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A Generation of Idiots and the Tools We Worship

By       Message Danny Weil       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   8 comments

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This article was first published on Agust 7th, 2013 at: (

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Many readers may not know this but in 1949 Albert Einstein, the great scientist of the 20th century, wrote a piece for the economic journal, Monthly Review, entitled: "Why Socialism". In it, he calls for the establishment of a social and economic system that puts people before profit. He also speaks of the "predatory phase" of human development that in our time is capitalism, a recent socio-economic system although many think it has been around for thousands of years.

In one passage in the 1949 essay he states:

"...most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior" (

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Einstein's writing about science should be of current interest to all, for within his 1949 essay he makes the following salient point:

"Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and--if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous--are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society. For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society" (ibid).

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Tell this to Bill Gates and the purveyors of "progress".

The forces of production

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In an essay I penned a while back entitled, "Pity the Poor Luddite" (, I wrote:

"Under capitalism, as the 'forces of production', technology, moves further and further ahead of the 'relations of production', people and their class relations, what is being created is a world without jobs -- the end of the 'thumb' -- the homo-Fabian" (

The turn of the new millennium is when the automation of middle-class information-processing tasks really got under way, according to an analysis by the Associated Press based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Between 2000 and 2010, the jobs of 1.1 million secretaries were eliminated, replaced by internet services that made everything from maintaining a calendar to planning trips easier than ever. In the same period, the number of telephone operators dropped by 64%, travel agents by 46% and bookkeepers by 26%. And the US was not a special case. As the AP notes, "Two-thirds of the 7.6 million middle-class jobs that vanished in Europe were the victims of technology, estimates economist Maarten Goos at Belgium's University of Leuven."

Economist Andrew McAfee, Brynjolfsson's co-author, has called these displaced people "routine cognitive workers." Technology, he says, is now smart enough to automate their often repetitive, programmatic tasks. "We are in a desperate, serious competition with these machines," concurs Larry Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University. "It seems like the machines are taking over all possible jobs" (

So then just who will consume the products of the new cyber technology if there are no jobs for people to produce incomes so they can consume -- if surplus labor becomes the norm? Is the internet making us poor? Will we soon see the rise of a new, neo-Luddite movement or will we imagine and create meaningful social change that assures technology belongs to the public commons and not to the one percent? Or, will we see accelerating social inequality as 'all jobs' are replaced with cybernetics? (ibid).

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I am an author and investigative journalist who has written more than four hundred articles for Truthout, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Daily Censored, Project Censored and more. I received two awards from Project Censored, one in 2010 and one (more...)

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A Generation of Idiots and the Tools We Worship