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THE THREAT OF THE MULTINATIONALS

By STEVE BRADY

FIVE HUNDRED multinational corporations, many of them linked together by reciprocal shareholdings and shadowy 'holding companies', control over half of the World's trade. This vast concentration of economic power threatens Britain's economic, national and racial future. It enables the multinationals to extort exorbitant prices for vital import commodities, to undercut British workers in manufactured goods we can produce here, to cheat our country of taxes, and to swamp our land with cheap Coloured labour.

The extent of multinational control, especially of tropical crops we import to this country is enormous. For example: 15 multinationals own 85% of the cotton traded in the World; 5 own 75% of World's cocoa crop; 6 control 85% of global tobacco sales. Over two thirds of the World's supply of agricultural fertilizer comes from sixteen multinationals, and over three-quarters of the global agricultural machinery is sold by just three.

VAST PROFITS

The situation in the cotton industry illustrates how the multinationals squeeze vast profits out of rackets for which we, the British consumers, have to pay in higher prices. The people who actually grow the cotton get little of the money for it ― of the cash you pay for a pair of jeans, only 6% goes to the plantation owner. But the multinationals grab a staggering 42% of your money in profit! Much of the profit comes from rackets like the futures market: the 15 cotton multinationals don't buy and sell the actual cotton but 'futures' ― contracts to deliver the cotton at some time in the future. This enables them to sell the same bale of cotton over and over again. For example, in a typical year, 1975-76, four thousand million U.S. dollars' worth of Western cotton was actually grown, but 24,445 thousand million U.S. dollars' worth of futures in the same crop were traded. So each bale of cotton was sold by its multinational owners at least six times. And each sale of the same bale clocks up more profit for the multinationals.

In addition, the 15 multinationals controlling the cotton trade make sure that its price fluctuates between 40 cents and one American dollar a pound as required, realizing even further huge profits by speculation, again without actually producing more of the goods involved.

TAX-DODGERS

Antics like these earn profits for the multinationals greater than the gross national products of most of the World's countries. But their subsidiaries in Britain and other Western countries pay very little of these ill-gotten gains in tax to their hosts. They dodge our taxes by making sure that their subsidiaries in low-tax countries register nearly all the profits made by the multinational as a whole whilst British and other high-tax-country subsidiaries 'manage' to make hardly any profit, or even a loss, and so are not liable for much tax. In effect, the international plutocrats shift their lolly from one hand within the reach of the Western taxman to the other, out of that reach. Our example, the fifteen cotton multinationals, fiddled their way out of an estimated £250 million in tax in the late 1970's in this way.

But it is in the field of manufactured goods that the multinationals hit the British worker hardest. For, unlike national firms tied to their home country, multinationals can move their assembly plants, and hence jobs, wherever labour is cheapest and conditions most profitable. Then they can use that cheap labour to undercut our workers, flooding our home market with cheap goods and putting our competing plants on the dole.

DIRT-CHEAP

This is just what is happening. More and more of the routine assembly work in industries like electronics is being done in 'Free Trade Zones' provided by coffee-coloured 'Third World' countries in the Far East, Latin America, Asia and Africa. These 'Zones' provide incentives and low taxes to multinationals setting up plants there provided they export all they produce. They also provide a dirt-cheap, mainly female workforce, prepared to work long hours, in appalling conditions, for low pay at boring jobs.

For example the women in a typical factory in the Bataan Free Trade Zone in the Philippines work from 6a.m. to 10p.m. six days a week, and from 6a.m. to 6p.m. on Sundays, sometimes being forced to work three days and two nights running by being locked in their factory. Wages such as £13 a month in Ceylon are common. Trade Unions are generally illegal.

Of course, White workers would never stand for this. But as one Dunlop plant manager in the Philippines said of his workforce: "Their mental age is probably lower than in Europe." So the multinationals are cashing in. For example, silicon wafers are being made in the U.S., air-freighted to 'Free Trade Zones' in Malaysia and the Philippines for bonding and then flown back to America for assembly in automated factories. The cheap sweat-shops of the Orient which ruined the Lancashire textile mills in the twenties and thirties are now ruining all the manufacturing industries of the West, in the service of the profits of the multi-nationals.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the country that gives me the best deal..."

BLACKS HIRED - WHITES FIRED

Even bigger profits can be made if the cheap Coloured labour is actually moved into the consumer countries. So multinationals are encouraging Coloured Immigration into White countries and promoting multiracialism to keep their cheap labour here. In Britain, Coloured Immigrants in certain industries, such as textiles, have so undercut Whites by their willingness to work long hours for low pay in bad conditions that multinationals are gleefully finding our labour costs "the cheapest in the developed world". And three million, mostly Whites, rot on the British dole.

BLOODSUCKERS

In the short term, we can drive out these multinational bloodsuckers by putting their British subsidiaries under native ownership, sending their cheap Coloured labour here back to their own countries, and preventing their cheap Coloured labour abroad from Undercutting our workers by introducing-rigorous import controls.

But in the long term, if that is all we do, the multinationals will return. For multinational Capitalists were all national Capitalists once. Multinational corporations are an inevitable product of the Capitalist system, with its Stock Exchanges and its shareholdings, just as maggots are of a dungheap.

We must clean out the dungheap, smash Capitalism itself, and hand our industries over to those who work in them. And we must help other countries do the same, so that in return for the raw materials we need, they get not multinational exploitation but the manufactured goods they need in fair exchange.