Benutzereinstellungen

Neue Veranstaltungshinweise

International

Es wurden keine neuen Veranstaltungshinweise in der letzten Woche veröffentlicht

Kommende Veranstaltungen

International | Workplace struggles

Keine kommenden Veranstaltungen veröffentlicht

The political nature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

category international | workplace struggles | opinion / analysis author Samstag Januar 13, 2018 00:51author by Shawn Hattingh - ZACF Report this post to the editors

Mechanisation and automation have been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But these are not inevitable or neutral economic realities. They are political weapons of oppression under capitalism. It is a war against the working classes to increase profits. It is no an accident that bosses choose to mechanise and automate in the context of the massive crisis of capitalism.
lead_automation.jpg

The political nature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

Mechanisation and automation have been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But these are not inevitable or neutral economic realities. They are political weapons of oppression under capitalism. It is a war against the working classes to increase profits. It is no an accident that bosses choose to mechanise and automate in the context of the massive crisis of capitalism.

Recently, the accounting multinational company, Grant Thompson, conducted a study amongst 2500 multinational corporations regarding mechanisation, automation and the introduction of artificial intelligence. Of these companies, 56% said they planned to automate parts of their operations within the next year. Another study by Oxford University was even starker. It stated that 47% of jobs in the United States and possibly 50% of jobs in parts of Africa – including South Africa – could possibly be lost to artificial intelligence, mechanisation and automation in the next two decades. It is clear that if this transpires, the consequences will be dire for workers in Africa – including South Africa – and their ability to organise.

Some people have said that this move to use advanced computers and automation is the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’; and that the evitable advance of technology must be accepted. The reality, though, is that automation is not inevitable, but a political choice of the ruling class to wage a war against the working class to increase profits and oppression. It is important to understand how and why growing automation is political, and to do so we need to look at the relations at the heart of capitalism.

Exploitation defines capitalism

Capitalism is a system in which the ruling class, through private property and state ownership, own and control the means of production – in other words the farms, banks, factories, machines, mines and services. They use their control of the means of production and capital to hire workers to produce goods to sell at a profit. In doing so, capitalists also compete with one another in the market. The vast majority of people, the working class, are kept in a position whereby they own very little and are forced to work for the ruling class to survive. The state assists the ruling class to maintain this situation through the law and – when need be – policing.

Workers, however, never get the full value of their labour; bosses only pay workers a small share of the value they produce through wages, and keep the rest that workers produce as profit. It is this exploitation that defines relations between bosses and workers. To keep workers exploited bosses have to try and make them as powerless as possible through oppression. Workers throughout history have collectively resisted and fought to try and win a larger share of the value that they produce in terms of better wages. To try and break this resistance, one weapon capitalists have is to introduce technology like machines and computers.

War through mechanisation

Bosses often choose to introduce mechanisation and automation to drive up profits, because this means they can reduce the workforce, and therefore, have a smaller wage bill and hence more profits. Capitalists, however, will often only mechanise or automate if doing so proves cheaper than continuing with the exiting workforce and levels of workers. So mechanisation and automation is aimed at replacing well-organised workers with machines. Low paid and poorly organised workers, like in sweatshops, are usually not replaced with machines because it is cheaper for bosses to keep on these workers. So mechanisation and automation is an attack generally on more organised and better paid workers.

Linked to this, mechanisation and automation is about disorganising and increasing the oppression of workers. So bosses don’t always introduce all the new technologies that exist or that are possible. They only introduce technology that will drive down wages; or increase oppression and the disorganisation of the working class or both. In many of the companies that choose to mechanise or even automate, there is usually a history of workers organising. Thus, companies mechanise and automate often to try and break organising.

