Technology, Information Capitalism and Social Revolution


Edited by Jim Davis, Thomas A. Hirschl and Michael Stack
Published by Verso, Fall, 1997. 304 pages.

Available at bookstores now

A robot can build a car. But a robot cannot buy a car... The explosion in the development of computer- and robotic-based manufacturing is seeing the rapid expansion of laborless production systems. Such systems create enormous instability, both for the overall economy where money previously paid in wages is now invested in labor-saving technology and therefore cannot be spent on goods, and for workers whose jobs are being deskilled or are simply disappearing.

Bringing together contributions from workers employed in the new electronics and information industries with work from theorists in economics, politics and science, Cutting Edge provides an up-to-the-minute analysis of the complex relations between technology and work.

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From the introduction to Cutting Edge:

"How is one to make sense of the world today? Contemporary political and economic events as well as recent technological developments defy conventional analysis. The general breakdown of the post-World War II social order is well underway, visibly evident in the dramatic dissolution of the Eastern European and Soviet socialist economies. The dramatic polarization of wealth and poverty -- not just between the technologized and under-technologized nations, or north and south, but also within the technologized center -- exposes the "capitalism has won" and "history is over" pronouncements as rather premature. The socioeconomic polarization matures as the powers of science and technology leap ahead at breakneck speed.

"While the traditional Left has lost much of its appeal, and the world's labor unions are on the defensive, new forces have stepped onto the world stage. Scenes from this drama are as diverse as the Los Angeles rebellion in 1992, the Chiapas uprising beginning in 1994, the regular eruptions in the industrial heart of the U.S., the tent cities and marches of the welfare recipients and the homeless in Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, Oakland and other U.S. cities, the labor strikes in France, Korea, Canada, Germany, Russia, and the new student movement emerging in the U.S. and elsewhere. The world has entered a period of upheaval.

"This collection of essays attempts to make sense of trends and developments as the 20th century draws to a close. The pieces share an attempt to confront the contradictions of society today, and put them on a firm material footing. Despite the many gloomy signals as this is written, they betray a spirit of optimism about the future."

[Click here to see the complete introduction .]



1. Introduction: Integrated Circuits, Circuits of Capital and Revolutionary Change

2. Robots and Capitalism
Tessa Morris-Suzuki

3. Why Machines Cannot Create Value; or, Marx's Theory of Machines
George Caffentzis

4. Capitalism in the Computer Age and Afterword
Tessa Morris-Suzuki

5. High Tech Hype: Promises and Reality of Technology in the 21st Century
Guglielmo Carchedi

6. Value Creation in the Late Twentieth Century and the Rise of the Knowledge Worker
Martin Kenney

7. The Information Commodity: A Preliminary View
Dan Schiller

8. The Digital Advantage
Jim Davis and Michael Stack

9. The Biotechnology Revolution: Self-Replicating Factories and the Ownership of Life Forms
Jonathan King

10. Structural Unemployment and the Qualitative Transformation of Capitalism
Tom Hirschl

11. How Will North America Work in the Twenty-First Century?
Sally Lerner

12. Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-Technology Capitalism
Nick Witheford

13. A Note on Automation and Alienation
Ramin Ramtin

14. New Technologies, Neoliberalism and Social Polarization in Mexico's Agriculture
Gerardo Otero, Stephanie Scott and Chris Balletto

15. The New Technological Imperative in Africa: Class Struggle on the Edge of Third-Wave Revolution
Abdul Alkalimat

16. Heresies and Prophecies: The Social and Political Fall-out of the Technological Revolution
A. Sivanandan

17. The Birth of a Modern Proletariat
Nelson Peery