The End of Empire

Dismantle oppression. Deepen democracy. Destroy tyranny.

Posts tagged labor

Jan 16

Yesterday and Today: A look at the 1950 film “United Together for Tomorrow”

I have a confession to make: I got a little bit teary-eyed while watching this 1950 Chinese propaganda film. It’s a fairly famous movie in Chinese film history. I’ve translated the title as "United Together for Tomorrow" [团结起来到明天]. Please let me know if there’s an established English name for it, as I haven’t seen one.

The whole film is available online here.

The film is set only a year before it was made, in 1949. The People’s Liberation Army is on their way to liberate Shanghai. There, workers in a yarn factory go on strike in response to their bosses attempts to take their identity card and rig their union election in favor of the ruling Nationalist Party. The Nationalists respond to the strike with a brutal crackdown, while the workers stand together and fight. At one point, some workers decide to stand down an advancing Nationalist tank, and one of them is crushed to death as a result.

Call me a sap, but every time I see that scene, my eyes get a little wet and my throat constricts - it’s a real tearjerker. Her comrades hold her as she dies. The crackdown becomes a rallying point for the workers, and they organize a massive demonstration against the ruling Nationalists and the imperialist exploitation [by the Americans, backing up the Nationalist government]. 

Perhaps what is truly sad is the terrible irony of this story as it may be seen today, now that the CCP has been in power for so many tumultuous decades. In this film from the 1950s, the workers looked to the CCP as their vehicle of liberation, that would soon make them masters of their own labor and their own society. Looking at the events of recent decades, I am not pointing out any secret when I say it won’t be the last time workers’ identification documents have been taken from them, as has happened to so many migrant workers, or that shop floor organizations have been corrupted to serve the ruling party, as has happened all too often with the ACFTU, or even the last time a dissident has stood down stands down a government tank…

I hope you can forgive the terse commentary on the film, but at the same time, I felt that I could not let these things go unsaid.

Here are a few pictures from the film:

Movie poster
 

Great picture of some of the main characters


Workers defiant, as they are asked to give up their identification cards
 


Great photo of strike leader “Big Sister Zhang”, lookin’ hard!
 


Government crackdown on a rally after the violence against the strikers


Jan 14
From a 1950 movie “Unite for Tomorrow” about a 1949 Shanghai strike of textile workers just before the arrival of the People’s Liberation Army.
Propaganda piece, but seriously made me teary-eyed at one point :) 

From a 1950 movie “Unite for Tomorrow” about a 1949 Shanghai strike of textile workers just before the arrival of the People’s Liberation Army.

Propaganda piece, but seriously made me teary-eyed at one point :) 


Jan 6
nice expanded pyramid of capitalism from CrimethInc.
Somebody give me their book "Work" for Christmas 
Ironically, looks like their book had some printing troubles, and the binding of the book comes undone quite easily. Cue multiple puns regarding shoddy ”work” done on a pro-labor group. Wonder who did their publishing…

nice expanded pyramid of capitalism from CrimethInc.

Somebody give me their book "Work" for Christmas 

Ironically, looks like their book had some printing troubles, and the binding of the book comes undone quite easily. Cue multiple puns regarding shoddy ”work” done on a pro-labor group. Wonder who did their publishing…


Dec 16
“LG Electronics guarantees employees’ basic labor rights including freedom to associate and right to negotiate. It is highly praised for its fine labor-management relationship based on the labor union’s fulfillment of social responsibilities and future-oriented Win-Win Labor Relations.”

-LG Corporate Social Responsibility document

Subtext: “We make profits, and give you wages! See!? Win-Win”

I don’t like this game… 


Dec 5

Details of the meeting have emerged after a fire at a Bangladesh factory that made clothes for Wal-Mart and Sears Holdings Corp. killed more than 100 people last month. The blaze has renewed pressure on companies to improve working conditions in Bangladesh, where more than 700 garment workers have died since 2005, according to the International Labor Rights Forum, a Washington-based advocacy group.

At the April 2011 meeting in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, retailers discussed a contractually enforceable memorandum that would require them to pay Bangladesh factories prices high enough to cover costs of safety improvements. Sridevi Kalavakolanu, a Wal-Mart director of ethical sourcing, told attendees the company wouldn’t share the cost, according to Ineke Zeldenrust, international coordinator for the Clean Clothes Campaign, who attended the gathering. Kalavakolanu and her counterpart at Gap reiterated their position in a report folded into the meeting minutes, obtained by Bloomberg News.

