Work is a perished good

Work is a perished good

November 13, 2019 0 By Michel Santi


Full time work for a fixed salary has only existed for around a hundred years, and still not for everyone, as women were deprived of it for a good while, including during the happy times of full employment in the second half of last century. Today, deregulation, outsourcing and automation are all synonymous with job insecurity, as work has become less well paid, part time, temporary, seasonal etc. The middle class, and workers in general, seem to have lost their basic foundations, as their incomes that have allowed them to live relatively comfortably come from the fruits of a labour that is now far from being a certainty, as much so for women as for men.

However, there is no longer any point in trying in vain to resuscitate the jobs of the past in factories, manufacturing plants and even in certain services because the technology boom is unavoidable. Job security and fixed salaries are now a relic, with wave after wave of lightning-fast technological  progress breaking all barriers, and so much the better. May robots therefore take up all the boring, tiresome, repetitive jobs and accomplish them much faster and better than the armies of workers still subjected to menial labour. May humanity, during this time, use its talents and its efficacy in areas where it will be able to take advantage of its strong points like communication, problem solving, art, and imagination; where its added value to society is – admittedly less quantifiable – but much more precious. It is in fact much more logical to let robots accomplish tasks that would be done more efficiently than by humans, and much more constructive to let humans get on with things that let them flourish and grow, thus benefitting themselves, their family and the fabric of society.

May humanity think, may humanity create and develop new enterprises, and may it thus conquer – not just any job – but this priceless security that is our common goal, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the result of a job. Instead of this, our governments are actively and jovially dismantling the safety net – which goes hand in hand with income security – causing irreparable damage to our well-being, to our physical and mental health, and to our familial and social balance. With the alternative being to welcome and embrace technological progress, to put it to the service of the masses, to allay our instinctive fears with these immense opportunities in order to ultimately bring about a productivity boom and a proliferation of the human spirit of initiative. May the era of the robot also be that of a new social contract that is built in essence by cutting the umbilical cord between work and survival.

Because we’ve forgotten that the whole point of these technological breakthroughs was to replace man with machine. Now we wallow in such abundance that we can house, feed, educate and care for our whole population with the work of a small number of men and women. In parallel, how our societies are organised is nowadays proving to be obsolete, with the vital question tormenting us being not whether we have enough goods and products, but how to get everyone into a job so that they may deserve a share of the immense quantities of goods that society disposes of. According to this established order that belongs to another time, he who does not have a job is condemned to all sorts of deprivation, and all sorts of vitriol. So what? Is this all our modern and supposedly civilised societies are capable of in the digital era of large-scale robotisation, when we no longer need to manufacture goods to survive like in the Middle Ages? Isn’t it becoming crucial that we restructure our societies around a value other than work as it is gradually rendered obsolete by the speed of technological  progress?

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