The automatic machines
50 years ago, there was still
the profession of washerwoman,
who, with great physical effort and damage to her
and her spine, used to wash the clothes in the tub rubbing
them on a scrubbing board
(not to mention that in some places she had to get
water from the well or wood from the forest).
Today there must be very few households
without an electric washing machine.
An automatic machine which only needs you to put
in the laundry, add soap and then press a button.
If you happen to visit a modern factory, say, a
car manufacturing plant, the guide will tell you:
"Here in the production section in the main
we produce 2400 cars a day. We have 1200 employees
who oversee the 8300 assembly machines.
In the development section, that little building in the garden,
there are working some 5500 engineers and designers".
You will not see the worker, as we imagined
him, with his strong arms lifting the heavy
hammer to shape the steel.
Likewise neither will you see the farmer in his
under the blazing sun, harvesting the wheat with the sickle.
Today's farmer simply drives the combine harvester.
This is today's reality.
Production requires less and less
of our muscle power.
And don't let anyone tell me:
"Look how production goes in the third world",
because I know it.
I know what the reality is there.
And exactly because I know and I do not like
this reality, that's why I am writing all this.
Because I would like this reality to change there too.
Since we already have the machines, and today
no one needs to slog away physically anymore.
― And where
should the excess energy of the people
be channeled? If they no longer need to work with
their muscles, they will become lazy.
We have already said this: They will work with their brains.
They will occupy themselves with art, with
philosophy. As for their bodies, they will exercise it in sports.
Just as during the "Golden Age" of ancient Athens.
The Athenian citizen at that time did not have to work.
He wouldn’t however sit around idle. That would be a shame.
After the gym and the music, where he spent a lot
he "used to work" chiseling the marble to create a sculpture
or painting a vase.
He would write or watch a play, and more than
In the two and a half thousand years since then,
neither in art
nor in philosophy have we achieved something comparable.
We still admire this art, and we continue to draw
from this philosophy.
If we want it, such a
golden age can
begin for us from tomorrow.
The conditions are in place,
more than enough of them.
Only our decision is still missing.
It is in our hands.
But the problem remains. How many should we be?
If I can’t rely either on my reproduction
instinct, or on the command
of the Bible or the demands of the system, which until yesterday
needed many hammers and sickles as well as many consumers and
now is indifferent to all that, how can I answer the question?
How can we orientate ourselves to solve such an important problem?
How can we be guided?
And if you think about it carefully, you will see
that in other serious problems
too we don’t know how to steer, which secure landmarks we can use to
calculate our position, how to find our bearings.
The "lighthouses" guiding us until now
are in doubt.
My instincts, the command of the Bible, the wishes of the king,
the orders of the system, these don’t help anymore.