Lessons from the past

We can see how this has worked by looking back at the past. The first machines to be introduced by capitalists into factories took place in 1811 in Britain during what is called the First Industrial Revolution. The machines were introduced so that they could be operated by low paid, unskilled and so easily replaceable workers. Before then skilled craft workers were responsible for spinning and weaving. They were well organised into guilds, and because of their skills they were also well paid – meaning through their wages they were taking a relatively high percentage of the value they produced. To break these workers and their organising, and to drive up profits by lowering wages, bosses began introducing machines that allowed unskilled low paid workers using them to do the weaving and spinning.

The weavers and spinners began resisting being replaced by machines and unskilled workers by entering into factories and breaking the machines. The state then sent the army against them, and implemented the death sentence for workers caught destroying machines. So the state and bosses worked together to smash organised workers, to lower wages and increase profits through introducing machines and unskilled labour. Through this, divisions were also created amongst workers as bosses pitted skilled and unskilled workers against one another – undermining the prospect of united resistance.

Mechanisation and the capitalist crisis

Today we are again seeing a massive increase in mechanisation and automation, the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. The aim is again to undermine and prevent workers organising and to drive down wages. It is not an accident that bosses are choosing to mechanise and automate today in the context of a massive capitalist crisis. It is also not an accident they are targeting countries and sectors where there has been a recent history of worker organising.

The new drive to mechanise and automate is a response by corporations to try and increase profits in the capitalist crisis. It is also not a coincidence that multinational companies operating in China are at the forefront of automating and mechanising. This is because in recent years Chinese workers have been organising on a massive scale, and through mechanisation and automation there is an attempt by bosses to break this.

The attempts by bosses, however, to automate and mechanise won’t end the current capitalist crisis. This is because the current crisis is partly due to over-production, something which mechanisation and automation does not address and will possibly make worse. In the past, the job losses due to mechanisation were offset by economic growth which created new jobs. Today capitalism is no longer growing, and mechanisation in this context will lead to greater unemployment. This means there will also be fewer workers to buy goods companies are producing, meaning over-production will remain a problem, which will lead to less profits in the long run for companies involved in manufacturing.

Conclusion

It is clear, therefore, that the mechanisation and automation were are seeing in the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is an attack on the organising of workers. It is also clear that workers need to resist mechanisation and automation, as today in the context of a capitalist crisis it offers the working class very little. But to do so, workers are going to have to experiment with new ways of organising, ways that can build unity in a working class that is now defined by mass unemployment, casualization and huge divisions.

Some unions in this context have called for a just transition that will lessen the impact of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution on workers. The reality though is, capitalists, states and politicians are not interested in any just transition. This means, as part of fighting the new wave of automation and mechanisation, we have to renew the struggle for revolution to overthrow capitalism and the state. If we don’t, the automation and mechanisation we are seeing today, and will see in the future, will have devastating consequences for the working class, including mass unemployment for large sections of the class (something we already see in South Africa).

Indeed, the problem we see is that mechanisation and automation are not neutral but rather reflect and are used as political weapons of oppression under capitalism. In a different society, mechanisation and automation could have benefits, but under capitalism that is experiencing a massive crisis, for the vast majority of people, it is a living nightmare.

Verwandter Link: http://zabalaza.net
This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch
Rojava: Mensaje urgente de un compañero anarquista en Afrin

International | Workplace struggles | en

Mi 18 Jul, 15:38

browse text browse image

mayday.jpg imageMay Day 2018 15:49 Di 01 Mai by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) 0 comments

This statement was distributed at noon on May Day at the 8 Hour Monument in Melbourne

2.jpg imageMay Day 2017 09:56 Mo 01 Mai by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) 0 comments

On May Day we commemorate the past, but we also look to the future. There is no reason to be confident in capitalist economic recovery. There are many reasons to struggle against the horrors of oppression, unemployment, environmental devastation and war that capitalism dishes up. Workers can solve these problems for good. We can make a revolution and, as we do, the mass democratic workers' organisations we create will be the basis of the new society, worldwide. In this new society, each will contribute according to their ability and each receive according to their need. We will have no need of a State apparatus to enforce the dictates of a privileged elite. We will live a life of peace, freedom and equality. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

masas.jpg imageUnion organizations from Africa, America, Asia and Europe meet in Paris 20:02 Fr 22 Mär by Confederación General del Trabajo 0 comments

