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([personal profile] atolnon May. 23rd, 2017 09:30 am)
I like the idea of fully automated luxury communism in theory, but in practice it tends to be messy, and I generally regard it as “the singularity,” but for leftists.

The communism angle I get, but not everything can or should be automated, and the things that can be automated are not always things that we would even want to exist in the first place. For example, I guess, although I think consumer electronics have a pretty substantial benefit, we certainly don’t need to turn them out in the numbers we do currently. The same is true for almost everything, really. I’m not an aesthetic, but FALC feels very much like a “First World” idea, and the First World really has to learn to rein in its consumption because, frankly, we’re acting like embarrassing children about it.

So, large scale industrial automation might be fine, but I feel like when people get hype about automation, what they’re actually getting excited about is the ability to never have to work again. And, you know, I like that idea in principle, but it’s really not practical. I’m not trotting out some concept of “work to eat,” because I think that we’re clearly to a point where not everyone has to work, and we can probably make it so that anyone who can’t, won’t, or doesn’t want to work probably doesn’t have to. That’s good! But it seems likely that there will always be work of one dimension or another to do, and I think the idea of FALC tend to bury that.

How do we address that some people will inevitably be working, but there won’t be enough work in the sense of production for everyone? First, I think that almost everyone does work all the time, and a great deal of it is disregarded because it’s not “productive,” so that’s something we need to account for. Even if they weren’t, we’re not leaving anyone behind. That’s why increasing automation is so troublesome for capitalism - because it’s increasingly trying to locate a workforce and offload its waste and product (often just another form of waste, to be frank) to and on new markets. That’s my principle objection to the universal wage in, say, America. It would functionally turn the US into a plantation state where many of us passively receive the benefits from the continued exploitation of the third world. While I don’t really buy into something like Settlers, this really would create a material reality where the proletariat (a term I’m finding increasingly less useful) working classes in the US into those who effectively direct shareholders in every system of extraction and oppression in US-corporate colonial states.

The Musks, Bezos, and Zuckerburgs are thinking ahead, and there’s little doubt that they expect to be the new post-industrial god-kings after this late-stage capitalism gambit crumbles, and it’s generally pretty clear what their agenda is. It’s true that capitalism in the form it has taken now can’t last; heavy automation and digitization have taken an incredible toll on who can be “allowed” to work and what can even be effectively sold anymore. Because they’re in a very good position to simply buy out what’s left of the US infrastructure when the time comes, it seems unlikely that there will be anyone to stop them, regardless of how problematic their agenda will actually be.
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