The Left on the Rise of the Robots By Brian Simpson
I stumbled onto this Left-wing site, “It’s Going Down,” by an accidental surfing and wash-out event. The opening bad language almost made me click off, but some perverse fascination kept my interest, as it seemed that even the Left are getting worried about the rise of the machines, and the displacement of workers:
“The scars of neoliberalism dot our landscape. But while outsourcing has pushed production overseas, at the same time in the last19 years, the majority of jobs lost in manufacturing, 85%, has been to machines that can now do the work of humans, also known as automation. Over the next 10 to 15 years, massive amounts of the American workforce are also expected to be displaced from their jobs by machines. As one expert on automation recently stated, cities like Las Vegas in ten years could become the next Detroit, as robots replace service workers. Meanwhile, other places will soon start to feel the hit with the coming of self-driving vehicles in the trucking industry, as massive corporations now pump billions into the creation of autonomous cars and trucks that will allow companies to compete with Amazon. The future is here, but only to leave us behind. In the face of this, economists and those in the tech industry expect two things. The first is simply that there will be widespread job displacement and loss; in short, things will get worse for the working class. But moreover, they argue that with so many workers making so little, there will be no one to buy their products. Such a situation, besides triggering a massive recession, may also lead to something the elites are even more afraid of: rebellion, revolt, and revolution.
In the face of this, more and more trolls, pundits, and corporate heads, from Richard Spencer to Mark Zuckerberg have begun to call for Universal Basic Income, or a set amount of guaranteed money that every “citizen” receives to keep them alive during a period of increasing job displacement due to automation. While many progressives and some on the Left are lining up to herald this new push as a step towards “socialism,” what is being promoted is anything but. The elites are hoping to buy social peace at the price of $1,000 per month, (at least in Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang‘s plan; others would probably offer less), while also hoping to slash a variety of social welfare programs in exchange, a move that would be devastating for the poor. The solution to both the push of capital to automate itself and the false solution of UBI is not to be found within capitalism, meaning: the State, wage labor, and private ownership of the means of existence. Instead, it is to be found in quite the opposite direction, in both the destruction and destitution of these things and what amounts to a reappropriation of the entire world. In short, the creation of commons, the end of the reign of profit, and the creation of relationships, networks, and infrastructure where things are produce and shared around the basis of human need.”
In a sense I do not radically disagree with much of this, only coming at it from a different philosophical tradition, social credit, not socialism. But, at least, there is common ground on what the problem is, and who is responsible, only we differ on the solution. Is there room for a merging of positions, or is the gulf too deep to bridge? One can only dream.
Authorised by K. W. Grundy
13 Carsten Court, Happy Valley, SA.