‘A to Z’ of Marxism and ‘Fate’ of capitalism (5)


By: Shreepal Singh

Marxists, all over the world, love to quote the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (an ideological friend of Karl Marx) – much in the fashion of Christian priests quoting Bible or other religious authorities quoting their sacred religious books. We set out here how capitalism today is the most versatile engine of progress and then would quote Friedrich Engels in his book ‘Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science’ to explain to Marxists how not only this capitalism would be negated by a new and better Socialist order under the Dialectical principle of ‘Negation of Negation’ but even this Socialism itself would also be negated – by the same logic of ‘Negation of Negation’ by an ‘enhanced-humans – or technologically enhanced trans-humans’ and their collective living order better than Socialism.

Mark Walker (Richard L. Hedden Chair of Advanced Philosophical Studies, New Mexico State University) has conducted research on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on employment and has published an article in Journal of Evolution and Technology (Vol. 24 Issue I – February 2014 – pages 5-25). Our article is based upon the conclusions of his studies. We have liberally borrowed the material from his published work and the entire credit goes to him, except where we have put our own opinion on the subject.

While analyzing the working of our present / liberal economy, we have already mentioned that there are five prerequisites for the smooth working of this economy and that the absence of even one of these parametric conditions would make this economy collapse. To recapitulate, these five primary requirements for the working of the liberal economy are: Firstly, the liberal economy is founded on the basic premises that the private initiative of a free person must be allowed to take the risk (of investment in commodity-production) in his strides and allowed to reap the sweet or bitter fruits of that risk. Secondly, this economy needs that technology must have advanced to such a degree that, in the process of commodity-production process, the machines start to play the primary and the natural resources the secondary role in the process. Thirdly, this economy must ensure that it is the capital and capital alone which can purchase machines and that such capital must not be freely available to all. Fourthly, this economy must ensure that machines needed for production always need human-hands to operate them. Fifthly, this economy must ensure that the human-hands (needed to work those machines) would be available on hire by capital and willing to work (interestingly, Mark Walker has termed this the “threat-economy) under the prevailing circumstances of those human-hands.

In this series of articles we will show on the basis of studies made by researchers that Artificial Intelligence has already begun to replace the present liberal economy with a new economy where “machines” are not material machines (needing capital to purchase them) but “knowledge machines” (like coded software, altered DNA etc.), which do not need capital to make/buy them; “knowledgeable human-hands” are not always available on hire (like, open source software etc.) by capital; machines are there that do not need human-hands to operate them (like, robots); it is but apparent that today technology has greatly advanced and raw materials play only secondary role in the process of producing commodities, and that this new technology plays the primary role in the production-process. Of course, the motive of the private initiative of a free person still remains today to reap bitter or sweet fruits of this initiative. It looks that it would be the last part (of the liberal economy) to be replaced by the new emerging economy, which is being built by Artificial Intelligence!

Mark Walker says he believes that on the horizon there is an age where humans might work because they want to work, not because they must work. Though he does not give any reason why humans would be allowed to work by those whose only purpose to run production is to earn profits, when there is no need of them for their work. After all, these humans, if employed by employers, need to be paid their wages, which lessens the employers’ profits.

Moral considerations, like employers should realize the explosive consequences of the new technology – total unemployment – and should somehow employ people though their work is not needed, are nothing but the jarring notes in this context. Such an approach to the problem in eagerness to solve it, is itself against the very foundation of the present system: all employers are actuated by the motive of earning profit. The whole concept of liberal economy is based on the natural human tendencies and instincts: to secure advantage, benefits and security against uncertain future.

Mark Walker sees the oncoming of an age where human labor would be like the labor we devote to our hobbies, motivated by joy and self-actualization. The author is not oblivious of the dooming prospect of the Artificial Intelligence on human employment and in an effort to avert this sad prospect suggests certain schemes to be adopted, with which we are not concerned here. However, we may observe that in our opinion these “suggested schemes” to avert the sad consequences for the “threat-economy” of the Artificial Intelligence are nothing more than the last ditch efforts or fire-fighting measure.

He says that our economy (liberal capitalism) is the ‘threat-economy’ where fear of starvation, homelessness and death work as a stick to ensure that the work by humans is made imperative’ (remember our proposition that capitalism needs for its survival that humans must work on machines.) and says,the threat-economy faces a paradox: the threat-economy says everyone must work but the threat-economy will not generate enough jobs for everyone, so the work of some will become redundant`.

He does not discount the possibility that one day machines will completely replace all human labor. There are other studies also, which say that it is not the “possibility” but “certainty” that one day – and that day is not far off – machines will completely replace all human labor. (We shall refer to them in due course).

Mark Walker points out that the threat to employment of people from robotics can be visualized in the emerging situation where all the jobs being done presently by human beings could be taken over by robots. We may fast-forward ourselves (in our imagination) ten or twenty years hence and we would find that the razor was made at an entirely robotic factory and shipped robotically to an Amazon distribution center. When Mr. A’s order was placed, it was robotically packaged and sent out in a small robotically driven helicopter, small enough to drop the package right at his doorstep. We would find that gone too are the small army of human shelf stokers. This job is now done robotically. Robots are also in use at every step in the distribution and production sequence. Robots packed and drove the food to your local Walmart. Robots also were used to grow the food on the farm. Then they were packed and shipped robotically as well.

He rightly observes that it may be unnerving to those who do not follow robotic development closely that a very little extrapolation from our current technology is required to the new one.

The idea that the electric razor might reach your hand untouched by any other human is only a small extrapolation from current technology. He gives the following examples to substantiate his conclusion.

Recently, Philips Electronics opened a factory in the Dutch countryside that uses 128 robots and 1/10 the human labor as a counterpart factory in China (Markoff, 2012). The robots work with greater acuity and dexterity than is possible for an unaided human, e.g., one robot bends a connector wire in three places, and guided by video camera, slips the bent wire into holes too small for the human eye to see (Markoff, 2012). The robots are able to do such incredible feats at such a rapid rate that the robots themselves must be enclosed in glass cages: their rapid speed is a danger to the few humans working in the factory. And mind you, the robots are capable of working 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

The new way of manufacturing has made obsolete the old way: hundreds of Chinese workers assembling razors in China by using human labor!

Not only is manufacturing being revolutionized by robotic workers, but the same is happening in the shipping and receiving industry.

On the transportation end, Google has software that drives cars without drivers: vehicles that can drive themselves on busy roads

The safety record of this software already exceeds that of the average human driver. It is not hard to imagine that human driven vehicles may be illegal in twenty years, only because they are so dangerous in comparison to robotically driven vehicles

This does not stop here: even this small residual workforce will be replaced in large measure by “farmbots.” In all likelihood, in twenty years, robots will greatly outnumber humans on farms in the U.S, says Mark Walker.

A recent report (NYT News Service reported in TOI April 27, 2014) says dairy operators in upstate New York farms, besieged by the soaring prices of human-hands to take care of their business of milking cows (or, enticed by the availability of a new cheaper alternative!), have entered into a new brave world of “robotic milkers”. These machines feed and milk cow after cow without the help of a single farmhand. These robots have popped up across New York’s dairy belt, which allow cows to set their own hours, lining up for automated milking five or six times a day. Equipped with transponders around their necks, the cows get individualized services; lasers scan and map their underbellies, and feed the data to a computer which prepares a chart of “each cow’s milking speed”. The robots also monitor the amount and quality of milk produced; frequency of visits to the machine; how much each cow has eaten; and, even the number of steps each cow has taken per day, which can indicate when she is in heat.

