Economics/Class Relations

THOUGHTS ON THE ‘ABOLITION OF WORK’

Obviously, work can’t merely be “abolished.” No matter how much automation, driverless trucks, robots, etc we use to eliminate “work,” somebody still has to design, build, and maintain the technology behind all that. And in the present system, the more automation we have, the more unemployment we’re going to have. For instance, the introduction of driverless delivery trucks, passenger cars, etc is probably not that far away, and when that happens tens of millions of people who make their living as truck drivers, taxi/rideshare/bus drivers, couriers, etc will be unemployed.
I think the first step is to eliminate all forms of government intervention in the economy that have the effect of centralizing control over wealth and property. The function of nearly everything government does is to distribute wealth upward. If conservatives and right-libertarians who complain about “redistribution of wealth” were serious they would be anarchists (but, of course, they’re not serious, they merely don’t want affluent or rich people to pay taxes). To use some examples, at the local level, zoning laws artificially inflate the value of politically connected real estate interests at the cost of reducing the supply of housing and raising the cost of housing (this is the number 1 reason why West Coast cities have such a homeless problem). At the state level, laws of incorporation allow businesses to function as private states that have eternal life long after the death of their founders. The US military-industrial complex is a massive corporate welfare program for a range of industries and corporate interests. These are just a few examples, I’d be sitting here typing on Facebook for the next week if I tried to explain all this fully.
Without the infinite array of government policies that distribute wealth upwards, the number of enterprises would increase, which would increase worker bargaining power as workers would have more employers to choose from, and self-employment would be a more viable option for many people. Increased worker bargaining power means that businesses would be operated on a more horizontal basis, and without using the state to game the system, it would be harder for businesses to grow to massive sizes or extend over vast trade networks, so localized systems of production for local consumption would be more commonplace. Also, the state and the systems of market domination inherent in the corporate system have the effect of crowding out non-market systems, so minus the former, what economists call the “independent sector” (non-market, non-state, basically) would be much larger in the form of gift-economy sectors, mutual aid, cooperatives, communes, non-market systems of exchange (including fairly large systems of non-market exchange), etc.
If you add to the above things like worker, consumer, tenant, student, community, etc. self-mobilization, and create industrial, commercial, technological, financial, etc structures where the interests of all stakeholders are proportionally represented, economic policies in both the market and non-market sectors are going to be more likely to take into account wishes like shorter working hours, better working conditions, unemployment compensation, environmental hazards, etc. so technologies, like automation, would be more frequently and consistently applied for such purposes, with systems of support being provided for persons displaced by technological innovation. That means it would be possible to structure labor relations so that workers could work less without accepting dire poverty as the consequence. Maybe the mass production of robots will eventually be on a scale where everyone has a personal robot that does their job for them (just like everyone now has a cell phone or computer, or car or microwave). Although there is still going to have to be “work” even if it’s mostly just a matter of maintaining the technology that renders other forms of “work” obsolete.

1 reply »

  1. I would like the raccoon that has killed 4 of my chickens to be abolished. In the morning I hear squawking, run outside to see the fat fucker run off with one in it’s mouth. By the time grab my 22, it is gone. I spend he next week trying to trap the sucker, but a month later another chicken is gone. Build a robot for that please!! I’ve been working my ass off for these eggs.

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