Economy, Communication & Class Struggle
|The Global Economy, Communication/Info Technology, Class Struggle And Workers Power
by Steve Zetlzer
Labor Video Project/LaborNet
Presentation Made At LaborComm Conference in Ankara,Turkey
Warren Buffet, the US billionaire was pretty blunt even in 2006 when he said ““There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” This was an honest statement not only about the war on the US working class but on workers throughout the world.
This was also made before the worldwide crash in 2008 and the escalating attack on the working class around the world has expanded. As we all know the TNC’s have no country loyalty. They search in nearly every part of the world for greater profits and a union free environment that is kept union free by anti-labor laws, coercion and as we all know by terrorizing workers through arrests, jail and murder in many countries of the world.
Today in fact in Turkey as I speak more than 90 journalists are in jail for actually trying to tell the truth about what is going on in this country. This systemic attack on journalists and the media unions is of course a growing issue not just in Turkey but throughout the world as repression against journalists is growing.
This is well known to Turkish trade unionists but unknown to workers of the world because of the information blockade against labor news and information. This in fact has a very high priority for the corporations and the governments that they control.
A core aspect of the development of world capitalism is of course the use of the internet and communication technology to outsource and provide a instantaneous global communication chain in which workers of the world are forced to compete against each other as their wages are beaten down for greater profits on a global scale.
Wal-Mart, Caterpillar, Siemens, Toyota, Samsung, GE, Chevron, Google, Apple, UPS, Boeing and other international corporations around the world have no borders and their international outsourcing is being used in a global war against the working class.
US workers real wages have been in decline over the last 30 years and now make it more profitable for Caterpillar to close plants in Canada and open them up non-union in the south.
It is also the case that the United States has pushed economic policies on a global level that have severely weakened workers around the world from deregulation of the economy from the financial system to transportation and education and privatization of entire industries.
US controlled governments have pushed these policies despite resistance throughout the world and in Turkey as well. When I first came to Turkey a mass protest and march of 50,000 workers was taking place to Ankara to oppose the privatization of the postal system and other public entities. The World Bank, IMF and WTO have been important tools as well in pushing these policies.
US capitalist like former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleberger and his firm Kissinger Investments were personally benefiting from this privatization of the public resources of Turkey and this was the case in many countries. Today the richest capitalist in the world is Carlos Slim made by the United States which pushed the North American Free Trade Agreement which privatized and sold off the Telecom system and railroads. This massive transfer of the wealth to private capitalists is of course how the capitalists enrich themselves while pauperizing the working class.
They have also pushed militarization and wars throughout the world threatening Iran for nuclear weapons while allowing apartheid Israel to build a massive nuclear arsenal. This again benefits the military/industrial complex which is addicted to wars and the physical destruction of economies for greater profits and control of oil and other resources.
It is the workers of the US and the world who pay the costs of these imperial adventures costing trillions and pitting workers against workers.
While hunger and deprivation grows throughout the Middle East the US is arranging for it’s puppet Arabian family regimes to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on more US weapons further militarizing the region.
As we know this is not only an economic war but ideological war against the working class with the argument that this is the only way the world can work.
The ability of the capitalists and their media to politically manipulate the consciousness of the working class is an important issue. They have a world propaganda machine 24 hours a day in every language that puts their spin and ideology forward in this global class struggle.
In the post war period, the unions of the world have generally been unable to counter this political economic and ideological attacks.
While there are international federation of unions there has been no real serious international education and action campaigns against privatization of public services and deregulation and who is benefiting and losing from these policies.
These policies are pushed by the 1% of the world for the benefit of the world most powerful 1318 corporations out of 43,000 TNC’s. The world’s tiny group which are less that 1% of companies in the world are able to control 40% of the entire network. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.
Through this highly intensified concentration of capital and these TNC’s control not just the wealth of the world but very importantly the media of the world.
This of course is and has been used politically not only to expand their wealth but to push their global agenda. The recent exposures of the anti-labor Murdoch world empire is a vivid example of the criminal use of a global media empire to set their agenda from supporting former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher successful effort to nearly destroy the mine workers union NUM and to push “free trade”, the “free market” and “privatization” globally. And of course News of the World used bullying and union busting against the NUJ journalists to push criminal activity and journalism in an ideological war against working people and their unions.
The same attack on the journalists and media workers in Turkey is the same campaign of Murdoch but with even more flagrant and brutal attacks.
The growing financial centralization and control by the banks is also combined with the use of the internet and cell phones to operate our world. Today there are over 5.6 billion cell phone unions out of a population of 7 billion or 79% of the world.
The hundreds of millions of migrant workers around the world use these phones for their jobs and to keep in contact with their families. They also have exposed the slave like conditions in many countries where these workers are forced to work such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Quatar and the United Arab Emirates.
As usual the US plays a duplicitous role when discussing human and worker rights when it comes to regimes that it supports and has US bases.
The growth of the use of the cell phone and the ability to connect with billions of people through texting, messaging and now with video on cell phones is a great potential for the organization and defense of working people.