Tim Kurtz, a dairy businessman who has installed four robotic milkers last year at his farm in Berks County, Pa, says, “It is tough to find people to do it well and show up on time”. Now he is happy that the machines installed by him never complain about getting up early and working late hours!

Not only will we see a radical reduction in the need for human employment in manufacturing, distribution, transportation and agriculture, but in more “cerebral” professions as well. There are medical programs that outperform even experienced physicians in diagnosing disease.

It seems that hardly a week passes when there is not some headline screeching about robotics taking jobs.

Medicine is not the only high-profile profession under siege: there are computer programs operating today that can perform legal research faster and more effectively than well-trained lawyers (Krugman, 2011).

The so-called “oldest profession” should also worry about the reduced need for human labor in their very “private” field. Sexbots are available now with several different “personalities,” capable of performing a number of different sexual acts. As the price drops, there is every reason to suppose sexbots and other robots will replace even more human labor (Levy, 2011).

Another example of robotic progress is Baxter from Rethink Robotics. Baxter is an industrial robot designed by Rodney Brooks, inventor of the Roomba robot. Baxter learns by doing rather than having new code input. This makes the lifetime cost of Baxter an order of magnitude cheaper than many of its competitors ($22,000 versus $500,000), informs us Mark Walker.

Robots like Baxter will revolutionize industrial production. Interestingly, there is already a robotic hamburger maker available from Momentum Machines (Murray, 2013). It will cook up to 360 hamburgers an hour, plus cut fresh tomatoes, lettuce and pickles. Or consider Kura, a sushi restaurant chain in Japan that uses robotics to lower its labor costs (Chan, 2010).

The news given by Mark Walker is that Philips Electronics has already found it more economical to set up a robotic factory in Europe than have electric razors made in China with cheap labor and then shipped to Europe.

If robots take away enough employment to make full employment impossible, then the paradoxical result emerges that there is a demand for people to do the impossible. It is a logical paradox of the “threat-economy”.

Mark Walker refers to the currently raging debate on the prospect of robotics or Artificial Intelligence on employment between the two rival camps, which he terms as “Chicken Little” (alarmists camp that sees robotics taking away all jobs) and “Economists” (read liberal economists who say the new technology will create new unforeseen jobs). He says that the case for Chicken Little is based on the observation that computers and robotics are making inroads into so many sectors of the economy: agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, retail, professional services, teaching, health care, and food services to name but a few; while the case of the rival camp, he observes, is based on an inductive argument based on the general premise that the future will resemble the past. Similarly, the economists’ argument uses the same inductive pattern: every time automation displaced workers in the past, new jobs were created by new technology.

He very wisely says that this time the future will not resemble the past and that to see why the future will not resemble the past, economically speaking, it will help us to step back for a moment and ask ourselves what role humans play in the economy.

What we offer to the economy in terms of labor is aptly illustrated by a comparison with horses: At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution there was an employee, whose job and livelihood largely vanished in the early twentieth century. This was the horse. The population of the working horses actually peaked in England long after the Industrial Revolution, in 1901, when 3.25 million were at work. Though they had been replaced by rail for long-distance haulage and by steam engines for driving machinery, they still plowed fields, hauled wagons and carriages short distances, pulled boats on the canals, toiled in the pits, and carried armies into battle.

But the arrival of the internal combustion engine in the late nineteenth century rapidly displaced these workers, so that by 1924 there were fewer than two million. There was always a wage at which horses could have remained employed. But that wage was so low it did not pay for their feed (Clark, 2008).

Mark Walker asks a very interesting question: Why did new career opportunities not open up for horses after the invention of the combustion engine? After all, if we are to believe that new job opportunities will open up for humans in the robotic revolution, then surely capitalism should have found jobs for horses after the internal combustion engine revolution.

The unbridled optimism of the economists seems to suggest full employment for horses too. So, why did so many of them end up at the knackers? Why shouldn’t we predict the same thing for human workers this time when robots have come in to replace humans and which perform better than humans (as engines performed better than horses)? Shall we all human-hands also end up like horses did? Why did so many of horses end up at the knackers? Mark Walker answers: horses have one main thing to offer the labor market, namely, their physical labor.

As the quote from Clarke (given by Mark Walker) indicates, it is not that physical labor is not valued in the modern economy; it is simply that the internal combustion engine (or electrical engine) can provide the same physical labor much more cheaply.

Humans have three things to offer the economy: brains, muscles and nostalgia. History shows the inception of two great transformations in the economy. The first, approximately 1800-1950, is where human muscle power was replaced by machine power.

The Second Great Transformation, 1950-2050, is where computers and robots replace human minds in the economy. Humans can still compete in the area of the mind, but as we have seen, this advantage is dwindling.

Robots that work in factories, advanced computers that drive cars in busy traffic or make accurate medical diagnosis, or do effective law research, all are making inroads into areas where humans once had a unique advantage and where now robots have this advantage over humans.

Now we can see then why this time the past is not a particularly good predictor of the future in the case of employment.

Unlike the displacement of labor during the First Great Transformation, there is no untapped category this time for surplus human labor to migrate to. Firstly, there are no new sectors openings with the advent of robotics and, even if there are new openings, then the cost advantage in the matter of employment will lie with robots for the most part, and so there will be weak demand for human mental labor in the future just as the demand for human muscle dropped precipitously in the past (with the advent of engines), concludes Mark Walker.

Now, let us quote Friedrich Engels. He says:

“If simple mechanical change of position contains a contradiction this is even more true of the higher forms of motion of matter, and especially of organic life and its development. We saw above that life consists precisely and primarily in this – that a being is at each moment itself and yet something else. Life is therefore also a contradiction which is present in things and processes themselves, and which constantly originates and resolves itself; and as soon as the contradiction ceases, life, too, comes to an end, and death steps in. We likewise saw that also in the sphere of thought we could not escape contradictions, and that for example the contradiction between man’s inherently unlimited capacity for knowledge and its actual presence only in men who are externally limited and possess limited cognition finds its solution in what is – at least practically, for us – an endless succession of generations, in infinite progress. (Dialectics.” (Quantity and Quality. Page 80)

He also says:

“It is the same in history, as well. All civilised peoples begin with the common ownership of the land. With all peoples who have passed a certain primitive stage, this common ownership becomes in the course of the development of agriculture a fetter on production. It is abolished, negated, and after a longer or shorter series of intermediate stages is transformed into private property. But at a higher stage of agricultural development, brought about by private property in land itself, private property conversely becomes a fetter on production, as is the case today both with small and large landownership. The demand that it, too, should be negated, that it should once again be transformed into common property, necessarily arises. But this demand does not mean the restoration of the aboriginal common ownership, but the institution of a far higher and more developed form of possession in common which, far from being a hindrance to production, on the contrary for the first time will free production from all fetters and enable it to make full use of modern chemical discoveries and mechanical inventions.” (Dialectics. Negation of the Negation: page 90)

Further, he says:

