Dirk Knemeyer

On Not Needing To Work

On Not Needing To Work, July 16, 2015

Once upon a time, it was necessary for people to work in order to create the things that they needed to subsist. If they didn’t work to create those things, they would be incapable of subsistence. We are today at a point where machines make it … If you throw out the capitalism part, and throw out the fact that the money and thus the power is not distributed evenly, so you’ve having to try to get more of it to pay for things, but the technology and the infrastructure exist so that we no longer need everyone to work for our subsistence. The combination of human capital and technology make it so that subsistence is less than everyone working.

Now we’re all working either to provide luxuries on top of subsistence, or just to keep this structure, the capitalist economic structure, going. This is a giant evolutionary arc, and where we’re heading, the things like Hillary Clinton’s talking about, the idea of people are going to contractors. It’s clear that the old model is breaking down and changing. Those are all steps toward our not needing to work for subsistence or luxuries. It’s getting to the point where it will be well less than a hundred percent of human capital on top of technology required to provide everything that we would want or need.

The result of that is that people literally don’t need to have jobs. They don’t need to work, other than to make money, other than to accumulate power and leverage within the society most locally, or civilization more broadly. We’re approaching a time where the world could shift in really massive ways, because it’s simply not required for people to work to create the things that are needed to keep life going. The question is: what then? One of the byproducts of work, and I’ve mentioned this I think in passing on other shows, but I don’t think we’ve gotten into it too deeply. One of the byproducts of work is a form of social control, so if I’m working, I can’t be getting drunk, because I don’t have anything to do. I can’t be sleeping with the neighbor’s wife. I can’t be doing things that are potentially destabilizing to social systems of people co-habitating in modern civilization.

The question is how is that going to shake out? As we reach a point, and it’s coming. It’s decades, not years, but it’s really coming, it’s close. It ain’t centuries, that’s for damn sure. As we reach the point that most of the work can be done by technology, that’s going to leave a lot of people without needing to work as a means of providing the things that the society is trying to provide. What are they going to do with their time? To me, that’s the big and interesting question that gets lost in the froth and churn over viewing it in the current economic system of upper class and middle class, and forty hour work weeks. I think a lot of those things are going to get completely blown out by the direction this takes, and the thing that’s just not totally clear is what direction it does take, because there’s a few different that it could.