A Brief Argument for the Importance of Analyzing Science & Technology Workers

The radical left should devote more effort to figure out how to increase the participation of tech workers and people with techno-scientific knowledge in revolutionary class struggle.    

The scientific community has generally been marginalized from specific analysis in radical left intellectual and theoretical spaces.  I believe this is a mistake.  The proletariat has been historically undermined by Capital’s implementation of technology, which in recent years has manifested in automation and cybernation, which respectively has decreased the necessity to invest in labor, and increased the spacial and temporal extent of the workplace–and not to mention drastically increasing the ability of the State to crack down on dissent, unrest, and rebellion.  The importance of technology in disrupting, decomposing, and recomposing proletarian struggle and organization makes the position of scientists and engineers and interesting one, at the very least–their central role in the production and reproduction of technology puts them in a unique position to affect the response of Capital to labor militancy.

(To put this in as simple terms as possible–militant labor movements that target workplace conditions tend to directly increase the costs of labor, thus incentivizing the markets to invest into labor-saving technologies and try to cut back on the increased cost of an individual worker by requiring less workers to make the same product.  Thus, the long-term result of non-revolutionary labor movements is the displacement of workers into either unemployment or lower-wage jobs, and the general decomposition of existing structures and organizations that served the working class.)

What potential is there to open up radical fronts in Silicon Valley, in Elon Musk’s high-tech empire, in the university research facilities, and the national energy labs?  While the general consensus that technology workers constitute a labor aristocracy (and thus, are unresponsive to communist ideology) is probably true, there nonetheless exist radical scientists and engineers who could make good use of a rigorous, theoretical investigation into the nature of technology workers as a sub-class.  And on a different note, the general abilities of technology workers, and their specific knowledge and skill-sets (everything from web design to weapons manufacturing), can be of great use to radical movements in terms of on-the-ground practicalities and logistics.

In light of the aforementioned observations, I propose the following, tentative areas of analysis that radical theorists and practitioners (“praxitioners?”) should engage with:

  • Various technological industries (social media, automation software, space exploration, energy production, etc) and their dynamics–the analysis of trends and emerging technologies, and their implications for the general masses, is crucial to be able to pre-empt the decomposition/recomposition of the working class.  If we take this area of analysis seriously, and act on our predictions, perhaps the next crisis and transformation of Capital and Labor won’t take us by surprise, and we can organizational strategies waiting in the wings (i.e. imagine if the explosion of the service industry was predicted and analyzed decades ago, rather than in recent years)
  • The interconnections between engineers and the general working population, and the ways in which these interconnections can be exploited (i.e. the interconnections between BART engineers and tram operators–what innovative methods of struggle has the union not made use of, with regards to the diverse skill-sets of its constituents?)
  • Radical projects that can use STEM (science, technology, engineering, medicine) expertise, and strategies to both cultivate STEM skill-sets among radical activists and militant workers (i.e. farming ecology for urban farms, electrical engineering for CCTV disruption and electricity expropriation), or to draw STEM workers themselves from capitalist spaces (i.e. ).
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