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Superfluous people

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

Superfluous people

Unread postby AdamB » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 21:49:24

In the first half of the 19th century, Russian writers created a kind of romantic anti-hero – a man of talents, education and sensitivity who is unable to find a place for himself in the contemporary world. Based on the title of Ivan Turgenev’s novel, this lot came to be called “superfluous men.” I recently attended a lecture by an African-American artist Theaster Gates, who brought up this concept in a refreshing new way. In his work, which is centered on Chicago’s South Side, Gates recycles abandoned stuff – an unused schoolhouse, trees cut down at public parks, bricks from a demolished church, etc. He sees this as a metaphor for the black experience in America. Brought over as slaves to work Southern plantations, they were cast upon their own devices in an alien, hostile environment when slavery was abolished. Lured ...


Superfluous people
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Tanada » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 22:36:35

Ah yet another opinion peace stressing the wonderful nature of Liberalism and extolling the dangers of Conservatism.

Of course if the Liberal coasters would take the concerns of the 'Superfluous' population seriously and work to correct those concerns rather than rest of their self described superiority there wouldn't be either the condition of being Superfluous or the desire to return to Conservative Principals that being discarded by the elites leads to.
I should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write, balance accounts, build a wall, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 10:10:39

In our future of greater and greater automation, more and more people will become "superfluous".
“If and when the oil price skewers for 6 months or more substantially above the MAP, then I will concede the Etp is inherently flawed"
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 10:36:29

asg70 wrote:In our future of greater and greater automation, more and more people will become "superfluous".


And yet are we capable of just sitting in a town square enjoying each others company playing checkers?

Imagine if automation really took to the extremes that it displaced hundreds of millions forcing government to enact some sort of New Deal legislation providing some minimum of sustenance to those left dislocated.

Could they enjoy playing checkers in a town square or would rage and despair be the dominant response?
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 10:57:09

Ibon wrote:Imagine if automation really took to the extremes that it displaced hundreds of millions forcing government to enact some sort of New Deal legislation providing some minimum of sustenance to those left dislocated.


I just don't see where the "forcing" will come from.

Those displaced have convinced themselves to vote against their interests, i.e. to double-down on trickle-down economics and hoping and praying for a return of 1950s America and coal.

People are divorced from reality and have no ability to adapt and imagine a new society that reflects the new normals in a way that provides maximum prosperity.
“If and when the oil price skewers for 6 months or more substantially above the MAP, then I will concede the Etp is inherently flawed"
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 11:14:57

There is no stopping, slowing, or reversing the progress of automation. We have explored this topic before in this thread:

http://peakoil.com/forums/obsolete-t73001.html

.....and several others.

But automation did not create 7 billion superfluous humans, as those people exist in the 3rd world where automation is not a major factor. Primate instincts, particularly the ape desire to be surrounded by family and extended family as one ages, created the excess humans. Blaming any of them on automation, is to play the blame game, another favorite human occupation and even more useless, as it distracts from the basic issue of overshoot population.

When disgruntled 16th Century factory workers hurled their wooden shoes (sabots) into the wooden looms of the newly arrived Industrial Revolution, the word "sabotage" came about. But the flip side of each act of sabotage is that affordable fabrics for warm high quality clothing (when compared to the best homespun and home sewed) were denied other members of the lower class, they created widespread misery.

The advent of digital electronics was IMHO the final phase of the Industrial Revolution. The next step beyond this one is when we merge with our silicon slaves:
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 11:30:06

The question of hanging together and playing checkers was not just tongue in cheek. I am living in a country with under employment and have worked and lived in developing countries for decades. I have family members there. In chronically under employed developing countries folks move in and out of employment with temporary jobs and if you visit any village or town it is very common to see the unemployed hanging out together in town squares playing the equivalent of checkers.

You know the per capita consumption of these folks is very low..... down right exemplary in reference to their carbon footprint.

Perhaps not the current generation as ASG70 points out who are desperate to believe the 50's are coming back but surely the millennials and following generation are not as susceptible to this nostalgic delusion of returning to an anomalous past.

I see this in my daughters who value time and friendship over harnessing themselves to careers that aren't even there!

And they are now moving into their late 20's

Checkers anyone?
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 12:00:35

Ibon wrote:Imagine if automation really took to the extremes that it displaced hundreds of millions forcing government to enact some sort of New Deal legislation providing some minimum of sustenance to those left dislocated.

Could they enjoy playing checkers in a town square or would rage and despair be the dominant response?

That's a truly excellent point and question.

Many are still having problems accepting it, but if automation truly sweeps the world and displaces enough peoples' ability to have gainful employment, then something fundamental will need to change -- or the situation becomes completely untenable.