“And so, what is the negation of the negation? An extremely general – and for this reason extremely far-reaching and important – law of development of nature, history, and thought; a law which, as we have seen, holds good in the animal and plant kingdoms, in geology, in mathematics, in history and in philosophy – a law which even Herr Dühring, in spite of all his stubborn resistance, has unwittingly and in his own way to follow. It is obvious that I do not say anything concerning the particular process of development of, for example, a grain of barley from germination to the death of the fruit-bearing plant, if I say it is a negation of the negation. For, as the integral calculus is also a negation of the negation, if I said anything of the sort I should only be making the nonsensical statement that the life-process of a barley plant was integral calculus or for that matter that it was socialism. That, however, is precisely what the metaphysicians are constantly imputing to dialectics. When I say that all these processes are a negation of the negation, I bring them all together under this one law of motion, and for this very reason I leave out of account the specific peculiarities of each individual process. Dialectics, however, is nothing more than the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought.” (Page 92)

In ‘Socialism. Theoretical’ he says:

“The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or estates is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men’s brains, not in man’s better insight into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange. They are to be sought, not in the philosophy, but in the economics of each particular epoch. The growing perception that existing social institutions are unreasonable and unjust, that reason has become unreason, and right wrong, is only proof that in the modes of production and exchange changes have silently taken place with which the social order, adapted to earlier economic conditions, is no longer in keeping. From this it also follows that the means of getting rid of the incongruities that have been brought to light must also be present, in a more or less developed condition, within the changed modes of production themselves. These means are not to be invented, spun out of the head, but discovered with the aid of the head in the existing material facts of production.

“What is, then, the position of modern socialism in this connection?

“The present structure of society – this is now pretty generally conceded – is the creation of the ruling class of today, of the bourgeoisie. The mode of production peculiar to the bourgeoisie, known, since Marx, as the capitalist mode of production, was incompatible with the local privileges and the privileges of estate as well as with the reciprocal personal ties of the feudal system. The bourgeoisie broke up the feudal system and built upon its ruins the capitalist order of society, the kingdom of free. competition, of personal liberty, of the equality, before the law, of all commodity owners, of all the rest of the capitalist blessings. Thenceforward the capitalist mode of production could develop in freedom. Since steam, machinery, and the making of machines by machinery transformed the older manufacture into modern industry, the productive forces evolved under the guidance of the bourgeoisie developed with a rapidity and in a degree unheard of before. But just as the older manufacture, in its time, and handicraft, becoming more developed under its influence, had come into- collision with the feudal trammels of the guilds, so now modern industry, in its more complete development, comes into collision with the bounds within which the capitalistic mode of production holds it confined. The new productive forces have already outgrown the capitalistic mode of using them. And this conflict between productive forces and modes of production is not a conflict engendered in the mind of man, like that between original sin and divine justice. It exists, in fact, objectively, outside us, independently of the will and actions even of the men that have brought it on. Modern socialism is nothing but the reflex, in thought, of this conflict in fact; its ideal reflection in the minds, first, of the class directly suffering under it, the working class.

“Now, in what does this conflict consist?

“Before capitalistic production, i.e., in the Middle Ages, the system of petty industry obtained generally, based upon the private property of the labourers in their means of production; {in the country,} the agriculture of the small peasant, freeman or serf; in the towns, the handicrafts. The instruments of labour – land, agricultural implements, the workshop, the tool – were the instruments of labour of single individuals, adapted for the use of one worker, and, therefore, of necessity, small, dwarfish, circumscribed. But, for this very reason they belonged, as a rule, to the producer himself. To concentrate these scattered, limited means of production, to enlarge them, to turn them into the powerful levers of production of the present day – this was precisely the historic role of capitalist production and of its upholder, the bourgeoisie. In Part IV of Capital, Marx has explained in detail, how since the fifteenth century this has been historically worked out through the three phases of simple co-operation, manufacture and modern industry. But the bourgeoisie, as is also shown there, could not transform these puny means of production into mighty productive forces without transforming them, at the same time, from means of production of the individual into social means of production only workable by a collectivity of men. The spinning-wheel, the hand-loom, the blacksmith’s hammer, were replaced by the spinning-machine, the power-loom, the steam-hammer; the individual workshop by the factory implying the co-operation of hundreds and thousands of workmen. In like manner, production itself changed from a series of individual into a series of social acts, and the products from individual to social products. The yarn, the cloth, the metal articles that now came out of the factory were the joint product of many workers, through whose hands they had successively to pass before they were ready. No one person could say of them: “I made that; this is my product.”

“But where, in a given society, the fundamental form of production is that spontaneous division of labour, there the products take on the form of commodities whose mutual exchange, buying and selling, enable the individual producers to satisfy their manifold wants. And this was the case in the Middle Ages. The peasant, e.g., sold to the artisan agricultural products and bought from him the products of handicraft. Into this society of individual producers, of commodity producers, the new mode of production thrust itself. In the midst of the old division of labour, grown up spontaneously and upon no definite plan, which had governed the whole of society, now arose division of labour upon a definite plan, as organised in the factory; side by side with individualproduction appeared social production. The products of both were sold in the same market, and, therefore, at prices at least approximately equal. But organisation upon a definite plan was stronger than spontaneous division of labour. The factories working with the combined social forces of a collectivity of individuals produced their commodities far more cheaply than the individual small producers. Individual production succumbed in one department after another. Socialised production revolutionised all the old methods of production. But its revolutionary character was, at the same time, so little recognised that it was, on the contrary, introduced as a means of increasing and developing the production of commodities. When it arose, it found readymade, and made liberal use of, certain machinery for the production and exchange of commodities: merchants’ capital, handicraft, wage-labour. Socialised production thus introducing itself as a new form of the production of commodities, it was a matter of course that under it the old forms of appropriation remained in full swing, and were applied to its products as well.

“In the mediaeval stage of evolution of the production of commodities, the question as to the owner of the product of labour could not arise. The individual producer, as a rule, had, from raw material belonging to himself, and generally his own handiwork, produced it with his own tools, by the labour of his own hands or of his family. There was no need for him to appropriate the new product. It belonged wholly to him, as a matter of course. His property in the product was, therefore, based upon his own labour. Even where external help was used, this was, as a rule, of little importance, and very generally was compensated by something other than wages. The apprentices and journeymen of the guilds worked less for board and wages than for education, in order that they might become master craftsmen themselves. Then came the concentration of the means of production in large workshops and manufactories, their transformation into actual socialised means of production. But the socialised means of production and their products were still treated, after this change, just as they had been before, i.e., as the means of production and the products of individuals. Hitherto, the owner of the instruments of labour had himself appropriated the product, because, as a rule, it was his own product and the assistance of others was the exception. Now the owner of the instruments of labour always appropriated to himself the product, although it was no longer his product but exclusively the product of the labour of others. Thus, the products now produced socially were not appropriated by those who had actually set in motion the means of production and actually produced the commodities, but by the capitalists. The means of production, and production itself had become in essence socialised. But they were subjected to a form of appropriation which presupposes the private production of individuals, under which, therefore, everyone owns his own product and brings it to market. The mode of production is subjected to this form of appropriation, although it abolishes the conditions upon which the latter rests. [i] This contradiction, which gives to the new mode of production its capitalistic character, contains the germ of the whole of the social antagonisms of today. The greater the mastery obtained by the new mode of production over all decisive fields of production and in all economically decisive countries, the more it reduced individual production to an insignificant residium, the more clearly was brought out the incompatibility of socialised production with capitalistic appropriation.”