The Chinese workers used this very powerfully during the strikes at Japanese and Korean auto companies and similar efforts at Foxconn to expose the role of Apple, Samsung and other producers of electronic equipment.
These TNC’s and Banks are like us tied to the use of the internet and cell phones to keep their operations going and labor globally needs to have a strategy and agenda to use these communication tools to challenge and fight for the defense of working people and also to fight for power or workers globally. They are already implementing corporate blockades at Facebook and other companies to shutdown worker right and other campaigns to break the information blockade.
One step in this battle is to have regular global campaigns targeting these TNC’s. Today in the world battles are going on against Caterpillar, UPS, Wal-Mart, Rio Tinto, Hyatt, Target yet each union is forced to invent the wheel every time they face a battle that is of course an international campaign.
Using communication technology and IT, world labor needs to develop a strategy to directly link up all workers throughout the world working for these TNC’s and to build an international communication network that tracks these companies and capitalists throughout the world.
Much as the the googles of the world are tracking working people we need to track and understand the nature of global capialism and how they organize themselves and control the world.
The need for in depth education of these TNC’s and who really owns them is vital. These 1% need to be outed so the workers of the world can get a clear understanding of who they are and how they are destroying not only the working class but the environment.
The use of the internet by these workers the TNC’s in fact can be a powerful weapon and tool to expose the nature of these corporations.
One contract worker at Google noticed that workers were classified in a caste system by the colors of their badges. Only certain workers were allowed to go into the cafeteria and other perks while others who transferred books electronically were the lower cast. He began to do a video of this caste system and when the company discovered this he was fired but his video record of the nature of this company remains. He saw that he was a second class worker.
The use of technology by these TNC’s to increase their profits and division of the world actually also threatens the world. In Japan today despite the ongoing meltdown of the GE plant in Fukushima, Toshiba with the support of Bechtel and GE is seeking to export nuclear plants to Vietnam, China, Jordan, Korea, South Africa, The United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Mexico and as you all know Turkey. The insanity of a system that would continue to develop a technology when it is radiating and destroying it’s own people obviously is another example of the need to remove the profiteers who run it.
This is also the case with synthetic biology and the growth of a biotech industry which is also a potential threat to the these workers in the industry as well as workers and farmers throughout the world. The development of genetically engineered biological products to produce algae and other products for greater profits threatens our health and the environment of the world. The drive by the United States and the TNC’s to prevent labeling of GMO products is another example of how technology and it’s use is driven whether or not people want these products.
These issues are therefore not just union issues but issues for all people of the world.
One of the development of the Occupy movement is the need to link up electronically internationally and labor can learn much from their networks. They have broadcast live around the world and the rebellions against US controlled regimes in the Middle East is an example of how we can use these tools to fight the TNC’s and the governments who are controlled by the 1%.
This use of technology to further deepen democracy and communication is a critical component in the effort to allow for open communication and information networks that tell the real struggles and stories. It also strengthens working people against the propaganda blitz by the capitalist media. This is why governments around the world and TNC’s are spending billions on how to track and control information on the net.
The need for a 24 international labor channel streamed on the web is much more feasible than at any time in history. As digital TV’s expand workers will be able to get live programming on the internet from anywhere in the world. Think about a live labor channel globally that can link our struggles together from country to country with live programming.
The use of labor film festivals like the world famous Turkey Laborfest are important means of providing a popular education of struggles and lives of the global working class. These festival area also growing throughout the world helping to educate and unify workers around the world.
The smart phones which are exploding in use through the world provide a powerful opportunity for workers to tell their stories and struggles, edit them on the phones and send them out globally. Real TV is now more and more possible from every country of the world as these computer phones are becoming broadcast vehicles.
That is power and we have to build for that power. In fact a vision of the world where workers run the world is more ripe today than any anytime in history. Today the division of the world is controlled by this 1% but the development of the global world economy more and more directly links up the workers of the world who make the system go from airline workers, longhore workers, IT workers and workers in every industry. They also use this technology in their work and this again allows them to link up organically with their brothers and sisters.
This conference LaborComm like LaborTech in San Francisco also help provide a stategy and agenda for using understanding and using communication technology and media. We will be having a LaborTech this coming December in San Francisco as well.
A new global core of unions and trade unionists around the world is need to confront these challenges and tasks. One of the main campaigns of the International Federation Of Trade Unions IFTU has launched in fact is the Tobin Tax to allow for taxation of financial transactions and speculators globally. This idea that we can make capitalism a better system for working people by taxing the speculators is highly questionable.
Do we want better speculators and good capitalist banks as a solution or for working people to run the banks in the interests of working people rather than the privateers and banksters.
These workers have the power on a global level to challenge capital as it has never been challenged before.
The slogan “Workers of The World Unite, You have nothing to lose but your chains” is growing stronger as solidarity and the beginnings of strong communication networks builds real international solidarity and power.
We have to take the tools that we have and use them to train these workers, bring them together in unity and action to defend our the future of the working class and the world.
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