Fear Over Artificial Intelligence Taking Over Has Good Grounds – But Not in The Way You Think

 

terminator

The latest developments in technology point to an increasingly mechanised work process.  The abilities of robots to perform tasks, and even to learn on the job, coupled with the way in which we are never away from our smartphones and other smart tech, seem to point to a future where machines are central, and humanity peripheral.  Highly developed AI has won games of chess – and even beaten top players in poker – which shows the magnificent heights to which our creations can attain.  In human culture, there is much fear, or conversely, celebration of the new machine age.  From fear, we have movies such as The Matrix trilogy, The Terminator franchise, the recent Alien spin-offs where it seems that an android sets the whole debacle going, to warn us off putting too much faith in technology; from the celebratory side we are told that artificial intelligence is just a tool to help us with things like medical care and connecting people all over the world.  Both these sides miss the fundamental problem with what is going on.

 

There is a new level of domination going on, but it is not out of machine’s malevolence, but the way production is organised.  To that extent, it is not entirely new, nevertheless a quantitative shift can become a qualitative shift it we are not made aware of what is taking place, and it is that which this blog seeks to address.

 

The market develops by extracting surplus value from workers that is partly represented as ‘profit’.  This ‘profit’ certainly helps business owners lead luxurious lifestyles whilst workers still effectively battle like rats over a piece of courgette that has fallen into a urinal, but that inequality is not the main problem.  Profit also gets re-invested in new technology, to speed up production, make it more efficient, and to increase the productivity of labour.  More gets produced, often to a higher quality and in less time.  Thus, we are told, society ‘progresses’.  But also involved in this is the stripping of the worker’s creativity.  Value he or she has produced, once the surplus is re-invested in machinery, comes to turn his work into a series of just pressing buttons and supervising machinery – it requires less conscious process, and has thus become less creative.  The labour from the past cycle is now embodied in a machine that leaves little room for creativity, hence you have a domination of ‘dead’ over ‘living’ labour.  This is a process that has existed since the dawn of capitalism, and hence is nothing new, but what is new is that the level the process has developed into – seemingly, machines using algorithms to make judgments (including on the stock market), does show that high-tech capitalism leaves even less room for human productive-expression in the commodity.  This self-relegation of the human species gives rise to the culture of fear over new technology where we cheer the sexy Sarah Connor played by Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) in Terminator: Genisys, for smashing things up.  It also gives rise to the celebrationists – who it turns out, tend to be those with a vested interest in the status quo, or are simply brain-dead.

 

Of course, machines can never become self-conscious so as to pose a direct threat to human life.  A good argument from the philosopher John Searle asked us to imagine an isolated room in which a man handles Chinese symbols he doesn’t understand.  In “The Chinese Room” the man, let us say his only language is English, receives Chinese symbols through a hole in the wall.  He doesn’t understand what any of these symbols mean, but has a set of rules for how to process them.  So, he looks at his list of rules, and selects a different Chinese symbol to pass back through the hole.  This is effectively what ‘syntax’ is all about.  You have an input, a rule for processing it, and then an output.  There is no conscious involvement, simply a rule-following procedure is sufficient for syntax to take place.  Therefore, syntax is quite different from the world of semantics (the realm of meaning).  All computers and robots, no matter how advanced, only still operate at the level of syntax, they have never, and can never, develop semantics.  Without semantics, a being cannot develop its own wishes and desires and needs, and therefore can never pose a deliberate threat to any person.  They will always remain our tools.

 

Nevertheless, although they really are just tools, this doesn’t justify AI celebrationism.  As said, the incoming high-tech machine age poses a problem for the majority because it represents such a weight of domination of dead over living labour, and thus the end of labour as in any way a creative enterprise, as experienced at the individual level by the majority in society.  The solution to this does not consist in the smashing up of machines (although that is morally admirable), but in the reorganisation of the mode of production.  Instead of producing for profit, we need to produce to meet people’s needs instead, and have full social democratic control over this process, invoking new models of participatory democracy.  A new post-capitalist mode of production does not see the surplus product re-invested in machinery, unless so desired by the freely-associating direct producers themselves.  In that way, advances can and will occur, but only as a result of democracy rather than businessmen operating behind the scenes wondering how to extract more profit.  If machinery only advances because it is democratically willed, then the alienating consequences of said machinery disappear.  They really do become just tools, then.

