Knowledge, communism and "ancestral" technologies
To what extent can communism not imply the recovery of inherited knowledge (true common inheritance of Humanity)-compiled documentarily-and its unblocking to produce in unexpected directions (to readjust scales, for real development of productive forces)?
In its literal formulation, the answer to this question is obvious. All current technologies are deformed in their development by the logic of accumulation. A logic that prioritizes large concentrations of capital at the expense of human needs, including the sustainability of the natural environment. Moreover, the development of scientific knowledge and technology is held back even in theory by the ideological limitations imposed by the system itself.
That is to say, the overcoming of capitalism towards communism will generate the material conditions -the end of the logic of accumulation, passing to the direct satisfaction of universal human needs, development of productivity and socialization- and intellectual conditions -development on the basis of class consciousness and as society decommodifies, of a species consciousness- that would make possible a new leap forward in the knowledge of reality as a whole.
- Who will do the jobs that nobody wants to do?
- What will the city and housing look like?
- Will the sexual division of labor disappear?
- Will families exist? What will parenting be like?
- Who will be charge of agriculture? In a communist society, won't we have pineapples, oranges or coffee?
- Will there be restaurants under communism?
- Won't there be large chemical plants and gigantic heavy industrial factories?
- Will art, craftsmanship, traditional productions disappear?
However, the question has an Easter egg in the link included. It seems that by inherited knowledge the reader does not refer to the whole of knowledge and especially to scientific knowledge, but to the artisanal technologies of production in force in the agrarian world until its industrialization.
Can these technologies serve to unlock in unexpected directions technological and scientific development? Perhaps they can serve as inspiration or as raw material in some plants or organic chemical processes with potentialities that we do not know today. Raw materials and processes that, when studied scientifically, can in turn serve as the basis for new technological developments.
But let us not deceive ourselves that communism as a mode of production, however much it distributes the productive structure -which it will- will not cease to be based on the development of productivity and the socialization of production. That is to say, on the one hand on a centralism on the scale of the species whose forms are already intuited in the possibilities opened up by AI, however deformed they may be by capital and accumulation. And on the other hand, in a development of automation that multiplies the productive capacity of social labor and at the same time reduces the necessary consumption of natural resources.
In other words: it is not a question of returning to craftsmanship in any case.
Agricultural production in communism would be ecological, however, it will be automated and not artisanal. In communist society the production capacities will be massive, but they will be distributed in the territory according to human needs, the optimal scales to satisfy them -not to accumulate capital- and the needs of that common metabolism with the environment in which social production is transformed.
Does this mean that artisan production will disappear in a society of abundance? No. But it will not play a role in the production of the satisfaction of universal human needs which is the goal of the new system. In fact, craftsmanship will certainly have a renewed importance... but the social production of anything will not depend on it.
The physical object and its production take on a new meaning: they are an end in themselves. Those who want to go beyond the satisfaction of their need to read, can enjoy editing it, making it beautiful, and binding it by hand...
It is a step beyond what [communist morality](http://marxismo.school/cuadernos/Que es la moral comunista) points to. If this points towards a world in which people cease to be means (for accumulation) and become ends in themselves and for each other, the minimal experiences of abundance that capitalism borders on, allow us to see that in communist society all human activity would become an end in itself.
This is another way of approaching and understanding the radical transformation of human nature that socialization and the abolition of wage labor will produce and with them the end of the division of labor in communist society. This is because the end of the division of labor is not a mere organizational fact, it transforms the whole vital experience of people in communism, liberating their capacities and socializing them[...]
Arts and crafts are freed from being a means of life, they disappear as a specialized activity and monopoly of a few and merge into the social knowledge and consciousness of the species. In other words: in communism all human activity tends to become Art..
Nature, Marxism and myth
Is not the relationship with Nature the "determining framework" of historical materialism and, therefore, the interpretations of historical materialism go through the opposing myths that have been historically formulated about the Idea of Nature?
No. Historical materialism, actually a set of premises for the critique of ideology, has not had different interpretations, unless by interpretations we mean the reactionary barbarities created ad-hoc by Stalinism in its struggle to crush and massacre what was left standing of the Revolution, including its environmental policy.
Or to its children, the university scholastics of so-called academic Marxism, a contradiction in terms, now focused on developing the left of the Green Deal and justifying the massive pauperization of the workers in the name of a false anti-capitalism.
Of course many, if not all, of these ideological efforts will have a mythologized conception of Nature opposed to the Marxists' concept of common metabolism with the human species. But these myths cannot but express the brutally anti-human character of these ideologies, which need to oppose Humanity and Nature - see rewilding - in order to pass off capitalism as an expression of the general interests of the species. In the end, as with the famous degrowth theory, there will be a continual return to Malthus, that is to say, to the very origins of bourgeois morality and the defense of hunger and scarcity as a social necessity.
