global capital

neoliberalreflections.txt

You don’t have to read “why sweatshops are good” articles and analysis because it only reaches the same point: “well it’s better than starving” (ignoring deaths in the workplace and people still starving anyway).

It’s interesting how much analyzing people do to defend sweatshops rather than say “hey, maybe ‘work or starve’ is a bit terrible and none of this suffering is necessary”.

Arguments for capitalism rely on an incorrect perception of the 21st century altogether. So, looking at the 21st century: Resources are abundant, wealth is abundant, and technology is advanced.

What does capitalism do about those facts?

1) Relies on artificial scarcity to function.

2) Fails to distribute that wealth accordingly (it’s completely just that 8 people have more wealth than 3.6 billion people…right?)

3) Tells us to fear automation because there is no other option besides 'work or starve’.

That is primitive logic. Capitalism treats society as if we’re still cavemen struggling to survive in a dangerous world, because otherwise it wouldn’t function. So, instead of fearing what the future has to offer, ask yourself why you’re afraid in the first place.

‘Developing’ countries are still 'developing’ because they are exploited by multinational corporations from rich 'developed’ countries.

Globalized capitalism paints a gruesome picture of the appalling, deadly practices these corporations engage in to use cheap labor and suppress any opposition through force.

The outsourcing of jobs from developed countries occurred when workers won their rights: protection from unsafe working conditions and products, a guaranteed wage, abolition of child labor, et cetera.

The fact that multinational corporations outsourced jobs to vulnerable developing countries where they can neglect basic human rights proves that capitalism is built on the backs of the poor, who suffer and starve despite resources being abundant.

Neoliberalism has identified exploited countries as 'developing’ to shift the blame and promote a disastrous agenda.

Arguments defending this exploitation usually are along the lines of “well, you can’t expect corporations to protect these people, it’s always the government who is at fault”. Those arguments prove that neoliberals have succeeded in their agenda.

Globalization, under capitalism, has not created a world government, but rather a connection between the ruling class worldwide, allowing for legal agreements that promote their interests above all.

Capitalism kills millions, regularly. Globalization has not only made that easier, it has legalized and normalized it.

Leila Pazooki, Moments Of Glory, 2010.

“Iranian Artist Leila Pazooki’s multi-coloured tube writing reveals the parallels that are too easily drawn between some great names in Western art history and other artists from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Might it then be possible to discover an Iranian Jeff Koons, an Indian Damien Hirst, a Dali from Bali, or even a Renoir from South Africa?  There are so many quotes from the press that reveal a certain reluctance to consider every artistic production independently, without an accompanying reference to some supposed Western counterpart.”

“Is this laziness on the part of the critic unable to grasp an artwork outside of his own value system? Is it the desire to assert the supremacy of the Western art scene over the rest of the world? Or does it show the stigmas created by the globalization of the art world from a Western point of view?”

Since the rise of global capitalism and related ideologies associated with neoliberalism, it has become especially important to identify the dangers of individualism. Progressive struggles – whether they are focused on racism, repression, poverty or other issues – are doomed to fail if they do not also attempt to develop a consciousness of the insidious promotion of capitalist individualism. Even as Nelson Mandela always insisted that his accomplishments were collective, always also achieved by the men and women who were his comrades, the media attempted to sanctify him as a heroic individual. A similar process has attempted to disassociate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the vast numbers of women and men who constituted the very heart of the mid-twentieth century US freedom movement. It is essential to resist the depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals in order for people today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever expanding community of struggle.
—  Angela Davis

Then, in short, the capitalism of global neoliberalism is based o­n exploitation, plunder, contempt and repression of those who refuse. The same as before, but now globalized, worldwide.

But it is not so easy for neoliberal globalization, because the exploited of each country become discontented, and they will not say well, too bad, instead they rebel. And those who remain and who are in the way resist, and they don’t allow themselves to be eliminated. And that is why we see, all over the world, those who are being screwed over making resistances, not putting up with it, in other words, they rebel, and not just in o­ne country but wherever they abound. And so, as there is a neoliberal globalization, there is a globalization of rebellion.

—  Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona, Zapatista Army of National Liberation
theverge.com
How Silicon Valley helps spread the same sterile aesthetic across the world
Igor Schwarzmann is the German co-founder of Third Wave, a strategy consultancy based in Berlin that works with small-scale industrial manufacturers. The company’s clients range across Europe, the...
By Kyle Chayka

It’s not that these generic cafes are part of global chains like Starbucks or Costa Coffee, with designs that spring from the same corporate cookie cutter. Rather, they have all independently decided to adopt the same faux-artisanal aesthetic. Digital platforms like Foursquare are producing “a harmonization of tastes” across the world, Schwarzmann says. “It creates you going to the same place all over again.”