 

Finally, this is no pipe-dream – humanity will necessarily be compelled to face these issues.  Just as more of the surplus product is re-invested in high-tech machinery, so too many workers get laid off because their jobs have been replaced by machinery.  This immediately is a source of protest.  But moreover, with fewer people in employment, the capitalist ends up seeing his own rate of profit decline, because the source of profit always was labour, not the machines.  Eventually he has to shut down the enterprise and try and recoup a scrap from a fire-sale.  Expanding these principles worldwide, the most high-tech capitalist economies breakdown and collapse.  This forces people to address the underlying logic of what was already going on, and wasn’t exactly experienced as a holiday camp in the first place.

 

 

Advertisements

Why Society’s Surplus Product Should Be Democratically Controlled

money

Measured in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which is a superior measure to GDP, global output in 2017 is forecast to be $126.7 trillion.  Assuming a population of 7bn, in which 50% of the population work (a generous estimate), then everyone’s wages throughout the entire world ought to be $36,200 per year.  Not bad, huh?  But the mean average wage of a world worker that conflates the difference between a Luxembourger (the highest paid) and someone in the Third World, is only $18,000 at 2012 estimates (and it’s doubtful wages have risen much since then).  So, where’s the extra money gone?  Where is the other 50%?  Not in wages!

 

Naïve people might think the missing 50% goes into paying for health services, education, welfare, or paying off national debt.  Wrong!  All these things come from taxes which are taken from the wage.  They are not taken from the missing 50%, they are taken from the accounted-for 50%.

 

So where is the missing $60 trillion, each and every year, at current levels of development?  We know that $32 trillion of it resides in off-shore tax havens.  But that’s just a total, and doesn’t account for $60 trillion per year, every year.  Obviously, some of it goes on elite hobbies such as the art market, yachts, racehorses, and squandering ¼ $1bn on footballer Neymar, etc.  But such ultra-luxury consumption still couldn’t explain the size of the missing trillions.

 

The missing trillions, given the number of years this situation has gone on, are actually not trillions.

 

They are quadrillions.

 

Here is what a quadrillion looks like written out:

 

1,000,000,000,000,000.

 

Quite big, huh?

 

There is $1.2 quadrillion invested in derivatives alone.  Other investments such as real estate, industry, etc., pale in comparison, merely at the level of x trillion.  But yeah, the largest chunk of society’s surplus product is invested in speculative finance.

 

When right wing economists tell you we all need to work harder and create a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, it is worth bearing in mind that we already work hard enough thank-you, and perhaps a cybernetic future in which we all go around wearing VR headsets is a bit too much to stomach.  The problem isn’t a lack of wealth, it is the way it is distributed.  And this mode of distribution flows from a particular mode of production in which the surplus product becomes privately rather than socially owned.

 

When elites tell you ‘there isn’t enough money’ to fund this, that, or the other, we should now question what measure of wealth they are using.  If they are talking about funds raised from taxation of the working class, sure, there isn’t enough money.  But what if society, acting as a collective entity with purpose, took back our missing quadrillions?  Perhaps if the surplus product, which is all entirely derived from the total work of the world, was in our hands, instead of a minority parasite blood-sucking vampire class, i.e. placing the surplus product under the democratic control of society, maybe something useful could be done?

 

Should Sportswomen Be Paid the Same as Men?

dutchwomenfootball
Fans of the female Dutch football side

I have been embroiled in an interesting facebook debate on this question, initiated by a thoughtful trouble-maker, henceforth referred to as AC.  His argument was that in many sports (though he conceded not all), the women’s game is far inferior, therefore it attracts less audience and subsequently less revenue and sponsorship opportunities.  Ergo, the female players in, for example, football, ought to be paid less.

