Forced Migration and the Logic of Global Capital

In Opinion | Opinyon on November 5, 2008 at 3:20 am

According to the official website of the Global Forum on Migration and
Development (GFMD), demographics suggest that “migration of low-skilled workers is the most likely to reduce poverty” in underdeveloped and/or less-developed countries. The GFMD website further pontificates that the said migration “can also have beneficial social and economic effects” in host countries where these wage-seekers will be employed. This statement by GFMD, one of the biggest conglomeration of labor-accepting capitalist countries and labor-sending neocolonies, is a classic economic “false truism” — one which has been going on for years now since the ascension of imperialist plunderers. This is the ill logic of global capital.

The fact is millions of cheap and docile labor are exported yearly from poor
countries. In the Philippines alone, according to http://www.census.gov.ph, there were
around two million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in 2007. However, according to Migrante International, there are around 10 million OFWs, documented and undocumented by the government. These un-, low- and semi-skilled workers contribute “directly in the production, manufacturing, and services industries” of big capitalist countries. As if to further denigrate migrant workers, the GFMD proponents pride themselves by saying that “low-skilled migrant workers take on the dirty, dangerous, and difficult jobs that nationals of the host country would normally shy away from, thus allowing the latter to take on more skilled and higher-paying jobs.” This shameless erudition of economic and racial hostility is cloaked by labor-sending
neo-colonies such as the Philippines by hailing OFWs as the country’s modern-day heroes (“mga bagong bayani”).

Indeed, OFWs are the “government’s modern-day heroes.” The Arroyo
government harnesses around 62 million pesos monthly from the dollar remittances of OFWs, while monopolistic financial institutions such as large-scale banks pocket as much as one billion dollars. This year, economists and labor groups forecast that the OFWs’ dollar remittances will reach around 17 billion dollars. As of mid 2008, dollar remittance has already reached 9.6 billion dollars. Even Director Iluminada Sicat of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Department of Economic Statistics said that this figure is equivalent to ten percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and is four times as much as foreign direct investments. It is therefore not surprising why the Arroyo government, as well as other labor-exporting countries, promote a
culture of forced migration.

This large-scale forced migration is a product of a long and winding stretch of
oppression by monopoly capitalism and its local reactionary states. According to the GFMD, the “positive impact” of migration for migrants and their families are “economic and social empowerment through greater purchasing power.” It raises the “positive impact” to the national level by saying that “migration can bring much needed foreign exchange reserves and improve the country’s income through direct consumption and investment spending.” Literally, the GFMD posits the perverse universality of neo-liberal globalization – the act of consumption/purchasing is the logic of global capital. The GFMD is nothing but a permutation of the drive for imperialist profit masked as familial and government end.

However, the real conditions of neo-liberal globalization are experienced
everyday by migrant workers and their families. Filipinos are forced to leave this
country and their loved ones because of unemployment and poverty. Filipinos are driven away from their natural habitat by foreign corporations and local feudal lords and bourgeois compradors.

If, at all, this forced migration has a “positive impact,” it would be the
exposition of greed for global profit by monopoly capitalists the world over. And consequently, the alignment of forces and the strengthening of the masses of diasporics, here and abroad, against imperialism and its cohorts.


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