FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE ABOLITION OF MONEY

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And so we’ve arrived at the self-service airport with its do-it-yourself check-in. It should be easy, for we’ve already been well trained: we’ve all learned how to manage the tactile-screen world that we are ever so deeply enveloped by. Doesn’t it make everything so easy now? We used to speak metaphorically about having the world at your fingertips, but now it is a literal fact.

Nevertheless, the self-servicing of services at the airport, has definitely complicated rather than eased the consumer’s experience of catching a flight. The host at the check-in counter has been theoretically obsolete, although he or she seems to be just as busy as ever, and, perhaps even more stressed. Stressed, yes, because those of us checking in are definitely more stressed. Now, we must do all the work, and if there is an error … if there can be an error in the perfect self-service world … then it is we who are to blame.

The companies that have implemented self-service check-in will argue that by doing so they can keep ticket-costs low, but how much of that idea can we really believe. What self-servicing does indicate is that technology can effectively replace most kinds of customer-contact labour. There are restaurants that have made waiters obsolete by introducing tablet-app menus: just press the items you want and wait for the signal to go and pick your food up from the counter. Robots have automized industry: almost anything can be obtained from Amazon.com and the human-factor involved in the process of delivery is practically null.

Of course, Amazon delivers books, and the books are not (yet) written by machines. Did we say “not”? Woops. Correction: they already are,[1] and for the pulp-fiction editorial world the temptation to pre-programme a book with all the ingredients they “know” the readers want will be much more appetising than the traditional procedure of accepting manuscripts from cantankerous authors, that must be tediously edited in order to come up with the publishers’ needs.

Technology is destined to replace human labour – that is really part of its purpose – but what is the end-result of this process of “alleviating” labour? Surely, the ultimate goal is a society in which services and production-orientated work no longer has to be endured by the human members of society themselves.

Nevertheless, civilisation is still not geared toward, or even particularly conscious of this end-result. While the technological revolution unfolds, the political and economic fabric of the nation-states and the global economy enveloping them, remains the same. This is probably because the profits engendered from the tech revolution are immense for the few empowered with the control of that revolution. Whilst huge harvests can be reaped and the bubbling unrest from the non-privileged classes below doesn’t burst into revolt, Wealth has no intention of letting society develop into the technologically revolutionised Utopia that it should be evolving toward. Why would it? The self-servicing implied the complete technological redrafting of society suggests an evolution towards the non-necessity of money, and unto the abolition of Wealth itself. Of course, Wealth understands this. Technological progress is inevitable, but carries within it the seeds of Wealth’s own annihilation. We are governed oligarchically now by the empowered wealthy classes, but in that government lies a subliminal fear of this paradox. Only the creation of a Dystopia for humanity will ensure the existence of Wealth after the complete technological redrawing of civilisation has taken place. For Wealth, the only way forward is toward Big Brother. For wealth, survival implies absolute control.

THE ALTERNATIVE

 

For the moment, the revolutionary idea of a complex society that can function without money, is a sublime, if Utopic, one. It transcends any faculty of the senses. The idea seems like nonsense, or we are awestruck by it. We just cannot perceive it properly. Money is not just a part of the status quo, it is a seemingly essential ingredient in our own being. But this is a misleading perception.

The shadows we see flickering on the wall in Plato’s cave, are the shadows of the monetary system. In the real light that illuminates the human condition, money is by no means an essential ingredient. Rather it is a transitory phase that has enabled the development of technology but which needs to be abandoned at some point if technology is ever allowed to fulfil itself in its final purpose.

But the revolution is happening, and the point of abandonment from the control over our lives that money engenders can now be seen. Our politics can now be geared towards the technological revolutions complete realisation as a Utopia – the only alternative is the Dystopia that we are currently being shoved towards.

[1] SEE THIS ARTICLE FROM SCIENCE ALERT, 2016: https://www.sciencealert.com/a-novel-written-by-ai-passes-the-first-round-in-a-japanese-literary-competition

The Revaluation of Value

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Since Nietzsche called for the “Revaluation of all values!” we have, in Western Civilisation, seen certain transvaluations take place in areas such as race, gender, sex and violence, but what we have failed to revaluate is value itself.

