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‘People are freaking out!’

Dave Ransom  |  Issue: February | March 2018

Time to get ready, there’s a change a’coming

“People are freaking out,” a Massachusetts auto mechanic told the Washington Post in December, describing the reaction among other mechanics to the oncoming end of their jobs. “Ninety percent of our industry has done nothing — absolutely nothing — to prepare.”

What he says is true of society as a whole. The rapid destruction of jobs is the elephant in the room that people hardly see — and nobody dares mention — because it seems so out of place. And the politicians are doing nothing — absolutely nothing — to prepare.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The technological revolution now unfolding is making human labor unnecessary for the first time in history. Handled well, we will come out in the closest thing to paradise humankind has ever known. Handled badly, there’ll be a whole lot of crying going on.

Now, for us to survive requires a revolution in the way we distribute what the world produces. Now, with each of us working however little is necessary, we all can have as much as we need and more — no three jobs, no 60-hour work weeks necessary or possible.

But to make that fundamental change means taking the world back from the handful of oligarchs who “own” half the wealth and whose wealth buys them the power to make all the decisions. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity.

For generations, class systems of capitalist and worker, latifundista and campesino have let common folk survive, sometimes with dignity. The wealthy and powerful — the oligarchs — have taken what we produce and given enough of it back to live on.

But now, with robotics, they are pushing us out of the equation entirely. They have no further need for us, the working-class, the majority. The old system is broken, and we need a new one.

The good news is, we — or at least our children — are going to have to work much less and will have more time to enjoy life. The challenge is that we, the working class, will have to make that happen ourselves.

What a challenge! What an opportunity!

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