October 13, 2021 at 8:44 am #223481
Nick Chavez: ‘ The Present and Future of Engineers’:
https://brooklynrail.org/2021/10/field-notes/THINKING-ABOUT-COMMUNISMOctober 13, 2021 at 6:25 pm #223494ALBKeymaster
Interesting. I noted this towards the beginning of the last section:
“What can be said with near certainty is that a revolution that does not have substantial participation from engineers is doomed to fail at implementing communism. The material basis for communism is not proletarian rage or mass-scale dispossession, it is centuries of labor now embodied in the form of fixed capital: machinery, buildings, global productive infrastructure, and countless commodities. There is a cruel irony to the fact that communism has been made possible by the brutal subjugation of the majority of the planet’s population into wage labor, but it is indeed mass manufacturing and global distributive capacity that makes a planned social system, controllable by the collective human desire for wellbeing, possible. Capitalism has created the technical means for a society based on the rational safeguarding and expansion of human welfare, but not necessarily the social forms that are conducive to such a society. Engineering, as it currently exists, represents the overwhelming bulk of the technical knowledge existing within capitalism, but is socially composed in a way that would necessarily be dissolved by the establishment of communism.“November 20, 2021 at 3:37 am #224455
What I found alarming in the article was this:
‘What can be said with near certainty is that a revolution that does not have substantial participation from engineers is doomed to fail at implementing communism.’ […] ‘t is indeed mass manufacturing and global distributive capacity that makes a planned social system, controllable by the collective human desire for wellbeing, possible.’
‘The past two decades have seen a rebirth of mass politics brought on by decreasing proletarian access to the means of subsistence. These struggles signal the start of a new phase in proletarian activity qualitatively different from the mass worker mobilizations of the 19th and 20h centuries. Unlike many of these older struggles, the mass mobilizations of today tend to take place outside of the workplace and, insofar as they have demands or specific complaints, are focused largely on a lack of the means of subsistence rather than on workplace issues or other matters relating directly to capitalist productive activity. The reasons for this lie outside the scope of this essay; however, a significant causal factor is the simple fact that a far smaller proportion of the global proletarian population is today employed directly in the commodity production process. This is why much contemporary communist theory [[whose? one of the ‘communiser’ factions?]] focuses on the role of surplus population (the growing number of people superfluous to commodity production) in today’s struggles and uprisings; this is now the defining dynamic of proletarian self-activity. **The problematic aspect of this dynamic is that these movements cannot build towards communism without the involvement of workers with the technical know-how of commodity production and the willingness to deploy that know-how towards communist ends.**’ [my emphasis]
Well, regardless of the truth or non-truth of his ‘ [now] defining dynamic of proletarian self-activity’ (as ‘the growing number of people superfluous to commodity production in today’s struggles and uprisings’), the longer that the tendency described earlier by him continues (that is, (a) knowledge increasingly concentrated in the engineer; (b) concomitant deskilling of others involved in direct production) — all the more will the role of the engineer in socialist revolution become all the more critical/pivotal. Because: if only the engineers really knows how to ‘do anything’, then without them, the forces of production can hardly be freed in the direction of providing abundance.November 20, 2021 at 8:30 am #224459ALBKeymaster
I see, that’s where the author was coming from? But the population “superfluous to commodity production” isn’t growing in developed capitalist countries; this would show itself in a growing mass of unemployed workers. But no such trend is evident. It’s not happening and, although predicted from time to time, there is no particular reason why it should.
It is true that a large proportion of those at work are not directly involved in commodity production (producing goods or services for sale) but are employed by the government in various activities necessary to the operation of capitalism (civil servants, local government officers, teaching, health service) but they don’t suffer from a lack of basic subsistence likely to provoke bread riots.
In any event, engineers would not be in a position to establish a technocracy (I know that’s not the argument being made) without mass popular support; which they wouldn’t get and there is not even a hint that they are seeking.
What’s wrong with the traditional view that capitalism is run from top to bottom (or from bottom to top) by wage workers of all kinds, but in the interest of the ruling owning class, and that socialism means them doing this in their own interest (which will have become the common interest) ?March 7, 2022 at 10:55 am #227407
I will try to make my point in a less convoluted way, but I am not hopeful.
1) Following the logic of the article*: if only the engineers really know how to ‘do anything’, then without them, the forces of production can hardly be freed in the direction of providing abundance.
2) This means that a socialist working class cannot free the forces of production in the direction of providing abundance without the engineers *in particular* being *overwhelmingly* socialist-minded.
In other words, following the logic of the article, the engineer-component of the working class will/would play a *particularly critical* role.
That is what I said I found ‘alarming’.
* Key sentence from the article: ‘‘What can be said with near certainty is that a revolution that does not have substantial participation from engineers is doomed to fail at implementing communism. ‘May 12, 2023 at 12:45 pm #243351
That same author (Nick Chavez) again.
Here is his on-the-whole not very positive review of a new piece of speculative fiction ‘Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052-2072’:
I suggest also looking at his other writings on his site ( https://designformanufracture.wordpress.com ) , which I have just come to know of.May 18, 2023 at 9:28 am #243413
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