Economic History Case Studies: Fourth Industrial Revolution (2000-2100)

For several notable Entries of Economic History Case Studies, I described Deindustrialization as a multifaceted problem. My discussions of Deindustrialization contextualized the phenomenon from political, economic, social, financial, and technological factors. I also argued that Deindustrialization cannot be fully attributed to either Globalization or Automation insofar as the reality happens to be a combination of both. The development of Technologies designed to eliminate Arbeit, the desire to exploit newer sources of Kapital in developing countries, the Death of Bretton Woods, and the renewed emphasis on Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are all aspects of the Deindustrialization phenomenon.

Another variation of Deindustrialization covered in Economic History Case Studies was the issue of “Premature Deindustrialization” among developing countries. In countries such as Mainland China for instance, there is a trend where overall employment in the Manufacturing Sector stalls or declines even though the national economy has not yet developed a sizeable Services Sector to accommodate the transfer of personnel across different Enterprises and Industries. In China, employment in the Manufacturing Sector reached a plateau in 2012 and ceased to grow altogether in the years since then.

In every discussion of Deindustrialization, there is the recurring trend of the Manufacturing Sector no longer having to employ as many personnel as it once did. The trend can be compared to what has occurred within agricultural production in the Natural Sector, where the mechanization of agriculture after 1945 left farmers deprived of Arbeit and arable farmland. With agriculture becoming increasingly mechanized, the Agriculture Industry reduced the number of farmhands in its economic activities. Although that phenomenon had been occurring since the 19th century, its effects grew more pronounced in the 20th century as a result of the two World Wars. What has happened in the Agriculture Industry after 1945 later unfolded in the Manufacturing Sectors of most Western countries after the Death of Bretton Woods.    

The significance of those implications was mentioned in greater depth in The Third Place (1st Ed.). Technologies are continuing to be developed with the aim of eliminating Arbeit in the interests of Kapital. That has been the Liberal Capitalist conception of Technology: develop new techniques of creating more Kapital whilst eliminating Arbeit. Proper applications of the Work-Standard will advocate for the reverse: develop new techniques of creating Arbeit whilst eliminating Kapital.

The best implementation of Technology under the Work-Standard is one where Technology enables the Totality and the State to discover new forms of Arbeit among the Domains of the Work-World. Existing sources of Arbeit, based on their overall Quality of Arbeit (QW), are to be preserved as much as possible. If Technology does not reveal new forms of Arbeit, it must at the very least improve the QWs of existing sources or bring any Actual Arbeit of subpar Quality under the Mechanization Rate (MR). The Self, the individual, has to be able to control Technology and not be controlled by it. Such a goal will only be achieved under a Financial Regime where Arbeit, not Kapital, forms the basis for the conception of Currency intended for the Totality and State within their everyday economic activities.

Deindustrialization is not a permanent fixture of economic life. It can and should be reversed as much as possible through the combined efforts of the State, the Totality, and the Self. This topic has been emerging in recent years as “Reindustrialization,” the deliberate process of restoring the primacy of the Manufacturing Sector as the most important source of Actual Arbeit within the Work-World. The Natural Sector, the Services Sector, and the Digital Sector rely on the industrial capabilities of the Manufacturing Sector for their economic livelihoods. Wherever Reindustrialization is expressed by its proponents, it is often done as part of a subset within economic policy known as “Industrial Policy.”   

The justifications for Reindustrialization in the State of Total Mobilization, however, are not being conveyed to promote Arbeit and the Work-Standard in particular as a monetary policy. Often, the associated rhetoric and literature insist that there is a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” slowly being born in the early 21st century. It seeks to serve as a sort of synthesis between the mass production of the Second Industrial Revolution that occurred in the early 20th century and the digital capabilities of the Third Industrial Revolution in the late 20th century. The Manufacturing Sector, the argument goes, can still regain its primacy in the national economy if it can harness emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the National Intranet, 3D Printing, Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The outcomes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will not become apparent to anyone until the late 21st century at the earliest or the early 22nd century at the latest. Therefore, the purpose of “Industrial Policy” is to outline strategic goals for the Manufacturing Sector to pursue, such as how its Industries implement those technologies or where and when they should be deployed throughout the broader national economy.

Against the backdrop of Reindustrialization lies an important implication for the State of Total Mobilization in the 21st century. Deindustrialization and the Death of Bretton Woods have no effect on the State of Total Mobilization insofar as the State of Total Mobilization is a metaphysical concept that has been around since the First Industrial Revolution between late 18th and early 19th centuries. What has been affecting the State of Total Mobilization is the increased role of the digital realm within everyday life. In the digital realm, the world has yet to witness a precedent in which the State of Total Mobilization itself is brought to the forefront. Of course, what exactly is that “precedent” that must occur in the digital realm in order for the State of Total Mobilization to finally consolidate its presence therein?

As it stands, economic life in the digital realm is quite limited. Not a technical limitation, but a conceptual one. So far, the most obvious signs of economic activity are Paywalls, Social Media, Advertising, Cryptocurrencies, NFTs, eCommerce, Data Mining and Analytics, and Gaming (such as online multiplayer subscriptions, microtransactions and online gambling platforms). The digital realm, as I have argued in The Work-Standard and The Third Place, remains untapped because Kapital is too incognizant of the digital realm’s latent capabilities.  In essence, I am referring to the fact that Actual Arbeit does not exist in the digital realm. This is of course an inherent limitation of the digital realm. Everyone realizes how the digital realm has become an important part of everyday life. Everyone also recognizes the importance of the Manufacturing Sector within economic life.

What has not yet been realized in the digital realm is how to specifically bring the Natural and Manufacturing Sectors into the digital realm. Nobody from the Natural Sector is literally relying on the digital realm to harvest crops, just as nobody from the Manufacturing Sector produces finished goods for the Services Sector on the digital realm. One might speak of creating virtual crops and cattle in a gaming server, but not actual ones which a gourmet restaurant might buy in order to prepare someone else’s three-course dinner. One might even be inclined to think of the Manufacturing Sector programming and running automated machinery on an assembly line, but not an online manufacturer where a civil engineer could place orders for spare parts and have them delivered to a drydock or assembly plant at any given time.   

The idea of treating the digital realm, whether we are speaking of the World Wide Web (WWW) or the National Intranet, as the engine of (Re)industrialization seems fantastical or far-fetched. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, meanwhile, wishes to change that. Make no mistake: whatever comes out of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is no doubt that Digital Arbeit, the digital realm’s equivalent of Actual Arbeit, will be one of its creations. Humanity already knew how to create Actual Arbeit and Military Arbeit at the dawn of the 21st century. Digital Arbeit, however, is another matter altogether. Whoever realizes Digital Arbeit without neglecting the importance of Actual Arbeit will eventually make the Life-Energization Reciprocal Electrification (LERE) Process and the Mechanization Rate concepts from the Work-Standard conceivable. That will be the opportune moment for the National Intranet to become an attractive alternative to the WWW.

Categories: Economic History

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  1. Thus Spoke Lenin: On Prussian State Capitalism (Pt. I of III) – The Fourth Estate

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