What a 19th-century rebellion against automation can teach us about the coming war in the job market

Yeah, I know it’s fashionable right now, but not everyone working for someone else is being exploited. I mean, not everyone can be a job creator.

Sure. Some companies are worker collectives. Some allow unions and actually care about their employees. Some pay fair wages and ensure the safety of their employees. But more companies don’t do that and should be called out for it. What has happened in the past regarding labor struggles is indeed instructive for understanding changes that are coming. That’s the general point of this.

I don’t give a shit about “fashionable” BTW. I care about the health and welfare of people who live in this country and this world.


That will have a new meaning under Drumpf.


And by not everyone, you mean almost no one in the U.S. except for those starting businesses from scratch.

Industry leaders only create new jobs if the market for their goods or services grows larger; those jobs are dependent on consumerism, which requires more people to have jobs and make decent wages.

What industry leaders are very good at doing, as we’ve seen, is shrinking the job market rather than increasing it.


And then begging for help when their profits dry up and blaming it all on unions…



Yeah, but see the rich guy gave the worker his job, so he already owns that surplus value… he should just be happy to not be starving in the street after being pushed off his land… Why aren’t these peasants grateful for the crumbs they are given! /s


Not everyone can be a job creator, but it’s particularly hard to be a job creator by replacing workers making quality products with machines and shoddy wares.


You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that the purpose of life is to make profit for someone else. A society where workers have plenty of leisure is a good society. A society where workers work for themselves and each other, not for some bloodsucker, is a better society.


I am holding out for the Baron Munch-Haussman approach.


Be glad for the GIFers. They take up space and alleviate you of the need to respond to cogent arguments like those by gracchus. You are still working on your response to his observations, yes?

The cutsey GIFs are a gift to you. Really. Any casual reader who is not part of the BBS regular posting in-group will be swayed to your side after scrolling through them. Particularly if he has limited bandwidth.


Three times in the last twenty years, twice on NPR and once by an employer, I was told, as a manufacturing employee, that the proper response to corporate globalisation was to put my head down and stop worrying. Those were the exact words,put my head down and stop worrying . This is the advice that was given to skilled manufacturing employees regarding his/her/their loss of income and economic well being. “Put your head down”, like you tell an overactive first grader.

It really was the smug expectation by the globalists that the manufacturing employees owed their betters the decency to be docile,

I won’t mind seeing the lot of them choke on their desired expectation.


That’s a nice idea, but it hasn’t worked out too well for Greece. Lots of leisure time, and no jobs.

‘Taking up space’ is kind of a stupid argument, given that there’s no limit to how far these comments can scroll. That aside, graccus’ assertion that [quote=“gracchus, post:4, topic:92705”]
that’s when you’ll see one of the most common jobs available in America (esp. to people with a high school diploma or less) gradually but relentlessly wiped away by self-driving vehicles.

is a bit overstating things. According to the BLS, there were 180k livery drivers as of May 20, vs 4.7M food and beverage workers.

Additionally, his idea that [quote=“gracchus, post:4, topic:92705”]
The point is that it’s a bad idea to pull the economic rug from underneath competent and proud but stubborn workers who’ve gotten used to a comfortable lifestyle given their pay.

is a bit ridiculous - no one has a right to be “comfortable.” Life is hard. Perhaps they should have saved some of that pay for lean times that could be right around the corner.

[quote=“Rodolfo, post:33, topic:92705”]
According to the BLS, there were 180k livery drivers as of May 20, vs 4.7M food and beverage workers. [/quote]

Trucking employment in the U.S. is highly varied and in the range of 3 million right now. Not including dispatchers and other support personnel, but they too would decline in numbers with automation. I believe the “automated trucking” worry is premature, given the myriad fails of the self-driving cars that are now on the roads. However, the loss of trucking jobs will be strongly felt if or when they go.

Trucking provides continuous employment for many, but not often enough for a primary breadwinner supporting a family to sock away much money. The classic ‘long haul’ truckers are often ‘self-employed’, meaning they face significant bookkeeping and time-management burdens for men who are (ostensibly) uneducated. Trucking is reliable in comparison to the other employment options that once existed for men without years worth of formal credentials. But, it is not very lucrative today.

It’s main virtue as a ‘profession’ is that it still exists.


Perhaps the Luddites will win in the end, and we’ll be like the painful Luddite Church civilization of Edmund Cooper’s THE CLOUD WALKER, but it will probably be more like the not very hospitable land of Ambroy, the anti-duping world in Jack Vance’s EMPHYRIO, where duplication (duping) is banned as the order of the day for the welfare-voucher slaves, who live an artificially constructed primitive life while the money still flows to the top.

Where did I say anyone has a “right” to be comfortable? I’m pointing out that it’s a bad idea to yank the rug out from under them (really from under anyone) and give them a hard landing instead of easing them into a soft one. Especially when you’re talking about the most common job in approx. half the states in the union (and one with an average annual salary that allows little room for a 6-12 month rainy day fund for a storm that might never end).

If you’d asked me two years ago, I would have agreed. However, in the last year I’ve seen: Uber bunging self-driving cars on the streets in defiance of government regulation; Alphabet and Tesla and lots of other companies giving demonstrations of impressive technology; and old-line manufacturers champing at the bit to get in on the game.

True, there are still serious failures, but not as many as one might expect for such a young technology. A difficult hurdle like the “snow problem,” for example, isn’t operative on major highways and in warm-weather states. It won’t be an instant shift, but things are accelerating rapidly and existing legal and social structures are ill-equipped to handle it (in no small part due to short-sightedness and lack of empathy on the part of the establishment of both duopoly parties as well as Libertarians).


In many ways, it is. Because you never know when the magnate is going to take something else away. His lawyer, accountants, PR people, they’ll figure out how to do it in some justifiable way.

How can you explain the burst of wealth that is now dissipating, now concentrating into the hands of the 1% and wealthier?

You think these less well off people have easy, clear choices? Fairy wonderland, maybe?

And pray tell, in a world where the few are so much better off than the many, how is it that rebellion does not occur?

Or had you not considered consequences, as a general concept?


Well there are multiple options…


Like, axiomatically? I dunno. If it hasn’t happened already, surely global industrial capacity can reach a point where each individual in a human population of a certain size can, if wealth is distributed thoroughly, maintain an environmentally sustainable, comfortable, even historically extravagant existence. The only obstacles (significant, I readily admit) are social/political.

I’m a carpenter in Vancouver. I work about 30h/wk (intentionally). Not even an upper-middle wage, and in a very expensive city. But I’ve chosen to share a large house with several other people (and so paying about half the rent of a local 1bdrm suite), eat mostly vegetarian, and keep simple hobbies like hiking and cultural stuff. I have time enough to relax or volunteer, money enough for a solid gaming computer and a couple of bespoke suits (for example). I previously lost nearly a decade to chronic depression, lest you think there was no adversity in the way here. All this to say, I have a very fulfilling life which (as far as I can tell) is not maintained on the backs of others, is very attainable by nearly anyone, and is, emphatically, not hard.


Why the fuck not?