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The March of Progress

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‘Progress has a price’ quipped a fellow blogger recently. Now, before we proceed to smash the commonly held assumption that ‘Progress’ exists as a universal, objective entity recognizable by all, let us first make clear what one means when referring to such a notion.

Among the many other definitions and meanings associated with the word, there is ‘progress’ as defined by the dominant socio-political ideology of the era. Thanks to capitalism and the ‘free market’, the world is currently categorised into three ‘sub-worlds’; First, Second and Third. When deciding what category nation X belongs to, we must consider the extent of nation X’s industrial development, it is by this factor only that nation X can gauge how large a voice it has when it comes to international matters and how large a say it has on its own, supposedly sovereign, domestic matters. History has taught us thus far that industrially advanced nations tend to interfere with the sovereignty of industrially inferior nations. Many confuse superior economic strength these days with ‘progressive’ or ‘progressed’, and unstable or weak economic performance for ‘regressive’, ‘static’, etc.

So, ‘progress has a price’. If you want Apple Macs and fast cars, you’re gonna have to fight for them. To speak of her torment at witnessing the poverty and degradation of her people will only render Ms. Y open to the accusation that her people are a lazy breed; far too willing to accept the charity of others rather than build and maintain a stable economy. What is more, the imperialist invasion and occupation of her particular society, and the subsequent assimilation of her forefathers into a system of bondage and extortion, whilst bad in the short-term, ought to be seen as good for her as a product of the long-run. The West may well have robbed her culture of its dignity and self-worth, but at least these days she and the overwhelming majority of her peers can work 9 to 5 for the minimum wage and generally enjoy the luxuries of a society now addicted to commodities.

To criticise the way in which his people, government and nation spends and invests its wealth or abuses its relationship as the economically superior nation with economically inferior trading ‘partners’, leaves Mr. Z out in the cold along with the other ungrateful, selfishly-minded heathens. ‘What we have inherited is above all good’ muses another fellow blogger. But, and this is the crux of my argument, who or what decides whether or not the lives we in the West live today are enjoyable and beneficial?

Empire (as a product of immature economic models) is and always has been an economic concern, just as every war fought between nations since the bourgeoisie came to eminence has had economical considerations at its heart. Any fanciful notion that America is dragging the rest of the world with it on a march of progress towards the hallowed lands of Freedom and Democracy is a sham. Evidence to the contrary litters the nation’s history; the Google search bar will point you in the right direction if you know what words to feed it.

Relationships with our fellow citizens are compromised for waged-labor and material things. The mind is overwhelmed with wave after nauseating wave of ‘advertisements’ (mundane, patronizing graffiti) everywhere we turn; they’re in the TV, they flood the internet, they occupy the streets and hack the airwaves. Now, don’t take me for some naïve cretin; I understand the importance of displaying one’s products in a commodity driven society, but this acknowledgement does not come with my gratitude. To be labeled as a hypocrite that ‘enjoys all the benefits’ of this society is more than a mild insult; how many of us can truthfully say that we ‘enjoy’ playing the part of wage-slave and constant consumer in this disposable society? How many of us are comfortable with the idea that a growing number of individuals in the world today have at their command more wealth than the average third world nation? Or that there exists within the world’s most powerful economy many millions of peoples and families still unable to fulfill their basic needs, wants and desires?

In his critique of capitalist society, Karl Marx stresses that the bourgeoisie, whilst indeed the most revolutionary class in the history of humankind (they did destroy the monarch’s divine right to rule and the peasant economy), failed to deliver on three crucial promises to the masses; Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. He argues, of course, that the bourgeoisie are essentially the architects of their own demise, and will witness the working classes rise up against them so that the three buzz words of the French Revolution may begin to take effect upon a society largely disillusioned with the promises of the Free Market economy. Notice, however, that in replacing capitalism with communism, society would not have ‘progressed’ anywhere (or regressed should you be a commi-hater), but would merely have supplanted one non-directional, multi-linear cultural system with another more favored, argues Marx, by the societies’ majority.

