The schizophrenic debate over the impact of automation

It looks like jobs should be going away, but the impact of automation may be overestimated, says this 2 part series, Nowhere to Go: Automation, Then and Now. Instead of seeing robots replace human labor, we may be witnessing machines progressively marginalizing human beings to menial, low paid labor in sectors characterized by stubbornly low productivity.

In the sixties, communists like James Boggs predicted that industrial labor was destined for abolition. Automation had already crushed the resistance of the working class and would rapidly set them free of productive employment altogether — much as it has already reduced agricultural labor to a negligible expenditure of the social labor day. The industrial proletariat would be left with no place to sell their labor power and nowhere else to go.

However, the writer explains, instead of automation gradually abolishing wage labor as Boggs and many of his contemporaries predicted:

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