 

Part of our debate hinged on this notion of ‘ought’.  Just because there is less revenue attached, does that justify the situation of gender inequality in sport where England’s top player Steph Houghton earns around £65,000 a year whilst Wayne Rooney earns £300,000 a week?  AC thought it did, because the revenue streams are so much greater around Rooney, unlike Houghton who many people could not identify if shown a picture of her.  A battle ensued concerning if both players put in an equal amount of work, shouldn’t that imply equal wages?  A snipe from BL asserted this notion does not work because if a blind cripple also put in the same amount of labour time, then this would not justify equal wages because they would be hopeless.  So, merit also has to be a consideration.  Obviously, there’s no point in only paying sportspeople according to labour time expended because that trivialises the spectacle of winning and succeeding and putting on a good show, the essential life-blood of any sport, or indeed much of entertainment, as a whole.  But is merit and achievement the only consideration?  Why then, has tennis ace Serena Williams attracted less total revenue than Maria Sharapova, given she has won far more tournaments?

 

Whatever the case, it remains somewhat troublesome that there is such a stark gap between the top women and top men in sport.  Furthermore, it seems that even when women do attract a greater revenue stream than the men, they still don’t get paid as much!  Revenue from the USA’s women’s soccer team amounts to £14m more than the men’s game, yet a female player only gets £30,000 whereas a man would get £48,000.  Five US female players are going to court against US Soccer to try and sort out this anomaly.

So what of the argument that the women’s game is inferior to the men’s?  It could be argued this is for historical reasons.  The women’s game has been chronically underfunded for centuries with less coaching opportunities and little financial incentive that can reward talent.  So, the argument about superior quality may be a ‘chicken and egg’ thing.  What came first – women’s exclusion from sport that creates a poorer performance when they do play, or an ‘inherent’ poor performance that might justify less investment?

 

An article in ‘The New Statesman’ argues, “Victorian society viewed sport as “inseparable from the philosophy of Muscular Christianity, which defined itself against femininity and ‘softness’,” says Tony Collins, the author of Sport in Capitalist Society. It did not think much of the notion of women playing.  Nor did Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern Olympic Games, in 1896. He described women’s sport as “the most unaesthetic sight human eyes could contemplate” and advocated that the games be reserved for men, though a few females were allowed to compete from 1900. In 1921, the Football Association in England deemed the sport “quite unsuitable for females” and banned its clubs from loaning pitches to women.”

 

So perhaps what is happening now is a redress to sport’s shameful past that systematically excluded women.  However, this is not without naysayers.  AC thought the promotion of women’s sport that is happening today, most recently with the Women’s European Football, is actually ‘social engineering’ and therefore distasteful if the women’s game is inferior.  But if the women’s game is not inherently inferior, but appears so only as a product of history and society, then the notion of ‘social engineering’ needs to be stripped of its negative connotations.  The promotion of women’s football need not incur negative feelings among men unless they have a problem with equality in general.  (And besides which, lots of people do think the women’s game is just as good as the men’s albeit with different qualities).

Regarding the huge sums of money thrown at men’s football where someone like Neymar can earn a quarter of a billion pounds compared to Steph Houghton’s £65,000 a year, this is merely money from the surplus product of society as-a-whole that cannot find a profitable investment in industry.  It is leisure-capital that doesn’t even seek much of a return on its investment, it is luxury consumption, and thus these top male footballers have become playthings of the rich.  It is a popular perception that football stars are overpaid, but we need to ask why?  It is because some people literally have tonnes of money to burn where investing in healthcare or education isn’t as sexy.  Nevertheless, the indication is that there is such a thing as a gigantic surplus product in society that needs to be better used, and perhaps some of that could go to paying sportswomen equally.  It is only a capitalist class that is desperate to cling on to what little remains of its traditions that is throwing massive money at the male footballers as a last show of chauvinist defiance in an era when women’s equality has become a popular prejudice.

