From The Final Straw Radio.
I’m on a complete communications blackout, so I have access to very limited news brought to me mostly by Walt Disney News Corporation, designed to keep all of us hypnotized and under control. But, I’ve heard bits and pieces about some events that involve McDonalds’ workers and Alabama prisoners. I don’t know the details of those situations, but why should that stop me?
I think what’s transpiring with regard to McDonalds’ workers and Alabama prisoners is monumental and signals the beginning of something big. Here’s why:
In the 1990s, large corporations took advantage of international trade deals, moving jobs to locations that gave them greater advantages. They shipped U.S. jobs to Mexico, then Mexican jobs to India, then Indian jobs to China. It was a “race to the bottom.” In fact, today, manufacturing jobs aren’t located in any one country but are, instead, in a state of constant migration. There’s now such a large pool of unemployed and desperate people in the U.S. that those jobs are circling back around on a second tour, returning at sweatshop wages. All of this was driven by a larger corporate strategy, of course, as corporations amassed more wealth that translated as more power, and the rest of us were left powerless and sleeping in our cars… if we were lucky to have a car. The corporations now hold everyone hostage, making outrageous demands for tax breaks and for subsidies, for workers to take pay cuts and give up benefits… or they’ll pack up and leave for greener pastures.
The problem those corporations now confront in the model of McDonalds workers and Alabama prisoners isn’t a consequence of the corporations’ failure to carry out their strategy, but their problem is more a consequence of its success. In the U.S., there’s virtually nothing left but service industry jobs and prisoner slave labor.
So, look. Sure, a handful of service industry jobs can be outsourced. A call center in India can book airline and hotel reservations. But sweatshop workers in Cambodia can’t hand you a burger through the drive-thru window in Milwaukee. It just can’t happen.
A majority of service industry jobs are geographically localized, the service industry worker delivers a product to a consumer where the consumer lives. So, these same global corporations that outsource jobs all over the world are firmly chained in place where the product reaches the consumer. And that means companies like McDonalds and WalMart and others can’t run for the border to avoid paying service industry workers.
If McDonalds wants a worker to ask you if you want fries with that, they’d better dig deeper into their pocket and pay someone in your area to talk to you through the drive-thru speaker. The call-center employees can’t get here.
So, the same general scenario with a slightly different cast: states have balanced budgets and cut costs for decades by relying on prisoners to cook food and mop floors and keep the prison system operating. This slave exploitation has been taken for granted. While I’m not sure what’s developed in Alabama, I can tell you that prison administrators everywhere face the potential of the same general dilemma as their corporate counterparts. If their prisoner populations freeze up and refuse to keep the prison system going, wardens can’t fire their prisoners and replace them with peasants from China. Prison administrators are stuck with the prisoners they have, not the prisoners they wish they had.
It appears McDonalds workers and Alabama prisoners are discovering the same truth: the wealthy exploiters in suits and ties with their briefcases don’t really call the shots. Without McDonalds workers, the burgers don’t reach the customers. Without prisoners, the Alabama state budget goes down the toilet.
So it seems that in this brave new world, there’s new fertile ground for unionizing. The old dinosaur we call anarcho-syndicalism is back, a vision of the future brought to you by a blast from the past.
So, along with continuing insurrections that will lead to future communes, as well as ongoing campaigns of sabotage, workers and prisoners are playing a vital role in grinding this capitalist death machine to a halt.
There’s no wrong way to resist.
This is anarchist prisoner Sean Swain from somewhere in the American torture complex. If you’re striking, you ARE the resistance…
* * *