exports, from 29% in 1970." (13) This even understates the relationship. Afrika, for example, ac- counts for 10% of all U.S. export earnings by official statistics. (14) These figures conceal more than they reveal, not including, for example, the profits taken out of Afrika directly and indirectly by the European subsidiaries of U.S. multinationals, not the sale of third-party commodities - such as Saudi oil - by U.S. multinationals. Nor can such figures express the super-profits gained through unequal trade terms. The U.S. and other imperialists purchase from Afrika at bargain basement prices (often only a fraction of what they were 30 years ago) cocoa, coffee beans, iron ore, chromium, coal, mica, nickel, cobalt, copper, manganese, and so on. The basic raw materials of industrial life are taken by U.S. imperialism so cheaply they are the next thing to free.
This economic dependency on the rest of the world was recently admitted by former U.S. Vice President Mondale: "Unless our exports grow, we cannot hope to recover from the recession... More than 20 percent of American industrial output is exported. One out of every six manufacturing jobs is linked to exports; four out of every five created between 1977 and 1980 were export-related. Almost one-third of all corporate profits derive from foreign investment and trade.* Two-fifths of our farmland produces for export..." (15)
*[Many of the largest corporations - such as Ford, GM, Exxon, Citibank, Coca-Cola - obtain over 50% of their profits overseas.]
The most significant trend to us, however, has been the export of capital in the form of production. This is the latest step in moving the work of essential production out of the oppressor nation. In the 1945-1965 period the loyal Euro-Amerikan workers received a mass promotion away from the proletariat, raising the majority of them out of the factories and fields and into the white-collar professional, office, and sales world. Even in its origins this was only possible by replacing them with colonial labor, Afrikan, Puerto Rican, and Chicano-Mexicano.
That early stage, in which the Afrikan proletariat took such a heavy role in industrial production, is now over. In the second stage the Empire is continuing to move productive work out of the oppressor nation. This is accelerating on a global basis now, with factories moving across the Pacific and southward below the Rio Grande. Even within the continental Empire new millions of colonial proletarians are being brought in from Asia, Latin Amerika and the Caribbean to both provide even cheaper industrial and service labor, and to permit the dispossession of Afrikans.
Alarmed at the rising anti-colonial movement of the 1960s, the Empire has been replacing Afrikan workers as rapidly as possible. Images of the past persist. We recall how Afrikan proletarians, at the point of rebellion, were systematically dispersed out of the urban South of the 1830s, and later throughout the 19th century driven out of the industry and skilled trades they had created.
We recall how the early settlers in New England kept Indian women and children as slaves, but disposed of all the Indian men as too dangerous. The N. Y. Times, in reporting new studies on Afrikan unemployment, said:
...in addition to the men counted in the statistics who have no jobs, about 15 to 20 percent of black men aged 20 to 40 could not be found by the Census Bureau and are presumed to have neither jobs nor permanent residences ... more than half of black adult males do not have jobs. (16)
The jobless rate for New Afrikan men in the U.S. is adjusting toward the usual world level, the 40-50% seen in Mexico City or Kinshasha. Thus, the growing integration of the entire Third World into the U.S. economy is increasing national dislocation and misery.
3. The Export of Production
The unoccupied zone of Mexico, just south of the artificial border, provides a clear example. There in 1982 some 128,000 Mexicano women labored in the maquilas, the factories set up by U.S. corporations to assemble parts from the U.S. into finished products, which are then shipped back north across the artificial border. The average wage is less than $1 an hour, with a 48-hour workweek. RCA, Caterpillar Tractor, Ford, Chrysler, American Motors and many other major corporations have maquilas. GM has ten such plants in the unoccupied zone. Foster Grant sunglasses, Samsonite luggage, Mattel toys and many other familiar products come in part out of the maquilas. (17)
The rate of profit is enormous. In 1978 the Mexicano women assemblers and machine-operators in the maquilas added a total of $12.7 billion in value to the products they made for U.S. corporations. At the same time, total wages paid to the then 90,000 workers were less than $336 million (roughly 1/36th of the value they created). These profits of billions of dollars each year never even pass through neo-colonial Mexico, of course. The U.S. oppressor nation receives a flow of inexpensively-produced consumer and industrial goods, U.S. finance capital and the multinationals are aided in shoring up their rate of profits, while a shrinking number of Euro-Amerikan workers are still enabled to receive their necessary high wages.
