Courtesy of the Blake-Bot Collective
Capitalism has sown the seeds of its own destruction. It instills all who live under it with an omnipresent feeling of alienation, despair, and powerlessness. This economic system, this walking fossil, has outlived its usefulness, yet it steadfastly refuses to leave the stage of history (and even has the audacity to claim that history is over). So far, through use of "the spectacle" and "mental health" drugs, as well as a plethora of other techniques backed by the threat of physical or emotional violence, our alienation and silent despair has been misdirected. Despite this forced misdirection, however, the resignation and hopelessness wrought by the virtues of our time may yet prove our guiding force as we pull ourselves out of the machine and into our humanity.
Without a doubt revolution is necessary. The question that remains is: Where will this revolution take us? Its ugliness and horrors notwithstanding, capitalism has served its purpose insofar as it has created the conditions necessary to eliminate scarcity and institute complete automation.
Humanity has an instinctive impulse to create through labor, play, and art. However, when one is
forced to create, either by physical or economic necessity, it becomes work and is undesirable.
Because of the nature of class society, it is possible to avoid work for only a few sectors, normally
at the expense of others. Automation is intentionally avoided in order to maintain class society and
the state. In order to create a truly libertarian socialist society where life and labor are no longer
seen as commodities we must embrace the automation of the means of existence and to a certain
extent comfort. Once capital is eliminated as the guiding force for technological development, it will
be possible and desirable to create and develop environmentally sustainable sources of energy that
will provide for the well-being of humanity and the Earth. Only through libertarian socialist automation will human health and comfort no longer be at odds with the health of the Earth and its creatures. With our means of existence provided for us, humankind will be free to pursue whatever creative desires we may have. Only in such a society will humans be free to be both individual and social beings to the degree they choose.
The world's population is higher than it has ever been before. There is no longer a choice between
an agricultural and hunter-gatherer society, unless one would consent to millions of people starving.
An agricultural society, however, does not necessarily imply that people must work and lose their
freedom of movement. For certain forms of labor it is possible to completely automate the machinery. With other types of production, in particular food and structure production, it is necessary to have an active agent which can manage and adapt to the circumstances. With the extent of our technological capabilities, it should be fairly easy to create robots capable of filling the active agent role (all the while keeping them free of any emotion or consciousness as dystopian sci-fi films/books are so fond of depicting).
At this point we must distinguish between Robo-anarchism and Robo-capitalism (which is the dystopian vision that most people, especially those within radical circles, associate with technology
and robotics). In capitalist society, automation remains a largely neglected and unexplored possibility for the simple reason that if no one works than it becomes hard to justify the enormous disparity of wealth between classes. If work is eliminated but commodities are still produced, then capital loses its value and an irreconcilable contradiction emerges in the economy that can only lead to economic collapse or the popularization of the gift economy. Capitalist society, therefore, will instinctively avoid automation regardless of the cost in order to maintain its existence. If robots are created, they would be made by corporations (the only bodies with enough capital to produce them) for the sole purpose of creating profits. The robots would be sold for entertainment-only purposes and in so doing detach us further from our humanity and become yet another spectacle meant to keep us stagnant and isolated. In an anarcho-robotic society, however, automation and robots would be utilized by communities who would prefer to no longer be forced to work in order to survive.
It is essential to destroy the specialization of knowledge by widely disseminating the knowledge of how things are created and maintained so as to make the technology available to all and preempt class divisions that emerge from the specialization of knowledge as it exists to a certain extent today. Initially robots must be designed by those who are scientifically inclined or interested, but it should soon become possible to automate the factories that build the robots. Although there would still be a drain on natural resources, it would be minimal since, in contrast to present trends in production, things would be built to last.
When we state that some comfort items should remain it is a far cry from the glut of consumer goods that exists today. As with any revolutionary movement, an anarcho-robotic society requires a shift in paradigm away from the capitalist mentality of hoarding and individual greed (though not as extreme as the socialist mentality of self-sacrifice and community over the self). In an anarcho-robotic society, robots would not serve as substitutes for real human interaction, but rather would allow it to take place by eliminating the exploitative relationships that work perpetuates.
This critique is obviously directed towards countries with more advanced forms of capitalism. However, so-called third world countries would benefit just the same. Rather than enduring the painful process of industrialization that global capitalism is forcing upon them, they would remain free to industrialize at their own pace with the added benefit of integrating the knowledge of the most advanced technologies of automation into the process.
Work in any form is a varied form of slavery, whether one is controlled by another human, by market
and industry, or even by the need to produce to obtain something as essential as food. Those who
would deny humanity the ability to free themselves based on a lack of trust in humanity must therefore consent to a dictatorship (of state or capital) and universal enslavement. This is a call for absolute freedom that does not come at the expense of anyone or anything. Obviously, many details are left out in the interests of debate. This work serves more as an assault on our view of technology and a invitation to look outside the capitalist paradigm while not necessarily rejecting everything that we associate with capitalist society. For freedom, liberty and anarcho-robotics! For the silver & black!
Criticisms and suggestions are welcome.