The early years of the 21st century have been witnessing uncoordinated resistance arising from diverse groups of humanity. Unlike the late years of the 20th century, the core countries of the system are also embroiled in these uprisings. Globalization of capital (transnational capital), which is free to roam the whole planet, has leveraged the global labor arbitrage to flood the world with relatively cheap products/services, bringing some benefit to humanity. Nevertheless, there are consequences associated with this phase of globalization. Unlike capital, global labor is not free to move around and find a better place to ‘invest’ itself, thereby making ‘profits’, to use the analogy of capital. This truncated globalization (in terms of factors of production) is the source of continuous polarization. That is why radical economists call the current system a polarizing globalization (Samir Amin)!
Today we will look at situations from the perspective of global labor. First of all; labor in the core countries (OECD) is severely undermined, as it has lost its bargaining power to mobile capital. At the same time, the obvious decline in the standard of living of labor is being rejected, in one form or another. The increase in all sorts of low intensity disturbances in the West is a signal to the coming labor insurrection. To be sure, ‘welfarism’ is still in play, but only helps with the bare minimum of life needs. In addition to the arbitrage played by capital, (from the global south) labor in the North is also facing the onslaughts of automation, informatics and robotics! No wonder, the old Marxian slogan ‘workers of the world, unite’ is now cynically rehabilitated to ‘workers of the world, forget it’! Democratic political power might play a significant role in countering the excesses of crony capitalism in countries where genuine democratic processes are still upheld. In fact, it is this resurgence of tangible democracy that is driving old political parties away from political governance! Examples abound. Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, France, etc.! See the article next column.
In countries where some democratic venues are still available, the populous is showing the propensity to go for the jugular. The US sheeple (human mass) elected a president who is a political outsider who seems to be at a loss when it comes to the intricate functions of state and government. Unfortunately, he also seems to lack basic grounding on many important matters, including diplomacy and global governance. Nonetheless, his very election is a sign of a growing refusal by the sheeple. The Brits decided to leave the EU, thinking they will fare better if they go it alone. Outsiders from center left and center right, are jointly running Italy. The old parties in Germany are also in trouble. Refusal is clearly displayed in Ukraine’s new election. Ukraine now has a comedian as its head of state! However, many of the old European parties don’t seem to understand what is unfolding in front of their eyes. EU has lost a good portion of its credibility, as it is put securely in the pocket of capital. In the current crisis, EU seems to only advocate various austerity measures proposed by the moneyed. Even though the European parliament is an institution without teeth, it is being challenged by the emerging sentiment of the European popular movements or the ‘populists’ as the establishment would like to call them. Be prepared for surprises in next months’ European parliament election. In places where the deep state is very active, there can be dangerous scenarios playing out. Building border walls or sanctioning governments/individuals or changing regimes, etc., etc. will not rectify, but will only aggravate the deeply flawed globalization of our time.
The fate of labor in the global south remains precarious, to say the least. Given advances in technology (labor saving) and the prevailing outmoded economic arrangement between fragmented wage labor and dominant capital, the sheeple in the global south is going to lose out big time! Having sensed the impending unappetizing reality (in the various countries) some members of the sheeple are braving migration, both legal (migrant labor) and illegal (refugees crossing oceans). The majority stuck in their countries of birth, is becoming restless. See the article on Algeria on page 41. Rioting, insurrection, strikes, etc., usually leveraging identity politics, has become the order of the day, particularly in the less advanced industrial countries. Neoliberalism pursued by the compromised states of the south, along with their ‘belly thinkers’, will not secure the future for the sheeple of the global south, including that of Africa! If anything, the far-fetched and unsustainable policies of global dominant interests, far from creating a decent livelihood, will only exasperate the sheeple’s increased pauperization.
As if the above are not challenging enough, the south is now devoid of capable leadership with the wherewithal to understand the various versions of history and economics, let alone the hard sciences, which are the foundations of our lopsided modernity! History, it is said, is written by the winners: so are the dominant economic theories, we would like to add! Today economic narratives are dictated by vulgar capital (oligarchs), not labor (Marx). In the medium and long run, the lack of quality leadership in the south will bring untold damage that might not be readily rectified, without resorting to extreme violence, i.e. revolution! “Education is not a way to escape poverty. It is a way to fight it.” Julius Nyerere. Good Day!