A thorough knowledge of Marx’s works and how they apply to the modern world is essential for fighters today.
Recently The Guardian and other news outlets published the “Paradise Papers”, which consisted of millions of documents exposing how the very rich avoid tax by using tax havens.
Even the Labour Party was found to be using off-shore tax havens with regard to its property.
These murky goings on in deepest Africa were exposed when the Papers revealed that an Israeli billionaire had been given a loan of $45m by Glencore, a Swiss based mining company, for him to secure mining rights within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Congo is the source of most of a metal called cobalt, which is a by-product of copper and nickel mining, and in the last year the price of cobalt has doubled to $60,125 a metric ton.
The reason for the rise is that Cobalt is essential in the production of new generation electric cars, mobile phones etc.
The demand for cobalt is estimated to rise 47 fold from last year’s by 2030.
The sad reality is, according to Amnesty International, there is an estimated 40,000 child labourers work producing cobalt.
They work for $1 to $2 a day without gloves to protect their skin or masks to protect their breathing.
They suffer from lung disease and skin problems as the metal is toxic and the work is dusty.
They have to constantly carry sacks of the metal, which weigh between 20 and 40 kilos.
Ten out of 100 children in Congo die before they reach the age of 5, and more than 40 percent have stunted growth due to malnutrition.
Many companies have production or distribution centres in the UK and EU that use Cobalt: Apple, BMW, Toyota, Dell, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors (Vauxhall), HP, Microsoft and Sony and so on. Child labour means these companies will profit.
Up to US$10-billion of copper and cobalt from Congo is sold each year.
So how do we understand why the children are used and paid so poorly while the large multinational companies enjoy such high profits?
Simply, it is exploitation and extreme oppression.
Firstly, they are exploited in the Congo.
Global Witness in 2017 said at least $750m paid by companies to the Congo’s tax agencies and state-owned mining company Gecamines disappeared between 2013 and 2015, and that some of the funds were distributed among corrupt networks linked to President Joseph Kabila.
Secondly the likes of Glencore and middlemen like Gertler and then the companies that produce and sell the finished product be it an electric car or an iPhone, exploit them.
Capitalism’s drive for profits sacrifices young lives so that phone and car makers can continue to feed profits to the world’s stock exchanges.
As Marx revealed in Capital all profit, ultimately, is unpaid wages.
The mines belong to the Congolese people not imperialism or corrupted governments. Child labour and slavery must end.