15 April 2013 — Organizing Upgrade
Just before the historic 2012 US presidential election, Rishi Awatramani interviewed long-time labor activist and scholar Sam Gindin to find out what his new book, The Making of Global Capitalism, has to say to social movement activists about this current political moment, the nature of global capitalism, and the possibility for a future beyond capitalism. This is part one of a two part interview with Sam Gindin. Stay tuned for part two next month!
Gindin spent most of his working life as the research director and then Assistant to the President of the Canadian Auto Workers. In 2000, Gindin retired from the CAW, and joined the faculty of York University, where he continues to teach. Amongst his many written works, he is a frequent contributor to Canadian Dimension, The Bullet, Alternatives, and other journals. In addition, Gindin has published In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives (with Leo Panitch and Greg Albo), and a biography of the CAW entitled, The Canadian Auto Workers: Birth and Transformation of a Union.
Sam is the Packer Chair in Social Justice at York University. He and frequent collaborator Leo Panitch recently published their latest book, The Making of Global Capitalism. The book shows the intimate relationship between global capitalism and the US state, and explains where possibilities exist for social movements to emerge and transform capitalism.
Some highlights from the interview:
0:57: There is a structural tendency in capitalism to go global, and Marx emphasized that back in 1848, but it doesn’t mean that they can actually achieve it. ….[But] it looked, getting through the second world war, it looked like that it wasn’t possible….So the question is, what made it possible? The intervention of the American State. … The American State created a new kind of empire. …A state that said, “We want to dismantle Empires, and have a world of allow sovereign states, but that the world be would open to capital accumulation.” And that is a unique kind of Empire. That had never been built before. Some people think global companies by-pass states….In fact, global companies depend on more states. They depend on many states. Some people think that states are victims of globalization but when you study it you see that they are actually the authors of it. They have been doing the active things to make globalization.
3:07: The unmaking of global capitalism is going to require addressing the state. Not just protest, not just lobbying, but thinking about how do we transform the state? Because the kinds of states that we have, although they have a certain autonomy from capital….its only relative. It is always dependent on corporations – for jobs, for revenue – so its always limited by capital. It’s a capitalist state. All of its capacities are developed for the purpose of strengthening capitalism and strengthening the system and if we are going to change things we have to think of transforming the state….You have to think about, how do we take state power and then invent the kind of state that can help you, collectively, to democratize society.
25:18: One of the mistakes we make is, our rhetoric is full of how they’re attacking us. And if they were just attacking us, it would just be a question of, “OK, we hate them, let’s fight back.” But its also that we’ve been integrated. A lot of working people have been part of reproducing neoliberalism. They have learned out of necessity, because they want to survive, how to play the game as an individual – “I want my tax break.” Or even as a union: “I want to protect my members.”…25:01 — Because once you really accept the logic of competition, it is pitting you against other workers, and uniting you with your boss. And its accepting all kinds of other policies – protectionism, racism, all kinds of things.