 

But all things considered, what is really needed is for sport to be brought down to earth.  Rather than have everything decided by elites and their committees, more social democracy is required over sport.  In that way, people could collectively discuss how much a sportsperson should be paid – to choose whether we have equality based on equal labour time expended, how much merit should be extra-valued, the degree of corporate sponsorship permissible (or intrusive government advertising as well).  Perhaps the banning of ‘offensive’ chants at football matches, the increasingly sterile atmosphere, the policing of football fans, goes hand in hand with the overpayment of the stars, because both are symptoms of an underlying problem, the private appropriation of a social event.  We need our ball back, and properly investing in the women’s game will make it seem more natural to introduce equal pay between men and women with an eye on the balance between effort and achievement, as decided democratically.  What’s clear at the moment, is that leaving everything to blind market forces is creating chaos.

Why Swimming Pools Should Take A Relaxed And Tolerant Attitude To Nude Swimming In ‘Adults-Only’ Sessions

swimming_naked
My body not as hot as this lady’s – but we need to assert to right for fat sods like me too

I have taken to nude swimming in my local leisure centre and think that others, if they want to, shouldn’t be shy.  It creates a sense of freedom both bodily and mentally, and is an exhilarating experience.  Writing in the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts, who has a private pool, said, “There’s no greater joy than skinny dipping.”

 

There is no law in the lands of England of Wales that prohibit public nudity, although one can experience harassment from ignorant authorities who are unaware the law acknowledges that the human body, in and of itself, is not indecent or obscene, and they might try to ‘ASBO’ you, though it rarely stands up in court.  But when ‘the naked Rambler’ Stephen Gough travelled to Scotland to pursue his chosen lifestyle, he ended up spending 10 years in jail.  So too in Northern Ireland, where the winning of peace hasn’t meant the winning of liberty, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has threatened skinny dippers with 2 years in jail.

 

At least however, the PSNI use the argument that “children might be present.”  This is a valid argument not because children have inalienable natural rights never to see an adult nude, but because their parents may not wish it.  Parents who wish to steer their child in a certain direction – e.g. away from nudity – should be respected for their will and others should be sensitive to this aspect of parental autonomy.  But this blog is about challenging a climate of fear – not necessarily a legal enforcement, but a moralistic one – that prohibits the free expression of nudity in a situation where no child is allowed to be present, i.e. swimming sessions that are billed as ‘adults only.’

 

With butterflies in my stomach to the verge of feeling sick, the first time I tried this, I slipped my trunks off on the 32nd of 40 lengths and placed them under my towel by the side whilst still being in the water.  I swam the remaining 8 lengths totally naked.  I was highly nervous because of the social climate of repression nowadays, but perhaps I need not have been.  The pool’s policy has no section about nudity, no-one complained, although I did receive a look of disdain from a lifeguard accompanied by a knowing smile.  The truth is there was little they could do about it in an ‘adults-only’ session where everyone there has previously seen a naked body.  Furthermore, just doing breast stroke, only my buttocks could have been visibly exposed, and even then, only to the lifeguard sitting up high, not to the other swimmers whose eye level isn’t much higher than the water level.  Nevertheless, I was breaching a serious modern taboo, and for everyone to experience liberation which is just as much bodily as mental, the assumptions need to be questioned.

 

Firstly, it is not about sex.  Public masturbation can rightfully get you 14 days in jail in England because that really is an obscene act to present to others.  But simply being nude in a public place can just be seen as an act of free expression without the intention to shock or offend.  If you think the sight of a naked human body is inherently offensive, indecent, or obscene, then you might as well accept an alien invasion that would ban us for it.  To see things in this way, you are saying human beings should find the human body offensive, indecent, or obscene, a notion that expresses the height of alienation and repression.  It is also clearly not about sex because it is very difficult for a man to get an erection in chlorinated water and similarly for women: vaginal lubrication decreases in these circumstances.

