The Free Trade Area of the Americas in the long crisis of Brazilian labour : lessons for building North-South responses to the current crisis

Latimer, Amanda [Speaker] (2011) The Free Trade Area of the Americas in the long crisis of Brazilian labour : lessons for building North-South responses to the current crisis. In: Trade Unions, Free Trade and the Problem of Transnational Solidarity; 02 - 03 Dec 2011, Nottingham, U.K.. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper examines the significance of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) from the point of view of Brazilian workers in the hemispheric movement against the accord. Organized labour’s response to the FTAA in Brazil was shaped by a structural and existential crisis at the end of productive restructuring in the 1990s which resulted, not only from the degradation of work conditions and labour rights, but also a qualitative shift in the composition and enormity of Brazil’s relative surplus population. However, the free trade debate recast this crisis of labour as solution: the “surplus population” was simply redefined in terms of Brazil’s relative advantage in “cheap labour” and thus, as a crucial component of the exit strategy to a regional crisis of accumulation. However, the specific role of Southern low wage labour in global accumulation strategies also became sidelined in popular – and even Marxist – theories of “globalization;” particularly those which posit a general commensurability between the structural position of workforces of the North and South respectively in the global economy. While not new, this position effectively guts the possibility of an honest foundation on which to build a new international of working class solidarity. This paper examines the response of Brazilian workers to the FTAA in light of the analysis of the role of the surplus population in buttressing unequal terms of trade in earlier periods of Brazilian dependent development, as discussed by the Brazilian dependency theorist Ruy Mauro Marini. It then examines the play of tensions between the “general and particular” in the North-South alliance of workers and movements mobilized against the FTAA, in which activists were increasingly forced to reckon with the suggestion that, “If North America is a laboratory of free trade, Latin America is a laboratory of superexploitation.”

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Event Title: Trade Unions, Free Trade and the Problem of Transnational Solidarity
Organising Body: Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, University of Nottingham
Research Area: Anthropology
Politics and international studies
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (until 2017) > School of Social Science (until November 2012)
Depositing User: Amanda Latimer
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2017 11:12
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2017 16:49
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/37623

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