While everyone understands instantly the unemployment problem caused by corporations moving their factories abroad, there is much less light shed on how some Euro-Amerikan workers benefit from it. To be sure, every trade-union favors full factory employment with $20,000 per year wages (average U.S. wages for manufacturing production workers are slightly above $16,000 per year). Those days are gone forever, the monetary fruits of "boom" economy and monopoly markets. Now, for at least some Euro-Amerikan workers to retain those high-wage jobs (and the bosses to still profitably use U.S. factories with considerable capital invested in them), labor costs have to be "averaged down" by blending in super-exploited colonial labor.
American Motors, for example, says this explicitly: An AMC spokesman said: "We established a strategy to continue to operate U. S. plants, but to expand in Mexico to average our cost downward. "Fisher-Price has five toy factories in the U.S., but its Mexican plant - the smallest - produced the toy tape recorder that was their No. 1 profit-maker in 1982. Reason? Dollar an hour wages.
Or take GM's modernization to compete with imports. Recently General Motors announced a $200 million plan to frankly imitate "Toyota City" (Toyota's primary, highly-integrated complex in Japan). GM hopes that reorganization and robotizing its main Buick plants into a "Buick City" in Flint, Michigan, will let it reduce costs by $1,500 per car. Of course, today's 8,600 Buick workers in Flint will be slashed by 3,600 (40%) by 1986. GM, which even now employs one skilled technician for every 5.6 production workers, hopes for the ratio to be one-to-one by the robotized future of year 2000. Many auto workers will lose their jobs, but a large minority will still have their high-wage positions.
Where does GM get the $200 million to modernize Buick production, to stay competitive (and, incidental to that. still employ high-wage Euro-Amerikan workers)? While GM might say ''retained earnings" or "raising capital on the bond market," we note that the labor costs saved by GM in producing some auto parts for the U.S. in its 10 Mexican plants instead of Detroit, is over $200 million per year. That is not their profits, but their super-profits, above and beyond normal profits, gotten from $1 an hour labor. GM can have renewed factories, and a number of Euro-Amerikan auto workers can still keep their high-wage jobs.
So while the liberals and radicals see high-wage U.S. production and low-wage colonial production as opposed to each other, it is truer that there is an interrelationship and even a dependency. The flashy production of robots and automation, of oppressor nation technicians and workers drawing advanced wages, draws sustenance from the ordinary physical labor and skills of the Mexicano proletariat. "Nations become almost as classes." (18)
The maquilas do not constitute any economic development for Mexico. They are just labor-intensive intrusions of U.S. manufacturing. It isn't just the profits that go to the U.S. oppressor nation. The U.S. receives both the super-profits and the consumer products themselves, while retaining all the white-collar managerial, professional, clerical, technical and distributive jobs made possible by the production. Even in this form - of giving Mexican women employment at wages five times the usual rate in the rural areas - the imperialist looting has a destructive effect on the social fabric. The border maquilas gather women from all over the unoccupied zone, while helping to force jobless men north across the artificial border.
So this export of production is often a Trojan horse to the Third World. Even worse is the parasitic trend of looting the Third World for foodstuffs, shifting agricultural production for U.S. consumption in part to the oppressed nations. The entire imperialist bloc is joining in on this. In 1980 the Far East Economic Review noted that in poor Asian nations "the new export-oriented luxury food agribusiness is undoubtedly the fastest growing agriculture sector. Fruit, vegetables, seafood and poultry are filling European, American and, above all, Japanese supermarket shelves." (19)
In Mexico this has reached grotesque proportions. Within the unoccupied zone the area of Western Sinaloa alone supplies some 50% of all winter vegetables consumed in the U.S. (16) Thousands of peasants have been displaced, driven off traditional lands to make way for the large plantations (and their gunmen) that are neo-colonial agents for the U.S. supermarket chains. The land is Mexican - the labor is Mexicano. Only the profits and consumption are Euro-Amerikan. There is nothing too subtle about this. White Amerika is parasitic on the Mexicano nation, taking food from the starving to help fill up the fabled Amerikan supermarket. A report from Mexico in the New York Times tells the price paid by that oppressed nation for involuntarily maintaining the "American Way of Life:"
Reliable statistics on nutrition levels do not exist, although the 1970 census concluded that 30 percent of the population, then over 60 million, were undernourished, another 30 percent suffered malnutrition and at least 20 percent were obese because of poorly balanced diets...