In ‘Socialism: Historical’, he says:

“The capitalistic mode of production moves in these two forms of the antagonism immanent to it from its very origin. It is never able to get out of that “vicious circle” which Fourier had already discovered. What Fourier could not, indeed, see in his time is that this circle is gradually narrowing; that the movement becomes more and more a spiral, and must come to an end, like the movement of the planets, by collision with the centre. It is the compelling force of anarchy in the production of society at large that more and more completely turns the great majority of men into proletarians; and it is the masses of the proletariat again who will finally put an end to anarchy in production. It is the compelling force of anarchy in social production that turns the limitless perfectibility of machinery under modern industry into a compulsory law by which every individual industrial capitalist must perfect his machinery more and more, under penalty of ruin. But the perfecting of machinery is making human labour superfluous. If the introduction and increase of machinery means the displacement of millions of manual by a few machine-workers, improvement in machinery means the displacement of more and more of the machine-workers themselves. It means, in the last instance, the production of a number of available wage-workers in excess of the average needs of capital, the formation of a complete industrial reserve army, as I called it in 1845,[ii] available at the times when industry is working at high pressure, to be cast out upon the street when the inevitable crash comes, a constant dead-weight upon the limbs of the working class in its struggle for existence with capital, a regulator for the keeping of wages down to the low level that suits the interests of capital. Thus it comes about, to quote Marx, that machinery becomes the most powerful weapon in the war of capital against the working class; that the instruments of labour constantly tear the means of subsistence out of the hands of the labourer; that the very product of the worker is turned into an instrument for his subjugation. Thus it comes about that the economising of the instruments of labour becomes at the same time, from the outset, the most reckless waste of labour-power, and robbery based upon the normal conditions under which labour functions; that machinery, the most powerful instrument for shortening labour-time, becomes the most unfailing means for placing every moment of the labourer’s time and that of his family at the disposal of the capitalist for the purpose of expanding the value of his capital. Thus it comes about that the overwork of some becomes the preliminary condition for the idleness of others, and that modern industry, which hunts after new consumers over the whole world, forces the consumption of the masses at home down to a starvation minimum, and in doing this destroys its own home market. “The law that always equilibrates the relative surplus-population, or industrial reserve army, to the extent and energy of accumulation, this law rivets the labourer to capital more firmly than the wedges of Vulcan did Prometheus to the rock. It establishes an accumulation of misery corresponding with accumulation of capital. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole, i.e., on the side of the class that produces its own product in the form of capital” (Marx’s Capital, p. 671.) And to expect any other division of the products from the capitalistic mode of production is the same as expecting the electrodes of a battery not to decompose acidulated water, not to liberate oxygen at the positive, hydrogen at the negative pole, so long as they are connected with the battery.” (page 82)

“This solution can only consist in the practical recognition of the social nature of the modern forces of production, and therefore in the harmonising of the modes of production, appropriation, and exchange with the socialised character of the means of production And this can only come about by society openly and directly taking possession of the productive forces which have outgrown all control except that of society as a whole. The social character of the means of production and of the products today reacts against the producers, periodically disrupts all production and exchange, acts only like a law of nature working blindly, forcibly, destructively. But with the taking over by society of the productive forces, the social character of the means of production and of the products will be utilised by the producers with a perfect understanding of its nature, and instead of being a source of disturbance and periodical collapse, will become the most powerful lever of production itself.

“Active social forces work exactly like natural forces: blindly, forcibly, destructively, so long as we do not understand, and reckon with them. But when once we understand them, when once we grasp their action, their direction, their effects, it depends only upon ourselves to subject them more and more to our own will, and by means of them to reach our own ends. And this holds quite especially of the mighty productive forces of today. As long as we obstinately refuse to understand the nature and the character of these social means of action – and this understanding goes against the grain of the capitalist mode of production and its defenders – so long these forces are at work in spite of us, in opposition to us, so long they master us, as we have shown above in detail. But when once their nature is understood, they can, in the hands of the producers working together, be transformed from master demons into willing servants. The difference is as that between the destructive force of electricity in the lightning of the storm, and electricity under command in the telegraph and the voltaic arc; the difference between a conflagration, and fire working in the service of man. With this recognition, at last, of the real nature of the productive forces of today, the social anarchy of production gives place to a social regulation of production upon a definite plan, according to the needs of the community and of each individual. Then the capitalist mode of appropriation, in which the product enslaves first the producer and then the appropriator, is replaced by the mode of appropriation of the products that is based upon the nature of the modern means of production: upon the one hand, direct social appropriation, as means to the maintenance and extension of production – on the other, direct individual appropriation, as means of subsistence and of enjoyment.

“Whilst the capitalist mode of production more and more completely transforms the great majority of the population into proletarians, it creates the power which, under penalty of its own destruction, is forced to accomplish this revolution. Whilst it forces on more and more the transformation of the vast means of production, already socialised, into state property, it shows itself the way to accomplishing this revolution. The proletariat seizes political power and turns the means of production in the first instance into state property. But, in doing this, it abolishes itself as proletariat, abolishes all class distinctions and class antagonisms, abolishes also the state as state. Society thus far, based upon class antagonisms, had need of the state, that is, of an organisation of the particular class, which was pro tempore the exploiting class, for the maintenance of its external conditions of production, and, therefore, especially, for the purpose of forcibly keeping the exploited classes in the condition of oppression corresponding with the given mode of production (slavery, serfdom, wage-labour). The state was the official representative of society as a whole; the gathering of it together into a visible embodiment. But it was this only in so far as it was the state of that class which itself represented, for the time being, society as a whole: in ancient times, the state of slave-owning citizens; in the Middle Ages, the feudal lords; in our own time, the bourgeoisie. When at last it becomes the real representative of the whole of society, it renders itself unnecessary. As soon as there is no longer any social class to be held in subjection; as soon as class rule, and the individual struggle for existence based upon our present anarchy in production, with the collisions and excesses arising from these, are removed, nothing more remains to be repressed, and a special repressive force, a state, is no longer necessary. 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. This gives the measure of the value of the phrase “a free people’s state”, both as to its justifiable use at times by agitators, and as to its ultimate scientific insufficiency [iii]; and also of the demands of the so-called anarchists for the abolition of the state out of hand.

“Since the historical appearance of the capitalist mode of production, the appropriation by society of all the means of production has often been dreamed of, more or less vaguely, by individuals, as well as by sects, as the ideal of the future. But it could become possible, could become a historical necessity, only when the actual conditions for its realisation were there. Like every other social advance, it becomes practicable, not by men understanding that the existence of classes is in contradiction to justice, equality, etc., not by the mere willingness to abolish these classes, but by virtue of certain new economic conditions. The separation of society into an exploiting and an exploited class, a ruling and an oppressed class, was the necessary consequence of the deficient and restricted development of production in former times. So long as the total social labour only yields a produce which but slightly exceeds that barely necessary for the existence of all; so long, therefore, as labour engages all or almost all the time of the great majority of the members of society – so long, of necessity, this society is divided into classes. Side by side with the great majority, exclusively bond slaves to labour, arises a class freed from directly productive labour, which looks after the general affairs of society: the direction of labour, state business, law, science, art, etc. It is, therefore, the law of division of labour that lies at the basis of the division into classes. But this does not prevent this division into classes from being carried out by means of violence and robbery, trickery and fraud. It does not prevent the ruling class, once having the upper hand, from consolidating its power at the expense of the working class, from turning its social leadership into an exploitation of the masses.

