By Peter Neville Lewis, Feb 2 2018 12:49PM
Karl Marx was born 200 years ago. Marx saw a world where capital subjugated labour for its own return.
Big business today is the ultimate expression of capital which spawns technologies that have increasingly little need for traditional labour.
So what, I hear you say, about all the jobs that will be displaced by automation? What has happened to the labour of Marx’s day, the factory workers born of the industrial revolution that he thought should overthrow the bourgeoisie? Nearly all gone (in the developed world) and getting better elsewhere, replaced by better and more effective ways of working. And… in the meantime, much of humanity has been lifted out of abject poverty.
2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity. A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. Every year, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by around 50 million, according to calculations by Max Roser, an Oxford University economist. Do the Corbynistas and their left wing allies elsewhere ever tell us this?
Let’s not seek to minimize the real struggles however, much less the real displacements that will come from new technologies. Yes there will be pain as these help the industrial and commercial world work better; more and more; eventually they will replace that old world completely.
This, though, is why it is worth remembering that the world is not static: to replace basic human labour is, in the long run, to free humans to create entirely new needs and the means to satisfy those needs. It’s what humanity has been doing for centuries, and the faith to believe it will happen again will be the best guide in figuring out how we navigate the challenges of the future.
Both the developed and under developed world of the 21st century are infinitely better places for humans to thrive in than was the case 100 years ago. Except for places like Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe etc where hopelessly misguided leaders following communist precepts have destroyed living standards for their people.
This is what Corbyn and his motley crew of Marxists, Trotsykites, Momentum followers and outright anarchists will do to us if we ever give them power!
Pedro the Jester
NB Acknowledgements to CapX for basic material for the above