 

Secondly, it is also not abnormal to desire the freedom to swim nude.  For most of history, including most of the 20th century, it was the norm, although sadly mostly only for men, not both sexes.  Swimming pools up to the 1970s often demanded it because swim-suit material was often woollen and unhygienic – threats to the pool itself.  But as clothing tech progressed, the arguments over hygiene and security of the pool waned.  What was left was a pretty paltry notion that ‘swimming nude is character building.’  The notion here was that the heavily militarised society required this as a kind of ‘team-building’ exercise right from the Army down to the Boy Scouts: kinship and bondsman ship was to be served by swimming nude together.  If only ‘character-building’ had meant ‘expressing freedom,’ ‘right to enjoy life,’ ‘to combat repression,’ then we might be in a better situation today.  Furthermore, even in Western countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Canada, nude swimming is acceptable if not obligatory.  So, the current situation of fear in England is certainly not ‘natural.’

 

Adults should be able to swim nude in adults-only sessions at a local swimming pool rather than have to face cold dirty rivers, lakes, or seas, as an article in The Guardian compromised.  If we have social tolerance over this issue, we will find that many other liberties and the dignity of mankind, partly based on the dignity of the human body, will fall into place.

 

Thirdly, it is worth stressing that contemporary taboos over public nudity co-exist with increasingly sexualised TV and internet porn.  This can mislead people into thinking we are freer today.  But observing something through the remoteness of an electronic medium is far from experiencing it in actual life.  The two trends – sexual TV in for example, ‘The Game of Thrones’, can co-exist with an increasing repression in society.  It is the latter trend that really is harmful to people.  If you consider the exponential rise of eating disorders and general dissatisfaction with one’s own body, you will see that modern body-shaming which is intensely expressed in the taboo over swimming nude has a lot to answer for causing real harm to individuals.

 

Finally, there may be a broadside against my position from a minority of some feminists.  They might say “we just don’t want to see men’s wibbly bits.”  However, we don’t normally expect to go through life not seeing things we might not like, be it homelessness or an immigration-enforcement riot van.  Moreover, the struggle against alienation ought to involve women just as much as men, if not more so, given their historically higher level of repression.  Women have fought tooth and nail to dress how they want without certain stereotype-ideas being applied by men, including the infamous ‘burning the bra’ protests.  This battle persists to this day.  An Ontario woman recently won the right to bare breasts in a swimming pool – Canadian law was already lax, but there were attempts to upset it.  Men and women should be able to admire each other’s bodies without that ever being necessarily a sexual thing, as it isn’t usually in a swimming pool, as discussed earlier.  Men or women who lack clothing in a swimming pool are not ‘asking for it’ just as much as a woman who dresses provocatively in the town isn’t ‘asking for it’ – that pathetic apology went out in the ‘80’s.  It is about human beauty and freedom, rather than a sexual fetish.  The real existent fetishes are on TV and on the internet, and perhaps to undermine those things, we need naked-equality in circumstances where no child is present.

 

Addendum: the empire strikes back 😦 Tonight after doing 16 lengths in the buff in an ‘adults-only’ session, an angry female pool manager came out and said “We don’t allow naked swimming”. As far as I am aware none of the other pool users had complained – she’d probably spotted it on the CCTV as the lifeguard didn’t give much of a shit either. I said, “I wasn’t aware there was a policy – I’ve checked the internet.” She said “All the councils have agreed on this – NO NAKED SWIMMING!” I was about to say, “Isn’t that a bit Kafka-esque to not even tell us the policy exists and rely on social taboo for enforcement?” but I thought I’d better cool things down rather than be barred from my local pool. So I said, “Oh sorry – I’ve lived in Germany the past 2 years where it’s perfectly normal. OK, I won’t do it again, it’s not a problem.”

There we go, another little avenue of pleasure closes down. But the war has just begun.

