by John Spritzler

May 31, 2006


Is it in our "national interest" for the United States to wage a "war on terror?" What immigration policy best serves our "national interest?" Framing questions this way seems neutral and uncontroversial. We’re all Americans, after all, and so we should at least agree that whatever serves our "national interest" is good and whatever harms it is bad.

But there is no such thing as our "national interest." Working class Americans have interests and values that conflict with the interests and values of America’s very wealthy and powerful families. What benefits one typically harms the other: High unemployment. Job insecurity. Low wages. Reduced benefits. Job loss due to automation or out-sourcing or massive downsizing. These and many other similar things are hell for ordinary Americans but great news for the Wall Street crowd. Why are these problems good news for the Wall Street crowd? They are good news because whatever makes working people more insecure and divided against each other makes it that much easier for the upper class to control them and make greater profits off of their labor.

The corporate and government elite have a big problem. Their power and privileges are hard to maintain. Why? Because most people want society to be far more equal and democratic, and they keep trying to make it so in one way or another. From the point of view of the elite, it is a problem when working people feel secure, because then they develop the confidence to challenge the inequality and lack of democracy in society. Much better, from the elite’s point of view, if workers are scared to death of rocking the boat for fear of losing their jobs to outsourcing or illegal immigrants or automation. Much better if workers are resentful and angry at each other and hence unable to act in solidarity. All of the problems that make working people insecure and divided are, from the point of view of the elite, not problems to be solved but rather solutions to their problem of retaining social control.

Our wealthy and privileged elite aren’t trying to protect the "national interest" by solving our problems. They’re deliberately creating our problems to keep us under their control. The only real solution to our problems is revolution.

Take immigration, for example. For the American upper class, illegal immigration is not a problem; it is a solution to their problem of how to weaken and control American working people. Our government and corporate leaders, in collaboration with their counterparts in Mexico, imposed measures in Mexico designed to force peasants off the land and make them migrate to the United States illegally.

"National interest" is a misleading and manipulative term even in the realm of foreign policy. Working people in America and in foreign nations want the same thing: a more equal and democratic and peaceful world, where ordinary people can make a decent life for their families and not live in fear or insecurity. But upper classes want the opposite: a world of extreme inequality where a privileged few rule over the masses in every country in the world, where people work for low wages under terrible conditions because of fear and economic insecurity, and where war or the threat of war is used as a means of Orwellian social control. Terror attacks like 9/11 are a problem for ordinary people, but for the upper class they are a solution to the problem of getting Americans to accept the need for a "war on terror" so that the elite can use that war as a pretext to make us obey them, while they enrich themselves and take away our few remaining freedoms, all in the name of "national security."

Behind the elite rhetoric of "national interest" lies the reality of class. Working people in the U.S. and Mexico and everywhere else share the same class interests and class goals. Only by looking to our shared class goals and interests can we solve our problems.


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