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fully automated luxury communism

September 22 2016 at 6:59 PM
Palmiro Togliatti 

 

It's the new trend in communism. Or is it?

https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/publicly-fund-the-transition-to-a-society-beyond-work/

I would be interested to know what comrades think of this new current in Marxist thinking. Is it even Marxist?

I know that, to some extent it's not new - Gorz and some of the French Euros were exploring such shifts in focus in the 80s, although that came to be associated with challenge to Marxist valorisation of labour and, largely because of the title of Gorz's first work on the subject, an anti-working class stance.

The current version re-reads Marx and especially seems to focus on the incomplete notes on machines from the posthumously published Grundrisse. So, is this a shift away from work another move away from labour - is this an extension of alienation or the sublimation of new era of socialist potential?


 
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Francis King

antecedents

September 23 2016, 9:20 AM 

Paul Lafargue's classic pamphlet hasn't lost much of its pertinence:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1883/lazy/

It's a much more attractive proposition than the "glory to labour" approach of work-camp socialism.

 
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Palmiro Togliatti

thanks

September 24 2016, 3:24 PM 

Thanks for the link Francis, I had forgotten about that. I was only ever aware of the title, I think Monty Johnstone introduced me to it, but I never read it.

There's certainly something more attractive about the idle life than the relentless socialist competition of Stakhanovite movement.


 
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Jeremy Hawthorn

same old same old

September 23 2016, 11:22 AM 

Ever since I can remember (at least 60 years) there has been stuff in the media about how new technology will mean that we will only have to work a day a week, or something like this. But when a decrease in the length of the working day or week takes place, it does so not primarily because of the impact of technology, but because of the political pressure exerted by unions. Companies all over the world are, at the present time, sacking staff because of the financial crisis, and requiring those left behind to work additional hours. Someone I talked to in the catering trade told me horror stories of the hours worked in kitchens in London. Do secretaries now work fewer hours since typewriters have been replaced by PCs? Do they buggery!

 
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Jeremy Hawthorn

reality check

October 8 2016, 9:25 AM 


 
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Palmiro Togliatti

no struggle

October 9 2016, 12:39 PM 

Jeremy,


I'm by no means a new accelerationist - the Fully Automated Luxury Communism current springs from the academic 'manifesto for an accelerationist politics'https://syntheticedifice.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/accelerate.pdf - but I think the question is worth engaging with. In this light isn't your defence of the job premised entirely on Capital's appropriation of Labor-power through commodification? Your response appears to offer the extant relations as somehow essential and in perpetuity.

The question posed is not, does Capital still require Labour to convert the dead-labour of the machine into surplus value? I think that's still unquestionably so - the PC definitely sublimates the exploitation of labour power into a surplus for appropriation. Under the sign of Capital, Machines are designed to get more from labour. That is the economic logic of Capital. The questions must be to invert the economic reason and ask, can economic relations be rethought to get more from machines? This seems to be to be entirely valid question to propose and engage with. Surely?

"The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind."

Maybe the answer is that techno-utopianism, a fair accusation that might be levelled at the new accelerations, leaves them drunk on idealism and looking at the conditions of life through beer-googles?

Maybe you can unpack your response a little for me?

 
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Jeremy Hawthorn

gleams

October 11 2016, 9:21 AM 

To be fair, we were talking about two different things. You were asking what sort of life we could envisage post capitalism, when technological advances were no longer used to extract more surplus value from workers. I was noting that those positioned ideologically and economically within capitalism keep harping on about how we'll soon all be working a one-day week because machines will work for us - noting that technological advance in existing society typically means worse working conditions (Ford, "speed-up", etc etc). James Klugmann was always on about how important "the gleam" was for those struggling against capitalism - i.e. a vision of a better society. True. But until we restrict population growth, get rid of world poverty, capitalism and imperialism, there's not much chance of that. So little chance at the present moment, that I personally can't engage with such discussions. Perhaps that's wrong of me, but there it is.

 
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Palmiro Togliatti

thanks

October 12 2016, 8:44 AM 

thanks

 
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