Anarcho-Syndicalism in Haiti

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woundedhobo
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Mar 25 2004 23:57
Anarcho-Syndicalism in Haiti

Would anarcho-syndicalism or any other anarchist economic idea have much relavence for Haiti?

Even if all the wealth of the country was shared equally, that would mean everyone would be equally hungry. And what is there to collectivize? According to the CIA, which has worked hard to install capitalist puppets there, the result is about 2/3rds of the labor force being unemployed, and about 2/3rds of the population lucky enough to be working, is doing so in agriculture, often in the subsistence variety(1).

Clearly, if we are to be concerned about poverty, an economic development strategy is needed. Obviously the neo-liberal recipe of abolishing economic independence and social security in favor of a cheap export market hasn't worked to lift the Haitian people out of poverty. Quite the opposite in fact as 20+ years has shown.

So what is the alternative? Since starting a business requires cash, capital, collateral, credit (none of which is very abundant in Haiti), how are the peasant farmers there to compete with cheap, subsidized, monocultured foods being pumped into the country by US multi-nationals? They can't. That's why the U.S. wanted access to their markets in the first place. They know that in pure capitalism it's usually the big capitalists that have the smaller ones for lunch.

And besides the low wages of Haiti, why should a factory even relocate to a country where there isn't the necessary infrastructure, or even a hardware store to buy materials to build and maintain a factory? All of that and $3/day labor can be found right next door in Mexico.

In order to industrialize, Haiti would be well served to scrap the IMF script which has no success story to boast of, and go with another model that limits competition and protects infant industries(3), just as the US did for itself when it was at a disadvantage in the market. By placing tarrifs on food products coming into Haiti, farmers can once again be in business, selling their food for a better price. By creating an economic union, perhaps with Venezuela, and tax imports coming into the zone but not goods produced within the boundaries, corporations would have an incentive to locate regional production centres there so as to have access to the regional market. This is how Brazil diversified (and strengthened )its economy, got its first automobile factory and other high wage industries. Before, as a banana republic, it would go into economic crisis any time the prices of its 1 or 2 comparative advantage commodities dropped in price on world markets. And since they were in the food market, crisis was frequent.

To implement all these reforms would require a state, a bureaucracy, and would probably entail corruption, even if every economic policy was decided by direct referendum after thorough public discussion via decentralized, worker run media. Yeah, the Haitian people don't need to hear about the problem of politicians. In 1990 80% of voters went to the polls. In 1997, after the co-optation of a social justice candidate (Aristide) by the CIA, IMF, etcetera, only 5% bothered to vote for new Senators(2).

But what else can they do? Clearly anarchism doesn't have all the answers for peasants and workers in the third world.

red n black star :red:

(1) http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ha.html

(2) http://www.zmag.org/ZMag/articles/june97james.htm

(3) http://tiss.zdv.uni-tuebingen.de/webroot/sp/barrios/themeA3c.html

brizzul
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Mar 26 2004 01:29

Anarchism has all the answers both here and in the third world. What is there to collectivise? The land! - the single most important thing for all peasants everywhere. If the free commune of Haiti can no longer support all it's people then surely they can migrate to the free commune of Brazil or the free commune of Texas.

Capitalism *always* hives off something from the wealth of every country and smuggles it into the pockets of the rich. If only one penny or one loaf of bread goes to a capitalist it is one loaf or penny too much!

woundedhobo
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Mar 26 2004 16:16

Brizzul, Thanks for the response, but it seems that your answer is pretty

glib. For one, the article is about how a third world nation should develop now. Right now there is no free commune in Brazil or Texas to run to.

Right now there are 7.5 million people in Haiti*. That means 5.4 people

get one acre of land:

7.5 million people

20% of the 27,560 square kilometres of land is arable=5600 square kilometres of land, 247 acres in a square kilometre =

5.4 people per acre.

For comparison sake, some radical Republicans in the U.S. advocated that every free slave be given 40 acres and a mule so that he would have the means to be independent of any master, or "wage slavery" as they used to call it.

So even if all the arable land was allotted to intensive agriculture, everyone would still be hungry. And I doubt that fishing would provide a sustainable source of food to make up for the nutrition deficit of 7.5 million people. Since the anarchs would spend all their time trying to eat, there would be no energy or resources left for housing, clothes, medicine, schools....Basically, capitalist robbery is not the only problem of the materially poor.

*The numbers above come from the CIA World Factbook linked in the original article.

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cantdocartwheels
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Joined: 15-03-04
Mar 26 2004 17:08

eh?