‘The March of Progress’ is a concoction of the State and a figment of the citizenry’s imagination. It serves as justification for the sins committed by past and present regimes and offers us nothing in return for believing that such a concept exits. How many US citizens are benefiting from the invasion and occupation of the Middle East? How large a price in flesh and blood ought the West pay to get its dirty hands on some foreign oil assets? Since when has Imperialism benefited the majority rather than the minority of wealthy land owners and business types backing these wars of unjustifiable aggression? These are some questions often answered far to readily and without consideration of the true price paid in the name of ‘progress’, ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’.

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About Graham McKnight

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Amazingly wrongheaded and biased, but you do bring out one important basic point. If the role of ‘imperialism’ is as you describe it, then we’re on solid ground agreeing that ‘imperialism’ is not an appropriate term to apply to America’s foreign policy.

    Dave

  • Graham McKnight

    Every argument is biased. Providing me with examples of my ‘wrongheadedness’ would be nice though.

  • Doug Hunter

    You left out the part about rampant poverty, bread lines, and massive genocide, part and parcel of the communist sickness.

    How can you be a cheerleader for the flawed ideology that has resulted in most of the greatest genocides in human history?

    I suppose that wasn’t “true communism” (I hear a similiar argument from religious nuts all the time)

  • Graham McKnight

    Don’t be confusing Marx with those despot dictators who abused his name and ideology. Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Mao etc; these men had no true affection for communism. I suggest reading Jung Chang & Jon Halliday’s ‘Mao: The Unknown Story’, to give you a better understanding of just how the communist ideology was distorted into the abomination that many people consider it to be.

    Besides, my use of communism in this article served merely to demonstrate that even radical changes in society’s social order would not constitute ‘progress’. Progress is a bankrupt excuse given by despot Administrations for the many families torn apart, the many soldiers and civilians murdered in an unjust war of imperialist aggression, the tightening grip of Privately funded public services, etc etc.

  • Arch Conservative

    If amnesty and immunity for millions of law breakers is progress then I say fuck progress.

    Today is a very sad day in America. Every one of those rat bastards in Washington, both Republican and Democrat who voted for this horrendous amnesty package deserves to be shot dead and left to rot where they fall.

    Fuck all of them and may they burn in hell for eternity for what they have done!

  • Graham McKnight

    If you are refering to the issue over immigration into America and non-documented workers, the amnesty on deportation and detainment will actually do your imperial economy more good than bad. Immigrants have long served as a scape goat for many of the difficult issues facing your nation, when all they really want to do is work for almost any pitiful wage granted to them by any employer willing to subvert the system and dodge some taxes.

  • Arch Conservative

    Hey Graham cut the shit OK?

    It’s illegal immigration and illegal aliens not immigration and undocumented workers. Take your semantic propaganda and go peddle it somewhere else ya jackass!

  • Zedd

    Graham

    Brilliant!! I have been pondering this idea for sometime. Change and evolution has always been expected in human societies.

    Perhaps the obsession with progressing became pronounced during the indistrial revolution as new inventions popped up regularly. As notions like Social Darwinism took hold, forcing humanity to want proof of their superiority, the need for people to see themselves as progressing became important.

  • STM

    Ha, I love it when people make apologies for an ideology that has been rightfully consigned to the dustbin of history. Suggesting that the ideas of Lenin et al were not representative of the true philosophies of Marx is a nonsense.

    I’ll agree on Stalin, but the others didn’t deviate too far from the path, even if they have inflicted upon their followers the cult of personality. Of course, as laid out by Marx, it’s inevitable the path led where it did.

    Besides, Marxist ideology is archaic and written for different centuries when workers really had no rights and imperialism wore no disguise.

    Better to fight for the rights of workers under the existing system in a productivity trade-off with employers that guarantees collective bargaining, higher wages and better working conditions, and thus better living conditions and high standards of living overall.

    The real price of progress is the lost wages of workers who’ve been willing to stand up to employers and governments by withholding their labour in order to earn enough money to guarantee themselves a better and more equitable slice of the pie they’ve helped produce.

