Technological Socialism

I think science and democracy were the right and left hands of what he called the move from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. 19th century liberals, socialists, and republicans often embraced techno-utopianism. Radicals like Joseph Priestley pursued scientific investigation while advocating democracy. Robert Owen, Charles Fourier and Henri de Saint-Simon in the early 19th century inspired communality with their visions of a future scientific and technological evolution of humanity using reason. Radicals seized on Darwinian evolution to validate the idea of social progress. Edward Bellamy’s socialist utopia in Looking Backward, which inspired hundreds of socialist clubs in the late 19th century United States and a national political party, was as highly technological as The 19th and early 20th century Left, from social democrats to communists, were focused on industrialization, economic development and the promotion of reason, science, and the idea of progress in Belllamy’s imagination. For Bellamy and the Fabian Socialists, socialism was to be brought about as a painless corollary of industrial development.
Rodney Brooks MIT professor position as head of MIT’s artificial intelligence unit to set out on his own creating low-cost robots that are designed to help small manufacturers compete with cheap Asian labor. These robots costs about $22,000 and can last for three years running pretty much non-stop. Based on two shifts of eight hours per day, the robot costs a mere $1.70 per hour! That is about the same wage I made as a kid mowing my neighbor’s lawn. Brooks claims the robots can be programmed in an hour or less and updated with new apps as conditions warrant.
Robots used for sorting can do so faster than humans and if they break down, it takes another robot eight minutes to repair it. What makes this noteworthy is that at long last there appears to be a political as well as a spiritual shift in the good old USA to recapture decades of lost manufacturing.
Eugene V debs once said, I hope corporations will let of their patents so we can be free from industrial servitude. There was a notion even amongst conservatives that one day man will be free from work to develop who he truly is. That means reduced work hours and a living wage, a universal income. The Futurist article once said those having jobs one day will be the rare exception.
Today the wealthiest 1% of the country is under pressure to pay their fair share. But in 20 years this may not be enough to support a group of possibly 200 million technologically displaced people. Does techno-socialism sound absurd? It’s coming sooner than you think.
It’s time to rethink the way income is distributed as well as the lifestyles that consumers lead. If economic productivity is taxed at the same rate as previous labor costs, transfer payments can then be established to provide income to otherwise unemployed consumers. These transfers should be enough to cover the basics: food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, transportation, education, and entertainment. To keep people motivated to continue “behaving themselves,” the transfer rates could be tied to incentives for responsible and creative lifestyles. More education would result in a somewhat higher transfer payment, as would volunteer work, and other helpful and creative endeavors.
People are creating their own work now. The internet, new technologies have given people access to technologies that where impossible years ago. The availability to effect self employment by free choice is in its seed stages.
People could either work for a company or themselves. There will be telecommute jobs and self employment opportunities with out government controlling lives.
With a living wage and universal income alone the poverty problem can be solved.
In many ways, jobs are literally robbing people of their true lives. “Making a Living” can turn out to be a long, quiet, debilitating death of the soul — and even the body.
New technologies can solve social and economic problems as the cult of the job dies.
We are everywhere enjoined to work harder, faster and for longer – not only in our jobs but also in our leisure time. The rationale for this frantic grind is one of the great unquestioned virtues of our age: “productivity”. The cult of productivity seems all-pervasive. This is more of the power of nonsense that makes people think being a slave is wonderful.

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