The Confederación General del Trabajo (Spain), the Union Syndicale Solidaires (France) and the Central Sindical e Popular Conlutas (Brazil) have extended an international invitation to all organizations that consider themselves part of the combative trade union movement and see the need for social transformation to an international trade union meeting to be held in Paris from 22 to 24 March in order to work towards the coordination of alternative trade-unionism on an international level. [Castellano]

Occupy London Ontario imageOccupy London Ontario Callout for Anti Capitalist Boc 10:58 Sa 14 Jan by Mike Roy 0 comments

http://linchpin.ca/English/Occupy-London-Ontario-Callou...t-Boc

un19.gif imageApple Retail Workers Initiative 00:01 Do 16 Jun by PaulB 11 comments

A Union drive in computer giant Apple retail is breaking new ground. Apple showroom employee Cory Moll who works in an Apple computer store in San Francisco has started a drive to unionise retail workers in a rare move at the company.

710_d22.jpg imageMay Day 19:42 So 01 Mai by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group 0 comments

Leaflet of Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) distributed at todays May Day rally and events in Melbourne.

maser06_1.gif imageNo Capitalism Without Crisis 20:24 Fr 30 Apr by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group 1 comments

On May Day, we put forward our alternative. It is libertarian communism, a society without governments or bosses. A society of peace and freedom, of justice and equality. We can build a new world. It is the only way out of the irrational, unjust and unsustainable one we live in today. [中文] [Ελληνικά] [العربية] [Castellano]

textISTANBUL: Coordination of Resistance Days Against IMF/WB 1-8 October 2009 22:37 Do 16 Jul by http://resistanbul.wordpress.com 0 comments

ISTANBUL: Coordination of Resistance Days Against IMF/WB 1-8 October 2009

textGlobal Day of Action Against Starbucks - Belfast Picket 00:20 So 06 Jul by Jason Brannigan 2 comments

Organise! and the WSM Belfast branch picketed Starbucks in Belfast city centre today from 12 to 1 pm. Despite the miserable weather around 12 people joined the picket and leafleted passers by and potential customers outside the coffee shop. At the start of the picket 3 people had gone inside to leaflet customers and staff. There was a very positive response to the picket however one person was falsely accused of assaulting a Starbuck's member of staff after leafleting staff and customers inside.

textTurkish Shipyard Workers Go on Strike to Stop Deaths 04:21 So 08 Jun by Sevinc Karaca 4 comments

Turkish National Shipyard Workers go on strike on 16th of June to stop workplace deaths in Tuzla, near Istanbul in Turkey. [ Ελληνικά]

more >>

imageResist-Occupy-Produce: What can Anarchists and Syndicalists Learn from Factory Take-Overs and Worker... Mai 10 by Leroy Maisiri & Lucien van der Walt 0 comments

The remarkable “recovered factories” (fábricas recuperadas) movement saw hundreds of closed factories reopened by the workers, run democratically, creating jobs and helping working class and poor communities. It showed that there is only so much protesting can accomplish – at some point you have to create something new. But it also shows it is essential that such alternative sites of production form alliances with, and become embedded, in other movements of the working class, poor and peasantry, including unions and unemployed movements. This assists them in building larger struggles, and provides them with some protection from the capitalist market and the state. It is meanwhile important for unions and social movements to start to systematically develop alternatives to capitalist- and state- run social services and media. However, it is simply impossible to escape capitalism by creating cooperatives, social centres or alternative spaces –almost all means of production remain in ruling class hands, secured by force and backed by huge bureaucracies. It is essential to build a mass revolutionary front of unions and other movements, embracing popularly-run social services, media and production, and aiming at complete socialisation of the economy and of decision-making through a revolutionary rupture.