"The first indicator is when we see infant mortality rising again,'' said Dr. Adolfo Chavez, head of nutrition in the National Nutrition Institute. "In some really depressed rural communities few children born since 1974 have survived. We have what we call generational holes. But infant mortality is also growing in slum areas of the cities ... More than 100,000 children die here each year because of the relationship between malnutrition and transmittable diseases," he said, "and of the two million or so born each year at least 1.5 million will not adequately develop their mental, physical and social functions."
As in many developing countries, agricultural priorities are, first, food for export, second, food for industrial processing, and only third, food for the population at large. While winter vegetables, strawberries, tomatoes and coffee are being produced for export, for ex- ample, the government must import corn and beans. Similarly, according to official figures, more basic grains are consumed for animal forage than by 20 million peasants. (20)
We should note here that the peculiar chemical-mechanized U.S. agriculture is itself highly specialized, primarily oriented around the subsidized mass production of feed grains. Two-thirds of all U.S. agricultural exports are feed grains used in raising livestock. Most of these exports are to the industrial powers - Europe, Japan and the USSR - while much of the $16 billion in foodstuffs the U.S. imports each year is from the Third World. In Mexico the neo-colonial economy imports grain from the U.S. to raise meat for the upper and middle classes, while exporting significant amounts of its own food productivity. (21)
So all over the Third World the oppressed not only supply U.S. imperialism with raw materials, but increasingly labor in both the factories and "the factories in the fields" to send the U.S. a growing stream of consumer and industrial products, and even foodstuffs. The world plantation is still very real in the age of the computer. We say that the first makes the second possible.
4. Hi-Tech & the Third World
This trend now accelerates. As early as 1970 the U.S. electrical equipment industry had one-third of its total workforce outside the U.S. borders. Ford Motor Co., which already takes over 50% of its profits overseas, has announced plans to sharply increase foreign production. Already investing $1 billion each year in foreign plants, Ford's spokesman emphasized: "We plan to spend at an even higher rate ..." Even Hewlett-Packard, the computer giant that is one of the largest California "hi-tech" employers, is building its newest major plants in Mexico and the U.K. Hewlett-Packard has said that its future production growth will be outside the U.S. (22)
Paradoxically, the uproar over the Atari Corporation's decision to close out U.S. production itself verifies this trend. While radicals denounce this move "to shift manufacturing of its video games and home computers from the U.S. to Hong Kong and Taiwan," Atari production has always been in the Third World. Its game cartridges are made in Puerto Rico, its Asian plants were established years ago, and its U.S. production employees primarily Chicano-Mexicano and Asian immigrant women. It was only a question for Atari of which Third World workers to lay off. (23)
Decadence is revealed anew in unexpected ways. Everyone has heard that "hi-tech" is the industrial future. These are the new industries based on sophisticated products that keep rapidly changing, keeping on the "cutting edge of technology," rather than just stamping out standard products year after year. In other words, instead of steel bars and diesel engines, computer chips or biogenetics or robotics. These "hi-tech" industries today, by their very nature, employ one engineer for every 3.6 production workers in the U.S. And there is today a relative shortage of engineers in key specialties. (24)
The U.S. Empire's answer has been to drain engineers from the rest of the world, in particular the Third World (India, Taiwan, Mexico, Palestine, etc.). A recent study funded by the Mellon Foundation reported that "...many graduate engineering programs, even at some of the most prestigious institutions draw 70 percent or more of their students from abroad. 'Several engineering deans,' the report says, 'suggest that without foreign students they would have had to close down their graduate program in the short run and their whole operation ultimately.' Since graduate students are essential labor in university laboratories, much research vital to the national interest would 'grind to a halt,' without foreign students, the report warns." (25)
It turns out that many of the engineering school faculty as well - at some universities close to a majority - are from the Third World. In 1982, for the first time, a majority of the U.S. doctorates awarded in engineering went to foreign students. In testimony before a House of Representatives immigration subcommittee, John Calhoun of the Intel Corporation (advanced electronics) said: "We in the industry have been forced to hire immigrants in order to grow." He said that just considering graduates of U.S. universities, 50% of the master’s degree engineers and 66% of the Ph.D. engineers hired by Intel were foreign immigrants.
