Transclassing into the new social order 2

Marx and Engels despised the Lumpenproletariat, “the social scum” they said it consisted of, “that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society”. It formed no part of the “revolutionary class” they wrote. That was the proletariat, the class of the workers. At best, they averred, the Lumpenproletariat “may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution”.

But the Left lost its faith in the proletariat after the Second World War. Communist theorists glumly concluded that the workers of the world were not, after all, going to unite, lose their chains and win the world, as Marx had encouraged them to do. In Europe – most particularly in Germany – they were doing far too well in the capitalist system to want to change it.

So the New Left was born. Not in the Communist Second World, the Soviet Union and its empire. But in the First World, the Free West. The newness of the New Left lay in its shift of expectation from the workers to the Lumpenproletariat. The social scum became the new “revolutionary class”, would take over the historic role, the sacred task, and enact the earthly apocalypse. After which human beings, their nature transformed and standardized, would live in blissful equality ever after, everywhere on earth.

Marx and Engels’s Lumpenproletariat consisted of “beggars, tricksters, entertainers, buskers, criminals and prostitutes”. With the change, tricksters, entertainers, and buskers have had their membership in the new revolutionary class quietly canceled. Vagabonds and criminals remain. And new members have been added: Frantz Fanon’s “wretched of the earth”, the denizens of the poor Third World;  Herbert Marcuse’s “outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and colors, the unemployed and unemployable”. Blacks, who had not been classed by Marx as proletarian revolutionary material, are prime members. (Marx despised Blacks, though they were mostly workers; and he and Engels both opined that Slavs – a category that includes Russians, mark you, comrades! – should be annihilated. See for instance here and here.) All “persons of color” are included. Also the sexually abnormal. And women – all women, whether they like it or not. And, very recently, in dramatic opposition to original Marxism, people who are “unwilling to work”.

In Marxist terms, what the Democratic Party has become is a party of “scum”. What can be expected in the way of probity and competence from human scum? Not much. But it’s okay, the scum is not expected to rule. The rulers are still, and are expected to be White men.

And this new, vastly expanded revolutionary class is no longer to be thought of as a Lumpenproletariat, its  members as human scum. By virtue of their “oppression” they are the chosen, the best. Their oppressors are the White race. White men. A category that includes the theorists of the New Left themselves, the very makers of the new social order.

So the White men still in leadership positions on the ever-more-communist Left in America are performing public rituals of self-abasement. (Entertainers of a sort – re-admitted to the chosen class?)

Both the leading choices of the Democratic Party to date for the 2020 presidential election are White men.

One of them is a Marxist, a man of the Old Left, Bernie Sanders. The other, former Vice-President Joe Biden, though he has not yet declared his candidacy, is on tour with apologies for being a White man with a “White culture”.

What will he do about it?

Dominate from below?

Posted under communism, Leftism, Marxism, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, April 1, 2019

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The rise of the robots 3

“Drones have become America’s weapon of choice, the driverless car is now a reality.”

This is from the FT:

With each month, the US economy becomes steadily more automated. In January the US economy added just 4,000 manufacturing jobs, and the net increase since July is zero. Yet last month, manufacturing activity rose by its fastest rate since April, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The difference boils down to robots, which pose an increasingly nagging paradox: the more there are, the better for overall growth (since they boost productivity); yet the worse things become for the middle class. US median income has fallen in each of the last five years. …

Change is speeding up. Manufacturing employment is shrinking around the world. Among other countries, China is moving even faster towards industrial robotics, an area in which German and Japanese manufacturers dominate. Last year Foxconn, the Shenzhen-based assembler for Apple, Nokia and others, said it was buying 1m robots in the next three years to substitute for workers performing repetitive manual tasks. At the other end of the spectrum, a restaurant in Harbin, northern China, last year became the first to be entirely waited on by robots. …

The effects of technology are only just beginning to be felt in education and healthcare – the two most labour-intensive areas of the US economy that both suffer from productivity stagnation. Online education is beginning to spread. It is also meeting resistance. “The reactionaries in the faculties will eventually be grandfathered out,” says Tyler Cowen, co-founder of the Marginal Revolution University, which has pioneered free online learning in economics and other subjects. “We’ll still need Harvard as a dating service,” he jokes. “But the mid-level private universities do not know what is about to hit them.”

Even in healthcare, which reliably added jobs when every other sector was shedding them, technology is starting to look labour-saving. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration issued a patent to RP-Vita, the first “human interacting autonomous robot” for hospitals. …

But the spread of the robots will leave a large and growing chunk of the US labour force in the lurch. In their excellent primer, Race Against The Machine , Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee point out that in the contest between changing technology and education, the former is winning. Too few Americans are prepared. Some, such as Mr Cowen, fear many never will be. He believes the federal government should pay a basic guaranteed income to all Americans – a despairing view that accepts there will be permanent losers.

The machines will do the work, produce everything, and the central government will distribute the goods (“equally”) to the people, and so have total control over the population. That’s the new socialist vision.

It replaces the old socialist vision. Friedrich Engels, the capitalist who kept Karl Marx, wrote (Socialism, Utopian and Scientific): “The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society — the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society — this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not ‘abolished’. It dies out.”

It doesn’t, it wouldn’t, it won’t, of course.

However, our view is: let machines do everything inventors can make them do. Fight wars. Drive us about safely. Manufacture everything. Wait tables …. People  will be set free to do other things. And they will. There’s no need to make a plan for them.