1. How the world works. Global division of labor
Anarchists proceed from assumption that the modern economy is global, and it is impossible to divide economic systems of Western countries from economic systems of third-world countries. These systems are interconnected and in fact are a single organism, they are not isolated from each other and from the outer world. The economy should be considered in its entirety: it is not enough to say “these countries are rich, so we need to adopt their political model in order to become rich too.” We can consider how this world and the modern global system work by studying the global economic processes of production and distribution of goods and resources. We can do this by the example of the production of computers, smartphones and other such popular wares.
1.1 Mining, commodity-based countries
The production begins with children working in the Congo mines extracting coltan, the ore necessary for the production of processors. These mines, like all the richest reserves of resources in the Congo, belong to Western, Chinese and Russian corporations. These corporations control countries similar to Congo. They benefit from supporting corrupt dictatorships that protect corporate interests. Likewise, it is beneficial to keep the local economy low. There should not be a high standard of living; there should not be a developed local production. Commodity-based countries must be poor so that labor costs are cheap. Residents of such countries do not need education and qualifications. You do not need to be a professor to dig in the mines for two dollars a week and die at a young age from the diseases you received. The low level of development of the local economy, the low cost of local labor provides a low cost of raw materials. This benefits corporations that have saved on the extraction of raw materials, and benefits consumers of the final product, who received the goods at a lower cost. Only residents of commodity-based countries lose. Even if the resources are not controlled by corporations, but by local elites, they will, in principle, also be interested in a low level of labor costs in order to extract resources cheaper and sell them to the Western countries at higher.
1.2 Production, manufacturing countries
Then the extracted raw materials are transferred to the factories in Asia. There, local workers for pennies, without any labor rights and often without days off, produce parts for future computers, smartphones and other electronics. Then these parts are sent for assembly to factories in other Asian countries, where workers are in the same difficult conditions. In general the political situation and the interests of Western corporations and the governments of such countries are similar to the interests of commodity-based countries – to ensure the cheapest possible production, which attracts Western corporations to these countries. To this end, local governments must suppress local workers, prevent the formation of labor movements, strikes, ensure low wages and lack of social guarantees and political rights of the population. In that case international capital is invested in these countries. However, in contrast to the commodity-based countries, there is economic growth. This is similar to Bolshevik modernization in Russia, when the economy was rising through the over-exploitation of the population. A good example nowadays is China. Over time, the standard of living, wages, and generally the economy of such countries grows, and Western corporations are forced to look for new markets of cheap labor. To do this, they can intervene in the political processes of third-world countries in order to ensure more favorable political regimes and the economic situation.
What happens to the goods manufactured by workers in Asia? They disperse all over the world and are sold for a considerable amount of money, of which only a negligible portion will be obtained by hard workers from Asia and Africa. Where does the rest go? Most of it – to the cash register of Western corporations. Therefore, by exploiting the workers of the third-world, they receive even more money to control developing countries. A smaller part of the profit goes as taxes to the budgets of countries where production is located. And since corporate offices are located in Western countries, part of the profits goes to the budgets of Western countries. So, at the expenses of these funds, improvement of Western countries, development of their infrastructure, cities, high salaries and social benefits of Europeans become possible. So, while receiving money from the work of Africans and Asians, Europeans begin to grumble and teach them how to work properly and not sit on the neck of Europeans. This is hypocrisy.
1.4 Consumer society, irrational distribution of goods
At the same time, corporations stimulate increased demand for goods through marketing, planned obsolescence of goods or the constant release of new models with slight improvements, even where they can apply all the developments in one model at once. As a result, a paradoxical situation arises when the majority of the world’s population does not have basic goods, while Westerners throw away quality clothes, food, appliances, constantly buying new goods. For example, food alone in the United States annually is thrown up to $ 165 billion (up to 40% of food purchased).
In addition to increasing volumes of production and consumption, all this leads to an irrational distribution of resources – labor, natural resources, etc. Instead of providing basic human benefits to all of humanity, the human resources of mankind are aimed at providing overconsumption and luxury for residents of the metropolitan countries.
1.5 World dumps
In addition to depletion of resources, this leads to pollution of our planet with garbage. Soil, air and water become polluted and less and less suitable for humans and all living things. A number of countries have turned into international garbage dumps, where corporations and Western governments take their garbage (often under the guise of “recycling”). The inhabitants of these countries live in world garbage, its processing in very primitive and unsafe conditions. Receiving miserable pennies for this work, by the age of thirty they are earning a number of serious illnesses that seriously reduce their job opportunities and life expectancy.
The most striking example of such a world dump is the largest city in Africa ,Lagos, with a population of 21 million inhabitants. The city has long turned into a world trash in which garbage from around the world is taken. Similar dumps exist in the countries of Asia (China, India, the Philippines, etc.) and Latin America (Mexico).
