If most needs for work where removed would our society stagnate?
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17-08-2014, 05:46 AM
If most needs for work where removed would our society stagnate?
Okay I’m a huge fan of the Warhammer 40.000 universe. But there´s one species I would like to discuss The Eldar, because I would ask if something like that could potentially happen to our own species in time.
We will start by ignoring the part where they basically created a god that eats their soul when they die unless they capture their souls in stones, that´s just part of the story with no real connection to the question.
Anyways The Eldar where once an old and powerful species, with the control of the webway (think a kind of wormhole in between dimensions) their empire that stretched to most planets in the galaxy.
As their power grew so did their arrogance and they began to see themselves as above other species in the galaxy calling them barbarians and hunted them for sport, if they acknowledge them at all.
Having reached a point in their technology reached a point where all the needs for physical work became a thing of the past.
The Eldar started to devote their lives to other things in their culture (think music, art, cities and all those kinds of things), yet as time went on even those things weren´t enough for the Eldar and slowly but surely, pride and excess began to eat away at the Eldar race. Thinking all secrets were theirs to uncover and all pleasures were theirs to partake, the Eldar spent their centuries-long lives fulfilling their every desire. Fueled by an inexhaustible curiosity, many gave way to their darkest and most hedonistic impulses. Exotic "pleasure cults" soon sprang up all over the Eldar domains, each dedicated to esoteric knowledge or sensual excess. As these cults gained a tighter hold over the Eldar, they gradually declined into a cruel and hedonistic society. Eldar society eventually descended into full-scale anarchy as their excess grew past any limit thought possible. Brother fought brother and sadistic killers stalked the streets in pursuit of victims for their vile lusts. No life was spared and in the pursuit of their murderous and perverse pleasures. Eldar feasted upon each other in the streets.

The rest of the story pretty much goes that their ways lead to the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh the god/goddess of pain and pleasure. Some of the first who saw it come left the home worlds to settle on planets far away from the Empire, later others adapted their trading ships into huge space colonies and fled the home world to the jeering, hooting and contempt of their fellow Eldar.
Some of them manage to escape the psychic shockwave resulting from the birth of Slaanesh, others didn´t and had their souls and minds consumed by it, leaving empty husks.
The Eldar homeworld where consumed by the warp, leaving a tear in the fabric of universe that left the warp (think alternative dimensions made up of the energy from all living things and the home of the chaos gods) bleeding into our universe, the place would later be known as the Eye of Terror.

The surviving Eldar in the craftworlds would start to introduce a strict control on their feelings and impulses, plus the introduction of the path systems (if you have violent tendencies you become a warrior, artistic you become a bonesinger etc etc).

So your basic Sodom and Gomorrah story with a few twists and turns.

Now what I wanted to ask is if our technology grew to a point where work where more or less obsolete. The farmer would no longer have to plow his fields or take care of this stock as it would all be done automatically by machines, same with the engineers and so on so forth.
If all of that happened what would happen to our society? Would it stagnate like that of the Eldar (minus the whole creating a god, have our souls and mind eaten and have our worlds swallowed by the warp thing) or would our need for self-preservation make sure that we avoided that situation?
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17-08-2014, 06:01 AM
RE: If most needs for work where removed would our society stagnate?
Oddly enough, I had a similar thought today.

Not about the Eldar.

The Eldar are from Tolkein and that's all.

My thought extended as far as thinking that there would be societal breakdown before we get to the point of full automation.

It will be large scale Luddite riots if technology is introduced suddenly. Also see Thatcher's Britain / massive unemployment and social unrest.

More likely, if the pace of change is slower, people will not feel the need for large families. We'd breed like lions rather than rabbits.

And then the plane landed so I started thinking about the pretty arse of the Jetstar hosty instead.

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17-08-2014, 02:25 PM
RE: If most needs for work where removed would our society stagnate?
People work to be able to afford a fulfilling lifestyle to go home to, well I think that should be how it is although things are not all that ideal. I think if there is no work to be done then you would still have a variety of acceptable indulgences and pursuits, moral and sustainable, but there would also be more time to know yourself, what drives you and why, and that gives you power not to be a slave to it, recognise it for what it is and then you can reel it in at will.
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17-08-2014, 05:04 PM (This post was last modified: 17-08-2014 05:24 PM by Luminon.)
RE: If most needs for work where removed would our society stagnate?
(17-08-2014 05:46 AM)Erikjust Wrote:  Now what I wanted to ask is if our technology grew to a point where work where more or less obsolete. The farmer would no longer have to plow his fields or take care of this stock as it would all be done automatically by machines, same with the engineers and so on so forth.
If all of that happened what would happen to our society? Would it stagnate like that of the Eldar (minus the whole creating a god, have our souls and mind eaten and have our worlds swallowed by the warp thing) or would our need for self-preservation make sure that we avoided that situation?
I think the Eldar tale of Warhammer is quite misguided. That's some bad philosophy in there and I like how you recognized the Sodoma and Gomorrah idea - if you have too much of a good time, God will fuck you up. In fact, the greatest pleasure requires strong will, a lot of discipline and delay of gratification. Weak-willed people settle for cheap wine and hamburgers.

There's nothing virtuous about work. Work is a problem to be eliminated. If it's repetitive and you don't find it relaxing, machines should do it. There's so much innovative and creative work that machines can't do, that is waiting for us.

