Brian Holmes on Mon, 27 May 2013 09:33:32 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Driverless cars, pilotless planes -- will there be jobs left for a human beings

On 05/24/2013 04:50 AM, nettime's avid reader wrote:

Larry Summers, former US treasury secretary, thinks that
the challenge of the decades ahead is not debt or competition from
China but the dramatic transformations that technology is bringing
...  a world of what Summers calls automated "doers".
They will do everything for us, eliminating the need for much work.
The only jobs will be in writing the software and building the
"doers", creating a bifurcation of the labour market that is already

Summers is just as dead wrong as Will Hutton, the author of this article. Summers assumes that production is the only job that counts, therefore, automation can only produce massive unemployment. Meanwhile Hutton, with the utopian visions of his conclusion, assumes that heightened production will free people for human development: care for the ageing, the solution of ecological problems, the explosion of creative professions. Neither will admit that the maintenance of a social order requires a very large number of professional educators, ideologists artists and thinkers. That is exactly the case of society today, whose predatory form of financial capitalism is maintained and developed by an oversized management sector, including politicians and technocrats alongside bankers, CEOs, strategists, advertisers, designers, human-resource psychologists, union bosses, entertainers, etc. We live under the grip of *that* professional universe, whose expansion and accumulation of power has marked the entire neoliberal era. If there is no counter-project, their power will only grow in the course of this crisis.

Breaking the neoliberal grip and learning to live otherwise, learning to imagine, desire and put into effect another kind of collective existence, would require large investments in education, in renewed forms of the humanities, in cooperative processes, in the maintenance of community and ecology, in the development of a philosophy of coexistence that makes exploitation obsolete. We can clearly "afford" those investments, since we can afford to print over $10 trillion, in the US alone, to bail out the current financial-ideologial system! Today's managers know this, that is why there is a such a concerted and vigorous worldwide move to dismantle the existing educational apparatus and replace it with online job-training for the corporate sector. While profiting from the bailouts that sustain their vampire culture, they want to use technological unemployment to impose greater competitive discipline. For those currently at the top, squeezing uncontrolled thought and imagination out of the public sphere is just the same as squeezing labor out of production. Yet without a far-reaching change in education and in ethos, automation can only reinforce all the negative trends of today's societies, where classes are pitted against each other, mainly in an aggressive battle of the upper sectors against everyone else. What has been developed by the neoliberal managers is a bloodsucking form of suicidal society. But so far, even in the face of a tremendous economic crisis, there has been no change of these trends, only continuing attempts at the radical intensification of already failed policies.

The horizon of change today is artistic, cultural, social and political. It asks for fresh kinds of perception and imagination, wiser and more generous forms of thinking, a upsurge in the capacity of social cooperation, and the translation of all that, not only into new technologies for surviving and thriving, but above all, into a new governing system. None of these things can be accomplished by individuals or small spontaneous groups: they all demand the construction of coherent middle- and long-term movements operating under the influence of a kind of ecological common sense that takes the codevelopment of human and natural potentials as a guide, replacing the exclusive profit of a few which is today's measure of success. It's obvious that current governments and two-party systems will not create these movements or the common sense from which they could spring. They will have to be created outside existing institutions, through stuggle that is not only about dissent and violence. Revolution does not occur by just throwing out the old. It must be preceeded and carried forward by the constituent forces of a new way of living. How to become part of such constitutive forces? How to cooperate outside the neoliberal pattern of automation and competition? Isn't this the central question of the current crisis?

I would love to hear what people think.

best, Brian

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