“But if, upon this showing, division into classes has a certain historical justification, it has this only for a given period, only under given social conditions. It was based upon the insufficiency of production. It will be swept away by the complete development of modern productive forces. And, in fact, the abolition of classes in society presupposes a degree of historical evolution at which the existence, not simply of this or that particular ruling class, but of any ruling class at all, and, therefore, the existence of class distinction itself has become an obsolete anachronism. It presupposes, therefore, the development of production carried out to a degree at which appropriation of the means of production and of the products, and, with this, of political domination, of the monopoly of culture, and of intellectual leadership by a particular class of society, has become not only superfluous but economically, politically, intellectually a hindrance to development. This point is now reached. Their political and intellectual bankruptcy is scarcely any longer a secret to the bourgeoisie themselves. Their economic bankruptcy recurs regularly every ten years. In every crisis, society is suffocated beneath the weight of its own productive forces and products, which it cannot use, and stands helpless face to face with the absurd contradiction that the producers have nothing to consume, because consumers are wanting. The expansive force of the means of production bursts the bonds that the capitalist mode of production had imposed upon them. Their deliverance from these bonds is the one precondition for an unbroken, constantly accelerated development of the productive forces, and therewith for a practically unlimited increase of production itself. Nor is this all. The socialised appropriation of the means of production does away, not only with the present artificial restrictions upon production, but also with the positive waste and devastation of productive forces and products that are at the present time the inevitable concomitants of production, and that reach their height in the crises. Further, it sets free for the community at large a mass of means of production and of products, by doing away with the senseless extravagance of the ruling classes of today and their political representatives. The possibility of securing for every member of society, by means of socialised production, an existence not only fully sufficient materially, and becoming day by day more full, but an existence guaranteeing to all the free development and exercise of their physical and mental faculties – this possibility is now for the first time here, but it is here.

“With the seizing of the means of production by society production of commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of the product over the producer. Anarchy in social production is replaced by systematic, definite organisation. The struggle for individual existence disappears. Then for the first time man, in a certain sense, is finally marked off from the rest of the animal kingdom, and emerges from mere animal conditions of existence into really human ones. The whole sphere of the conditions of life which environ man, and which have hitherto ruled man, now comes under the dominion and control of man who for the first time becomes the real, conscious lord of nature because he has now become master of his own social organisation. The laws of his own social action, hitherto standing face to face with man as laws of nature foreign to, and dominating him, will then be used with full understanding, and so mastered by him. Man’s own social organisation, hitherto confronting him as a necessity imposed by nature and history, now becomes the result of his own free action. The extraneous objective forces that have hitherto governed history pass under the control of man himself. Only from that time will man himself, with full consciousness, make his own history – only from that time will the social causes set in movement by him have, in the main and in a constantly growing measure, the results intended by him. It is the humanity’s leap from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom.

“To accomplish this act of universal emancipation is the historical mission of the modern proletariat. To thoroughly comprehend the historical conditions and thus the very nature of this act, to impart to the now oppressed class a full knowledge of the conditions and of the meaning of the momentous act it is called upon to accomplish, this is the task of the theoretical expression of the proletarian movement, scientific socialism.” (Page 185)

With these quotes, made readily available to Marxist thinker here, we proceed to describe the working of capitalism in 21st century and its certain demise.

Add here:

Why Narendra Modi has emerged a strong leader!


Posted by: Parmanand Pandey, General Secretary IPC (Advocate, Supreme Court)

Going by the enthusiasm of the people and the overwhelming response that Mr. Narendra Modi is getting across the country one can safely conclude that he is destined to be coronated as the next Prime Minister of India. There are quite a large number of people, who dislike Narendra Modi to the extent to hating him. Their hatred is so deep and diabolic that they cannot be convinced with any amount of logic or reasoning. Modi bashers say that he has become popular because he is being projected by some important corporate houses of the country with the help of paid media and because of the support of a cadre based organisation like the RSS. They also say that Narendra Modi is a rabid communal person and he has polarised the people of the country based on the religion, which will be detrimental of the polity of the country in the days to come.

However, they conveniently ignore and forget the fact that Narendra Modi has become immensely popular in the country not only because of the reasons being given by his adversaries but there are many more factors which has been responsible to make him what he is. Is it not a fact that most of the political parties, particularly the Congress Party, have not been indulging in the appeasement of the Muslims and treating them as vote bank? Is it not true that Congress Party and many of its allies have not perpetuated the caste politics and the cult of dynastic politics? Can anybody deny that there has been a backbreaking rise in the prices during the regime of Dr. Man Mohan Singh, which is run by the remote control of Ms Sonia Gandhi? Is it not a fact that many swindles, scandals and cases of corruption have not eaten the country to hollow during the last ten years of Congress Government?

It is a known fact, that the foreign policy of this country has no say in the comity of the nations. India is no longer respected as the strong and powerful country in the world. Even the smaller countries do not bother much about India. The relationship with the neighboring countries like; Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives has touched to its nadir. Pakistan, although a failed state and a bankrupt country, has never been friendly with India, yet it is poking its nose in the internal affairs of the country. Terrorist activities in India often take place with assistance and complicity of Pakistan. Many modules of terrorists have sprung up across India with the monetary support of Pakistan. Pakistan also works as the conduit between the Indian terrorists and terrorism exporting countries like Saudi Arabia.

These weaknesses of the Government and the Administration have left the people with no choice but to go to Mr. Narendra Modi, who has emerged as one of the strongest leaders the country has seen after independence. While all political parties are bending over backwards to  appease the minorities but here is a person who says that he will not succumb to any pressure and will remain upright to every citizen of the country regardless of caste, creed or religion without any fear or favor of anybody. That is what India needs at this time.

The political terra firma has almost become barren and that is the reason that Modi haters take the shelter behind the Gujarat riots of 2002. They shamelessly use the snoop gate or, the estranged relationship with wife against him. The fact is that in both cases the complaints have not come from the side of those who have supposedly suffered. The woman of the snoop gate has not said against Narendra Modi. His wife Yashoda Ben, who was married to him in the childhood, has no regrets for not being with Narendra Modi. She has herself said that she prays to God that he becomes the Prime Minister and serve the country in the best possible manner.  All the political adversaries of Narendra Modi have been side lined whether they are the leaders of the BJP like; L.K. Advani, Sushma Sauraj, Murli Manohar Joshi or Yashwant Singh. His opponents in the Congress Party like; Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi or Dig- Vijay Singh find themselves completely disillusioned. Man Mohan, the Prime Minister, is completely out of scene. Mulayam Singh, Mayawati, Jayalaitha, Mamta Bengerjee and Nitish Kumar have hardly any role to play.

 Arvind Kejriwal could have certainly changed the political discourse of the country if he had not been in the tearing hurry of becoming the Prime Minster of the country. In his impatience to get the power he even jettisoned his guru and mentor Anna Hazare. Anna Hazare must be credited to have changed the thought -process of the most of the people of particularly of the youngsters of the country. He was the harbinger of the hope for the young generation, which has been crumbling under the burden of corruption and unemployment. Nevertheless, this man Arvind Kejriwal drifted from path as shown by Anna Hazare. People believed him for some time but now he stands exposed. That is the reason that Mr. Arvind Kejriwal and his party has been dumped on the way side by the people of the country.

The type of response and support, which Mr. Narendra Modi received in Varanasi when he had gone to file his nomination paper, was unprecedented And that is why, we find a ray of hope and wish Narendra Modi gets absolute majority in Lok Sabha to bring about the changes that he has envisioned. May God help our country and us!

