South Africa: 'The 4IR Super-Highway' - a Dangerously Technocratic Utopia

opinion

The first three industrial revolutions have not created a just and humane world, so why do we believe that the 4IR will do any better?

The recent Daily Maverick column by Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, "Covid-19 has forced us into the fast land of the 4IR super-highway" (28 May) prompted the recollection of one of the early 1990s policy debates on higher education. This had to do with Fordism and post-Fordism and their implications for the educational and social purposes and roles of the post-1994 higher education system and its universities.

Professor Bob Jessop notes that Fordism referred to the system of industrial mass production innovated by the car manufacturer Ford in the early 20th century. Fordism was more than just a certain way of producing goods.

It was embedded in a capitalist economic and social order with a global reach and footprint. It shaped and reproduced capitalism in various ways, was accompanied by forms of regulation involving capitalists, businesses, workers, trade unions and the state, and affected consumption, education, media and politics.

Capitalism is a system that is beset by endemic crisis - recall the recent 2008 crisis. And Fordism was no different. From the 1970s, post-Fordism arose on the...

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