|The Right to be Lazy|
Exploitative wage labour is the most subtle form of slavery. The chattel slave and feudal serf knew full well they toiled in bondage but wage exploitation is hidden and modern workers seldom suspect they are being held in chains. The fact is the capitalist class take possession of labour's product at the point of production in return for which workers on average get paid just enough to maintain their families and to keep themselves in fit condition. Despite the most intricate evasions invented by "economic experts" the case has long been proved that profit is simply unpaid labour and nothing but unpaid labour.
No wonder that Marxism is everywhere hated by the apologists of the wages system. The capitalist class hires its "intellectuals" to denigrate Marx, teach the economic absurdity that capital creates wealth, and spread the infamous lie that the former U.S.S.R. represented real socialism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Socialism is industrial democracy, the most complete democracy yet conceived. Socialism is a class-free society that replaces the political state of class rule. By replacing production for sale and profit with production for the needs of the population, and by harnessing our ability to produce an abundance with a minimum of labour, socialism will end poverty.
With socialism, there will be no unemployment problem. Since, instead of being owned privately and operated to produce things for sale and profit, the industries will be owned collectively by all the useful producers and operated to produce things for use, there will be no such thing as involuntary idleness. Instead of kicking workers out of the industries, robotics will enable us to shorten the workday, work week, and work year, while at the same time it will vastly increase the basis for material well-being. Technological progress will no longer be something for workers to fear, but an unqualified blessing that will ensure abundance and leisure for all with a minimum of toil by each. Nor can there be recessions in socialism. Production for use, combined with a system under which workers will receive, directly and indirectly, all that they produce, will end forever the social idiocy of want in the midst of plenty.
Artificial Intelligence and automation can be a blessing.
It can greatly increase our productivity. It can eliminate unpleasant, boring and dangerous work. It can result in immense improvements in mankind's material and cultural welfare. It can do all this, and more, without imposing the horrors of economic distress on millions of workers and their families. But it can do all these things only if the workers of America accomplish a Socialist reconstruction of society. Only through socialism can new technology fulfil its promise of abundance for all with a minimum of working hours. Only with socialism can robots be introduced without causing a single worker to suffer economic distress. In fact, socialism will install robots as rapidly as it is developed. But, instead of throwing workers onto a scrap heap, as happens today, the new machines will make possible a general reduction in working hours. All will then benefit from robotics, both in the greater abundance that will be available and in the enjoyment of increased leisure. Robotics will solve toil and drudgery but as long as the means of social production are privately owned, and production is carried on for sale and profit it will always be a curse. When this outmoded contradiction-ridden capitalist system is abolished, when the industries are socially owned and democratically administered, and when production is carried on to satisfy human needs -- that is, when socialism is established -- automation will be a blessing for everyone.
Working people are different in many ways yet alike in so many others. We work hard. We depend on our pay to live, feel stressed out by too many working hours, or too few. We worry about our future, fret about the future of our children. We are in college or in prison; retired or disabled. Young, old, unemployed or underemployed or suffering too much from compulsory overtime. technicians and nurses. Delivery drivers and software developers. Teachers and cashiers. Designers and scientists. We are the working class.
Without us, nothing could happen, be produced, nothing grown or harvested, nothing fixed or invented. Whether we live in suburban developments or inner cities; in an apartment or a house; pay rent or owe on a mortgage or are homeless. We are just making it but worry we might lose it all. We must work for our living or suffer the consequences. As a class, as a community and as a people, we share the same basic needs and basic desires: to live in and be part of a healthy, peaceful and humane society.
We in the Socialist Party are like so many others, looking for real change and seeking a path to get it. We look to the alternatives of the profit and competitive economic system, the way industry and society is run today. We need a strategy that can take us from where we are, to where we want to go. We believe our case for socialism is the solution.