  • STM

    But I must say, I am a fan of Gnome Chompsky

  • Zedd

    Graham

    When you quoted Marx, you should have realized the the focus would veer from the article to Marx himself.

    Your audience consists of baby boomers mainly, a group that was the most indoctrinated about communism and the symbols of communism. Don’t expect flexibility from this lot. Marx bad, us good. His analysis will not be considered no matter what.

  • STM

    Zedd wrote: “Your audience consists of baby boomers mainly, a group that was the most indoctrinated about communism and the symbols of communism. Don’t expect flexibility from this lot.”

    Well, and this isn’t directed at Graham, but at least we’ve actually done some things …

    And I still love Gnome Chompsky.

  • Graham McKnight

    Thanks for the advice Zedd. Appreciated.

  • Zedd

    STM

    Not saying that boomers are bad for believing what they do. Just making an observation.

    Two generations before you, communists weren’t bad, a generation and a half after you, no one cares.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    a generation and a half after you, no one cares.

    Except for those still suffering in communist regimes, e.g.: Cuba, North Korea.

  • Graham McKnight

    Clavos, Cuba and North Korea are dictatorships that places pride in the nation before pride in the working class etc, they are communist only in name.

  • Doug Hunter

    If this piece isn’t an advertisement for communism I’m not sure I get the point. You claim that a shift would not be ‘progress’, but your language, choice of words, and gratuitous jabs at capitalism and those evil rich bastards says otherwise. (Besides, what’s the point of all these ignorant rantings if not to effect some change towards your own twisted version of ‘progress’)

    As for the rest, I get nauseated myself every time I hear this whining leftist tripe. It’s a free world (whether you like it or not), if you don’t like buying consumer shit, don’t. If you don’t want to work for someone else, don’t. If you want to gather and send as many resources to the third world as you want go for it. If you want to live as a backwoods aboriginal dumbfuck, by all means give up your evil western trappings and enjoy your nasty, brutish, and short existence.

    It’s not your inability to do those things that’s the issue, it’s your inability to force others to do them. It’s freedom which you truly despise.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Doug, the last few lines of that last comment were just brilliant. I hope you won’t mind if I borrow them from time to time.

    Dave

  • Zedd

    Doug

    You truly missed the point. Read the article again. I don’t know Graham and his leanings but there is a profundity in this article that transcends political affiliation and focuses on modern ideas about relevance and significance.

    What is more sad to me is how some people of the right (I’m neither right or left)when they don’t understand more contemplated ideas, automatically attack them as leftist. That simply contributes to the idea that the right is full of thick, knee jerk types with no intellectual capability.

    Is the real truth that YOU DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT HE WAS SAYING?

    If not, what may be useful is for you to contribute what it is about this particular article that you disagree with. Instead of morphing into Rush mode.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    Clavos, Cuba and North Korea are dictatorships that places pride in the nation before pride in the working class etc, they are communist only in name.

    Quite.

    But they’re very representative of all the regimes worldwide which, over the years, have been established in the name of communism.

  • Zedd

    Clavos

    Older Russians don’t hold that opinion.

  • Graham McKnight

    I thank Zedd for her defence of my argument, as I have said in a previous comment about this article; I point to Communism only as an example of how, even if society were to experience a radical change in its social order, humanity would not have progressed in any universal direction, just changed (for the better according to Marx).

    I also point out to Clavos etc that Marx’s theory cannot be proven wrong until a working class revolution takes place in an industrially advanced nation such as Germany, Japan, USA etc. If Communism were to take root and fail in these countries Marx would be proven wrong.

    Until that day I will continue to hold Communism as something to be admired rather than destested.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Some would argue that change for the better is the definition of progress, Graham.

    As for communism, one doesn’t have to object to it solely on the basis of the many failed self-styled communist regimes around the world. Though I have to say that Russia in 1917 was certainly as much an industrial nation as Germany at the time that Marx was writing, so it may have been a fair test of the system.