Generation Z and technological reappropriation
Isn't this praxis of "Generation Z" moving towards an unconscious objective according to which the appropriation of knowledge [by large technological capitals] has "forced" a return to previous technologies so that they can be appropriated and institutionalized communally?
Let's go by parts: this question actually responds to our critique of the invention of Generation Z by the media in a recent article.
With the new AI industry in motion offering spaces to invest huge masses of capital and a political crisis in the US openly associated with social networks, the discourse making its way in the Anglo-Saxon media on Generation Z, the generation that now is coming of age, emphasizes its distance from digital media.
The media presents them to us as supposed neo-Luddites who read the updated versions of a Thoreaux- style naturalistic individualism as if they were manifestos and swap the smartphone for a cell phone with no ability to run apps. They tell us that they buy second-hand digital cameras to avoid using a cell phone under the paradoxical argument that we are becoming too technological. And that they want to return to the old artisanal crafts to recover a relationship with materiality.
First of all, let us point out two caveats:
- Generations do not exist as autonomous social subjects. Like the society as a whole of which they are a part, age groups are fractured into classes with conflicting interests.
- When an age group shows a certain homogeneity of values or tendencies we cannot but suspect that this dominant tendency reflects the interests and expectations of the dominant class for that age group.
But here we are not in that case. And this is really what is interesting about the media discourse on Generation Z.
We are dealing here with the opinion industry and they govern its rules. In this case we are dealing with hype. When groups that are insignificant even in their geographic and age environment, such as those described in all these articles, are presented to us as a generational model of general scope, the performative will is clear, that is, the will to create from an isolated, socially unrepresentative example, a model that is recommended to follow in the hope that the story becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
That is why in the article we pointed out that:
What is becoming increasingly clear in any case is that an entire and inevitably contradictory propaganda campaign is emerging to define the famous Z Generation around practices and values that are functional to an era in which technological investments turn from social networks and the Internet to AI and the Green Deal.
In the US, as we see, it will point to the old bourgeois individualist myths about Nature and solitude. In Germany, as in the latest Spiegel cover, there may even be attempts to revamp Marx to pass him off as a German environmentalist, forerunner of the new war economy measures and the protection of the vulnerable. Every place will have its particular effects. But one element will be shared in common everywhere: less virtual socialization and more songs to Nature in the name of a Green Deal which seems to be, together with war, the only beacon in the medium and long term of global capital.
But let's get to the core of the question: Is there a general movement among young people to reappropriate both artisanal production and life in the rural environment and the digital technologies of 20 years ago (cameras, self-hosted blogs, fablabs, etc.)?
It doesn't seem like it. The little that had some dimension - the boom during the pandemic of people making bread at home - came from an older age bracket and was quickly mowed down by rising electricity prices. The artisan workshops that remained in the cities and towns - from shoe shops to bookbinders - have mostly closed over the last three years and, by the looks of it, have not been replaced by a generation entering in mass into the world of DIY. And if we talk about digital technologies, nothing seems to indicate that the free software social movement is growing again or even coming close to where it was twenty years ago when local groups flourished in towns and cities, nor that self-hosted websites are increasing, nor that makers workshops have more -and not less- participants, nor that fewer smart phones are being sold and more classic mobiles.
The only thing we perceive in the working-class neighborhoods as a trend among the youngest is the cryptocurrency and digital speculation "revolt", a true ultra-ideologized and ultra-alienated prolongation of the boom of the gambling houses.
If the economy (=accumulation) does not offer them job opportunities, cryptocurrencies allow them to speculate with tools that look the same as those of financial capital and crypto-libertarianism to portray themselves as "wealth creators" fighting for "freedom".
One would have to go back to the european or chinese peasant religious movements of the 19th century to find a "revolt" as alienated as this one: looking for a way to become a contribution, rejecting the role of family pet given to them by their improductivity, they embrace an ideology in which social work is nowhere to be found.
But it is not only an effect of the crypto-libertarian frenzy. It is underpinned on a daily basis by the ambient ideology propagated by the media: the supposed end of the centrality of labor and thus the replacement of class interests by interclassist and citizenist "identities" of all kinds, from sex to gender, from language to geographic particularism, and from race to age.
The "crypto revolt" and working class youth, 18/4/2022
And finally, let's go further, to the core of what the question insinuates: would it be possible to consider, politically, the opportunity to influence and eventually nurture -if it exists- a cultural trend that would aim at certain technologies being appropriated and institutionalized as a community? In principle, the answer is yes, of course. Movements such as free software are the opposite of the crypto revolt: they allow the raising and discussion of some central questions of our time such as the need and the possibility of overcoming capitalism by a system focused on the direct satisfaction of universal human needs.
The question is from where and in what material framework to intervene. In other words: from what class organizing perspective?... which implies starting with a class analysis of the concrete historical moment that we are in and a program of action. Shall we discuss this?