A revaluation of value would untie its connection with exchange (money) and align it to needs – a thing’s importance would therefore be gauged according to how necessary it was. But in order to do this we would need to remove the stigma of “price”. Progress doesn’t happen because it’s expensive.

So, in order to make the real advances that our technology-rich culture is capable of, we now have to eradicate the barrier of “expense”.

THE TRULY HUMAN CIVILISATION

In a truly human civilisation, needs should be rights. In a truly fair society, everyone should have the opportunity to start the race from the same line. In our societies, sacrifices created by the monetary exchange system place people behind the starting line.

In a truly human civilisation, a person with disabilities should be allowed access to the technology designed to satisfy his or her needs without concern that sacrifices must be made to obtain the necessary barter. A teacher, or an intellectual, needs access to academic texts and should be granted that access; an artisan needs access to certain tools and materials; a gardener needs access to seeds and gardening tools, as well as a patch of land to garden on … etc.

In a society in which needs are understood and catered for by the society itself, on a wide and universal level, those same needs would seep into wants, but without taking over the space of wants. By planting values on authentic needs, civilisation would evolve into societies rich in purposeful-desires as opposed to our current civilisation that is drowning in pulp-waste-wants.

TECHNOLOGY IN A TRULY HUMAN CIVILSATION

Paradoxically, the truly human civilisation will be defined by the fact that it will not be dependent on human labour in order to function or maintain it. It will be a place that is built and maintained by machines, and in which the goods produced by those machines will be distributed by the same machines. As Einstein preached: “Those instrumental goods which should serve to maintain the life and health of all human beings should be produced by the least possible labour of all”[i].

Of course this implies a loss of jobs, and a loss of menial tasks has tragic consequences in our societies dominated by monetary exchange. There is a vicious circle involved in our conclusion: in order to allow technology to liberate human beings from the drudgery of menial tasks we need to revaluate the value system based on money, and, technological development is the key to transcending the monetary-exchange system.

In order to close this circle, technology needs to be appropriated by the society itself so that it can be removed from the dictatorships of the capitalist corporations.

In our current model of society, the consumer pays repeatedly for goods produced by the money exchange system. Firstly, we pay for the technological research carried out with public money, secondly we pay for the cost of the products created by companies who have appropriated that technology as their own, and thirdly we have to pay each time we want to acquire the updated versions of products that have been deliberately programmed with a short life span. Of course, for the system, the important thing is that we pay, and that the money keeps flowing and moving to the top. It is this assumption that needs a radical revaluation.

In a sense, technology forces us in a direction beyond the monetary exchange. It is the essential function of technology to do what a human being cannot do by himself. To replace humans in terms of labour is to replace our role of being slaves to ourselves. In effect it is our exchange-system culture in its pure, slave-production/slave-maintenance role, that inhibits the development of technology .

While individuals continue to see themselves essentially as  active members of the master-slave, sacrifice-reward exchange system, technology will always be viewed: a) with some suspicion (as an impediment, taking away our own chances of participating successfully in the system); b) as a commodity that can be produced and exchanged for profit, and as such, just another object that enslaves desire rather than liberating humanity.

LEAPING FORWARD

The first leap to a revaluation of technology in a positive way must come about by abandoning the view of technology as commodities to be sold. A revaluation would see machines as something readily available for use without any ultimate aim of making a profit. This attitude places the entire monetary exchange system in question.

Technology can truly liberate us, but it won’t if we need to constantly sacrifice our time and real needs in order to be able to obtain that liberation. The purpose of technology is to liberate us from labour, not to ensure that we are shackled to it.

In order to remove technological development away from the market place and its role as an exchange-value/profit-making tool, we need to control the power of making machines that will be able to make themselves. Which means: a) control of the raw materials needed to make these machines; b) control of universities so that scientists and designers will be encouraged to plan technology in a social direction rather than a profit-making one; and c) control of the use of these machines once they are made.