    In anycase, I think it’s reasonable to object to Marxism purely on the basis of its opposition to individual ownership of property and capital. Forced equality is inherently oppressive, even when implemented in the most positive possible way.

    I do think there are related ideas which are very good. I think collectivism as a business model deserves a fair shake, for example, but it can function within a capitalist system and actually has a very positive influence on a capitalist society.

    Ultimately, like every other political/economic philosophies, communism is only pure in the abstract, and can be used as an excuse for abuse and excess, but never really implemented in its pure form in the real world.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    Graham writes:

    I also point out to Clavos etc that Marx’s theory cannot be proven wrong until a working class revolution takes place in an industrially advanced nation such as Germany, Japan, USA etc. If Communism were to take root and fail in these countries Marx would be proven wrong. (emphasis added)

    A BIG “if”, Graham.

    Until that day I will continue to hold Communism as something to be admired rather than destested.

    Well, Graham my advice to you is not to hold your breath while you wait.

  • Zedd

    Dave #23

    Best post that you have made this year imo. Quite balanced and considered. I agree.

    On the point about the failure of communist regimes, it should be noted that most new regimes fail. The extent of success that these new governments had/have is more surprising to me. The fact that they “stabilized” as quickly as they did speaks to the criminal/punitive element within their structure. Our style of governance would have been disastrous to those countries. What is happening in most of Africa would have been common in the Soviet States and Asian countries.

    Creating an interdependent system like capitalism is very difficult. There has to be a belief by all that the system is the best system. Everyone must play their part. That is difficult to orchestrate.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Zedd, the reason why capitalism persists while other systems fail, is that it is not a system thought up by a theorist to ‘improve’ how society functions, but is instead a system which has developed naturally out of human nature and the inclination of people to want to advance themselves. Theorists have analyzed and attempted to explain it, but it originates in the way people naturally think and behave. That being the case, you’re always going to run into problems replacing it with something else because human nature will continually struggle against the artificial alternative.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Good thing we’re back to commie-bashing so that we don’t have to look at the train-wreck that the current US administration is. Seems to be a trend throughout BC.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    So look at it, bliff.

    Say something about the train wreck…

  • Zedd

    Dave

    I don’t necessarily agree witht that assumption. Its thrown around frequently but it smacks of the simple analysies of early part of last century.

    People are motivated by different things. In our culture, those who are in positions of power are motivated by that pursuit. Because that is what makes them forge forward, they ascribe that motivation to all of humanany. Its not true. Those who nurture us are motivated by making all of society well.

    An example would be that women throughout history have been motivated to care for society without adequate compesation and yet have done a phenominal job, giving it their very best, developing new methods of accomplishing their tasks, raising generations….

    What matters are the values of the society mostly. What do you get a pat on the back for in your world.

    In previous society (not all that long ago) people were respected for wisdom. In a tribal setting or a village setting, the wisest was the most respected. The goal was to be introspective, considerate, composed and judicial. In warrior cultures, you would add brave and strong. Even the man with the least cattle, if he was dignified, earned respect in his community.

    So no I don’t believe that capitalism is natural. I think that the reaction to the stimulous that is brought on by living in a capitalistic society is natural: PRIDE.

  • Graham McKnight

    Dave,

    As a self-professed historian you of all people ought to know that capitalism did not occur ‘naturally’ or ‘evolve’. It was thrust upon us as a result of the French Revolution.

    Revolution is not something that arises naturally out of human nature as you suggest, it is thrust upon society.

    As for Russia being comparable to Germany at the time of 1917, that claim is complete BS. This is not even my own opinion, it is plain fact that the overwhelming majority of Russia’s population at the time were members of the Peasantry (80%).

    Peasants have no place in Marx’s theory, they are a hangover from the feudal system that capitalism so rudely put an end to in 1799.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Dave, the fact that capitalism has not failed yet is no reason to assume that it will persist forever.

    In fact, in human-caused global warming it may well have already sown the seeds of its own destruction.

