[WSMDiscuss] where's the global social movement? (Moscow interview)

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Jun 10 17:55:24 CEST 2020

On 6/10/2020 9:51 AM, Tord Björk via WSM-Discuss wrote:
> Most welcome, The strength in the coming international ass 
> mobilization for alternatiuves might come from somewhere else then 
> most people think. Before commenting questions regarding the 
> abbreviations:
> IP I suppose is international patent but what is 4IR?

Ah, my mistake; sorry, those are common acronyms used here in South 
Africa, by 21st-22nd century activists (personally, I'm generally stuck 
in the 20th). Those two refer to the

  * "IP" intellectual property tyrannies that prevented people living
    with HIV from getting life-saving medicines until the delinking
    process began, and subsequently after 2005, the life expectancy here
    rose from 52 to 65 now; and
  * "4IR" Fourth Industrial Revolution blahblah from the World Economic
    Forum, for which we are seeing some healthy signs of a non-Luddite
    4ICR (are there similar resistances in your neighbourhoods?):

On the latter point, here's what I mean (excerpted from a new SA 
socio-economic book free to download here 


Another major factor must be mentioned in any consideration of worsening 
South African inequality: the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (4IR). The 
phrase encapsulates a new round of technological disruptions (including 
job displacement) caused by robotics, artificial intelligence, big data 
surveillance and marketing algorithms (such as socio-political 
manipulation), blockchain (allowing crypto-currencies to undermine 
national monetary sovereignty), nanotech and biotech, and so forth. The 
4IR’s popularisation in South Africa began in 2017 when the Swiss-based 
World Economic Forum held an Africa-wide conference in Durban, following 
the network’s introduction of 4IR technological ‘leap-frogging’ advocacy 
in Kigali in 2015.

In South Africa the concept has been appropriated by quite destructive 
forces, so social resistance is not far behind. The 2018 
Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit in Sandton was an 
opportunity for BRICS Business Council Chairperson Iqbal Survé and his 
/Independent /media group to assiduously promote the 4IR. A few weeks 
before the summit he had hoped to launch his own Sagarmatha ‘unicorn’: 
the term for a $1+ billion initial public offering fund-raised by a tech 
firm on a stock market, in this case based on his controversial Ayo tech 
base which enjoyed major state pension fund subsidisation (Sagarmatha is 
a Nepalese word for Mt Everest). However, Survé had vastly over-reached, 
with subsequent critiques of his ethics and accounting gimmicks 
destroying the venture as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange prohibited its 
listing, and he was fired from the BRICS body within months. (Under the 
influence of Survé and the BRICS South African /sherpa/ Anil Sooklal, 
the body even adopted what ultimately was a hollow 2018 theme: ‘BRICS in 
Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 
4th /Industrial Revolution’/.)

The demise of the main South African propagandist for the 4IR was not 
the concept’s only problem. Given how much renewed unemployment, poverty 
and inequality were likely to emerge from fresh bursts of 
capital-intensity, and given how serious South African activists were 
about /socialising advances in technology for broader gains, not 
corporate profits, /it is useful to consider several ‘Fourth Industrial 
/Counter/-Revolutions’ that were either successful or that are now 

*Table 1: The Fourth Industrial Revolution in South Africa, and 

*4IR: Fourth Industrial Revolution trends*


*SA manifestations of degenerate 4IR*


*4ICR: Fourth Industrial Counter-Revolutionaries*

*rampant application of Intellectual Property and monopoly patents, 
thereby excluding poor people from life-saving innovations, especially 
in public health services*


Big Pharma corporations supplied Anti-RetroViral (ARV) medications for 
AIDS, but at a cost of R100 000 annually (before 2004), aided and 
abetted by South African leaders Thabo Mbeki, Alec Erwin and Manto 
Tshabalala-Msimang, by Al Gore and Bill Gates from the U.S, by Western 
states and by the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Related Intellectual 
Property System (WTO TRIPS).


/Treatment Action Campaign,/their /labour allies and lawyers,/ the 
/Constitutional Court/, courageous /journalists/, some senior /African 
National Congress (ANC) officials/, /and generic medicines firms 
/together rejected IP barriers to ARV access and won WTO TRIPS 
exemptions in 2001, compelling roll out of free drugs to 5 million, thus 
raising life expectancy from 52 to 65 since 2005 (1998-2005).

*elitist education, driving more working-class people into debt or out 
of tertiary education*


Black, working-class students suffered greater rates of ‘financial 
exclusion’ at universities, as well as post-school debt defaults.