I know what would happen to society with full automation. First two months, people would relax to shrug off their 20-40 years of dumb work. Then new motivations would take over the society. Especially the motivation of achieving mastery and motivation to be a big smart troubleshooter and problem-solver. Or the motivation to express the creative impulse exactly as it is felt within. The desire to be useful to people, to be loved and appreciated, to improve the world, that will never go away. Under one condition - automation must be a freely available instrument, not something that is closed off in a box and you can't modify it.

Work allows empty people escape their emptiness, relationship problems and depression. It is the lamest drug ever, but still a drug. Without work, they'd have to face the fact that they don't know who they are, why are they here for and what are they good at. That is a great adventure and can be also quite scary and painful too. Discovering who you are (or what's left of you), that is a great work in itself and requires a lot of free time that we don't have today. What is high quality fun worth for, if you don't have high quality consciousness to enjoy it?

Some people rather enjoy problems and difficult and stressful situations because this is what they learned to manage. When such people find themselves in a peaceful environment, they don't know what to do, what they are. Molyneux calls this "Simon the Boxer" in his Real Time Relationships book. But in some way it also works for any other addictive behavior. If people do not believe they are worthy and lovable as they are, they will always try to bring extra value, be it troubleshooting, technology, academic degrees, charity, comedy, or whatever. It's called the effect of "Me plus".



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18-08-2014, 08:34 AM
RE: If most needs for work where removed would our society stagnate?
I think it is an interesting question. Let me frame it more precisely:
Say that a society X is changing over time to be more productive such that a subset of the population has no positive contribution to make to that society's productive capacity because all of the jobs they are capable of are filled. What is the effect on society of this labour oversupply?

For example, say that for a given subset of people the amount of money required to train them to find a job that is not yet filled would exceed the wages they would earn during their remaining lifetime in the job. In the case of a highly automated society in principle the amount of training required to find a job might be infinite.

We can see this in existing society as "unskilled jobs" become scarcer and more training and more capability is required to gain entry to fewer more highly skilled jobs. An unskilled job is one that in principle any member of society could attain without further training. Say over time the definition of unskilled expanded over time to cover 10%, 20%, 30%, eventually 60% or 70% of the population. That unskilled labour force is competing for a finite number of unskilled jobs while the skilled workers may need to be training for more and more years before they reach a level where they can escape the unskilled worker pool into more gainful employment.

Perhaps that cannot happen. Perhaps the spare labour in the society will find new productive outlets and new ways of expressing themselves, but as the available jobs become fewer and more highly skilled could there be a breakdown of traditional capitalism that doesn't involve an exhaustion of natural resources but instead involves a concentration of wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people as more and more people are placed on the rubbish pile of unemployabilty? When enough people are on that pile will they rise up together to overthrow the shackles of their oppressors? What could society do to deal with a fundamental oversupply of labour while still distributing resources in a functioning way? For example, would society reach a point where everyone is given a basic living wage regardless of whether or not they work or seek work? ... and by a living wage here I don't mean unemployment benefits, but a more permanent system.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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18-08-2014, 09:52 AM
RE: If most needs for work where removed would our society stagnate?
(17-08-2014 05:04 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Work allows empty people escape their emptiness, relationship problems and depression. It is the lamest drug ever, but still a drug.
Funny how you completely gloss over people who have a job/are doing work they actually want to do and actually enjoy doing.
Big Grin

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18-08-2014, 10:03 AM
RE: If most needs for work where removed would our society stagnate?
(18-08-2014 08:34 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  I think it is an interesting question. Let me frame it more precisely:
Say that a society X is changing over time to be more productive such that a subset of the population has no positive contribution to make to that society's productive capacity because all of the jobs they are capable of are filled. What is the effect on society of this labour oversupply?

For example, say that for a given subset of people the amount of money required to train them to find a job that is not yet filled would exceed the wages they would earn during their remaining lifetime in the job. In the case of a highly automated society in principle the amount of training required to find a job might be infinite.

We can see this in existing society as "unskilled jobs" become scarcer and more training and more capability is required to gain entry to fewer more highly skilled jobs. An unskilled job is one that in principle any member of society could attain without further training. Say over time the definition of unskilled expanded over time to cover 10%, 20%, 30%, eventually 60% or 70% of the population. That unskilled labour force is competing for a finite number of unskilled jobs while the skilled workers may need to be training for more and more years before they reach a level where they can escape the unskilled worker pool into more gainful employment.

Perhaps that cannot happen. Perhaps the spare labour in the society will find new productive outlets and new ways of expressing themselves, but as the available jobs become fewer and more highly skilled could there be a breakdown of traditional capitalism that doesn't involve an exhaustion of natural resources but instead involves a concentration of wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people as more and more people are placed on the rubbish pile of unemployabilty? When enough people are on that pile will they rise up together to overthrow the shackles of their oppressors? What could society do to deal with a fundamental oversupply of labour while still distributing resources in a functioning way? For example, would society reach a point where everyone is given a basic living wage regardless of whether or not they work or seek work? ... and by a living wage here I don't mean unemployment benefits, but a more permanent system.


Or - would they found mom and pop businesses and barter systems and a black market? Black markets of all types flourish in oppressed societies...

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18-08-2014, 02:57 PM
RE: If most needs for work where removed would our society stagnate?
(18-08-2014 09:52 AM)LostLocke Wrote:  
(17-08-2014 05:04 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Work allows empty people escape their emptiness, relationship problems and depression. It is the lamest drug ever, but still a drug.
Funny how you completely gloss over people who have a job/are doing work they actually want to do and actually enjoy doing.
Big Grin
I don't gloss for them, I rejoice for them and want to become one of them. It's just that all the rest of the post was about these people and their positive motivation, including the Dan Pink video. Interesting how you gloss over that.
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