The Anarchy Gauntlet is a column attempting to move away from my more traditional Marxist-themed articles to a framework centered around anarchism, which better reflects my beliefs. Anarchism advocates for the end to unjustified hierarchies, from boss-worker relations to even parent-child dynamics as we know them. Anarchists believe in the same post-capitalism, communist society as other far-left groups but differs in the practice and means of achieving that society. These ideas of anarchism will be inherent throughout these articles.
A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the conflict between white supremacy and anarchism and how this conflict manifests in Black liberation and Indigenous sovereignty. The U.S. nation-state is built on white supremacy, and so, the anarchist aim to smash the state is in line with defeating white supremacy itself.
I also mentioned that white supremacy has global implications as well. So, how does white supremacy take root across the globe, and what does anarchism have to say about it? Let’s find out.
With the onset of the industrial revolution and subsequent developments like colonialism, slavery, global imperialism and globalization, the world is increasingly connected — economically, socially, culturally and linguistically. Rather than tackling all those big ideas, though, I want to focus on globalization in recent history.
As the late David Graeber defined it, an anarchist globalization is “the effacement of borders and the free movement of people, possessions and ideas.” This stems from the anarchist principles of autonomy and disavowal of nation-states and their respective borders.
Humans all live on the same planet and share a common global environment, so why would we arbitrarily draw lines to restrict cooperation and freedom of movement? Of course, this isn’t how globalization actually plays out in today’s world, and that’s exactly the problem.
Global institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization facilitate the liberalization —the opening up — of markets in the Global South to corporate investment from the Global North via Free Trade Agreements (FTA).
FTAs relax environmental, labor and trade regulations for wealthy corporations to exploit a country’s economy for profit. One example of this is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico in 1994. NAFTA allowed U.S. agribusiness to sell grains in Mexican markets below their production costs, effectively driving Mexican farmers into poverty.
There is no way for Mexican peasant farmers cultivating crops off of ejido land to compete with million-dollar corporations who can bear the brunt of losing profit to undercut their competitors.
This process is a large factor leading to Mexican immigration across the border out of economic necessity.
This is but one example in a slew of Latin American immigration induced by poverty, regime change, war, neoliberalism and climate change. Immigration makes sense; humans have done it for thousands of years, moving from place to place when conditions become hostile. The problem arises when an international order of nation-states imposes imaginary lines to restrict that immigration.
The U.S. has militarized the U.S.-Mexico border, but let’s not forget the fact that the Chihuahuan Desert is also used as a means of deterrence, a tactic that endangers immigrants’ lives every day. Sticking with the example of NAFTA, peasant farmers who once managed ejido land in Mexico often journey back and forth across the border in concert with the U.S. agribusiness seasons. So, for farmworkers, it’s not just a one-time event.
There are several points in time and space at which a Mexican farmworker’s life is at stake during the seasonal border crossings. Xenophobic and racist policies aside, the U.S.-Mexico border complex brings immense profit to U.S. agribusiness. Having such a vulnerable labor force allows industrial agriculture to pay bare minimum wages, below minimum wage, in fact, and to subject farmworkers to absolutely inhumane and filthy working conditions.
Farmworkers often have no bargaining or organizing rights as workers, either because of the threat of deportation, imprisonment or even murder. Not only does this grant agribusiness the sustenance of immense profit, it allows those corporations to fire U.S. workers who do have the privilege of citizenship and bargaining rights.
Hence, this process hurts workers on both sides of the border. This sounds grim, but that’s the reality of the twin dragons of capitalism and the nation-state.
Returning to the anarchist idea of globalization: “The effacement of borders and the free movement of people, possessions and ideas.” The real solution to our problems of economic exploitation is not racism or xenophobia.
It is to destroy the follies of nationalism and ethnocentrism, to smash the state and its capitalist enterprises. We must establish an international solidarity with our fellow human beings and workers of the world.
Only when we realize that we all have more commonalities than differences, when we embrace each other and each other’s differences, can we move forward as a species in solidarity.
Not only do borders obstruct the future of humanity, they actively erode the livelihoods of the Earth’s people, including Mexican farmworkers and U.S. workers. Globalization should liberate people, not trap them within the borders of nation-states and under the exploitation of freely moving, international corporations.
If you have comments, questions or concerns that you would like to express, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org