Communication and Class Struggle: Capitalism, Imperialism
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Today most of these digital relations of production are shaped by wage labor, slave labor, unpaid labor, precarious labor, and freelance labor, making the international division of digital labor a vast and complex network of interconnected, global processes of exploitation. These range from the Congolese slave miners who extract minerals for use in ICT components, superexploited wage-workers in Foxconn factories, and low-paid software engineers in India to highly paid, highly stressed software engineers at Google and other Western corporations, precarious digital freelancers who create and disseminate culture, and e-waste workers who disassemble ICTs, exposing themselves to toxic materials.
Let us look at one example of digital labor. The high cost of iPhones and other products are a consequence of a high profit rate and a high rate of exploitation—direct results of the international division of digital labor. According to the Fortune Global list, Foxconn is the third-largest corporate employer in the world, with more than a million workers, made up mostly of young migrant workers from the countryside.
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When seventeen Foxconn workers tried to commit suicide between January and August , and most of them succeeded, the issue of dismal working conditions in the Chinese ICT assembly industry began to attract wider attention. A number of academic studies have subsequently documented the everyday reality at Foxconn factories, where workers must endure low wages, long hours, and frequent work schedule disruptions; inadequate protective gear; overcrowded, prison-like accommodations; yellow unions managed by company officials and distrusted by workers; prohibitions on talking during work; beatings and harassment by security guards; and disgusting food.
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However, these audits are not conducted independently, nor are their results reported independently. We audit all final assembly suppliers every year.
Similar ideological promises and claims can be found in the context of social media, cloud computing, big data, crowdsourcing, and related phenomena. Such assertions are forms of technological fetishism that assume that technology inherently fosters a good society without analyzing the social relations in which it is embedded.
The example of Apple shows that digital technology and the ideologies that frame it in advertising and politics are obscured by a fascination with the new that necessarily overlooks the continuities of global exploitation. According to data from the China Labor Bulletin , 1, strikes took place in China in In October , after earlier labor unrest in June, a thousand workers went on strike for wage increases at the Foxconn factory in Chongqing.
The short and medium-term goal of digital working-class struggles should be the formation of worker-controlled companies in the digital and cultural industries, at all levels of organization and over the entire globe, no matter if it disturbs social media, software engineering, the freelance economy, mineral extraction, or ICT assembly. In the longer term, the aim should be to overcome the capitalist organization of these spheres, together with capitalist society itself.
Communication and Class Struggle 1: Capitalism, Imperialism
The question of what role the national or international dimension of social struggles against digital capitalism should play is a matter for strategic political debates. Digital Labor and Imperialism. With the high development of the capitalist countries and their increasingly severe competition in acquiring non-capitalist areas, imperialism grows in lawlessness and violence, both in aggression against the non-capitalist world and in ever more serious conflicts among the competing capitalist countries.
But the more violently, ruthlessly and thoroughly imperialism brings about the decline of non-capitalist civilizations, the more rapidly it cuts the very ground from under the feet of capitalist accumulation. As long as capitalism remains what it is, surplus capital will be utilized not for the purpose of raising the standard of living of the masses in a given country, for this would mean a decline in profits for the capitalists, but for the purpose of increasing profits by exporting capital abroad to the backward countries.
Communication and Class Struggle: Capitalism, Imperialism - Seth Siegelaub - Google книги
In these backward countries profits are usually high, for capital is scarce, the price of land is relatively low, wages are low, [and] raw materials are cheap. Force, fraud, oppression, looting are openly displayed without any attempt at concealment, and it requires an effort to discover within this tangle of political violence and contests of power the stern laws of the economic process.
Table 1. Figure 1. The International Division of Digital Labor.
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Digital media and politics , Media, culture and identity. Published By. Share this article. Recent Articles. Expanding tweets from characters to 10,? Not nearly radical enough. Workers and youth wanting to fight for democratic rights should oppose the turn to US imperialism, but to do so an independent political perspective is sorely needed. Marching to the US consulate can only alienate the real political ally of the protest movement in Hong Kong—that is, the Chinese working class. Chinese workers confront the same attacks on democratic and social rights by the CCP regime in Beijing, but are overwhelmingly hostile to the US which is mounting a trade war and threatening all-out war against China.
In opposition to the turn to the US and Trump, workers and students in Hong Kong should orient to this developing international movement of the working class, especially in the United States. The only basis for unifying the working class is in a joint struggle against capitalism and for socialist internationalism.
The fight for socialism requires the political clarification of the key strategic experiences of the 20th century, particularly of the treacherous role of Stalinism and its Chinese variant, Maoism. The Chinese revolution was a momentous event that ended the long-domination of imperialism over China, unified the fragmented country and lifted living standards. But from the outset it was stunted and distorted by the CCP regime, which claimed to speak in the name of working class and the masses but over which workers and peasants had absolutely no say.
Just 23 years after the revolution, Mao made his peace with US imperialism setting the framework for capitalist restoration from , which rapidly accelerated after the brutal suppression of workers and students in the Tiananmen Square massacre of China has experienced staggering levels of economic growth over the past 30 years at the expense of equally staggering levels of social inequality, hardship and distress.
The International Committee of the Fourth International—the world Trotskyist movement—is the only party that has waged a consistent struggle against Stalinism, its apologists and all forms of opportunism in the working class. It is the lessons of this decades-long political fight that form the essential political capital required to lead the emerging class struggles whether it is in Hong Kong and China, or elsewhere around the world.
We urge students and workers to contact us to open up a dialogue on these crucial political issues as the step toward the necessary establishment of a section of the ICFI in China. The WSWS recently published its 75,th article. Become a monthly donor today and keep up this vital work.