  • Graham McKnight

    the seeds of destruction are manifest in the living conditions of the working classes.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    the seeds of destruction are manifest in the living conditions of the working classes.

    Which have never been better in all of history than they are in today’s capitalist economies, particularly in the USA.

  • Graham McKnight

    Oh really?

    Wake Up Walmart

    Socialist Worker article on the Minimum Wage

    IJ.org

    I get the impression that you are blind, Sir.

  • bliffle

    True. But the current administration is correcting that mistake by pushing the wealth upwrd while pushing the debts downward.

  • troll

    in what sense can property that is taxed by government be called ‘private’ – ?

    capitalism failed a century ago and was replaced by social ownership and planning

    entrepreneurial freedom is a mirage

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    Ya got me, Graham.

    How could I possibly dispute the SWP’s judgment on the condition of the American worker? /sarcasm.

    That said, as a Floridian who has been following the situation, I’ll actually give you the Riviera Beach problem, and throw in Kelo to boot. In fact, I have posted my objections to the government taking in those cases before, right here on BC.

    In Riviera Beach, they happen to be lower middle class black folks; in Kelo the homeowners involved are a little further up the economic scale. But, IMO, it’s wrong in both cases, and I disagree with the courts in the Kelo case.

    I have to agree with troll to a degree, as well.

    You never really do “own” property. Try not paying your taxes and see what happens to “your” property. If it’s mortgaged, try defaulting on the mortgage AND stop paying the taxes – watch the bank and the government duke it out. Guess who’ll win.

    The Walmart thing is just bullshit. Walmart provides thousands of jobs that wouldn’t even exist otherwise, and most of its jobs pay well above minimum.

  • Graham McKnight

    whether you disagree with the Wakeupwalmart campaign or not, the fact of the matter is that many Walmart associates and employees percieve themselves to be at a disadvantage, which shuts down your argument that working conditions ‘have never been better’.

    The fact that Walmart is one of the World’s (if not THE world’s) largest employer says nothing about the working conditions of its employees. The larger the multinational, the bigger the desire to exercise skepticism over it’s suppossed success story. Walmartopoly?

  • S.T.M

    Graham, until recently workers in this country (Australia) have had the best working conditions, penalty rates, overtime, disoposable wages and benefits of any western country, (particularly in the blue-collar sector) largely as a result of unions that fought to have these conditions nailed down through the courts in arbitration. To say the 100 years of thrashing out this system led to some brutal industrial disputes would be an understatement.

    However, the unions and the Labor Party have for the past 20 years or so understood there are intrinsic benefits to be gained through working in accord with the private sector so that everyone’s living standards increase.

    The so-called “Liberal” Party here has recently done away with it all in one fell swoop, returning it to an American system dictated by the whims of employers. They now face defeat at the polls this year as a result, and the legislation will be locked in again in favour of workers. But both workers/unions and employers have been smart enough to realise that they all benefit from this system that’s evolved, while some of the more militant unions have come to see that a totally unworkable theory written by someone for another century doesn’t mean squat in this day and age.

    Get real, mate, for God’s sake. Brighton University may be a wonderful place, and full of good ideas, but until you’ve actuallly been out there really trying to do some this stuff – like agitating with employers so they’ll pay enough cash every week not just to support a family but to better workers’ lifestyles – spare us the bullshit.

    As I said before, the theories of Karl Marx have been consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong after a century of experimentation. Human nature has shown in every case that’s it’s totally unworkable.

    Somewhere between the two extremes does work, however, and keeps everyone happy.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    which shuts down your argument that working conditions ‘have never been better’.

    How?

    The thrust of my remark was historical. Name another period in the history of the world when the great mass of workers were as well or better off than those in the developed capitalist societies of today.

    That’s what “have never been better” means.

    It doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect.

  • STM

    I agree with Clav. We’ve been here before, too. Dave and I spent a bit of time in the old Soviet Union. As an example of an evolved, industrialised Marxist workers’ state, it was a fantastic advertisement for capitalism.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    whether you disagree with the Wakeupwalmart campaign or not, the fact of the matter is that many Walmart associates and employees percieve themselves to be at a disadvantage, which shuts down your argument that working conditions ‘have never been better’.

