Eric Miller on Wed, 9 Nov 2016 23:19:00 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> What is the meaning of Trump's victory?

So I live in a very blue coastal state.  Every couple months I manage to get up into the mountains.  And every time I’ve been up there in the past couple years, I’ve passed a large truck in testing camouflage. It’s an autonomous truck, being run around and around and around the mountain to perfect self-driving technology.  When that technology is perfected, that’s 3.5 million jobs at risk in the US alone.

So that’s what I don’t get about the current discourse.  Sure, we can and should acknowledge the glaring deficiencies of capitalism and find ways to change the system and to ameliorate the impact.  But that’s not the whole picture.  Pennsylvania steel mills didn’t go out of business in the 70s because of cheap Chinese steel, they went out of business because their mills weren’t competitive against small domestic mini-mills.  Domestic auto manufacturing employment didn’t slump in the 80s just because Japanese cars were cheaper and better, it slumped because improving automation meant fewer workers were needed.  And right now my company is busy working with machine learning technologies, which we have to acknowledge will be disruptive to a lot of white-collar positions vulnerable to AI-driven automation. 

This change has worked out well for us out on the coasts, but it sucks for my family members back in the Midwest who are living through the hollowing out of their communities due to globalization, automation, and the emergence of capital-dominant business models.

We can’t just focus on the flaws of capitalism.  To me, Trump’s election is Exhibit A in what we can expect if we don’t find a way to give people meaningful lives in an emerging world of automation owned by big capital.  Maybe that’s Basic Income, maybe it’s something else we haven’t come up with yet.  But the longer it takes, the more disruption we can expect in social and political realms when substantial swaths of the population continue to feel unmoored from their communities and themselves.


Eric Miller
O: 503 488 5951 / M: 503 780 1847 / SQM.IO

> On Nov 9, 2016, at 12:44 AM, Brian Holmes <> wrote:
> Capitalism requires that everyone compare their earnings to your
> neighbor's. But democratic capitalism demands at least some
> redistribution, so that your neighbors do not become the object of
> envy and hatred. What's more, democratic capitalism demands from
> everyone some sense of higher mission, so that the competitors in the
> struggle of all against all can at least temporarily forget the fire
> of their competition. The Democratic Party has been unable to offer
> either redistribution or a shared sense of purpose. They claimed
> to support minorities, but they denied that support with their own
> actions. Their strategy has been an abysmal failure.

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