/#FeesMustFall/won tuition waivers for 90% of university and technikon 
students (2015-17).

*social media mind-manipulation*


Bell Pottinger, the broadcaster ANN7 and the Gupta brothers’ bot army 
declared war on those politicos, journalists and civil society who were 
allegedly associated with ‘White Monopoly Capital’ (albeit making such 
claims without a genuine left agenda, purely as a juvenile Zumite 
defence mechanism).


SA’s opposition parties (especially the /DA/ and /EFF/), journalists 
(especially /amaBhungane /and /Sunday Times/) and nearly all other 
activists in left-wing, centrist and right-wing civil society, as well 
as Johann Rupert and allied Western Multinational Corporations, together 
gave Bell Pottinger and ANN7 corporate death sentences, and sent the 
Guptas into Dubai exile (2016-17).

*gradual repression of liberal rights and of social justice activism*


The Department of State Security engaged in worsening repression during 
the Mbeki-Zuma regimes, including the (ill-fated) Protection of State 
Information Bill.


/#Right2Know/battled against the ‘Secrecy Bill’ and, alongside 
conscientious ANC MPs, prevented it from becoming formal law in 2013 

*surveillance of citizens’ movements by states and capital*


SA National Road Agencies Ltd (Sanral) and Kapsch established ‘e-toll 
gantries’ across Gauteng’s highways to enforce payment for road use, 
/even though apartheid and post-apartheid housing markets force working 
people to live far from city centres./


/Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa),/and /Congress of SA Trade Unions 
(Cosatu)/ successfully protested in the streets and courts to protect 
the vast majority of Gauteng road users who boycotted gantries and 
e-toll bill payment (2010-19).

*ultra-commodification of everything, using advanced financial technology*


The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and CPS Net1’s 
strategy of ‘financial inclusion’ included raiding millions of poor 
people’s monthly social grants – so as to debit for microfinance, 
cellphone and other undesired ‘services’


/Society/, disgusted by revelations of abuse collected by /Black Sash/ 
and its lawyers, acted on behalf of 17 million monthly victims, 
compelling the state to make the SA Post Office distributor of grants 
(resulting in massive losses for CPS Net1) (2013-18).

*danger of excessively job-killing robotics*


Major banks – catalysed by Nedbank – launched automation to replace 
thousands of workers with hundreds of robots


/SA Society of Banking Officials/(Sasbo) protested the jobs massacre, 
but so far unsuccessfully (2018-19).

*danger of excessive technological control through robotics and 
Artificial Intelligence (AI)*


The leading South African expert, Elon Musk, warns, ‘AI is a fundamental 
risk to the existence of human civilization… the danger of AI is much 
greater than the danger of nuclear warheads.’


/Musk’s/consciousness-raising includes a film (/Do You Trust This 
Computer/?), regular public statements as well as a twar with Mark 
Zuckerberg, calling for greater protective regulation against AI abuses 

*danger of geo-engineering and nanotechnology especially applied to the 
climate crisis*


South Africa has been a pilot site for extreme levels of GMO agriculture 
and zany climate strategies (such as Carbon Capture and Storage, and 
dropping iron filings into the ocean to create algae blooms)


/Biowatch /monitors genetic engineering, while /Earthlife Africa, 
groundWork /and progressive environmentalists oppose ‘false solutions’ 
to climate chaos, while demanding mass replacement of coal and nuclear 
power with renewables

*danger of blockchain and crypto-currency distortion of state monetary 


One poll (by Hootsuite, in February 2019) found 10.7% of SA internet 
users invest in Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, the highest rate in 
the world (the global average is 5.5%); the three crypto exchanges are 
Luno, Altcoin Trader and OVEX


/Cosatu /and the /National Union of Metalworkers of SA /(Numsa) 
regularly advocate much stronger exchange controls, especially against 
the Illicit Financial Flows that are amplified by crypto-currencies

*pro-4IR corporate control of mass media*


/Independent /newspapers engaged in relentless 4IR propaganda (without 
any hint of its adverse effects), especially as Iqbal Survé pushed his 
failing ‘Sagarmatha unicorn’ and Ayo tech businesses, while serving as 
2018 head of the BRICS Business Council until the Council was fired in 
October 2018


/#Right2Know /organisation and academics (e.g. /Jane Duncan /and /Mike 
Kwet/) remain vigilant about corporate media power (2012-19), and 
various /competing media organisations/ blew the whistle on the Public 
Investment Commission’s subsidisation of Ayo and the /Independent /group.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200610/3198c33f/attachment.htm>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list