Mediapart is an independent left-leaning French online investigative and opinion journal created in 2008 by Edwy Plenel, former editor-in-chief of Le Monde. Mediapart, published in French, English and Spanish posted the following article written by AHMED HENNI and dated September 17, 2018, in French. It is all about Donald Trump’s walling up the US manufacturing infrastructure and in so doing is causing concerns all around.
Translation is by MENA-Forum and the picture above is of the The Drum.
Two capitalistic fractions oppose each other: one brings together those who own industrial enterprises whose profits from manufacturing work are threatened by globalisation. The second derives its benefits from the rights attached to its intangible creations (software, images, sounds) and which are annuities fuelled by globalisation.
The concern of Google’s leaders at the election of D. Trump
In September 2018, the American far-right media Breitbart published a video recording of a meeting held in 2017 at the headquarters of the well-known Google internet company and whose purpose was the assessment of the situation after the success of Mr Trump in the U.S. presidential elections of 2016. The concern of the interveners is visible. They express fears for the future of freedom of movement and manners. Some analysts believe that this video illustrates the progressive side and anti-conservative that would exist at Google, but also at Facebook, Twitter, etc.
The new US president was presented indeed by the press as a curator and defender not only of the values attached to the former industrial society of discipline and hierarchy between sexes, between nationals and foreigners or between white and blacks, but mainly as the elected white workers unemployed in the former industrial territories hit by factory closures. The candidate then president D. Trump announced border closures for men (potential Hispanic migrants competing with local labour) and for property (imports of Chinese products, in particular, believed to be the cause of plant closures in the United States).
In short, it seems that two capitalisms are facing each other: one, new, centred on the intangible, digital and tertiary, well represented by the iconic Google and Amazon, creators of new jobs, especially for the educated, first beneficiary of globalisation. The second, old industrial capitalism, of which whole sectors suffer from globalised competition and which is no longer able to safeguard or create jobs in the United States’ territory. This is the reason for the success of Mr Trump’s protectionist programme, which seeks to raise the customs duty on material goods and introduce restrictions on the different freedoms of movement, if not to leave the international treaties which guarantee them.
In principle, this programme should not disturb the large multinationals of the intangible who do their business by the sale of software and other digital goods and services. It is the United States that is the leader in this field exporting their intangible productions all over the world. There is not yet a Chinese Windows and Microsoft will continue to reap royalties from around the world for its use. The hegemony of Google is not about to be challenged in capitalist countries, rich and purveyors of advertisements to western consumers.
Why then the anxiety of the Google staff?
It is well known that the benefits of digital globalisation come from freedom of movement, both regarding the recruitment of brains and the products of the intangible (software, images, sounds). Building protectionist barriers to entry into the United States, as Mr Trump announces, can only provoke adverse reactions in the world, particularly in China. However, Google is leading a difficult negotiation to penetrate the market in that country – to operate and collect advertising revenues from Chinese companies and to be able to transfer its monetary gains to the United States.
It is thus well two capitalistic fractions that oppose one another: the first brings together those, with their employees, who own industrial enterprises and whose profits coming from the threatened manufacturing work. The second fraction derives its benefits from the rights attached to its intangible creations (software, images, sounds) and which are annuities. The different freedoms of movement are detrimental to the manufacturing industries companies, not only because of global competition concerning costs but also by cultural and managerial modes accompanying the extension of companies of the intangible and compromising the values of the discipline of manufacture. The protectionist struggle of Mr Trump is not only a back-guard on cultural values; he tries to deny this historical change in capitalism from industrial profit capitalism to annuity capitalism attached to the immaterial production.
Ahmed Henni is the author of Le capitalisme de rente. De la société du travail industriel à la société des rentiers, 2012