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June 4 2013 – Dangerous Ideas

June 3, 2013

I went to Camden to a’ Dangerous Ideas for Dangerous Times’ event.  The great and the good of’ the left’,what remains of it were there, along with people like me – eager for a dangerous idea.  I must say that they weren’t mostly, dangerous ideas I mean.  They were mostly reiterations of the known, not even ideas, but the known problem/s.  Tax avoidance, the bedroom tax, the cuts in general and particular, privatisation and war.  Plus every other ill we are all too familiar with. Like the speeches one hears on demos I wanted to shout “I know, I know about all this, that’s why I bought a ticket, that’s why I’m here” (but, of course, I didn’t, and I had a lovely chat with Tony Benn.)

Just as I was about to give up David Harvey got up to offer his thoughts and said enough to get me thinking, and, intentionally or not, put me on track for a ‘dangerous idea’.  At some point he was talking about technology and automation, and all of a sudden I started thinking about driverless tube trains and  self-service checkouts and so on, and the reality that all these innovations will, of course, create an increase in unemployment and be reiststed by what little remains of the unions and/but, I thought, what if we returned to the vision we were presented with in the 60’s, when these ideas of automation were first posited and we were assured a future of ever increasing leisure, not the current situation of working harder and harder for less and less reward – spiritually or materially.  The people ‘in charge’ seem to come from a mind set which suggests that leisure will persuade the majority of the population to become useless wasters, but the truth is, as we all know, that human beings like to work, want to work, they want to work at something worthwhile, so in our increased ‘leisure’ time, we could go to work to do the things that need doing – it begins with looking after children, the elderly and vulnerable, providing everyone with a decent home, growing our food, keeping things tidy, making and creating things.  You can add to this list, the only criteria for which is that the activity must do zero harm to llfe on earth.  Due to all the automation everyone is paid a basic citizens wage, which is deposited in a citizens bank – a facility which is communally owned and charged with refusing ‘credit’ to any of the citizens.

Of course I haven’t worked out the details of any of this yet, and its all unashamedly utopian, but I mainly wrote this to thank David Harvey and the organisers of ‘Dangerous Ideas’ for planting one, sufficiently robust, to haul me out of my torpor on  to my blog.  More to follow I hope.

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From → Thoughts

One Comment
  1. Ben Cavanna permalink

    Interesting…and thanks.

    That utopian dream from the 60’s of increased leisure, would only really work if there weren’t greedy capitalists at the top raking off most of the wealth that humans produce. It really would work if no one were in a position to profit from from someone else’s labours. Then the false division of ‘paid’ and ‘unpaid’ work would become defunct. And if we never engaged in ‘work’ that was rewarded by ‘money’, the capitalist thugs would not be able to rake off ‘profits’ from us.

    I certainly agree with you about the joy of working.

    These ‘dreams’ are not utopian – conversely they are the only practical solution to the problem of the runaway impending train-crash that we are on at the moment.

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