Monday, September 12, 2016

Omnia sunt communia

Compiled from various Fully Automated Luxury Communism

All things are held in common

The world is in bad shape. Every reasonably intelligent, aware, objective person in the world knows that something is very, very wrong. In the next few decades, your job is likely to be automated out of existence. If things keep going at this pace, it will be great news for capitalism. You’ll join the floating global surplus population, used as a threat and cudgel against those “lucky” enough to still be working in one of the few increasingly low-paying roles requiring human input. Existing racial and geographical disparities in standards of living will intensify as high-skill, high-wage, low-control jobs become more rarified and centralized, while the global financial class shrinks and consolidates its power. National borders will continue to be used to control the flow of populations and place migrant workers into precarious jobs. The environment will continue to be the object of vicious extraction and the dumping ground for the pollution externalities of capitalist modes of production.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. The task of socialists is to fight against this enforcement of misery upon people. Socialists insist freedom is possible only under conditions of economic and political equality, which can be achieved only through ongoing practices of solidarity prompted by care for the well-being of others. Egalitarianism at the heart of socialism. Socialists basically seek a post-scarcity world, in which there would be no incentive for people to become a wage-slave or to follow a politician.

Marx talked about a future world where people are free to fish in the afternoon and criticize after dinner. Technological advances have freed mankind from drudgery and toil. Many now abandon revolutionary hopes based that, somehow, a crisis and accompanying misery will provide the spur for change. Instead, they believe we should be embracing the new possibilities of the cybernetic revolution where automation and robotics can provide luxury for all. A socialist future where employment (wage slavery) as we know it disappears, and humanity enjoys an era of unprecedented leisure. Although it is the familiar tactics to unionize and protect workers’ rights in the face of expansive and exploitative capitalism, we have yet to see how the trade unions can flourish alongside mass automation. Will they be able to compete and ensure workers with stable and secure livelihoods?

Due to propaganda and past failures of mis-labeled totalitarian states, communism is associated with mass poverty, penury and state repression - the opposite of luxury. The term luxury communism is simply a new title for Marx's ideal in which the abundance created by automation would provide for the free distribution of goods and relative freedom from labour. With half of today's jobs will become obsolete with automation within the next ten years or so, establishing common ownership could easily provide a post-scarcity economy in which everyone's basic needs could be provided for with the minimum of labour - allowing what Marx would call free time.

 It is the modern version of "We Want Bread and Roses Too."