This should be obvious, but we don't know how fast or complete this transformation will be, and many white collar workers are still in more or less complete denial that it could be them.

With robotic 3D vision as just one example of such progress in automation -- I fear it could be 80% of us within 30 years.

So, IF the obvious solution (or something close) of a UBI (universal basic income), paid for with a "robot tax" on businesses using automation is implemented -- then the answer, IMO, will be cultural.

In places like Denmark, stuff I've read says the culture there has people much more open to valuing more free time, and accepting smaller incomes. Things like job sharing (and less income) are often accepted.

In the US, where the perception of one's job and income is often paramount -- not so much, at least by the older generations. (From what I've read, many millennials might be more open, as their values are different than the boomers in a fundamental way -- for one example).

As an avid gamer who LOVES no longer having to work, and couldn't care less how much money I have once I am confident I have "enough" (and this implies things like being able to trust the government to provide good medical care, elder care, and CHOICES) -- and at this point IN NO WAY do I trust government to do that) -- I'd love to see it in the US.

How much pain to get there? I have no idea how to predict that. But I strongly suspect that if you live for another 30 or more years, you're going to get to find out, like it or not.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 12:05:27

asg70 wrote:
Ibon wrote:Imagine if automation really took to the extremes that it displaced hundreds of millions forcing government to enact some sort of New Deal legislation providing some minimum of sustenance to those left dislocated.


I just don't see where the "forcing" will come from.

Those displaced have convinced themselves to vote against their interests, i.e. to double-down on trickle-down economics and hoping and praying for a return of 1950s America and coal.

People are divorced from reality and have no ability to adapt and imagine a new society that reflects the new normals in a way that provides maximum prosperity.

True enough. But once unemployment (and not just underemployment) is truly massive, it won't just be some guy/gal down the street. It will be up close and personal and very real.

I could be wrong, but even with the US far right, I think that will change a LOT of votes toward a UBI. Then the big fight will be "how much is enough?", which is what most of the fighting, re government spending, has been about since day one or so...
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 12:11:01

Ibon wrote:
surely the millennials and following generation are not as susceptible to this nostalgic delusion of returning to an anomalous past.


No. They're busy staring into screens 24/7. Heck, even virulent luddites like PStarr do this, otherwise he would not have a 20K+ post-count.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 12:14:40

Outcast_Searcher wrote:I could be wrong, but even with the US far right, I think that will change a LOT of votes toward a UBI


Nah. The ideological objection is about anti-tax (labeled "wealth redistribution" and hence ANTI-AMERICAN, COMMIE, PINKO). America was founded on the backs of anti-tax sentiment (taxation without representation). This is also why our infrastructure is crumbling. During the height of the cold-war, during Eisenhower, taxes were much higher, but the idea of pooling resources and part of your wealth going into the common good has been dissolving since Reagan. The only government expenditure the right supports is the military.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 13:17:51

asg70 wrote:
Ibon wrote:
surely the millennials and following generation are not as susceptible to this nostalgic delusion of returning to an anomalous past.


No. They're busy staring into screens 24/7. Heck, even virulent luddites like PStarr do this, otherwise he would not have a 20K+ post-count.


Of all the millennium friends I have visited of my daughters not a single one has a television. They all do have their mobile devices though to which they are severely tethered.

Pstarr and I are obsolete and will not confront this issue of automation. Heck, we are already semi retired.... that also explains a 20k + post count :) These questions of the consequences of automation are more relevant to the younger generations who will experience a reduction of job opportunities and have to cope.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 13:35:53

asgy can't figure me out . . . and it makes him so so so angry. :-x 8) Perhaps because I am not partisan luddite or techtopian? It's all about appropriate technology. Not the latest crap. You will never see me in either a Tesla or jacked up /lifted monster truck. It's about choosing the most effective technology at the lowest cost for a particular task. You need to get to work quickly, safely, inexpensively and make the proper impression. In the city I would take the subway. In the burbs some car.

Appropriate Technology. So I have a chicken house with a solar operated door. Sensors for both heat and daylight manage the opening and closing. The door automatically opens at dawn to let the chicken out to forage (free food). Unless it is too cold outside. Brilliant appropriate technology. Say the same about my various solar collectors and gadgets. Ask baha :)
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 13:49:17

pstarr wrote:It's all about appropriate technology. Not the latest crap.


It's not for you to judge what's appropriate and what's "the latest crap".

I mean, I'm sure there are arrogant hair-shirts out there who would be quick to dis your lifestyle because you're still jacked into the matrix with your computer and the hours you invest banging on the keyboard. And yet you feel justified getting all holier than thou?

