A Call to End Automation (1998)

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What We Know

1. We are concerned citizens from all walks of life who have seen the threat to world society from the careless and unwise use of technology to eliminate human work.

2. We are aware that technological restructuring, with its agenda of global automation of the workforce, arises from a matrix of events and relationships and we outline them here.

3. We see that technological restructuring is ultimately traceable to a shared, predatory business philosophy, known variously as "neo-liberalism," the "Washington Consensus," "predatory capitalism," and "economic social Darwinism." This philosophy holds that economic life is a struggle for existence in which only the strongest survive. Acting on its tenets, globalizing corporations are using automated and online systems as a "cost-cutting" measure designed to make them "lean and mean" for a "global war of competition." The cost they cut is labor. They use mergers, acquisitions, and spinoffs to aggrandize their operations and, in the process, put more workers out of work. We declare that, to date, globalizing business has shown itself unwilling to observe the basic ethics of fairness, compassion and justice in the conduct of its affairs. On these grounds, we refute the validity of the prevailing business philosophy and agenda, which we deem neither inevitable nor desirable.

4. We recognize that technology passes through stages in its capture of work. We see that technology has passed from the stage of simply replacing jobs to "bridging" and "bypassing" entire occupations. We know that this process is occurring in many industries at the present time and will pick up speed. We believe that the automation of service industries will prove even easier than the automation of manufacturing industries, much to the misery of the service worker. It will include in its sweep the very software designers and programmers who fashioned it and the management who implemented it.

5. We see that globalizing corporations, or "global trade warriors," are using technology to restructure the world economy. Out of it, many local, regional and even national economies are being turned into "hinterlands" or "peripheries" of an increasingly automated and online "metropolis" or "center." We are aware of the centralizing of wealth, power, and control in the hands of a few that is resulting from this.

6. If present trends continue unabated, we believe that the world will face:

Massive unemployment worldwide;
Inadequate part-time and temporary work at low wages, with no prospects, and few benefits for the worker who remains employed;
The global concentration of wealth, power, and control in the hands of a very small minority of corporate leaders;
The end of an impartial media through control by its global-corporate owners of the limits of discussion and the language to be used;
Rising global levels of impoverishment and crime;
Increased global unrest aimed at governments and corporations; and
The collapse of the restructured world economy, through the elimination of its consumer base.

7. We affirm that work is for humans. We believe that the ability to engage in secure and fairly-compensated work, under humane conditions of employment, prevents a society from falling into economic, moral, and social chaos.

8. We assert that the citizens of a country have a right to expect from their government the protection of their common interests as wage-earners, productive citizens, and taxpayers. While remaining within the limits of peace and legality, we express our opposition to government administrations that tolerate and support the elimination of their citizens from productive work. We question the wisdom of a course of retrenchment, deregulation, and privatization in the face of business' demonstrated willingness to eliminate humans from the work equation.

9. We withdraw our moral support, peacefully and lawfully, from a system of business and government that practices the philosophy and policies we have outlined above.

What We Want

10. Having set ourselves against the disintegration of our common global society, we call for the global cessation of all acts of technological restructuring and automation that result in the mass elimination of the workforce from work.

11. We call on the world's governments to institute measures in the name of its citizens to halt further mass elimination of workers from work.

12. We call on workers who are eliminated by technology, downsized to boost corporate stock prices, or in any other way eliminated from work without just cause or fair compensation to join together in common cause and consider class-action suits to challenge the restructuring agenda. We call on all affected workers to help us bring the current business paradigm into question.

13. We call on labor unions to recognize the global automation of the worker as the chief issue they face. We ask them to release their ties to representing trades and represent the worker regionally, nationally, and globally.

14. We call on consumers to consider their buying choices and explore the means of exerting consumer pressure on those firms that engage in the mass elimination of workers from work.

15. We call upon electors to speak out and demand from their political representatives:

a. Platforms that recognize:

i. The wholesale marginalization of the worker through technological obsolescence and displacement.

ii. The creation of new global hinterland economies, subservient to a decreasing number of automated and online corporations.

b. Platforms that recognize government's duty as the last support of citizens who have been impoverished by the impact of automation and that call on government to reverse its direction of retrenchment, deregulation and privatization.

c. Legislative packages that penalize massive downsizing and the further displacement of labor by technology; and

d. The enactment of new, or the enforcement of existing, antitrust laws to prevent the consolidation of power and wealth in the hands of a few corporations, made possible by technology.

16. We call upon the journalists of the world to drop the veil of silence that the media, owned by globalizing, automating corporations, has imposed on this world event. We ask that you replace analyses of "recessions" with analyses of global automation. We ask that you refuse to be swayed by appeals that we as workers, corporations, or countries must "compete or die," "adapt or die," and "keep up or die." We request that you come out of what amounts to a mass hypnosis on these issues that is allowing the automation of the worker to occur, unexamined and unaddressed.

17. We call upon the public to recognize for the sham that it is the whole discussion that says that business is a struggle for survival in which only the strongest survive. The idea that human life need be a struggle for survival is false. Species may struggle with each other, but only the human species struggles with itself. Life was intended to be, we are told by the world's religions, a process of uniting, cooperating, and sharing for the common good.

18. Finally, in light of our common awareness and willingness, we pledge the following:

a. That, rather than acting like isolated "global warriors," we commit to a global ethic of unity.

b.That, rather than supporting a "compete or die" ethic, we commit to a global ethic of cooperation among businesses, workers, and nations.

c. That, rather than supporting the gain of one through the loss of another, we commit to a global ethic of sharing.

19. We invite all, without exception, to support this declaration. We thank each person who alters his or her way of thinking from a predatory business philosophy to one of compassion for a suffering human community.

9 July 1998

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