Of course, these incentives have to come from the grass roots, the demos, the people. The so-called free market cannot be expected to have any inclinations towards implementing a structure which has an aim to abolish the free market.

EPILOGUE

Produce, distribute and maintain itself: there are the three basic functions that a truly human, technological society should be based on. Within production itself there are embedded needs to search for and extract the raw materials needed for that production to be possible. This implies a need for an ecological design for all future technology. A truly human civilisation will need to programme its machines with an ability to recognise excess, to understand the negative idea of over-farming, and to be able to judge the limits of extraction. A truly human civilisation needs, above all, a control of eco-friendly technologies.

[i] See Albert Einstein, OUT OF MY LATER YEARS, chapter 6. ON FREEDOM

HOW TO FIND YOUR TRUE VOCATION IN LIFE?

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Imagine a future civilisation in which our technologies are so advanced that money has been rendered obsolete. Work, as something that one needs to do to earn an income which will pay for your survival or improve your standard of living, no longer exists. Now think: in such a scenario what would I do with my time now that I have all day to do what I want? Try and imagine something that you could spend most of your time doing without really needing to do it. If something comes immediately to mind that is probably your vocation in life. If nothing does then you’ll have to look harder for it. Or perhaps you can think of many things, in which case you probably have a holistic vocation that does not limit itself to specific areas and you’ve got a Renaissance soul.

What this also gives us is a measure of progress. The standard of living in a society improves when we can all actually do what we really want to do. Only when we have liberated society from the money system will we be able to make it a vocation-driven one.

THE END OF WORK AND THE DEATH OF MONEY

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Marx estimated that the introduction of power-looms into England reduced the labour required and subsequently labour costs by a half. Technology as it now stands has reduced labour costs in factories and warehouses to minimal levels – in many cases the only costs are those of the energy consumption of the machines and that of human maintenance of machines. It would not be science fiction to imagine that in the near future machines will be designed and programmed to maintain and reproduce themselves and that renewable energy technology will be developed providing a much cheaper, or even free, power source for machines, eliminating the human labour force in manufacturing completely.

Presently the human labour force is being shifted away from manufacturing into services and sales, design, programming, and maintenance. But with the development of robotics there may also be an immanent invasion of android workers coming. Once dexterity issues are overcome, these humanoid-machines, with more efficient information systems that have been programmed so that they work untiringly on specific tasks, could easily also begin to operate on a wide-scale in services, sales, programming and maintenance, and why not even design.

The immediate problem arising from this would be the realisation that human labour could become unnecessary. In a system like ours, in which all reward and satisfaction, even the idea of fulfilment itself, is subject to the individual’s sacrifices in the labour market, the logical evolution of technology towards the abolishing of labour must be impossible. We are faced with a paradoxical situation: we live in an advanced technological society, but the purpose of technology, which is to substitute the tedium of human labour and create a better world, is not allowed to fulfil itself because such a fulfilment would destroy the system of exchange and rewards for labour sacrifice that are the fundamental basis of our money-making system.

Here is the real essence of the System’s crisis. The relationship between production commodities and labour is one in which the latter is constantly shrinking whilst the former is rapidly growing. Eventually this relationship, which is already impossible through its inbuilt contradiction, will become absolutely unbearable. Full employment in modern capitalist society is impossible without making human labour cheaper and more efficient than machine labour. The current system of exchange – of sacrifice and reward via the concept of the production and purchase of commodities and services – is already obsolete. Unemployment is not the result of bad economics and political management, it is a necessary part of the exchange system as we have it.

The only way to remedy our economic absurdity and all the serious problems it creates is by removing one of the conflicting elements in the contradiction. Either technology has to be frozen or the exchange/reward system has to be radically rethought. Of course the most radical way of rethinking the latter would be to ask ourselves how a human society might exist without any exchange system at all, or how a complex technological society might function without money.