The U.S. Empire's absorption of Third World scientists and engineers (the "brain drain") is so significant that last year the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution urging a halt to "reverse transfer of technology" out of the Third World. The U.S. and the other NATO powers voted against it. Even when it comes to high technology, it turns out that part of the U.S. Empire's superiority comes from looting the Third World.
Just as interesting is the question of why aren't there enough Euro-Amerikan engineers? Answer: Engineering doesn't pay well enough for settlers. In 1981 a survey found an average engineering income, according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, of $36,867. This isn't good enough for them. Engineering requires years of study, taking difficult courses in college, and then constant reeducation to keep up with new advances. (26)
The overwhelming majority of U.S. engineers leave the field, primarily for management and entrepreneurial careers. A 1970 survey of 878 M.I.T. engineering graduates found that 726 had left engineering. For Euro-Amerikans, in other words, engineering is primarily a good foundation to become a business executive. While U.S. universities are producing 67,000 engineers per year, the American Electronics Association says that through 1985 there will be an annual shortfall of 20,000 engineers just in its sector.
The shortfall only exists because as many as 50,000 U.S. engineers per year leave the profession. (27) Technical education becomes only a step to swell the numbers of Euro-Amerikan businessmen, while the Third World is drained of educated men and women to do essential parts of the actual technological work for the U.S. Empire. Decadence manifests itself even in the most advanced aspects of the oppressor nation. Babylon with computers is still Babylon.
5. Undocumented Colonial Labor
The growing dependence on undocumented workers just transfers new Third World production inside the borders of the continental Empire. Numbering a minimum of 6 million at this time, these workers are primarily Mexicano, but include Dominicans, Chinese, Haitians, and others from all over the world. Their role in production is by now essential and irreplaceable to the U.S. oppressor nation.
Undocumented workers play both a specific and a general role. In specific they are the proletariat in U.S. agriculture and garment industries. In general they are a mobile, continental labor army, constituting the low-wage, proletarian base in many enterprises, upon which a superstructure of skilled, white collar and management jobs for Euro-Amerikans is erected. Douglas S. Massey of the Princeton University Office of Population Research has noted that: "'Illegal aliens typically work in menial low-paying positions shunned by citizens, who often work in supervisory and administrative positions in the same firms." (28)
Undocumented colonial labor pervades the imperialist economy. Undocumented workers haul in nets on shrimp boats off Texas, repair railroad tracks near Houston, assemble furniture in California factories, unload trucks at a Chicago food-processing plant, trim tree branches away from suburban Illinois electric power lines, clean rooms in Connecticut hotels, sell fast-food in Manhattan, mop floors in corporate offices, and operate canning machines in Florida factories. The undocumented worker drives trucks, puts together electrical goods, slaughters beef, harvests crops, and in general does those necessary jobs at wages too low to sustain the "white" lifestyle.
In supplying the settler society with cheap food and clothing, undocumented workers supply two of the three basic necessities of life, literally feeding and clothing Euro-Amerikans. Even within the continental U.S. it is well-known that effectively all agricultural labor is Third-World. The tractor dealers and mechanics, fertilizer salesmen and county agricultural agents, the farm owners and managers, may all be Euro-Amerikan - but the agricultural laborers in the fields are Afrikan, Puerto Rican or Dominican, and, most of all, Chicano-Mexicano (as is much of the workforce in foods processing). It is hard for a Euro-Amerikan family to have a day's meals without eating the products of immiserated Third-World labor.
