From the days of “The Poverty of Philosphy”, the world has changed. The pandemic had brought industries to home. Looking from the prespective of a labour in the times of industrial revolution, working from home would be no work at all. But in the second decade of the 21st century, after progressing for centuries human beings still have that “poverty”. Conflicts of ideologies are prevailing in the stage. Cold war is not a history anymore. The question is how hot has the cold war become. The entire history of mankind for the 17th,18th and some years of 19th century was driven by the labourers who revolutionized the way of human life. The miserable conditions that the workers were living in, were being potrayed in the contemporary major works. How different are these conditions today? Technologies have transformed the industries. Let us examine the crisis that we are facing today and those that are expected.
Pandemic and the labour
Billions have returned to home, either with wages or without. According to world bank report, in 2020 the unemployment rate had risen to 6.6% of the world population, highest since 2000. There are signs of relief as it had falled down to 6.2% in 2021. Although, Marshall Islands with a population of less than 60,000 people records the highest unemployment rate, South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the world among the major countries with 35.3% of unemployed people. Pandemic was a major contributor to the Economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
According to the International Labour Organization report in 2020 titled “World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2020” , in 2019, the global population aged 15 years and older (i.e. the working-age population) stood at an estimated 5.7 billion people (UN, 2019a). Of this total, 2.3 billion (39 per cent) were not part of the labour force, 3.3 billion (57 per cent) were in employment, and an estimated 188 million were unemployed
With the advent of pandemic, occupation of the people who depended on tourism was snatched away. In most parts of the world, the industry started to revive but it may take years to resume to a stage it was before. When about 334 million people in the world was occupied directly with the tourism industry in 2019, only 272 people are relying on toursim in 2021, as per the latest report. In India, auto drivers, taxi operators, private bus operators and those who depend on them were pushed to poverty.
Construction industry primarily depended on migrant labourers all over the world. Pandemic demolished the ambitions of workers in the industry, although for a shorter period of time. There were shortage of skilled and unskilled labourers. The trend predicted an increase in the number of people working in informal sector. Apart from the direct impact, industries that depended on the construction sector such as paints, cements etc. also faced severe challenges. About 7% of the working age population of the world is employed in construction sector.
A detailed study and industry wise reports might be more scary. Every industry had drastic effects of the pandemic ranging from severe to moderate. At the same time, new pastures have also been invented for survival by the people who had suffered. There were mushrooming of small sectors, but they were not capable to bring up a steady development.
War in Ukraine
Russian invasion of Ukraine amidst the pandemic dealt a severe blow to “the workers of world”. Economic sanctions imposed on the Russian federation and the dependence of the world on Russian resources including oil and gas has slowed down the process of revival from the pandemic. Gas prices around the world soared as much as the Russian Army advanced. Demands from Russian for payment in roubles also affected the imports, which in the end is a shot on the worker’s back. Europe is still skeptical about how inevitable could the Russian gas be for the European economy.
It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousnessKarl Marx 1859
A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
From the begining of this decade, mankind is experimenting with diasters. Experimenting because we are not even sure of the root of disasters, whether created artifically or naturally boomed. Pandemic, war , etc. weren’t somethings that we had thought we would experience in this age of information. Climate Change is making things hotter. Sustainable solutions to all the challenges can be resolved if mankind unites, if the “Workers of the world, unite!”. The source of all these crisis points to conflicts in the name of ideologies. Affilition to beliefs is major cause of intolerance. And even in the most developed societies, intolerance occupies space. It gives way to aggression or indiscrimation. As written by Marx, the whole process is “diaelectical”. In the end, it reflects in violence and war. And the result is devolution of mankind.