How ‘Islamic State’ Got The Wrong End Of The Stick

Ariana-Grande
Terror has targeted an Ariana Grande (pictured) concert in Manchester and now struck pedestrians on London Bridge

 

Nothing expresses more the dangers of superficiality than the new terrorism.  The picture that is emerging from terrorism in modern European cities is that the perpetrators really hate people enjoying themselves, be it at a music concert or interacting in shopping districts.  What seems to unite the manifold forms of the new terror – be it ‘Islamic’ or ‘right-wing and white’ – is a massive hatred of Western-style consumerism.  The hatred of consumerism however is not confined to reacting terrorists.  It permeates society in forms such as environmentalism and left-wing redistributionism.  It is there in conservative-traditionalist railings against mass society, particularly when the working class are told they are irresponsible for wanting bigger televisions.  The obsession with ‘consumer choice’ is also there in libertarian critiques of the reactionaries – all they do is endorse as ‘free’ what the reactionaries ‘hate.’  Hence, the only debate in society we seem to be seeing is about ‘celebrating our way of life’ versus ‘hating our way of life,’ where our ‘way of life’ is only defined in relation to consumption.  This narrow debate is likely to prolong the existence of the new terror despite obviously the majority feeling rightly angered about it.

 

In order to transcend the parameters of the narrow debate, and hopefully unite humanity in a more progressive positive direction rather than this all-round barbarism, it is necessary to understand that consumption is relatively unproblematic.  It is true that the law of value holds sway over all consumer transactions – to that extent, commodity exchange is not *entirely* free, i.e. volition doesn’t rule.  Nevertheless, consumption is pretty much the only civilising aspect of market society.  Through consumption, points of contact are made between otherwise atomised individuals.  The mediation of the commodity is simply the way in which society is glued together – and it is just about the only way society is glued together nowadays.  So, it is wrong to hate consumption – it is the best thing about capitalism, and the only way in which society prevents itself from deteriorating into a kind of ‘Mad Max’ scenario.  At the same time, it is wrong to celebrate consumption as the only mark of ‘freedom,’ because it is essentially a passive rather than active thing: it doesn’t concern the way we act, just the way we enjoy society’s bounty after we have acted.

 

So, the focus of concern really needs to shift onto the realm of production.  If all the reactionaries railing against consumption (or celebrating it) would only look at the realm of production, it would shake things up immensely, and cure the malaise that is now giving rise to the horror of the new terror.  It is in the sphere of production that people truly aren’t free – from the negative experience of the alarm clock in the morning to the iron discipline deployed by managers at work, doing things you hate for a boss you despise, the sheer lack of creativity, initiative and ingenuity in the office or factory – it is really these things that cause people to loathe the society in which they live.  But because of the dogma of ‘there is no alternative,’ the sphere of production remains relatively uncontested, and thus disappears from view.  Consequently, the alienation in society which has its root in the estranged and unfree sphere of production reappears as a criticism (or celebration, depending which side of the fence one is on) of consumption.  It is thoroughly misguided and becoming downright dangerous, yet it can be understood as what happens when everyone agrees that the capitalist mode of production is not itself up for discussion.  The law of value should belong only to the sphere of consumption (for the time being), not the sphere of production.  When value relations determine the way we produce, i.e. the way we live, then it becomes far too coercive to enjoy life.  Workers have to fight for the option of being in full control of the workplace so they govern what gets done, how it is done, and according to whatever timescale.  This self-emancipation of labour will make humanity far happier and thus erode the basis for irrationalism in all its forms, including the terrorist form.

Capitalism and The Borg

seven of nine
Star Trek Voyager’s Seven of Nine: Being liberated from the Collective corresponds to making a theoretical break with the priorities of bourgeois society such that she can now explore her humanity

Star Trek’s ‘The Borg’ are a good metaphor for understanding some fundamental aspects of social relations under capitalism.  This does not mean people are like drones, quite the reverse.  Breakdowns in the metaphor occur because our limited existences created by the capitalist mode of production are distortions upon human nature rather than its total annulment.  And people’s massive discomfort with this state of affairs means they seek liberation from the Borg Collective which doesn’t happen with the Trek drones unless they are temporarily disconnected from the Hive Mind.  In reading this blog, you are temporarily disconnected from the Hive Mind (chiefly the opinion of authorities), and I will set out arguments through which you may come to achieve full humanity.

