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September 03, 2007

Things I Didn't Know: Labor Day Edition

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

Matthew Harwood's April 2005 article in the Washington Monthly on the anti-labor bias of the CPA in Iraq gives us this exciting historical tidbit:

After the Japanese surrender in World War II, the country's newly-appointed premier knocked on the door of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and was greeted with a memorandum outlining the framework for Japan's democratization. First on the list was the "emancipation of the women of Japan through their enfranchisement." Second was "the encouragement of the unionization of Labor."

Kevin mentions the contrasting story about how the CPA, staffed by Republican ideologues who were trying to turn Iraq into a conservative utopia with flat taxes and privatization, regarded the labor movement as an enemy.  Even as everything else was overturned, Saddam-era prohibitions on union activity were maintained.  A strong union movement -- one of the political forces best equipped to make sure that the government is responsive to the economic needs of the people -- was never allowed to form. 

September 3, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

Of course, Japanese unions saw the sharp end of the stick in just a few years.

Posted by: Meh | Sep 3, 2007 2:48:07 PM

I think this fits into the category of what have we learned from history.

Sings: "I don't know much about His stor y"

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Sep 3, 2007 2:55:26 PM

Meh has that right, within a few years the occupation authorities were letting right-wing war crims out of jail and allying with the Yakuza to keep the unions down.

Posted by: d | Sep 3, 2007 5:37:52 PM

Meh has that right, within a few years the occupation authorities were letting right-wing war crims out of jail and allying with the Yakuza to keep the unions down.

True, but Neil's point was that when America occupied Japan, we promoted increased rights and freedoms for women and all workers.

In Iraq, of course, the CPA was full of people who so hated unions that they embraced some of Saddam's own anti-union regulations, while restrictions on women's rights have been intentionally ignored or sold as a worthwhile price to pay for the sake of Iraq being "liberated."

Posted by: Stephen | Sep 3, 2007 5:45:12 PM

I'm pro-labor in principle, so maybe I'm just looking through bread-and-roses colored glasses, but it seems to me that promoting worker organization would have served an important strategic purpose. That is, it would have promoted mass membership organizations which were inherently secular rather than sectarian.

Posted by: dr | Sep 4, 2007 8:08:40 AM

Dr,
Your point is too sensible to ever be considered by the US foreign policy clerisy. I mean, someone at AEI might write a nasty op/ed against the idea!

Posted by: Northern Observer | Sep 4, 2007 10:28:02 AM

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