Automation and the working class: Workers' Liberty 3/70

Automation and the working class: Workers' Liberty 3/70

Click here to download pdf . The pdf is correct; but because of an error in our office (sorry!), page 15 is missing from the initial hard-copy print run, and page 16 is printed twice. We've printed page 15 as an "errata sheet", and it can be downloaded here: Click here to download errata sheet .

Automation and the working class

According to one account in 2013, 47% of jobs in the USA risk being automated away within “a decade or two”.[1] That prospect has been interpreted as utopia or as dystopia. The near future will be one of networked individuals freed from drudgery by automation, and able easily to get what they want to consume and to undermine all hierarchies. Or: only a techno-elite will retain employment and wages. The rest of us will be reduced to a new pauper class vegetating on “universal basic income” handouts. Further research has queried the projections. Many tasks can be automated, but jobs involve more...

Marx's telescope

The working class is the revolutionary class. It is the gravedigger of capitalism and the architect of socialism. Everyone who has even heard of Karl Marx knows that those were central ideas. But Marx himself, in old age, gave an eager suggestion from a young co-thinker about producing an edition of his collected works the wry response: “They would first have to be written”. Marx wrote a lot, but only a fraction of what he planned to write, and that fraction selected by haphazard circumstances as well as by deliberation. Thus, the Communist Manifesto opens with the sentence: “The history of...

The future and robots

Fuelled by rapid developments in technological innovation hyped in recent years, although mostly developed over the last two decades, many cerebral types suggest we may be at the start of some significant changes in capitalist production. They even gave it a grandiose name: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Socialists, Marxists, progressives have a history of taking technology and advocating its use for more than just the most efficient exploitation. Perhaps however, the pace of innovation is making this harder. The techy elite, a traditionally well-meaning liberal bunch, and the...

Hipster reformism and the technological fix

Bruce Robinson reviews Aaron Bastani's 'Fully Automated Luxury Communism' Back in 2013-14 there was a lot of excitement on the left about “left accelerationism” and the prospect of a transition to a “post-capitalism” fuelled by technological advances based on information. Aaron Bastani coined the meme of “Fully Automated Luxury Communism” (FALC), and it led a fitful life on the Internet. It has now returned in the form of a book which sets out to be a manifesto. Since 2015 Bastani has moved from a politics rooted in “post-workerist” thinkers to become a born-again supporter of Jeremy Corbyn....

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