Whilst I’ll admit to being intrigued by Accelerationism Rosa Janis’s provocative article ‘The Future is the Past: The Failure of Accelerationism’ reminded me partly of what inspired ‘Reinventing the Future’. Left Accelerationism whilst promising a utopian future still requires the capitalist machinery with its everpresent tensions created through the differing interests of separate socioeconomic groups left intact. Where perhaps I differ from some of Janis’s analysis is in praxis. Specifically in the use of collective bargaining to achieve many of the aims set out in Inventing the Future.
This isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem, In February of this year IG Metall secured a 28 hour work week1. Whilst this might seem like a small step, it already shows that in the current space, carved out by surplus production and positive growth there’s scope for measures that, under traditional ideas surrounding puritanical work ethic might have seemed impossible. Additionally what’s possibly more interesting is that it’s unlikely to create a reduction in manufacturing output2. Already two of the four goals seem more likely:
- The reduction of the working week
- The diminishment of the work ethic
So what of full automation? The latest forecast from PwC suggests around 44% of low skilled jobs being automated by 20303 whilst this is certainly a concern, it’s some way off the full automation that could potentially lead to the communal luxury hypothesized in the work of Srnicek and Williams. It’s here that I’d agree state intervention could become a requirement to refocus research and development on artificial intelligence and robotics. However again collective bargaining can be used in a similar fashion to the TFL to preserve jobs whilst following the template of IG Metall to drive down working hours. The argument for UBI follows similar lines, I won’t go into it too deeply here, however, I think Bregman’s take on UBI in Utopia For Realists summarises some of the best arguments. The goal is still, complete collective ownership and wage abolition but I thought it might be worth mentioning a couple of things that can be achieved even under the current structures that exist.