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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Marx's Capital, vol.3 and the January, 2013 AP series on automation, the Great Recession, and permanent job losses

The recent research on the new stage of automation and robotic production, just now reaching the mainstream press, is indeed stunning. Just in the past few days, we've seen a major series of 3 articles by the Associated Press, and a CBS 60 Minutes feature:

The Associated Press series on the Great Recession, Automation, and Job Losses

(1) Recession, Tech, Kill Middle Class Jobs
Paul Wiseman and Bernard Condon, AP Business Writers

(2) Practically Human, Can Smart Machines Do Your Job?
Paul Wiseman,  Bernard Condon, and Jonathan Fahey

(3) Will Smart Machines Create a World Without Work?
Paul Wiseman and Bernard Condon

In light of what is going on today, it is indeed interesting to read Marx's section on "Internal Contradictions" in the Capital Volume 3 chapter, "The Law of the Falling Tendency of the Rate of Profit":

"A development of the productive forces which would diminish the absolute number of laborers, that is, which would enable the entire nation to accomplish its total reproduction in a shorter time, would cause a revolution, because it would put the majority of the population upon the shelf...The absolute spare time gained by society does not concern Capitalism. The development of the productive powers concerns it only to the extent that it increases the surplus labor time of the working class, not to the extent that it decreases the labor time for material production in general. Thus capitalist production moves in contradictions...We have seen that the growing accumulation of capital implies its growing concentration. Thus the power of capital, the personification of the conditions of social production in the capitalist, grows over the heads of the real producers. Capital shows itself more and more as a social power, whose agent the capitalist is, and which stands no longer in any possible relation to the things which the labor of any single individual can create. Capital becomes a strange, independent, social power, which stands opposed to society as a thing, and as the power of capitalists by means of this thing. The contradiction between capital as a general social power and as a power of private capitalists over the social conditions of production develops into an ever more irreconcilable clash, which implies the dissolution of these relations and elaboration of the conditions of production into universal, common, social conditions."

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