Today I again heard someone saying “we don’t know about the future of work, maybe we are moving into a future without work,” sighs of despair all round. One computer took the jobs of the entire typing pool at the office. One computer can take the job of the secretary, the messenger and support staff in an office. A mechanised mine can take the job of 5 000 mine workers in a shaft. Mechanised agricultural equipment can take the jobs of many farm workers. Panicked despairing looks all round.
So business holds technology in front of workers who demand higher wages. However, technology is only a threat to workers if the means of production, the office, the shop floor, the factory, the mine or the farm is privately owned. Thus where there is private ownership, the private owners can and do replace workers with machines and technology. But in the market economy dominated by private ownership, there is a fundamental contradiction. The fewer the people that work, the lower the levels of consumption and ultimately a collapse in sales followed by a recession and a depression and ultimately a crash of the economy.
However, if the workers at the workplace use technology to replace the owners, then technology can liberate the workers from the need to work as much as they currently do, giving them more free time to develop their other skills, talents, tastes, knowledge etc in philosophy, the arts, culture, sport and recreation. In fact, there is no need for any unemployment or any overtime work because with current technology we can all work less so that more people may work, and if we take the super income of the bosses out of the calculation we can still give everyone a decent wage. and if we live in a social economy education, health, social welfare and housing should be free.