Scarcity makes anarchism harder to be realised but Capitalism makes scarcity far harder for the working class to bear

Of course there are other problems to do with scarcity of certain resources but unless you get rid of capitalism you aren't going anywahere towards solving them.

peace

john

murat
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Mar 26 2004 17:38

Woundedhobo:

1. I would dispute the central assertion that Haiti is over-populated and insufficiently capable of developing further industrial production

from a book called Globalisation in the Carribean context but I can't remember all the facts

2. The small anarch-region in hostile world dilemma (small region sustainability problem)

"So even if all the arable land was allotted to intensive agriculture, everyone would still be hungry. And I doubt that fishing would provide a sustainable source of food to make up for the nutrition deficit of 7.5 million people. Since the anarchs would spend all their time trying to eat, there would be no energy or resources left for housing, clothes, medicine, schools"

Anarchistic organisation is a broad church- but essentialy communalised prodution and consumption are more responsive to the needs of all individuls as expressed in a neighourhood (then city) production councils on colloquium basis

Harry Cleaver, Michael Albert and Toni Negri all stress the importance of consumption councils (and transport councils etc...) www.parecon.org for Albert

Where there is insufficient land on an island economy for self-sufficient agricultural production federation with other producers of agriculture is required.

You suggest Venezuela under Chavez- why not? I do not see why this would not be a consensus decision.

As you rightly suggest tariff-barriered production is required.

And this is perfectly achievable within anarchistic balanced job complex workers councils

You say:

"By placing tarrifs on food products coming into Haiti, farmers can once again be in business, selling their food for a better"

But in some sort of anarchistic operation food produced in Haiti will not need to be sold for a higher price- independent farmers seeking highest domestic or international market price not required

"these reforms would require a state, a bureaucracy, and would probably entail corruption, even if every economic policy was decided by direct referendum after thorough public discussion via decentralized, worker run media"

Not if an instant recall "minarchical" approach was taken to beaurocracy and political-decision makers who display not policy as we know it in chamber democracy (ie promises to some of geting more (a majority in theory at least discounting systems +media effects) than others (a minority)) but cv of commitmnt to people and integrity. As long as consumption is basically equal, conspicuous consumption stands out a mile and corruption is thus theoretically to be weeded out by instant recall.

I agree with Mooray Bookchin who asserts that the excess resources of hand mind and nature saved from anarchistic production in the developed countries must be redistributed to the developing countries

ie post-scarcity anarchism starts in post-scarcity geographical areas.

woundedhobo
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Mar 27 2004 16:30
Quote:
1. I would dispute the central assertion that Haiti is over-populated and insufficiently capable of developing further industrial production

from a book called Globalisation in the Carribean context but I can't remember all the facts

Well, from an ecological point of view I would say it and the rest of the earth is currently overpopulated with humans, given the average quantity and quality of consumption/production.

However, from an economic point of view, 5.4 people per acre doesn't necessarily mean a problem. I'm sure Hong Kong has a few hundred people per acre, and they are relatively prosperous on average.

Quote:
Anarchistic organisation is a broad church- but essentialy communalised prodution and consumption are more responsive to the needs of all individuls as expressed in a neighourhood (then city) production councils on colloquium basis

Harry Cleaver, Michael Albert and Toni Negri all stress the importance of consumption councils (and transport councils etc...) www.parecon.org for Albert

Well I share your desire to try and make sure everyone is fed, albeit with a welfare system, perhaps financed by the tariffs collected on imported goods, not by abolishing money and turning every decision on what vegetables to grow, how to distribute them fairly, how much toilet paper to produce etcetera in endless national consensus-majority vote meetings, referendums. Municipal Workers councils should be able to attain basic control over the market economy by more simply shutting down collectives that voters don't feel are serving their social purpose...

But anyways, many anarchists here and elsewhere point out how workers will have a better standard of living when the pie is shared more evenly. Perhaps that is true, provided that production doesn't go into deep decline. Yet in Haiti sharing the pie evenly means people would get 1 or 2 bites a day. How do we go from that level of subsistence to everyone getting a whole slice? In a capitalist, socialist or communist economy you need to save some of your money/resources and invest in capital (usually a machine) that will bring you more money/resources with the same level of effort. Admittedly the act of saving anything is difficult or impossible when you are going hungry... Still, there is no other way to develop.

And in order to develop there will need to be businesses. In order to keep those infant industries alive, they will need to be protected from predatory multi-nationals and their cheaper goods coming into the country. All I can say is that whichever bureaucrats are elected to simply collect the tarriffs and turn them over to the councils for decisions on what to buy, will inevitably pocket some of that money for themselves, all the more likely if he is starving like everyone else, even if he could be thrown from office by an instant recall. To make matters worse, what is the problem with being fired by the people affected? The ex-bureaucrat always has the socialist soup kitchen available to all....