Ahead of today’s German election, all the main parties have emphasized the need to green the auto industry. But the state’s strategic support for electric cars isn’t an attempt to save the planet — it’s about enhancing German capital’s supremacy over its foreign competition.
Hans Zobel is a historian and works in adult education.
Upon its launch ten years ago, Germany’s Industry 4.0 program promised a fourth industrial revolution changing the way we work. Yet for all the talk of novelty, it followed age-old capitalist imperatives: using labor-saving technology not to lessen our workload but subject us to even tighter workplace discipline.
Two hundred years since his birth, Friedrich Engels is often considered a man rooted in the culture of 19th-century thought. But if not all his predictions ring true, his critique of the rising industrial capitalism offers penetrating insights into our own present.
With US hegemony in decline, China and the European Union are each vying to impose their own leadership over the next wave of digitalization. Donald Trump’s talk of “America First” expressed this rivalry in especially crude terms — but even after his departure, the contest among the main world powers is only intensifying.