It’s easy to see how social media shapes our interactions on the internet, through web browsers, feeds, and apps. Yet technology is also shaping the physical world, influencing the places we go and how we behave in areas of our lives that didn’t heretofore seem so digital. Think of the traffic app Waze rerouting cars in Los Angeles and disrupting otherwise quiet neighborhoods; Airbnb parachuting groups of international tourists into residential communities; Instagram spreading IRL lifestyle memes; or Foursquare sending traveling businessmen to the same cafe over and over again.

We could call this strange geography created by technology “AirSpace.” It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes and cultural influencers like Schwarzmann take advantage of. Changing places can be as painless as reloading a website. You might not even realize you’re not where you started.

It’s possible to travel all around the world and never leave AirSpace, and some people don’t. Well-off travelers like Kevin Lynch, an ad executive who lived in Hong Kong Airbnbs for three years, are abandoning permanent houses for digital nomadism. Itinerant entrepreneurs, floating on venture capital, might head to a Bali accelerator for six months as easily as going to the grocery store. AirSpace is their home.

As the geography of AirSpace spreads, so does a certain sameness. Schwarzmann’s cafe phenomenon recalls what the architect Rem Koolhaas noticed in his prophetic essay “The Generic City,” from the 1995 book S,M,L,XL: “Is the contemporary city like the contemporary airport—‘all the same’?” he asks. “What if this seemingly accidental—and usually regretted—homogenization were an intentional process, a conscious movement away from difference toward similarity?”

Yet AirSpace is now less theory than reality. The interchangeability, ceaseless movement, and symbolic blankness that was once the hallmark of hotels and airports, qualities that led the French anthropologist Marc Augé to define them in 1992 as “non-places,” has leaked into the rest of life.

[Read more]

'Saving the Planet' vs Saving the Working-Class

See, the liberal discourse about taking action to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the name of ‘saving the planet’ isn’t much more than a moralistic argument without basis in reality. The planet’s going to be just fine. Carbon dioxide levels have fluctuated wildly over the last 4-and-a-half billion years, with various forms of life flourishing for nearly all of its known history. Anthropogenic climate change is actually all about class.

Transitioning to a sustainable society is really about averting a 2 degree global increase in average temperatures above pre-industrial levels - which would result in the desertification of much of the middle latitudes of the planet, the infertility of much of the world’s agricultural land, and the catastrophic mass migration or starvation of a great proportion of much of Earth’s poorest inhabitants. This is unavoidably a class issue - the wealthiest inhabitants of even the most disastrously effected underdeveloped nations in Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia have the means to insulate themselves from the effects of climate change through migration or the creation of enclaves, whilst the toiling masses of subsistence farmers, poor labourers and industrial workers have no such luxury.

When viewed from this point of view, those who deny climate change are not, as liberal political discourse would have it, ‘stupid’ or ‘badly informed’. They are making a deliberate choice conditioned by class allegiance. Those with a vested interest in preserving the carbon-based economy make a cold economic calculation, rooted in the direct logic of capital accumulation: costs sunk into the behemoth industry of the oil economy - from trillions-worth of plant material to the incalculable political infrastructure buttressing dictatorial oil-rich regimes across the globe - must be recouped, locked in place as they are by a labyrinthine network of debt obligations and banking compacts within and between Third World nations and the developed West. It is therefore utterly unsurprising that climate deniers place the profits of a tiny group of oil barons, shadowy shareholders and political stooges above the interests of the vast majority of the working-class people of the world.

All the objectively correct science and liberal moral arguments in the world will not convince climate change deniers to change their positions - since their wealth depends on the contrary. It cannot be overstated: climate change is an economic problem. Climate change is a class problem. It demands economic and political solutions based on the interests of workers across the world.

The left, as we have known it, as important as it has been, cannot remain the same force until it adequately counters these developments. Therefore it is important for the left to recognise that the constitution of the global working classes is very different now. In many ways the left is still dealing with this notion of the working classes as male, or white male, as in the case of the US. I think feminism, radical feminism, radical anti-racist and anti-capitalist feminism helps us to do the reconceptualisation that is necessary in order to produce a left that is more in line with the vast changes that have occurred in the era of global capitalism, recognising the feminisation of the working class, the structural shifts in the global economy, of the fact that some industries are largely populated by women, industries that rely on reproductive labour, of care industries, domestic service, health care, etc. It seems to me that in many ways, unions around the world are not willing to recognise those changes. To organise the unorganised, at this moment, is to organise women.
—  Angela Davis