The institutions that govern our commercial and political lives have imposed increasing degrees of effort on the consuming and voting public, using technology to transfer action and cost. Society has assumed these added tasks that were once performed by professionals with nary a peep. A entire stratum of professional attainment has been eliminated, supposedly in the interest of efficiency. But the benefits have largely flowed to those making the assignments, not to those doing the work. How else to explain the stagnation and even decline of household income for the vast majority?
The tasks we have been assigned are mundane and frequently annoying. They are often bureaucratic in nature, having mostly to do with compiling and communicating information to others who then assess, aggregate - and sell the fruit of that labor to others. Which is why there is an increasing demand for some sort of payback by those not only generating the data but providing it to others who then capture the profit. The growing calls for redistribution, while nettlesome to those who have benefited, should instead be reassuring: for, after all, they demonstrate conclusively that the capitalist market system remains dominant. For the time being. JL
David Graeber comments in The Baffler:
Just as industrial automation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had the paradoxical effect of turning more and more of the world’s population into full-time industrial workers, so has all the software designed to save us from administrative responsibilities turned us into part- or full-time administrators.