The Borg expand through assimilating humanoid life-forms in the galaxy and beyond, rather like the expansion of the world market gobbling everything up.  In the assimilation process, your individuality is crushed and you are made to serve the Collective (society).  The Borg are incredibly successful because they are efficient and constantly perfecting technology to further their programme of expanse.  What the Borg fail to assimilate, they physically destroy.  The Borg represent the ideal dream of how capitalism attempts to remould society, yet the ways in which the Borg are successful come at a terrible cost: the crushing of individuality and the end of the liberty of the individual.

In contrast, the humans in Star Trek are free, their internal conflicts are resolved usually through discussion rather than force.  The Borg on the other hand suffer no internal conflict, they are already ‘as one.’  But how do the humans in Trek become free?  Why do they volunteer to do things rather than nothing at all?  Because labour has become life’s prime want.

Under capitalism, labour is coerced out of the individual, disguised as a ‘free exchange.’  Yet the worker quickly comes to understand the selling of their labour power was anything but free.  They had nothing else to sell, nothing else to live from.  In work, there is an obsession with ‘increasing productivity,’ work is experienced as uncreative doldrums, it is unrewarding, undertaken under tight supervision (including by CCTV), the products of labour are owned by someone else (the capitalist), there are poor bonds with other workers, and there is no rational set of ideas why we are all doing this in the first place.  Work is reduced to the means to the end of survival in a dog-eat-dog world.  It is not something desired by the individual, no-one goes to work looking forward to it and with a whistle in their heart.

Labour becomes life’s prime want by removing all these inhibitions to its unleashing.  We shouldn’t have to ‘sell’ our capacity to work – means of production should be free to utilise by all.  The obsession with being ‘productive’ needs to be cancelled out – how productive you are ought to depend on your own will.  Rather than production seemingly for production’s own sake, the worker now chooses when and what to produce according to personal will, hence it becomes creative and rewarding, and there is no-one to take the product from you without your consent (e.g. as a part of consciously determined human relations).  There is no supervision, except perhaps in an advisory capacity.  The free worker now enjoys good quality bonds with his fellows, giving rise to coherent ideas why we do what we do.

With labour now as life’s prime want, capitalist society now looks shameful and embarrassing.  It was Borg-like because it prioritised efficiency and productivity over individual liberty and choice.  What’s worse the fake left-wing politicians of capitalist society must now feel incredibly embarrassed – all they did was to take capitalist slogans and suggest their programmes could do it better, as opposed to operating on the terrain of critique, thus developing a superior notion of human moral value.

Capitalism is Borg-like, but the individual worker even under this system is never quite like a drone.  Rather in a society where all sides have accepted ‘there is no alternative to the Borg,’ the individual worker’s aspirations become expressed through religious or fetishistic forms.  Thus 75% of Americans are still religious in the 21st century.  25% are also on some form of psychiatric medication or another.  These aspects are not the main problem, they are symptoms of the problem, like flowers growing on the chains.  They would be superseded with genuine humanised spirituality and a deeper sense of our social interconnections after we take action to remove the chains.  By contrast, the Borg regarded in this way are a poor metaphor for the human condition under capitalism because they have no delusions.  Ironically it seems it is the capacity to be delusional that is a big thing currently separating us from a race of advanced machines.  It is better to be a human with delusions than a robot without them.  Furthermore, unlike the Borg, we have strong interpersonal contacts such as a family life and enriching down-time.  It is only when considered in the sphere of work which takes up most of our waking lives that the human condition under capitalism can be considered Borg-like.  So, let’s widen the distinction between humanity and the Borg further in the interests of full liberation by changing the way we work.  We shouldn’t have to live as a poor advertisement of ourselves.