Free the Market and Your Ass Will Follow

The Stop the FTAA mobilization is the second part of the Jobs With Justice Season of Struggle. The Season of Struggle ties three mass mobilizations together in a way that, we feel, draws a complete picture of the oppression of workers world wide.

Jobs with Justice wanted to put a heavy organizing focus on the crisis facing immigrant workers in this country. This is a situation that has always been grave in our nation, no less so today. For this, we decided that the Immigrant Workers' Freedom Ride was something we would put our energy into. But, it was obvious that the Immigrant Workers' Freedom Ride only addressed one small part of the problem faced by these workers. The Immigrant Workers' Freedom Ride only addressed the "road to citizenship." The 600-800 Philadelphians that went to this mass rally in NY or took part in the many events here in town, know only too well that the legal obstacles in the road to citizenship is only the midway point in the vast desert expanse between hardship and fairness. The problems the immigrants that we organized with face are rooted elsewhere.

The Stop the FTAA mobilization, of course, squares off with the corporate global elite and their government backers that are driving this process of globalization.

"Globalization" Now, there is a term filled with irony. Globalization, of course means the new arrangement of power in the hands of for profit entities. But, on its surface, globalization sounds almost like a good thing. I wish my neighborhood was more globalized, right? It sounds like a very multicultural kind of thing. In a way it sort of is. For years people demanded that corporations hire more minorities and for years they fought it claiming that they couldn't find enough qualified minority candidates. Apparently, in some fit of old, white, male guilt, the president/CEO of Nike has opened up special factories that only hire teenaged, Indonesian women to make his shoes…ah, progress.

Globalization, also reminds me of the New Left slogan: "Think globally, act locally." Such a forward thinking sentiment! It acknowledges our interconnectedness with the whole world and announces our duty as freedom fighters. The revised mantra, however, turns this sentiment on its head. In this era, where a small cabal of wealthy power brokers, trade lives, hopes and dreams across continents on a whim, the new axiom has become, "Act globally, think locally." The thrust being, "Search globally for markets and resources, act to localize as much profit and global resources into your own pockets as possible." Ironic isn't it.

That's not where the irony ends, though. They say that the globalization is the fantastic offspring of the wealth of nations, the birth child of the old dead white guy, Adam Smith. Globalization is the invisible-hand, the free market all grown up, drunk on a bottle of kiwi flavored Mad Dog 20-20 and driving his Abrahms attack vehicle at speed down the newly paved information super highway. If G.W. has a pick-up truck back on his ranch in Waco, Texas it should have one bumper sticker on it, and that bumper sticker should say, "Free your markets and your ass will follow."

George Bush recently stated that a side benefit of the FTAA is that "people who operate in more open economies eventually demand open societies." Yet, few things are as ironic as the results of a decade of free market fundamentalism once it is examined more closely. The rhetoric hardly matches the reality of this brand of Stalinesque, free-market, dogma where freedom of markets equals, formerly well paid US union workers forced out of sheer need to swallow the religious message of the Bush faith-based initiative just to visit the food bank. The freedom of markets looks like the massacre of U'wa Indians to remove them from their ancestral lands on behalf of Occidental Oil Company. The freedom of markets looks like millions of US workers sitting through forced and captive audience meetings at work to hear the employer threaten their participation in a democratic collective bargaining unit. The freedom of markets looks like $8 million dollars worth of batons, tear gas canisters and rubber bullets in Miami. This freedom is to democracy as shallow, unmarked graves are to unionists from Columbian Coca Cola plants. Welcome to the new freedom, the irony is so powerful that now it is sour.

If I could, I would like to quickly return to the Season of Struggle. The Season of Struggle culminates on December 10. Jobs with Justice will highlight the final issue which is this: we have not viewed our right to organize in our community, at our school and on the job as a fundamental human right in this country since the passage of the International Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The right to organize is as elementary a human right as the right to practice your religion or your rights to free speech. NO, in fact, your right to resist is as basic as your right to exist, and that is what D10 is all about. Jobs with Justice plans to hold our biggest Workers' Rights Board ever. The Workers' Rights hearing will be at the Arch Street Friends meeting house on 3rd and Arch Street, from 4-6 on December 10, International Human Rights Day. I hope to have your support and see you there. Also, please sign the VOTE NO on the FTAA ballots that are going through the crowd.

Thank you for your time.

- Fabricio M. Rodriguez works as the Executive Director of Jobs With Justice in Philadelphia. He can be reached at

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