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6

Ours to Master

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notes

, J. (2015). Ours to Master. Jacobin, 17, pp. 6-12

7

The original Luddites are similarly misunderstood. As Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote in a 1952 article, machine breaking was a common tactic of labor resistance during the Industrial Revolution. Rather than directing their anger at technology per se, workers broke machines “as a means of coercing their employers into granting them concessions with regard to wages and other matters.” Such sabotage “was directed not only against machines, but also against raw material, finished goods, and even the private property of employers.”

The modern figure of the Luddite is valuable to capitalists and their ideologues for primarily rhetorical reasons: if workers can be portrayed as hostile to some method or device that has manifestly positive qualities, they can be dismissed as selfish or irrational. Never mind that in many cases, the problem is that useful and potentially emancipatory technologies are trapped within a capitalist integument, optimized to maximize private profit rather than social wealth.

—p.7 by Jacobin 4 years, 1 month ago

The original Luddites are similarly misunderstood. As Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote in a 1952 article, machine breaking was a common tactic of labor resistance during the Industrial Revolution. Rather than directing their anger at technology per se, workers broke machines “as a means of coercing their employers into granting them concessions with regard to wages and other matters.” Such sabotage “was directed not only against machines, but also against raw material, finished goods, and even the private property of employers.”

The modern figure of the Luddite is valuable to capitalists and their ideologues for primarily rhetorical reasons: if workers can be portrayed as hostile to some method or device that has manifestly positive qualities, they can be dismissed as selfish or irrational. Never mind that in many cases, the problem is that useful and potentially emancipatory technologies are trapped within a capitalist integument, optimized to maximize private profit rather than social wealth.

—p.7 by Jacobin 4 years, 1 month ago
9

[...] Winning a share of the fruits of automation for the rest of us requires victory at the level of the state rather than the individual workplace.

This could be done through a universal basic income, a minimum payment guaranteed to all citizens completely independent of work. If pushed by progressive forces, the UBI would be a non-reformist reform that would also quicken automation by making machines more competitive against workers better positioned to reject low wages. It would also facilitate labor organization by acting as a kind of strike fund and cushion against the threat of joblessness.

A universal basic income could defend workers and realize the potential of a highly developed, post-scarcity economy; it could break the false choice between well-paid workers or labor-saving machines, strong unions or technological advancement.

not sure how I feel about this ... seems like it could easily lead to a local maximum (suboptimal equilibrium)

—p.9 by Jacobin 4 years, 1 month ago

[...] Winning a share of the fruits of automation for the rest of us requires victory at the level of the state rather than the individual workplace.

This could be done through a universal basic income, a minimum payment guaranteed to all citizens completely independent of work. If pushed by progressive forces, the UBI would be a non-reformist reform that would also quicken automation by making machines more competitive against workers better positioned to reject low wages. It would also facilitate labor organization by acting as a kind of strike fund and cushion against the threat of joblessness.

A universal basic income could defend workers and realize the potential of a highly developed, post-scarcity economy; it could break the false choice between well-paid workers or labor-saving machines, strong unions or technological advancement.

not sure how I feel about this ... seems like it could easily lead to a local maximum (suboptimal equilibrium)

—p.9 by Jacobin 4 years, 1 month ago