Readers of Criticism &c. may find this panel at the upcoming Left Forum (New York City) of interest:
Left Forum Panel: Deepening Technological Changes in the Workplace, Workers’ Organizing, and Marx’s Mature Critical Theory
John Jay College
524 West 59th Street
Sunday May 31, 3:40pm – 05:40pm
Karl Marx, in his works Grundrisse and Capital, inquires into the prospects for the type of challenge to capitalism that includes within it a concept of an achievable post-capitalist society of freedom. For example, in Capital, Volume 1, Marx writes of the “transitory necessity of the capitalist mode of production”, and its role in the creation of, “those material conditions of production which alone can form the real basis of a higher form of society, a society in which the full and free development of every individual forms the ruling principle.” Recent works, such as Race Against the Machine and The Second Machine Age, by MIT business economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, have stimulated widespread debates concerning the nature of the current and the quite certain near-future challenges that robots, digital technology, and artificial intelligence pose to workers’ lives and for the viability of capitalism itself. There is a long history of workers battling imposed automation. These include attempts to shape technological changes to improve working conditions and to overcome social domination. In the transportation industry alone, the history of automation and its opposition from below can be traced from auto manufacturing at mid-20th century, to today’s challenge posed by Uber to taxi workers’ struggle to maintain workplace control, to the coming challenges anticipated with the gradual introduction into the industry of the now-feasible self-driving car.
Chair: Jason Schulman (New Politics)
Speakers: Bhairavi Desai (New York Taxi Workers Alliance); Kevin O’Brien; Russell Rockwell (co-editor of The Dunayevskaya, Marcuse, Fromm Correspondence: Dialogues on Hegel, Marx, and Critical Theory)