imageIs the working class revolutionary? Aug 29 by Zaher Baher 0 comments

The article below is a very short opinion about the Working class whether as a whole is a revolutionary class in term of leading us to a classless and none-hierarchical society or not. It explains that the world has been changed and so the working class, it refers to reality and real life rather than relying on the texts in the old and 'sacred' books.

textSelf-Managed Class-Struggle Alternatives to Neo-liberalism, Nationalisation, Elections Okt 10 by Lucien van der Walt 0 comments

In this week’s "Global Labour Column," Lucien van der Walt expresses pessimism against statist Left policies as an alternative to neoliberalism. He advocates a working class Left approach that is freed of the failed statist past and rooted in historical anti-statist, libertarian Left traditions. He argues that statist Leftism is weakened by past crisis and current powerlessness, hence his call for a rebooted Left politics that must centre on self-managed class-struggle and universalism, rejecting notions that nationalisation or political parties can result in fundamental change. Van der Walt discusses, as an example, the bottom-up collectivisation of the anarchist/syndicalist Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939, and its strategic implications. Lucien van der Walt is Professor of Industrial Sociology at Rhodes University, South Africa, works on labour and left history and theory, and is involved in union and working class education and movements.

imageReclaiming Syndicalism: From Spain to South Africa to Global Labour Today Jul 04 by Lucien van der Walt 0 comments

van der Walt, Lucien (2014) “Reclaiming Syndicalism: From Spain to South Africa to Global Labour Today,” Global Labour Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 239-252.

New article: why it's important to develop a new, transformative vision for trade unions in a world of crisis and inequality; the limits of business unionism and of nationalist, Marxist-Leninist and social democratic approaches; and how anarcho- and revolutionary syndicalism -- as an important historical tradition, as a set of ideas, and as a revolutionary experience, notably in Spain 1936-1939 -- can contribute to the debate. [Italiano]

imageWages struggle: Reformist or Revolutionary? Nov 28 by Jan Makandal 0 comments

Some on the Left argue that wage struggles are inherently reformist. The reality is that they can be either reformist or democratic (the latter as an embedded element of an overall revolutionary struggle). A thin line divides the two. The difference is that the reformist will be satisfied with reforms and stop there, while an autonomous democratic movement that has the potential to contribute to revolution will keep demanding more and more, continuing to weaken (not mechanically) capital and finally challenge its existence.

more >>

imageMay Day 2018 Mai 01 Anarkismo 0 comments

This statement was distributed at noon on May Day at the 8 Hour Monument in Melbourne

imageMay Day 2017 Mai 01 Anarkismo 0 comments

On May Day we commemorate the past, but we also look to the future. There is no reason to be confident in capitalist economic recovery. There are many reasons to struggle against the horrors of oppression, unemployment, environmental devastation and war that capitalism dishes up. Workers can solve these problems for good. We can make a revolution and, as we do, the mass democratic workers' organisations we create will be the basis of the new society, worldwide. In this new society, each will contribute according to their ability and each receive according to their need. We will have no need of a State apparatus to enforce the dictates of a privileged elite. We will live a life of peace, freedom and equality. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

imageUnion organizations from Africa, America, Asia and Europe meet in Paris Mär 22 CGT 0 comments

The Confederación General del Trabajo (Spain), the Union Syndicale Solidaires (France) and the Central Sindical e Popular Conlutas (Brazil) have extended an international invitation to all organizations that consider themselves part of the combative trade union movement and see the need for social transformation to an international trade union meeting to be held in Paris from 22 to 24 March in order to work towards the coordination of alternative trade-unionism on an international level. [Castellano]

imageOccupy London Ontario Callout for Anti Capitalist Boc Jan 14 Occupy London Ontario 0 comments

http://linchpin.ca/English/Occupy-London-Ontario-Callou...t-Boc

imageMay Day Mai 01 Anarkismo 0 comments

Leaflet of Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) distributed at todays May Day rally and events in Melbourne.

more >>
© 2005-2018 Anarkismo.net. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Anarkismo.net. [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]