Brazil – AN activist from Brazil’s Landless Poor Workers’ Movement says the rising global effort to redefine Pan-Africanism and link it to the class struggle between the toiling labourers and maximum profit-crazy capitalists is growing more than the Chinese economy.
Presenting a paper titled, The fourth industrial revolution: Implications for socialist projects on the African continent, during the second Pan-Africanism Today annual conference held in Tunisia in early July, Marco Fernandes from the Movimento dos Trabadores rurais sem Terra (MST), said he had more bad news than good news on the topic he was presenting on because capitalism was still affecting a bigger chunk of the world’s population.
Referring to the number of delegates to the PAT conference, Fernandes said the number surpassed that of the people who attended a meeting addressed by Ernesto Che Guevara in Tanzania in 1956.
“The movement is growing more than the Chinese economy, which is not an easy feat,” he said. “The fourth industrial revolution has created difficult tendencies that are affecting humanity directly precisely the global South which has been exploited by capitalists more than the global North.”
The characteristics of the fourth industrial revolution, according to Fernandes, were the explosion of technological development that has also been noted in the agriculture and service industries.
He said the five biggest companies of the world were technological companies, and that these companies like Apple and Alphabet had been the most important companies from 2006 to date.
“If one looks at the technological companies, they are sexy. There is no person, for example, who does not like Apple or Facebook. 95 per cent of searches online are done through a mobile phone, through the search engine, Google,” Fernandes said. “For the first time in the history of capitalism, technological companies are now leading the economy which is the base in the ideological language and at the same time they are in infrastructure, qualifying them to be the superstructure too.”
He said this was unprecedented and that the only comparison was the cultural growth of the United States of America via Hollywood.
It was also heard that companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon acted like an extension of the U.S State Department.
“This puts these companies at the heart of the imperialist system, something that is also unprecedented in the history of capitalism. Another characteristic of this new industrial revolution is that even if the economy grew exponentially it does not create any jobs,” Fernandes said further. “The capitalist economy can therefore grow because it does not create any jobs as data from 2014 to 2015 can show.”
On the economic growth versus employment growth in 2015, Fernandes said unemployment and taxes were some of the problems caused by neo-colonialism because the only ones affected were the working class that was paying more taxes than the rich people.
“Employment compensation is at its lowest in 85 years and while the capitalist’s income is increasing, that of the workers is decreasing,” he said. “The number of billionaires owning as much of the world’s wealth, according to Oxfam, currently stands at eight. It is crazy that eight people own more money than 7.5 billion people. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of billionaires stood at 388 but estimates show that by 2015 this number had come down to 62, and two years down the number has trimmed further to just eight. This is the biggest concentration of wealth within the capitalist world in the history of time.”
Fernandes said not only were the above characteristics accelerating the fourth industrial revolution but that capitalism was also creating the political crises which had seen most people in the world live under increased dictatorships and militarisation of societies.
He pointed out that while most of these big corporations were through their production tendencies destroying the world, even a part of the bourgeoisie class were also worried about this situation as was noted from the Economist magazine in the UK of September 2016.
“The last time such a thing was experienced against capital was in 1917, which marks the year of the Russian revolution,” Fernandes said. “Therefore, an outbreak of revolutions cannot be ruled out and this will be a good thing for the leftist movement. For the first time in Africa, the continent is at a historical point because for the first time many militants are meeting.”
Fernandes further pointed out that in a situation where there are few jobs, there was less organising among the people.
“What the fourth industrial revolution entails is that there will be a decrease in employment and an increase in temporal jobs. There is need to learn new strategies of organising because the people can no longer continue relying on trade unions,” he said. “A company like Uber founded in 2015 which is basically an application on a mobile phone has more assets than one of the bigger companies, General Motors. Despite this, Uber which already has US$60 billion only employs five people.”
Fernandes told the delegates to start confronting this new reality by thinking of alternatives since it was clear that technology was significantly impacting on the world market.
“Predictions point out that restaurants will in the next few years no longer need workers because the machines would be doing the job,” he continued.
On the U.S military excursions around the world, he said this country had the biggest military spending currently at US$74 billion and that President Donald Trump was hyping at increasing the military budget.
“The U.S Empire that has over 800 military bases spread all over the world needs all this in order to continue controlling the system,” Fernandes said.
He said 2017, which marks 100 years since the October 17 Revolution in Russia, was a mystical year related to the struggles of the working class but that at the same time it was important to know that the working class faced an enormous enemy.
“Nevertheless the working class are starting to see the physical limits of the system since it is destroying humanity. Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that the major cause of workers taking leave from work is depression and anxiety,” Fernandes illustrated. “There has been an increase in the number of depression diagnosis over the last 20 years. Consequently 800, 000 people committed suicide because of depression. It is clear that there is no way out for humanity from this system but the fact that delegates are gathered in
Tunisia shows that people can resist capitalism and create a system which is really human.”
He urged the militants to continue fighting for that society.