“Specifically to the issue of any corrections on electrical and fire safety, we are talking about 4,500 factories, and in most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories,” they said in the document. “It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.”

Wow that is some effed-up cost/benefit analysis. I’m not sure what the correct policy response from the wealthy industrialized countries buying the output is, here. Tariffs on goods produced at factories without safety audits, possibly? Obviously there needs to be something done to fix this system but it’s hard to think of a way of doing so that would be feasible to enforce. (via jakke)

—————

gotta protect ‘dem profits. Of the pie, can’t possibly take a chunk from what the owners and share holders get… That huge chunk is non-negotiable.

sounds to me like global capitalism is not morally “feasible”

(via jakke)


Dec 3
jakke:

Oh hey so right now in the US corporate profits (as a share of GDP; the red line) are at an all-time high while wages (as a share of GDP; the blue line) are at an all-time low. There’s never been this much divergence between returns to labour and capital.
Part of this is probably because the Federal Reserve is trying to stimulate the economy by subsidizing capital at an unprecedented scale. And part of it can probably be attributed to minimum wages being eroded by inflation, especially at the bottom of the scale. But most of what’s going on here is a long-term structural change to the economy driven by changes in technology. As automation improves, workers increatsingly need to compete with machines capable of doing their job better and more cheaply. And the returns from the machines go to the owners (and a relatively small number of technical staff).
Not sure what the right policy response is here. Obviously it wouldn’t make sense to ban automation. But at the same time this is leads to a pretty untenable situation over the long run where almost everyone’s standard of living steadily decreases even as total economic output continues to grow. And it doesn’t really make sense to assume that everyone can end up a wealthy investor or a technician for new automated systems.

Excellent post, and good question on the policy response.
hmmm, let me see…Got it! 
1) ax management
2) workers control of industry*
3) democratic control of the investment of the social surplus
…just a policy fantasy :)
…but seriously, ax ‘em

*sure, I guess people can hire a Harvard grad if they want, to keep the books in the basement or whatever…

jakke:

Oh hey so right now in the US corporate profits (as a share of GDP; the red line) are at an all-time high while wages (as a share of GDP; the blue line) are at an all-time low. There’s never been this much divergence between returns to labour and capital.

Part of this is probably because the Federal Reserve is trying to stimulate the economy by subsidizing capital at an unprecedented scale. And part of it can probably be attributed to minimum wages being eroded by inflation, especially at the bottom of the scale. But most of what’s going on here is a long-term structural change to the economy driven by changes in technology. As automation improves, workers increatsingly need to compete with machines capable of doing their job better and more cheaply. And the returns from the machines go to the owners (and a relatively small number of technical staff).

Not sure what the right policy response is here. Obviously it wouldn’t make sense to ban automation. But at the same time this is leads to a pretty untenable situation over the long run where almost everyone’s standard of living steadily decreases even as total economic output continues to grow. And it doesn’t really make sense to assume that everyone can end up a wealthy investor or a technician for new automated systems.

Excellent post, and good question on the policy response.

hmmm, let me see…
Got it! 

1) ax management

2) workers control of industry*

3) democratic control of the investment of the social surplus

…just a policy fantasy :)

…but seriously, ax ‘em

*sure, I guess people can hire a Harvard grad if they want, to keep the books in the basement or whatever…


Found this while browsing the Book of Faces 
Comments?

Found this while browsing the Book of Faces 

Comments?



Dec 2

Sylvia Pankhurst’s council communist critique of the nationalization strategies of the Communist Party of Ireland.

Food for thought. Let’s get dialectical…

Communism vs. reforms, mistakes of the Communist Party of Ireland - Workers Dreadnought 1922

from “Workers’ Dreadnought”, 1922

COMMUNISM VERSUS REFORMS — MISTAKES OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF IRELAND

The Communist Party Of Ireland , Third International, through its organ, “The Workers’ Republic”, puts forward a programme for an Irish Republic

This programme is not a Communist one: we urge the Irish Communists to withdraw it and put forward a genuine Communist programme in its place.

NON-COMMUNIST PROGRAMME OF THE IRISH C.P. REQUIRING REVISION

(I) Ownership and control of all the heavy industries by the state for the benefit of all the people

Read More


Dec 1

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