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Automation4

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of old, outdated jobs with the creation of the new jobs which have to be clone. Also, as the amount of socially necessary labor decreases, national planning will enable the general reduction of hours with planned increases in "pay."
Again, automation not only wipes out jobs, it wipes out the need for old-style, repetitive factory labor. In place of production workers, we will need an equal or greater number of engineers and scientists. Our whole educational system will be hopelessly outdated by these changes in the means of production. Educational changes must be made so that we may have the skills we need. That is another problem of national planning.
At the -level of productivity which automation brings about, the problem of natural resources already an acute world problem , becomes a major issue. The archaic and wasteful use of coal for fuel, wood for houses and metal for' products destined for junk, must be brought to a halt. The thoroughgoing national and international planning of the conservation and replacement of world resources is absolutely essential if we are to survive and raise our standard of living.

Automatic "Brains"

We have shown that full automation under capitalism, is impossible.. Some bourgeois sources agree with this conclusion but for the wrong reasons.
From the Philadelphia engineering offices of Minneapolis-Honeywell, a firm which presumes to know something about control systems, we hear that "push-button" factories are not foreseeable. Minneapolis - Honeywell engineers point out that a computer with an "intelligence" comparable to that of an ant would require a structure the size of the Pentagon building in Washington. They inform us that it would require the amount of power necessary to service a city the size of Philadelphia. .Also, they assert, it would require a cooling system equivalent to the flow of the Mississippi - River.\\ How does this analogy apply to the problem of automation? What lies behind their thinking here? It is- not only Minneapolis-Honeywell engineers. who are laboring under a delusion here; many other major controls manufacturing firms make the same error. Their difficulty arises not from a slip of the slide-rule, but from their abysmal ignorance of capitalism and the vulgar social prejudices which they drag into the engineering laboratory.

Bourgeois Economics

Marx remarked of the bourgeois political economist:
"... when considering the capitalist mode'of production, he. . . treats the work of control made necessary by the cooperative character of the labor process as identical with the different work of control, necessitated by the character of that process and the antagonism of interests between capitalist and laborer." (Marx, op. cit., pp. 364-365.)
Since engineers learned their little mishmash of economics from third-rate poll-parrots of the same variety, it is not to be wondered that they miss this all-important point. They mistake the class role of the boss for the necessary direction of the productive apparatus:
"It is not because he is a leader of industry that a man is a capitalist; on the contrary, he is a leader of industry because he is a capitalist. The leadership of industry is an attribute of capital, just as in feudal times the functions of general and judge were attributes of landed property." (Ibid.)
In other words, the Minneapolis-Honeywell engineers implicitly assume that the function of the boss is essential to the means of production. From that they assume that automation requires the imposition of intelligence on the production line from the top down, that automation requires a hierarchy, of "capitalist" thinking-machines to replace the existing "hierarchy of bosses. Exactly the contrary is true. The development of the means of production has outdated the capitalist economically and socially. That means we can dispense with, the boss and his equivalents altogether.
Let us. recall our illustration of Manufacturer Jones' plant. A man was removed from production. Did we replace him - with a machine with the equivalent of human intelligence? Rv no means. A motor, a thermo-couple, and a few wires and tubes did the job quite nicely even better than the human operator. 'In principle, we shall 4iave no greater scientific problem in "laying off" the bosses: automation makes them "extra labor." In fact, getting rid, of the boss is equivalent to an essential technological improvement in the means of production.

Lesson from the Ant

Let us take our Minneapolis-Honeywell engineer sluggards to the ant and teach them a few lessons.
The individual ant is not particularly intelligent as insects go: an ant is a muscle-head through and through. However, the ant colony displays a marvelous degree of over-all intelligence. From whence this intelligence? From a super-ant "boss" hidden among his bonds- and coupons down in the hill? Not at all. The intelligence of the ant colony is greater than the intelligence of all its members; it is the product of all the ants functioning in a social organism; this intelligence is a social product.
The intelligence of the ant colony is derived from the organic evolution of ant colonies, as the intelligence of a human being is a function of matter organized through organic evolution, an effect of natural selection. There is nothing mystical about it; as any dialectician knows, when you put a lot of similar objects together you obtain a whole which is something quite different from its parts. The intelligence of the ant colony does not reflect an average intelligence in each ant, but arises from the particular organization of 'ants as a whole..
A similar "law" holds: when individual workers are put together in a factory. Turning again to Marx:
"When numerous laborers work together side by side, whether in one and the same process, or in different but

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Page last modified on October 02, 2012, at 03:38 PM