(2) Artificial Intelligence: Total Unemployment


Posted by: Shreepal Singh

Mark Walker (Richard L. Hedden Chair of Advanced Philosophical Studies, New Mexico State University) has conducted research on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on employment and has published an article in Journal of Evolution and Technology (Vol. 24 Issue I – February 2014 – pages 5-25). Our article is based upon the conclusions of his studies. We have liberally borrowed the material from his published work and the entire credit goes to him, except where we have put our own opinion on the subject.

While analyzing the working of our present / liberal economy, we have already mentioned that there are five prerequisites for the smooth working of this economy and that the absence of even one of these parametric conditions would make this economy collapse. To recapitulate, these five primary requirements for the working of the liberal economy are: Firstly, the liberal economy is founded on the basic premises that the private initiative of a free person must be allowed to take the risk (of investment in commodity-production) in his strides and allowed to reap the sweet or bitter fruits of that risk. Secondly, this economy needs that technology must has advanced to such a degree that, in the process of commodity-production process, the machines start to play the primary – and the natural resources only the secondary – role in the process. Thirdly, this economy must ensure that it is the capital and capital alone, which can purchase machines; and that such capital must not be freely available to all, unless earned by one by following the route laid down by the liberal economy. Fourthly, this economy must ensure that machines (needed for production) would always need human-hands to work upon them. Fifthly, this economy must ensure that the human-hands (needed to work upon those machines) would be available on hire (by capital) and willing to work on hire under the free market condition (for such sale and purchase of human-hands). Interestingly, Mark Walker has termed this economy as the “threat-economy.

In this series of articles we will show on the basis of studies made by researchers that Artificial Intelligence has already begun to replace the present liberal economy with a new economy where “machines” are not material machines (needing capital to purchase them) but “knowledge machines” (like coded software, altered DNA etc.), which do not need human-hands to work upon them (and so no need of capital to buy those hands); that “knowledgeable human-hands” are not always available on hire (like, open source software etc.) by capital; that machines are there that do not need human-hands to operate them (like, robots); and that today apparently technology has greatly advanced and raw materials play only the secondary role in the process of producing commodities, and this new technology plays the primary role in the production-process.

Of course, the motive of the private initiative of a free person still remains today to reap bitter or sweet fruits of this initiative. It looks that it – the private initiative – would be the last and remaining part of the liberal economy to be replaced by the new emerging economy, which is being built by Artificial Intelligence!

Mark Walker says he believes that on the horizon there is an age where humans might work because they want to work, not because they must work. Though he does not give any reason why humans would be allowed (by those whose only purpose to run production is to earn profits by cutting all possible costs, including the cost of human-hands) to work when there is no need of them or their work. After all, these humans, if employed by employers, would need to be paid their wages, which lessens the employers’ profits.

Moral considerations, like employers should realize the explosive consequences of the new technology – total unemployment – and should somehow employ people though their work is not needed, are nothing but the jarring notes in this context. Such an approach to the problem in eagerness to solve it, is itself against the very foundation of the present system: all employers are actuated by the motive of earning profit. The whole concept of liberal economy is based on the natural human tendencies and instincts: to secure advantage, benefits and security against uncertain future.

Mark Walker sees the oncoming of an age where human labor would be like the labor we devote to our hobbies, motivated by joy and self-actualization. The author is not oblivious of the dooming prospect of the Artificial Intelligence on human employment and in an effort to avert this sad prospect suggests certain schemes to be adopted, with which we are not concerned here. However, we may observe that in our opinion these “suggested schemes” to avert the sad consequences for the “threat-economy” of the Artificial Intelligence are nothing more than the last ditch efforts or fire-fighting measure.

He says that our economy (liberal capitalism) is the ‘threat-economy’ where fear of starvation, homelessness and death work as a stick to ensure that the work by humans is made imperative’ (remember our proposition that capitalism needs for its survival that humans must work on machines.) and says,the threat-economy faces a paradox: the threat-economy says everyone must work but the threat-economy will not generate enough jobs for everyone, so the work of some will become redundant`.

He does not discount the possibility that one day machines will completely replace all human labor. There are other studies also, which say that it is not the “possibility” but “certainty” that one day – and that day is not far off – machines will completely replace all human labor. (We shall refer to them in due course).

Mark Walker points out that the threat to employment of people from robotics can be visualized in the emerging situation where all the jobs being done presently by human beings could be taken over by robots. We may fast-forward ourselves (in our imagination) ten or twenty years hence and we would find that the razor was made at an entirely robotic factory and shipped robotically to an Amazon distribution center. When Mr. A’s order was placed, it was robotically packaged and sent out in a small robotically driven helicopter, small enough to drop the package right at his doorstep. We would find that gone too are the small army of human shelf stockers. This job is now done robotically. Robots are also in use at every step in the distribution and production sequence. Robots packed and drove the food to your local Walmart. Robots also were used to grow the food on the farm. Then they were packed and shipped robotically as well.

He rightly observes that it may be unnerving to those who do not follow robotic development closely that a very little extrapolation from our current technology is required to the new one.

The idea that the electric razor might reach your hand untouched by any other human is only a small extrapolation from current technology. He gives the following examples to substantiate his conclusion.

Recently, Philips Electronics opened a factory in the Dutch countryside that uses 128 robots and 1/10 the human labor as a counterpart factory in China (Markoff, 2012). The robots work with greater acuity and dexterity than is possible for an unaided human, e.g., one robot bends a connector wire in three places, and guided by video camera, slips the bent wire into holes too small for the human eye to see (Markoff, 2012). The robots are able to do such incredible feats at such a rapid rate that the robots themselves must be enclosed in glass cages: their rapid speed is a danger to the few humans working in the factory. And mind you, the robots are capable of working 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

The new way of manufacturing has made obsolete the old way: hundreds of Chinese workers assembling razors in China by using human labor!

Not only is manufacturing being revolutionized by robotic workers, but the same is happening in the shipping and receiving industry.

On the transportation end, Google has software that drives cars without drivers: vehicles that can drive themselves on busy roads

The safety record of this software already exceeds that of the average human driver. It is not hard to imagine that human driven vehicles may be illegal in twenty years, only because they are so dangerous in comparison to robotically driven vehicles

This does not stop here: even this small residual workforce will be replaced in large measure by “farmbots.” In all likelihood, in twenty years, robots will greatly outnumber humans on farms in the U.S, says Mark Walker.

A recent report (NYT News Service reported in TOI April 27, 2014) says dairy operators in upstate New York farms, besieged by the soaring prices of human-hands to take care of their business of milking cows (or, enticed by the availability of a new cheaper alternative!), have entered into a new brave world of “robotic milkers”. These machines feed and milk cow after cow without the help of a single farmhand. These robots have popped up across New York’s dairy belt, which allow cows to set their own hours, lining up for automated milking five or six times a day. Equipped with transponders around their necks, the cows get individualized services; lasers scan and map their underbellies, and feed the data to a computer which prepares a chart of “each cow’s milking speed”. The robots also monitor the amount and quality of milk produced; frequency of visits to the machine; how much each cow has eaten; and, even the number of steps each cow has taken per day, which can indicate when she is in heat.

Tim Kurtz, a dairy businessman who has installed four robotic milkers last year at his farm in Berks County, Pa, says, “It is tough to find people to do it well and show up on time”. Now he is happy that the machines installed by him never complain about getting up early and working late hours!

Not only will we see a radical reduction in the need for human employment in manufacturing, distribution, transportation and agriculture, but in more “cerebral” professions as well. There are medical programs that outperform even experienced physicians in diagnosing disease.

