From Automation to the Gig Economy: Mapping Capital’s Networks


From Trump tweeting about how low unemployment is to patting himself on the back for a ‘roaring’ stock market, we are bombarded daily with news about how great “our” economy is doing. So how can the economy be doing well, but so many American workers are barely getting by? Moreover, many Americans are having to work a variety of jobs in order to put food on the table and pay their rent, as the cost of living continues to climb while wages stay stagnant. As the saying goes, “someone is gettin’ rich, but it sure isn’t me.” 10 years after the Great Recession, and the gap between rich and poor has grown even wider, while wealth has accumulated into fewer and fewer hands. Meanwhile on the horizon, automation seeks to amplify this process while at the same time the elites are signalling a push to gut basic programs for the poor, the elderly, and the infirm.

Wanting to know more about the forces causing this reality, in this episode, we catch up with two people involved in the Global Supply Chains, which works to map the strengths and weaknesses of modern capitalism and looks at ways in which working-class people could possibly take action at choke points, leveraging the maximum amount of power.

In the first part of the podcast, we begin the conversation with a discussion about the massive transfer of wealth in the wake of the Great Recession, the rise of the ‘precariat,’ the growth of the service sector and the gig economy, and how capitalists in big cities are literally running out of workers as gentrification pushes out more and more wage earners. We then discuss economically, what has taken place under Trump over the last year, looking at both the “economic nationalism” of Bannon and the tough talk by Trump to leave behind neoliberalism. Lastly, we discuss the growing push towards automation and robotization and what this signals for everyday people.

We then switch gears and discuss the work of Global Supply Chains, and how this work can inform both current anti-capitalist workers struggles as well as environmental battles taking place against resource extraction.

As both tech capital and gentrification rearranges the world around us, pushing millions into the margins while working us harder and longer for less and less money, we find our lives becoming more and more precarious. In this context, we need to find ways of analyzing and understanding the networks of power, energy, and capital in ways benefit our struggles on the ground.

More Info: Supply Chain’s Research blog

Music: Sole

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