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Conclusion The Globalization of the Labor Brokerage State The central question that this book has explored is how and why citizens from the Philippines have come to be the most globalized workforce on the planet. I have argued that the answer to this question lies in the emergence of the Philippine state as a labor brokerage state. Though it is true that ordinary men and women in the Philippines desire employment abroad, and sometimes their desire to migrate may be motivated by completely noneconomic consideration, the task of Migrants for Export is to dissect the Philippine state’s migration apparatus. As much as people make the final decisions about whether they will stay or whether they will leave, should they decide to migrate, the jobs and the places they imagine departing to are ultimately shaped by state actions. Moreover, my point in engaging in a critique of the state is to understand how state actions also impact the kinds of struggles migrants face when they are abroad. With the Philippines emerging as a so-called “model” of “migration management” it becomes important to situate its system of labor brokerage within the broader context of neoliberal globalization. Building on the institutional antecedents of the U.S. colonial labor system, the postcolonial (or more precisely, the neocolonial) Philippine state erected a program of labor export to absorb spreading unemployment and underemployment and increasing rural displacement , the necessary consequences of neoliberal restructuring. Just as importantly, exporting labor became a profitable endeavor for the Philippine state as millions of U.S. dollars are generated from workers’ 141 142 Conclusion remittances and even from the fees that the bureaucratic processing performed by the Philippine migration agencies requires. Brokering labor is a strategy that economic and political elites in the Philippines have designed to deal with the dislocations of neoliberal globalization, dislocations it has had a strong hand in producing. Increasingly unemployed or underemployed, Philippine citizens simply cannot afford the rising cost of living. Services that were once publicly subsidized all come with a fee. The Philippines is in perennial economic and, consequently, political crisis. As the already small middle class tries to maintain its tenuous status, the precariousness of everyday life for the working classes and the poor compel many to join militant leftist movements, both legal and underground . The promotion of overseas employment is a means by which government leaders attempt to address the dislocations neoliberal globalization engenders. The state’s promise of jobs to its citizens and, perhaps more importantly, the remittances migrants’ send home, have helped the Philippines avert a major social catastrophe. As a labor brokerage state the Philippine government mobilizes and then exports workers through a well developed and efficient migration bureaucracy. The Philippine government’s ability to facilitate the out-migration of workers rests on its “authorizing” power. Though it has promoted the proliferation of private labor recruitment agencies as well as privately run training facilities to facilitate out-migration, the Philippine state nevertheless plays a decisive role in the globalization of workers. Few if any private labor recruiters can boast the global scope of the Philippine state apparatus. This apparatus, comprised of the Philippines’ embassy and consular offices in scores of countries around the planet, identifies market trends for temporary contractual labor. These offices also initiate the process of negotiating diplomatic relations to formalize outflows of workers. These are not tasks that private recruitment agencies can accomplish. The Philippine state has reconfigured ideas of national belonging to encourage its citizens to leave the Philippines while simultaneously fostering their ties to the homeland. Labor brokerage requires a particular set of relations between state and citizen, what I call migrant citizenship. The state represents migrants as “new national Conclusion 143 heroes,” whose duty is to work overseas to support their loved ones and their home country through remittance earnings. Yet the state expects migrants “as heroes” to be exemplary representatives of the nation abroad by being law-abiding, diligent workers who return to the Philippines once their employment visas expire. Nationalism and citizenship have become the modalities through which the labor brokerage state mobilizes people to work as low-wage, temporary, gendered, and racialized laborers globally and secures their persistent relations to the nation-state. Neoliberal globalization does not necessarily hollow developing states. Rather, these states have reconfigured notions of sovereignty, territoriality, and citizenship to produce citizen-workers primed to respond to the demands of global capitalism. Systems of labor brokerage may...


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