    Wrong, Graham. The primary resistence to unionizing WalMart, which is what is behind all these campaigns, comes from the workers who are aware how much better they are at WalMart than they would be without it. If there really were a crying need for a union there, then believe me, nothing could stop the workers from unionizing. But they know how things really stand, so the unions can’t make any progress and it drives them nuts.

    Dave

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Clavos, whilst I agree with your general point about the conditions of the great mass of workers, your statement about their situation being better than at any point in the history of the world is a bit over the top. There were no working classes throughout most of that time, at least not in the sense we mean it these days!

    It’s very much a phenomenon of the industrial age, an age which is already starting to fade away as we move into a new era of advanced production techniques. Indeed, if current trends continue to develop unhindered, we may start to look back on the industrial period as a golden era.

    Full employment may never be possible again in our lifetimes, complete with all the challenges and potential unrest that scenario may bring to an already troubled world…

  • Zedd

    Clavos

    The working class didn’t exist in a significant way in the pre-capitalistic world.

    So yes you are correct the working class has never done better however, they have never done worse either.

    In various parts of the world including Europe, a peasant and a professional were considered to be of the same class. They were both non nobles.

  • Zedd

    STM

    The mistake that we make is in assuming that Russia at that time would have done well with capitalism.

    Our success with capitalism was/is no indication that that nation with its history would have succeeded.

    A comparison of the two systems based on the outcomes of both nations is meaningless really.

    Our religious commitment to capitalism prevents us from developing better systems. Because of the cold war, our natural need to be right paralyzes us from exploring or entertaining the idea that capitalism may not be the end all…

  • STM

    The Russians were used to be being bossed around by authority figures … first by the Czarists and then by the bolsheviks. It was situation normal for them, and I guess they did get some benefits out of it early in the piece.

    Then along came Stalin (and Hitler), which upset the applecart a tad. The way democracy finally came to Russia just means it’s a bit more of the same, but with more corruption more widely spread because there’s now a bit more money around.

    One day they’ll work it out that capitalism doesn’t have to mean gross corruption, and that the haves don’t have to have everything while the have nots have nothing. Once again.

    I enjoyed myself in the Soviet Union, and wasn’t frightened at any point (just exasperated sometimes) but some of the locals, who really just wanted a decent life like the rest of us, were quick to warn that their “problems” were real, not imagined.

  • troll

    modern Russia is just the latest failed experiment in capitalism – Smith’s work rests in the same dustbin of idealistic fancy as Marx’s

    what Russians will come to is the realization that ‘democratic fascism’ as practiced in economically developed nations seems to work to avoid the pitfalls of unfettered capitalist excess and worker revolt

    …for now

    but what about all that surplus labor (read excess humanity) that Chris predicts

  • Zedd

    STM

    I should correct myself, I think countries like OZ get the need for constant evolution. The way in which you have described the ways in which government works to improve the quality of life is refreshing. I should say that many other countries around the globe make a sincere effort to find balance at the expense of not having the number one economy in the world but a better overall quality of life for its citizens.

    We in this country are more bent on being right so we don’t explore real solutions. We hold fast to THEORIES from business school or some touchy feely guru and don’t care for the best quality of life for all Americans. Also because we trust that our efforts have rendered everything we have, we believe that those who don’t have what we have, are lazy and deserve punishment (just like religion).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    Chris:

    There were no working classes throughout most of that time, at least not in the sense we mean it these days!

    Merely a semantic difference. Today’s working class are the serfs and peasants of centuries ago.

    It’s very much a phenomenon of the industrial age, an age which is already starting to fade away as we move into a new era of advanced production techniques. Indeed, if current trends continue to develop unhindered, we may start to look back on the industrial period as a golden era.

    Full employment may never be possible again in our lifetimes, complete with all the challenges and potential unrest that scenario may bring to an already troubled world…

    We’ve had this discussion before.

