Surplus to Requirements

“If work was a good thing, the rich would have it all and not let you do it.”
—Elmore Leonard, American novelist, born October 11, 1925

MolochHad a piece yesterday about Singapore looking underground for space to grow, and recalled some classic visions concerning work of the future. “Metropolis” extrapolates from the dreadful human cost of the First Industrial Revolution a world where people are literally fed to the machines. H.G. Wells understood that the owning class would be happy to sequester the working class underground and keep the surface to themselves. The bitter irony in his story is that the workers evolve into cannibalistic brutes who prey on the feather-headed descendants of their “betters.”

But in the 20th century the logic of capitalism and the logic of the machine made a world more like Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Machines provide abundance. Mindless consumerism is the real job of the inhabitants of the World State. We’ve lived there for decades. Henry Ford’s insight that better paid workers would make better consumers generated the world, with a little help from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, of the long boom between the end of World War Two and the capitalist counter-revolution of the greed-is-good 1980s.

Masses of reasonably well-paid consumers will not be required to keep the machine humming in the future. With automation. labor in the traditional meaning of the word is literally unnecessary. The question for the 21st century is what to do with all those consumers whose work is now surplus to requirements. What happens next?


Why not come to Don’t Eat Lunch Alone in Easthampton today & tell me why I’m wrong?

Today’s Events

THURSDAY October 10  
5:00-7:00PM Easthampton Easthampton Networking by Night
5:00PM Northampton NAYP October Networking Social
5:00-7:00PM North Adams BYP October Networking Social
SATURDAY October 12  
12:00-6:30PM Shelburne Falls TEDx Shelburne Falls 2013


1913 Encyclopedia Britannica Ad“Q: What don’t you like about online advertising? ”A: Initially, it was just the annoyance of the ads themselves. At this point, they’ve crept into everything – mobile phones, tablets, social platforms. What’s next, the car? When we started thinking about the idea and looking at it more seriously, we started to notice privacy violations that are going on. Users’ information is routinely being shipped off to third parties without users’ control or knowledge, and that changed our outlook on advertising further. The fact is, you’re not tolerating ads in exchange for free content and services, you’re swapping your privacy and your information for it.”

What’s Behind One Man’s Anti-Ad Crusade

The Last Word

“El día que la mierda tenga algún valor, los pobres nacerán sin culo.”
—Gabriel García Márquez

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