1.6 Migration, migrant supplying countries
Since Europeans are well-off at the expense of the labor of third-world workers, living in countries where all world wealth and money from all over the world flock, they themselves are not eager to work in low-paying, unattractive jobs. However, the Western economy needs cheap and unskilled labor not only in peripheral countries, but also in the European metropolis itself. Therefore, it requires labor migrants who would serve the local population and would be involved in unattractive jobs. Near the metropolitan countries we see a whole belt of countries supplying cheap labor. The Arab countries of North Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Russian province, Mexico … First of all, they must supply migrants to the metropolises – the USA, Western Europe, Japan, Moscow (which acts as a metropole in relation to Russia, like Europe and the USA to the whole world). On the other hand, nothing good shines in the countries that supply migrants themselves. They have a simple choice – stay here for pennies, work for the Western economy, or go to the west to serve Europeans and get more money, and in the future become one of the people of the first world living at the expense of labor from the rest of the world. Migration within countries occurs on the same principle, the population of the regions and the periphery seeks to leave for large cities, in which the country’s wealth is concentrated.
1.7 Chauvinism, competition between second-rate countries
Such a variety of migrant supplying countries cannot but cause a feeling of competition between different “second-rate” countries. From here come the roots of racism and other chauvinism. It is significant that racism is prevalent to a lesser extent among Western Europeans, who are served by migrants. But to a greater extent – it is common among Eastern Europeans, Slavic peoples who themselves claim to serve the Western white man. Moreover, racism is caused not only by cultural differences, but also by economic competition. The greatest hatred and chauvinism are caused by “fraternal”, similar peoples. So, chauvinism is extremely widespread in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Poland. In Europe, migrants from these countries are also often carriers of chauvinistic prejudices, and not only and not so much towards Blacks and Asians, but with each other – with the same white Europeans. This hostility, nationalism and racism, are caused, first of all, by the struggle for a place in the international imperialist system. And bigger hatred will turn against the closest competitor, against the same Slav who claims to be in the same place.
Of course, in addition to cultural and economic reasons, chauvinism has political reasons and great-power ambitions that offer a way to conquer “greatness” and improve the country’s economic condition by conquering, subjugating and robbing neighbors.
1.8 Fascism and revanchism, the struggle for increasing status in the world system
Countries whose governments have failed to come to terms with the international elite, or whose needs and ambitions have grown over time, or whose people feel their place in the international system is unfair, not high enough, may represent a source of instability for the system. Typically, this is not a struggle against the world imperialist system, but a struggle within the framework of this system for a higher place. Religious and national conflicts, wars, extreme right-wing movements (religious, conservative, nationalist), as a rule, shock precisely such regions. Where the discontented element has sufficient opportunities for this, it begins to use force and threats to try to forcibly rebuild the system and change its place in it. In this way, regional and global tribal maker countries, “terrorist dictatorships”, ultra-right fascist and clerical regimes are formed. So global conflicts and imperialist wars arise. Fascism, clericalism, imperialism, and other forms of ultra-right politics are the choice of loser states trying to challenge their place in the world system. In other cases, the rise in popularity of ultra-rightist moods can be observed in metropolitan countries, which feel threatened by their privileged position and wish to maintain it.
1.9 Social democracy, a compromise between Western society and the state
Western, “successful” countries are rather conditionally leftist, social-democratic, with a high level of social guarantees and concern for the population. Although a century ago the Western peoples themselves were in a beggarly and slavish position, being absolutely powerless in front of the capitalists and governments, in the course of a stubborn struggle, people managed to beat out their rights, freedoms and social guarantees. These victories were achieved not by the good will of governments, but by the stubborn struggle of the peoples. In fact, the welfare state is a temporary compromise between Western societies and governments. This compromise is constantly challenged by governments that are trying to pass laws restricting citizens’ rights, freedoms and social guarantees. The adoption of these laws is not suspended in the parliaments, but on the streets where mass protests are unfolding. Only the organized power of society prevents the organized power of the state and the introduction of dictatorial and anti-people laws. As a result, governments and corporations are forced to resort to a moderate-left policy, reduce the exploitation of the inhabitants of the metropolis by moving production to third-world countries, and share with the citizens the benefits that come from the exploitation of the third-world.
This compromise between society and the state in the West became possible for two reasons: the selfless struggle of the Western peoples and the exploitation of third-world countries. Western capitalism had much room to retreat – for this reason, it agreed with the demands of European workers. And for this reason, even much more powerful movements in third-world countries cannot achieve the same results. Local capital and government have nowhere to retreat; they cannot facilitate the exploitation of their subjects by increasing the exploitation of other peoples. Therefore, where in the West the problem can be solved by reform, in the third-world the problem is solved only by revolution. There can be no compromise, here the struggle can end only with the complete victory of one of the parties.
1.10 Anti-capitalist projects
At the same time, radical leftist attempts to reorganize the world within the framework of the modern global economy are, in fact, possible only with efforts in a number of regions that are capable of creating a self-sufficient economic system. As we showed above, modern production is global. And without participating in the global economy, which remains capitalist, the “liberated” countries cannot maintain the current level of production and consumption. We see that all attempts to rebuild the world in isolated countries are possible only as agrarian societies, or as rigidly centralized bureaucratic dictatorships. At the same time, both of them are still forced to interact economically with the capitalist world, and to some extent integrate into it. The creation of a new just world cannot begin with an isolated territory and must begin immediately with the destruction of the old international system.