It seems that hardly a week passes when there is not some headline screeching about robotics taking jobs.

Medicine is not the only high profile profession under siege: there are computer programs operating today that can perform legal research faster and more effectively than well-trained lawyers (Krugman, 2011).

The so-called “oldest profession” should also worry about the reduced need for human labor in their very “private” field. Sexbots are available now with several different “personalities,” capable of performing a number of different sexual acts. As the price drops, there is every reason to suppose sexbots and other robots will replace even more human labor (Levy, 2011).

Another example of robotic progress is Baxter from Rethink Robotics. Baxter is an industrial robot designed by Rodney Brooks, inventor of the Roomba robot. Baxter learns by doing rather than having new code input. This makes the lifetime cost of Baxter an order of magnitude cheaper than many of its competitors ($22,000 versus $500,000), informs us Mark Walker.

Robots like Baxter will revolutionize industrial production. Interestingly, there is already a robotic hamburger maker available from Momentum Machines (Murray, 2013). It will cook up to 360 hamburgers an hour, plus cut fresh tomatoes, lettuce and pickles. Or consider Kura, a sushi restaurant chain in Japan that uses robotics to lower its labor costs (Chan, 2010).

The news given by Mark Walker is that Philips Electronics has already found it more economical to set up a robotic factory in Europe than have electric razors made in China with cheap labor and then shipped to Europe.

If robots take away enough employment to make full employment impossible, then the paradoxical result emerges that there is a demand for people to do the impossible. It is a logical paradox of the “threat-economy”.

Mark Walker refers to the currently raging debate on the prospect of robotics or Artificial Intelligence on employment between the two rival camps, which he terms as “Chicken Little” (alarmists camp that sees robotics taking away all jobs) and “Economists” (read liberal economists who say the new technology will create new unforeseen jobs). He says that the case for Chicken Little is based on the observation that computers and robotics are making inroads into so many sectors of the economy: agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, retail, professional services, teaching, health care, and food services to name but a few; while the case of the rival camp, he observes, is based on an inductive argument based on the general premise that the future will resemble the past. Similarly, the economists’ argument uses the same inductive pattern: every time automation displaced workers in the past, new jobs were created by new technology.

He very wisely says that this time the future will not resemble the past and that to see why the future will not resemble the past, economically speaking, it will help us to step back for a moment and ask ourselves what role humans play in the economy.

What we offer to the economy in terms of labor is aptly illustrated by a comparison with horses: At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution there was an employee, whose job and livelihood largely vanished in the early twentieth century. This was the horse. The population of the working horses actually peaked in England long after the Industrial Revolution, in 1901, when 3.25 million were at work. Though they had been replaced by rail for long-distance haulage and by steam engines for driving machinery, they still plowed fields, hauled wagons and carriages short distances, pulled boats on the canals, toiled in the pits, and carried armies into battle.

But the arrival of the internal combustion engine in the late nineteenth century rapidly displaced these workers, so that by 1924 there were fewer than two million. There was always a wage at which horses could have remained employed. But that wage was so low it did not pay for their feed (Clark, 2008).

Mark Walker asks a very interesting question: Why did new career opportunities not open up for horses after the invention of the combustion engine? After all, if we are to believe that new job opportunities will open up for humans in the robotic revolution, then surely capitalism should have found jobs for horses after the internal combustion engine revolution.

The unbridled optimism of the economists seems to suggest full employment for horses too. So, why did so many of them end up at the knackers? Why shouldn’t we predict the same thing for human workers this time when robots have come in to replace humans and which perform better than humans (as engines performed better than horses)? Shall we all human-hands also end up like horses did? Why did so many of horses end up at the knackers? Mark Walker answers: horses have one main thing to offer the labor market, namely, their physical labor.

As the quote from Clarke (given by Mark Walker) indicates, it is not that physical labor is not valued in the modern economy; it is simply that the internal combustion engine (or electrical engine) can provide the same physical labor much more cheaply.

Humans have three things to offer the economy: brains, muscles and nostalgia. History shows the inception of two great transformations in the economy. The first, approximately 1800-1950, is where human muscle power was replaced by machine power.

The Second Great Transformation, 1950-2050, is where computers and robots replace human minds in the economy. Humans can still compete in the area of the mind, but as we have seen, this advantage is dwindling.

Robots that work in factories, advanced computers that drive cars in busy traffic or make accurate medical diagnosis, or do effective law research, all are making inroads into areas where humans once had a unique advantage and where now robots have this advantage over humans.

Now we can see then why this time the past is not a particularly good predictor of the future in the case of employment.

Unlike the displacement of labor during the First Great Transformation, there is no untapped category this time for surplus human labor to migrate to. Firstly, there are no new sectors openings with the advent of robotics and, even if there are new openings, then the cost advantage in the matter of employment will lie with robots for the most part, and so there will be weak demand for human mental labor in the future just as the demand for human muscle dropped precipitously in the past (with the advent of engines), concludes Mark Walker.

 

(1)        Artificial Intelligence and Capitalism


Posted by: Shreepal Singh

Capitalism is a versatile engine of economic growth. This engine is fuelled by the private initiative of free person. There are certain strictly defined parametric conditions which allow this fuel to pump this engine with energy and without which the engine would not work. Since its inception with the invention of steam engine, capitalism has been refined and fine-tuned many times to meet the exigencies of evolving situations. But these parametric conditions have all along been the sine qua non of capitalism. The absence of even only one such condition would render this engine unworkable. What are these conditions?

In the 21st century, capitalism needs the following parametric conditions, which make it possible for this contrivance to make rapid strides in economic growth. Firstly, capitalism needs that the primary purpose of the venture capital for initiating the commodity-production-activity be earning the private profit. Secondly, capitalism needs that technology has advanced to such an extent that, in the process of commodity-production, the machines start playing the primary and the natural resources the secondary, role in this production-process. Thirdly, it needs the assurance that machines are purchased only by capital and that capital is made available only to a very small number of people. That is, neither these machines be made available without purchase by capital nor the capital required for such purchase be made freely available to all. Fourthly, capitalism needs that machines needed for production must require human beings to work them (machines). Fifthly, it needs that human beings who can work on those machines are available on hire to capital.

Capitalism is a wholesome socio-economic system, which is the product of new discoveries /inventions (like machines fuelled by steam, gas, wind, atomic chain-reaction, sun-light etc.) and the natural human tendency of utilizing the new discoveries/inventions to their (humans’) own advantage. This socio-economic system is million-times better than the socio-economic system based on agriculture driven by animal-power (of horses, oxen etc.) in the matter of producing commodities, which satisfy human needs. But, will capitalism last forever? Is it so good that it cannot be replaced by anything better? If the history be treated tools to make deduction about the things to come in future out of its ongoing process, one can perhaps safely say that nothing lasts forever. Then, what remains of the whole exercise, is only the time when it (capitalism) will go out of fashion. Such an eventuality is unpalatable to some, but it cannot be helped. History has never moved according to the wishes of humans. Had it been so, agricultural socio-economic system would never have been replaced lock stock and barrel with capitalism.

Correct ideas are science and their correctness is tested by humans again and again. All branches of science are made-up of ideas – human ideas – which have been tested and found correct. It is not physics, chemistry, life sciences, cosmology etc. alone, which have ideas ruling as hypothesis, theories and laws. Humanities also have ideas. And, they also subject their ideas to the test of their correctness. Regarding capitalism, there is an idea of dialectics, which makes a forecast that capitalism will die. This idea is yet to be tested. Let us see if there are any signs on the horizon that augur not well for capitalism. We have already mentioned the life-body of capitalism in the form of its five parametric prerequisites.

