The Machine

I have said that this is inevitable, but may truly be the end of capitalism as we have understood it. Why? In Marxist theory, machinery and technology can increase the exploitation of worker by reducing socially necessary labor time. Okay? Fine. But machines, whiles cheaper, operate at cost and if the production of abundance removes most of the economy, this means that there is almost no circulation of currency. While capital owners can essentially just sell to other owners, the price drop without state intervention will cause these automations to undermine the economy that build them. In many ways, that is irrelevant to robots, but also means that these ways in increase labor exploitation actually accelerate not only innovation and efficiency, but the declining rates of profits as everything gets cheaper to produce but fewer can buy.

I am not predicting this will be a “final crisis of capitalism.”  Capitalism in its historical forms has changed by crisis… indeed, as both Marxist and Austrian economists have pointed out “Creative destruction” (crisis) is its lifeblood.  However, this DOES fundamentally change the economic logic of capital in ways that people do not really understand (and marginal theories of value have no way of accounting for).

In a group I am in, this came out, if “technology produces value” without being clearly delineated (wealth, use-value, and abstract value are not the same categories in Marxian or classical economics).  What is worrying in all this is the teleos of this technology: much of it is developed in either a military or a cost-cutting context, and its form will effect its function.  Furthermore, we have no idea what this will do the economy but it is clear that more and more individuals will be rendered surplus from work.  The advantages of first world workers will largely end, and even the service industry will be largely reduced.

In this primitivists and accelerationists–like deep green and bright green thinkers before them–will battle this out, but I think we must admit that future of instrumental reason is beyond us.  Instrumental reason has divorced itself from its service and will function on its own terms, changing the nature of labor relations.

The is a profound instability in this moment.  Much more profound than the “slight” restructuring of the last three decades.  My technocratic optimism moves to mirror transition from Bordiga to Camatte.  That said, I think the primitivist dream still posits a way out through reverse engineering as a form of negation:  I doubt this is more than a projection.   I have said many times why. 

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One thought on “The Machine

  1. It will change everything.

    With fewer workers, the entire field of management will become less necessary. Imagine vast hordes of unemployed managers with the only skill they possess being that of managing other people. Many highly skilled jobs will also be replaced by technology. Almost everything can be automated.

    One day, a robot CEO might be built that is more effective than a human CEO because it doesn’t have all those human failings such as a conscience. And if corporations can have personhood, why not also the robot CEO of that corporation? I’m only half kidding.

    The entire society as we have known it in modern history will no longer function as it once did. The economy will alter everything else in turn. This will cause more social disruption than the ending of slavery.

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