Friday, October 16, 2015

Persistent Unemployment, Automation, and the Transcendence of Capitalism


6:30-9:30 PM
Westside Peace Center
3916 Sepulveda Blvd., near Venice Blvd. (free parking in rear)
Suite 101-102, press #22 at door to get into building
Culver City (LA area)

Sarah Mason, former Occupy LA activist
Ali Kiani, Iranian Marxist activist and translator

Capitalism today is marked by persistent unemployment, particularly of youth, as well as low-wage labor.  This is not only a local but also a global problem. Although the displacement of human labor by machines is as old as industrial capitalism, it has accelerated and moved into new sectors in recent years.  These issues have been debated widely from Marx's time, to the Critical Theorists and Marxist-Humanists of the 1950s and 1960s, to today.  Is persistent unemployment due to technological change a further oppression of the working people, or does it offer possibilities for human liberation?  How can both of these issues be connected, in dialectical fashion?  We will explore these issues by examining some pages from Marx's GRUNDRISSE and CAPITAL, from Herbert Marcuse and Raya Dunayevskaya on automation, and from Paul Mason today.

Suggested readings:

Paul Mason, "The End of Capitalism Has Begun," GUARDIAN, July 17, 2015

Raya Dunayevskaya, "The 'Automaton' and the Worker," PHILOSOPHY AND REVOLUTION, pp. 68-77

Herbert Marcuse, on automation, ONE-DIMENSIONAL MAN, pp. 28-37

Karl Marx, Section 5: "The Struggle between Worker and Machine," in Ch. 15: "Machinery and Large-Scale Industry," in CAPITAL, Vol. I

Karl Marx, on machinery in GRUNDRISSE, Nicolaus translation, pp. 699-713, online here and here  

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