This applies, only more so, to clothing. The clothes Euro-Amerikans wear are appropriated from Third-World labor. Los Angeles has become a major garment manufacturing center, with an estimated 100,000 workers. Even by AFL-CIO estimates, some 80% of these workers are Chicano-Mexicano. An absolute majority are undocumented workers. This is a sweatshop industry, with the conditions that Euro-Amerikans left behind them over a generation ago. A 1979 investigation by the California Division of Labor showed that of 1,083 garment manufacturers some 999 - 92% - were paying less than the minimum wage. Some 376 of these manufacturers - 34% - did not have workers' compensation insurance. Many used illegal child labor. (29)
These Chicano-Mexicano workers join the other Third-World garment workers furnishing Amerika with clothes. In New York over a quarter of all garment workers - some 50,000 - work in supposedly-illegal sweatshops. Not only Chinese women (the traditional sweatshop workers in New York), but also Koreans, Haitians, Dominicans, Chicano-Mexicanos, etc.
Undocumented workers make up a growing and perhaps majority part of New York garment workers. It is certainly indicative that over 30% of all International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU-AFL-CIO) members there are undocumented. New York's Department of Labor admits that "in most cases" these workers earn under the minimum wage (union or not), and that their agency had found sweatshops where the Third-World women averaged $1.50 an hour in pay for 50-hour weeks. (Even that is more than the garment workers in Asia and Latin Amerika earn; imports accounted for 41% of clothing sales in the U.S. in 1981.) (31)
Charles B. Keely, immigration policy analyst for the Population Council in New York City, told the Washington Post: "Could the economy continue to function if all the illegal aliens were deported? "Are they really deportable?" he asked. "Would Americans do those jobs?" Some industries, such as agriculture, food services and garment manufacturing are virtually dependent on illegal immigrant labor..." (32) The "Big House" needs the plantation.
As Lenin pointed out: "The class of those who own nothing but do not labor either is incapable of overthrowing the exploiters. Only the proletarian class, which maintains the whole of society, has the power to bring about a successful social revolution." The meaning of this for us is obvious.
1. WILLIAM SERRIN. "The Collapse of Our Industrial Heartland." New York Times Magazine, June 6, 1982.
2. LEONARD BROOM & NORVAL D. GLENN. "The Occupations and Income of Black Americans." In GLENN & BONIEAN. op. cit., p. 24, 41.
3. Daily Worker, January 30, 1953.
4. JOHN HOPE II. Equality of Opportunity. Washington, 1956. p. 10.
5. KEN COCKREL. "Our Thing is DRUM." Detroit. n.d. p. 11: FONER. Organized Labor. p. 421.
6. See: HERBERT HILL. "The ILGWU Today - The Decay of a Labor Union." New Politics. Vol. I, No. 4.
7. Figures derived from comparing number of management and professional employees as given in Wall Street Journal, March 22, 1983, to total employees as given in Standard & Poors Register 1983.
8. New York Times. April 14, 1983.
9. PETER F. DRUCKER. "Squeezing the Firm's Midriff Bulge." Wall Street Journal. March 25, 1983.
10. BUREAU OF THE CENSUS. Historical Statistics of the United States. Part II. Wash., 1975. p. 669.
11. COOK. op. cit.
12. Statistical Abstract p. 400; Comparison derived from: New York Times. March 3, 1983; LARRY REMER. "Organizing Begins at Home." Mother Jones. May 1983.
13. Wall Street Journal. March 28, 1983.
14. Wall Street Journal. March 21, 1983.
15. WALTER F. MONDALE. "The U.S. Can Compete." New York Times. November 8. 1982.
16. New York Times. July 18, 1983.
17. New York Times. July 25, 1982, September 30, 1982.
19. FRANCES MOORE LAPPE. Diet for a Small Planet. N.Y., 1982. p. 63.
20. New York Times. September 9, 1979.
21. New York Times. March 6, 1978.
22. PETER BAIRD & ED MCCAUGHAN. "POWER STRUGGLE: Labor & Imperialism In Mexico's Electrical Industry." NACLA Report. Sept.-Oct. 1977. p. 13; New York Times. March 31, 1983; Business Week. March, 1983. p. 87.
23. Business Week. March 14, 1983. p. 102.
24. Business Week. March 28, 1983.
25. New York Times. March 15, 1983.
26. New York Times. March 27, 1983.
29. DOUGLAS S. MASSEY. "Hordes of 'Illegals'? No." New York Times. May 31, 1979.
29. New York Times. June 3, 1979.
31. New York Times. February 26, 1981; March 27, 1983.
32. Washington Post. July 26, 1982.