Ford plant closure symptomatic of capitalism's ills, writes World Socialist

Weeks after the last Ford vehicle build in Minnesota rolled off the Highland Park assembly line, the World Socialist Website writes that the plant's closure is symptomatic of the decline of American manufacturing.

The fact that one of the world's leading sources for left-wing news and analysis picked up the St. Paul plant closure story speaks to the significance of Ford ending its century-long manufacturing operation here in the Twin Cities.

The WSWS writes that Ford pursued the St. Paul plant closure because shifting Ranger production to lower-wage countries like Thailand and Brazil is cheaper than paying American workers $18 per-hour to make the trucks.

A five-year employee who didn't give his name is quoted at length in the piece. He says:

I see the plant closing as a disaster for our economy. Most of our people thought they would retire from Ford. Now this plant closes, and they've got to get a new job--if they can find a job. I saw people crying everywhere when that last truck came down the line.

The working class is going to keep plummeting downward if the major manufacturers continue to outsource to make themselves richer. Today, the United States hardly manufactures anything anymore. We survive on imports.

Look at Europe, now. What they are experiencing is what we've already gone through. They are headed in our direction.

Recent reports suggest that many of the 1,800 hourly workers who lose their jobs at the plant between 2006 and last month were unprepared for the plant's closure and remain out of work. On the other hand, 90 percent of the roughly 300 who finished a retraining program offered by the state's dislocated worker program are now gainfully employed just a month after the plant shut down. 

Following in the Marxist tradition, the WSWS believes that to overcome capitalism's 'race to the bottom' tendencies, workers throughout the world must come together and articulate demands that overcome the nation-state system dividing them.

Otherwise, manufacturing work will continue to shift to low-wage countries, with the American economy more-and-more fueled by unproductive financial speculation and unsustainable short-term bubbles.

A mission statement on the WSWS's website reads:

The financial crisis enveloping the entire world economy poses sharply the need for the international unification of working people. Transnational production and global financial markets have changed the face of capitalism forever. In the past two decades the limited social safety nets in the advanced countries have been torn up, while workers have suffered wave after wave of layoffs and an erosion in their real income.

In the less developed countries, national development programs have been cast aside, while free trade zones and other cheap labor schemes have been established to facilitate the unrestrained exploitation of workers. To the extent that the old organizations of the working class-whether they called themselves communist, socialist, or labor-have remained wedded to the nation state, they have proven themselves incapable of responding to this assault on jobs, living standards and basic rights.

Left-wing or not, it's easy to see how the St. Paul Ford plant closure -- and the subsequent relocation of manufacturing work to low-wage countries -- fits into this narrative.

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