We will show in this series of articles that the Artificial Intelligence (which makes robotics possible) has already started dismantling, step by step, these five parametric conditions, or prerequisites of this contrivance, of capitalism. We will not take them in strictly chronological order. Let us first see how the Artificial Intelligence is removing the need of human beings for working machines in the activity of commodity-production.

Mark Walker (Richard L. Hedden Chair of Advanced Philosophical Studies, New Mexico State University) has conducted research on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on employment and has published an article in Journal of Evolution and Technology (Vol. 24 Issue I – February 2014 – pages 5-25). Our article is based upon the conclusions of his studies. We have liberally borrowed the material from his published work and the entire credit goes to him, except where we have put our own opinion on the subject.

Art of winning elections in democracy


Posted by: Shreepal Singh

Like a painter needs brush, colors, canvas and his or her imagination to paint a beautiful portrait, political leaders in democracy need tools and imagination.

It is not the reality, but the perception of reality, that matters in democracy in deciding who will rule. It is not anybody or everybody who can create this perception to his or her liking. It needs money, a lot of money, and a team of crusaders to create this perception, like a painter needs brush, colors and canvas.

But the quantum of money alone does not decide the outcome of the game of democracy. One needs imagination to win the battle.

It is proverbially said, democracy is the rule of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a misnomer; it is a cover-up; it is a sort of lullabies. If one goes deeper into the functioning of democracy, one would find it is neither the rule of the people or by the people nor for the people.

Like a painter armed with his/her tools, a politician possessing money and man power can create a perception of reality, which reality may not be there at all.

Winning elections in democracy is an art and science. It requires three sequential elements: create perception; fine tune as you go along; and build resonance to amplify.

In democracy, those who have been instrumental in acquiring/taking away the land of farmers can very well create the perception that they are the best friends of farmers; those who have been dividing people along their religious/ethnic/regional fault-lines can very well create a perception that those very persons are the champions of peoples’ unity; those who are solely responsible for making poor people’s lives miserable can very well create the perception that the people are happy and prosperous. Such is the magic power of creating a perception.

But the creation of a perception is not enough; it is a temporary achievement. As political leaders go along during election, they need to make mid-course corrections and fine tune the momentum; it is an art and money does not count very much here. This mid-course fine tuning is to be aimed at only one goal: put your ears to the ground and listen at which point it is the resonating. It is a science; it is the science of psychology aided by physics. You get the correct frequency and you are able to amplify, without much further labor. Magic, sheer magic!

It is bitter truth that all people not alike; they think differently; they behave differently to one situation. It is human nature.

It is a bitter truth that there are religious/ethnic/regional fault lines along which people are divided in India. The best way to reconcile is to admit the reality and face it in a reasonable manner. The worst crime one can commit is: he/she knows this truth, declares it a false rumor-mongering and exploits these fault lines to his/her own political advantage.

This dismal condition of democracy today is because we are not willing and prepared to elect our political leaders through the modern process of technologically empowered electorates; we need to use information technology as soon as possible to elect our leaders; to monitor them; to recall them at a moment’s notice and elect new ones in their place.

Words of wisdom


Posted by: M. K. Shukla (Advocate, Supreme Court)

A few things for every one to ponder over:

  1. The most important quality of successful people is their willingness to change.

  2. The human beings are very strange. They have EGO of their knowledge but, they don’t have knowledge of their EGO.

  3. People who judge do not matter. People who matter do not judge.

  4. Alphabet “O” stands for Opportunity which is absent in “Yesterday”. available only once in “Today”, and thrice in “Tomorrow”.

  5. Pain is unavoidable but the suffering is completely optional. It is a state of mind (that is, the cultivated attitude).

Hail Narendra Modi for his candidness


Posted by: Parmanand Pandey (Advocate, Supreme Court & General Secretary IPC)

Two important events have taken place in the week gone by; one is the interview of Mr. Narender Modi, the Prime-Ministerial candidate of the Bhartiya Janata Party and its allies, which was broadcast simultaneously on many news channels. The interview was obtained by the news agency ANI and the  lady interviewer asked very searching questions from Modi. In fact, this interview has cleared many doubts which have been sought to be created by many political parties and other interested groups. There is a group of persons in India and abroad who always finds fault in all activities and try to paint him a ruthless barbarian. Their only objective is to create an atmosphere against Modi in particular and the Hindus in general. The interview provided many opportunities to the people of India to know and understand about Narendra Modi and his thoughts.

What has been the most appealing part of the interview was that there is no place for apology in the criminal law to be condoned for the crimes one has committed. When he was asked that why does he not tender apology even this day to the Muslim community for the large scale communal riots that took place in 2002. He said that if he is guilty why should he be spared by a simple apology. He said that he should be publicly hanged for his crimes because apology will not do the justice done to anybody. This is the crux of the matter. Any person who knows anything about the criminal justice delivery system will say that mere apology cannot acquit the criminals. For example; if any criminal has committed the crime of murder(s), he cannot seek for her/his acquittal by expressing the regret or sorry for the murder. Thus, Modi has been candid and forthright when he said that being the Chief Minister of the state his crimes were graver than others were. Therefore, punishment for him should be harsher and severe. This assertion of Modi is a very hard slap on the face of those who have been asking for his blood. It may be noted here that for the last 12 years anti-Modi and anti-Hindu forces have been leveling all wild allegations against Mr. Modi but no proof has been found against him by any court of law. Apart from the court of law, people of Gujarat have also reposed greater faith in every successive elections held after 2002.

 He has never cared about the pinpricks caused by inimical persons and has been consistently working for the welfare of the people and development of the state with great zeal and enthusiasm. Results are everyone to see. He has been getting international accolades as a man of development. This is the reason that the entire country is waiting for the day when Modi gets the opportunity to lead the nation with strong and stable government.

When a question was asked whether he would be initiating the investigations against the UPA government and will work with vindictiveness against some persons in the UPA government. He spoke like a statesman and said the people would like him to see as a person who works and for vindictiveness or vendetta. He has no time for trivial issues, told Mr. Modi. It is expected that this interview of Modi will help Modi romp home to the power with absolute majority in the Lok Sabha elections.

The second most important thing, which I referred in the opening paragraph, is the landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India on the recognition of transgender as third gender. The apex court has allowed their admission in all educational institutions and given employment based on their gender. They will not be derided in the society and will get the respect, which is due to them. There will be no harassment and discrimination against them because of their gender. The judgment also directed the government to take stapes to bring them in the main- stream of society. In fact, the transgender has always been recognised a separate entity in Indian culture and ethos but after the advent of Mughals and the Britishers; people started looking down at them.

In the grammar of Sanskrit language, which is followed in Hindi as well as in most of other Indian languages, there are three genders. In Sanskrit, we know as the puling, striling and napunsakling. This is taught to every student but there is nothing like napunsakling in other cultures and civilizations. This judgment has re-established the fact that trans-genders have the mind, body, soul, thinking and ideas like those of other human beings. The only deformity is in their genital organs but then that should not be the reason to discriminate against them and harass them or to keep them away from the mainstream. They can be as useful, if not more, in the growth and the development of the society as any other male or female.

Every right-thinking person must hail these two important events.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: