With several years of secret negotiations between different corporations and governments from around the world, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has been signed. TTIP represents one of the most insidious and draconian attacks of capital on labour. As it begins to take effect in the signatory countries, it will have the compounded effect of other past treaties such as NAFTA. Its deleterious effect will inexorably present itself in the form of an even larger inequality and gap between the rich and the poor in society.
One of the biggest attacks on the working-class by previous and current neo-liberal governments comes in the form of globalization. Before mid-1970’s the working-class wages and benefits was protected by high tariffs, labour laws, and unions and working-class associations. This was procured through decades of both national and international class struggle. However, globalization through treaties such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) which was signed by the US, Canada and Mexico, companies (for example car companies in the US and Canada) were able to bypass domestic labour laws and take production to places (in Mexico in the case of NAFTA) with non-unionized labour and consequently cheaper work force. Other trade treaties has been taking place in Europe and Asia with similar effects: export of better paying unionized jobs to the South.
Despite NAFTA’s ruinous effects on the working-class (loss of 700 thousand unionized job in the US and spread of poverty for Mexicans), it was packaged as “positive” for the working-class. By attacking unions and working-class associations, capital was successful in lowering its costs via the increasing the exploitation (primary exploitation) during production (lower wages, longer working day and use of more productive machines). Further, by weakening the position of the working-class by weakening and bankrupting unions, the neo-liberal state was also able to increase its secondary exploitation. The secondary exploitation comes in the form of shifting the total cost of the social reproduction of alienated labour (such as the cost of housing, education and healthcare) on to the working-class itself. This was accomplished through neo-liberal laws that continuously reduced the taxes on big business and the rich (which were used to pay for social provisions of the working-class).
Today TTIP is a modern example and an extension of the continued class-war waged against the working-class. A few of the many proposals in TTIP include:
- · Corporations being allowed to sell hormone treated meat in Europe
- · Corporations being allowed to clone cattle, chlorinate chicken, and genetically engineer different foods in Europ
- · Use of fracking in Europe to extract gas from the earth (contaminating the water supply and soil)
- · Allowing for companies to sue the state (held in arbitration courts and not public courts) for loss of profits (in the case of increasing wages or environmental laws that limits profits)
The winners of TTIP are the corporations and banks. TTIP is a modern neo-liberal instrument for capital to further reduce its social cost of production and shift this cost on to the producers of social wealth: the working-class itself. TTIP will allow corporations to accumulate gargantuan profits by circumventing labour and environmental laws that protects working-class wages, benefits and collective bargaining. The working-class, bereft of all its achievements, through decades of class-struggle, will be face to face with the bourgeois in its raw draconian form. This is the bourgeois that can no longer hide behind the shroud of the “democratic” state. The inexorable outcome will be a large shift in the surplus wealth in society. Further, a favourable outcome for the working-class will be predicated on a new kind of revolutionary workers’ party that can respond to this new face of class-struggle in its praxis.