Monday, October 3, 2011

The Luddites Had a Point

If you can replace many workers with a machine all of those workers are out of a job and their children need to find new careers. As each career becomes victim to increased productivity most workers have nothing to do. Because they have nothing to do they earn nothing; earning nothing they have no means of taking care of themselves. Not being able to take care of themselves, they die or descend into some form of servile labor forced to compete with their fellows for some crappy, ill-paid job or another. This is, in fact, the story of mechanization from weaving to welding. Machines replace labor power as capital improves its profits and workers stand about cleaning the rich folks windows. The promise of robot labor and such like failed to account for the mass of unemployed and unemployable. A reasonable person surveying the current catastrophe, it seems to me, would conclude that the erroneous optimism was, you know, erroneous and shift gears or change horses or some other metaphor that includes the notion of being wrong. Not so our neoliberals. Rather they would condemn more of us to repeat the follies of the past. Efficiency, productivity, and machine power haven't yet, they seem to argue, created the utopia Neoliberalism promised; however, they insist, if we just continue . . .

What are we for? Work that offers remuneration sufficient to live. What are we against? Nearly 30 years of political decisions that make that impossible; a continued commitment to economic efficiency that dooms generations to vile underemployment. Consider or remember why it was that Solon reformed Athens.

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