    You may be right, but I hold that history teaches us that EVERY advance in the technology of production from the dawning of the industrial age forward has resulted in more (but different) employment, not less.

    There is no evidence at this time to believe that this will be any different. And, in fact, most of the highly industrialized societies are at or near historically high employment levels.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    troll:

    but what about all that surplus labor (read excess humanity) that Chris predicts

    A fair question.

    Demographers are noting that birth rates in industrialized nations are remaining at replacement level (USA) or are actually below replacement levels (Europe, Japan, China). These trends, they add, are already decades old.

    BUT (and it’s a BIG but) birth rates in third world societies are skyrocketing, particularly in Muslim-predominant societies.

    If unchecked, this phenomenon may be the root of future (or ongoing) world conflicts.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Nice to see you being optimistic and me somewhat more pessimistic this time Clavos!

    You’re of course welcome to hold to your historical lessons but I think your timescale is too short. The whole history of industrialised society is comparatively short in terms of our human story and we’ve been fortunate indeed that its growth surge neatly co-incided with a certain part of the growth in human population levels.

    I just fear that the future is going to be very different indeed. For just one example, it won’t be too much longer, almost certainly less than ten years, quite probably less than five, that gadgets as complex as mobile phones will simply be printed off at home as and when they are needed.

    Add that kind of home production to all the rapidly developing automated production techniques coming through and it doesn’t take any great vision to foresee a potential massive slump in employment levels, possibly not in your time but certainly within that of anybody under thirty.

    Unless some as yet unforeseen events come along to change things, the conflict between waged and unwaged is going to be vast and depressingly bitter, particularly in countries that lack effective social support systems.

    I hope I’m wrong about it and that new employment opportunities or other ways to occupy people’s time will come through. Time will of course tell.

  • Graham McKnight

    Chris Rose raises some interesting points that link to the fears raised in the West during the first mass-marketing campaigns for automated appliances (both domestic and industrial). These fears are brought to light today in such popular movies as ‘I, Robot’ (2004).

    One feels compelled to ask if today’s dominant socio-economic ideology can support a society that is becoming increasingly independent on automated industries and homes? Yet at the same time, one is also aware that such a question has been asked time and again throughout recent decades, and alluded to in Marx’s theories on the capitalist economic system of production.

    I again applaud Zedd for her accurate advice that many of my critics would focus on attacking Marx rather than my own argument, and fail to see that I use Marx only as one (albeit an extreme) example.

    For future reference you may all consider me a Democratic Socialist as oppossed to Marxist. As such, I deeply sympathise with the trials and tribulations that S.T.M. and the working classes of Australia are being put through at the hands of the current liberal regime.

    In the words of Nietzche: ‘Do not mistake me for what I am not!’

  • STM

    Thanks for clarifying that Graham … I take back all the horrible things I said. Yes, Howard is a ratbag. People have fought for their – excellent, by any standards – rights at work for the past 100 years, mostly through the courts. The arbitration/accord system worked, and the economy was going gangbusters with everyone happy, employers and employees. We had high productivity, low unemployment, mostly affordable housing (outside some areas of Sydney and Melbourne) and one of the world’s highest overall living standards.

    Then Howard decided he’d do it all in in one fell swoop, handing ALL the power back to the employers. Everyone knows someone who’s been affected by his Orwellian-sounding WorkChoices legislation, which really equals no choices. People have lost penalty rates, been sacked and re-hired as casuals, etc.

    Howard, acting against the advice of many in his own party, brought it in because he supports the ideology but underestimated the mood of the electorate, however. Australians of any persuasion don’t like seeing their fellow countrymen get screwed. Ultimately, he now answers for it at the polling booth. That’ll be democracy at work once again, and I hope it sends a message to all politicians who make outrageous policy decisions they’ve never previously mentioned in the lead-up to elections.

    In The Australian newspaper this morning, there was a story about Howard admitting to colleagues that his government is facing the possibility of annhilation at the coming election.

    Not before time, either. We’re all sick of his bullsh.t.