This whole "my lifestyle is better than your lifestyle" BS is a zero-sum game.
Last edited by asg70 on Mon 16 Oct 2017, 13:50:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 13:50:15

Tanada wrote:Ah yet another opinion peace stressing the wonderful nature of Liberalism and extolling the dangers of Conservatism.

Of course if the Liberal coasters would take the concerns of the 'Superfluous' population seriously and work to correct those concerns rather than rest of their self described superiority there wouldn't be either the condition of being Superfluous or the desire to return to Conservative Principals that being discarded by the elites leads to.

I don't take away a partisan slant in the article. He simply says that underemployed people without protection have become angry. And ignorant. Logical conclusions.

Tanada, I suspect your framing the article as partisan is perhaps sparked by the picture of the union protesters. Yes, there is the implication in the article that unions would help. I tend to agree. Let we forget, unions (by another name) are simple expressions of our constitutional right of assembly and free speech. It is every person's right to sit down and stop working. It is of their own volition. Conversely it is every employer's right to fire them. But a smart employer chooses to negotiate.

And every employer has the same right to sit down with other employers to do the same. All the employers can create their own 'unions' business organizations to negotiate. They too have the same constitutional right of assembly and free speech. No need to automatically take sides. Every strike is different.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 15:25:18

I read a novel a long long time ago when I was in college that had a theoretical answer to the checkers question. Instead of discarding the 'Superfluous' the government mandated dividing the population based on the day of the week when you were born. For your entire lifespan the day of the week you were born one was 'your day' when you went to work and busted your hump for a 12 hour shift. The other 12 hours of 'your day' was your time to do as you wished as were the other 6 days of the week.

In this manner everyone still had a 12 hour a week job that required a considerable effort on that one day of the week, so everyone had something to either dread or anticipate depending on personality on 'their day'. Anyone caught working on some other day of the week was punished for taking away the 'psychological harmony' of the person they displaced who should have been working/contributing on that day. Even voluntary tasks like feeding the homeless were split into seven time units and if that was something you wanted to do you could only do it in your free 12 hours of 'your day'.

Essentially the book was based on the concept that with massive population and automation the only way to satisfy the psychological drive to achieve was to ensure full employment, defined as 12 hours a week, for everyone.
I should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write, balance accounts, build a wall, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby mmasters » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 15:39:33

These superfluous people are mostly losers. What you should strive for is greatness. That's what it's all about. Great people work with the design of the Universe and make something of themselves.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 15:43:07

tanada, your consideration and obvious adoration (you remember it from a long time ago) of the mandated government program belies your regular condemnation of government imposition, our god given right to be greedy. Which is it? Are you a closet socialist? :)
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 16 Oct 2017, 15:43:22

Tanada wrote:Essentially the book was based on the concept that with massive population and automation the only way to satisfy the psychological drive to achieve was to ensure full employment, defined as 12 hours a week, for everyone.

A very interesting take. If we ever get to the point that doing volunteer work will be illegal (or even frowned upon) because things are so great that NO such volunteer work is needed or desirable, would that be "utopia"?

Somehow, I suspect that IF a UBI had been a normal thing for a few decades or so, and so not working didn't carry some major social stigma, the vast majority of angst about the loss of jobs would be gone -- as long as the UBI were considered "enough" by the masses, generally. (And that should take care of the "your job is your value or your identity" problem, IMO.

As someone who is endlessly curious, loves to read, play games, walk around or drive around and look at things, or just sit and think about things -- I have trouble imagining being endlessly bored -- as long as their are libraries, cheap streaming of video, easy access to a plethora of cheap computers, etc.

But then again, I've been "weird" since I can first remember.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Dow Jones Stock Market 2018

Unread postby onlooker » Sun 11 Feb 2018, 17:13:00

I think this "brutality" that Evil speaks of defines Monetarism or the ascendency of Financialization within the context of Economies. It is nothing but the formalization of Greed within Markets and the overall Economy. It started in earnest I think in the US with Reagan and trickle down economics. And now it is utilizing the same methods that were used to exploit the entire world and applying it internally within rich countries. Statistics back up the growing gap between rich and poor. The assault on the Social Safety Net during Clintons presidency. The privatization trend. The bubbles as speculation has become the norm within and outside the Markets. It is Capitalists getting their way at each turn. Attaining the profits but avoiding the costs ie. externalities. And in the meantime these Republican core values have translated to neglect of this country's infrastructure, of a radical de funding of social services and of tax breaks for those who do not need them. It is now to the point that it could accurately be described as Disaster Capitalism as referenced in the book by Naomi Klein. Well the US economy is now a disaster. Low wage work, no healthcare, little govt. help even as rents have skyrocketed and as the Debt trap has trapped many. But we are suppose to cheer the Stock Market going up and up. Please give us a break.
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