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Automation

A Job for Life

"There, my son, you have a good job. Look after it and it will be a job for life.”

How many fathers have launched their sons into the world of wage-labour with that advice? How many sons have spent the best part of each day for the major part of their working lives polishing the seat of their pants on an office stool or fraying their cuffs at a workshop bench because of that advice? How many young working-class men have aspired to a life as motor mechanics only to find that the job they get requires them to be merely unit adjusters, grinding valves or drilling holes or pressing on bearings day after day? How many young girls have dreamed longingly of marriage and romance only to find that married life for a worker's wife offers them the drudgery of washing dishes, clothes and floors?

Jottings

 During the whole of the Labour Party Conference, which lasted four days, the word “Socialism” was only mentioned once; that was when Mr. Bruce Glasier said they did not intend to discuss it!

Mr. Ramsay MacDonald t
old an interviewer on his return from India that the Conference “would be a record one as far as common sense was concerned.” In the light of after events this can be taken as a reflection on the delegates. Mr. MacDonald told them to vote this way, and that—and they did !

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One contemporary (“Modern Society”) wants to know: “Why did Mr. Ramsay MacDonald return from the Commission in India six weeks before the rest of the Commission left Bombay for home?” Well now, isn’t it obvious? Who could imagine a Labour Party Conference without Mr. MacDonald? What use is a ship without a rudder?

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The Labour Party and the Unemployed

Labour Statesmanship

The question of unemployment was the first to occupy the preliminary conference of the Labour Party at Hull. “Important” speeches were made by the “statesmen of labour," and a no less “important” resolution was passed.

Mr. Pete Curran said: “Until we are in a position to utilise the legislative machinery of the country for the purpose of curtailing the income of the rich who are in possession, and in adding to the income of the poor, we shall never solve the unemployed problem.”

Mr. J. R. MacDonald, in moving the important resolution said: “Unemployment was now part and parcel of our industrial system; it was produced by the system with the same certainty and accuracy with which the industrial system produced profits.”

Mr. O’Grady in seconding that resolution .said: “The present industrial system was a machine turning out profits on the one hand and unemployed on the other. It was inevitable that it must be so.”

Letter: If Robots Take Over

Dear Editors

In your October edition you published an article entitled ‘Robots of the World - you have nothing to lose but your blockchains’.

Although it was highly amusing it only superficially dealt with a problem in economics that intrigues me. At the moment automation (robots) are merely advanced tools (constant capital) where the profit is made by the labour manufacturing the programming and fabrication (variable capital). What happens when the robots become ‘self-programming’ and able to build themselves? Does the ‘organic composition of capital’ become such that the variable part is so negligible that profits plunge? Will profit levels be held up by the monopolistic ownership of these robots and the increased productivity they represent? Surely the capitalists not within that particular industry would object on free market grounds?

Andrew Westley, Cambridge

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