Sunday, August 19, 2012

Manager of Foxconn: "Human beings are also animals..."

Capitalism remains in a major financial crisis. It is likely that a new financial melt down lies ahead. This would most likely lead to a new slump. This is the main aspect of the world economy that we hear about and discuss. But at the same time as this is going on there are major developments in the manufacturing and distribution sectors. Robots are increasingly replacing workers in these areas.

Foxconn alone  has over 1 million workers in assembly plants turning out machines and products world wide. It is increasingly replacing these with robots.  Terry Gou its chairman shows his contempt and lack of regard for these workers by saying: "As human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache." Incredible.

But this short piece is not to focus on the savage disregard of the owners of the capitalist economy for workers. Nor to their blindness to the potential of the working class to develop and transform the world. Nor to wonder at their blindness to the fact that biggest wasted resource in the world is the brain of the working class.  It is to raise the question about what affect this robotizing of manufacturing and distribution will have on the world economy. Some sectors such as construction are much harder to give over to robots but manufacturing and distribution are surging ahead on this front.

In their book the "Race Against The Machine," authors Eric Brynjolisson and Andrew McAfee of MIT say: "The pace and scale of this encroachment into human skills is relatively recent and has profound economic implications." They refer to what took place in agriculture in the US in the last century when employment went from 40% of the workforce to about 2%.

I do not know the implications of this development for the world economy. It would seem that while new jobs would be created in the robot making sector that massive amounts of jobs will be lost in manufacturing and distribution outside the robot sector. What affect will this have on economic growth?

Then there are the problems of climate change, the huge explosive class battles to come,  the wars between nations and regions and the wars of imperialism to try and hold their grip on the rest of the world and the extreme political instability that is already developing and will get worse.

We live in a time of extreme instability on every front, of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary processes. Unless the working class a class takes power and establishes a democratic socialist world life on earth as we know it will plunge into the abyss.


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