• Toasters, terminator and Trump (part 2)

    Date: 2017.02.02 | Category: in english | Tags:

    As always all the thank yous go to the translator Psy-Fi, all the possible errors and omissions are my blame for this article  🙂


    ….And since you’ve all now seen how easy it is to debunk a Sturnaras-level research paper, let’s move on to the real matter at hand: Why should you even care and why would you care now? 


    Adidas Speed Factory


    If you search youtube using the string above, you’ll encounter various spots from the pilot ultra automated shoe-making factory of Adidas. In these geek-hot videos, you may gawk at industrial 3D printers (ones that have been in circulation for 20 years), an impressive laser engraver, which can print a “Made in Germany” stamp on the shoe leather no less (there is such an A3 size laser-engraver right next to me, which cost me about 150 euros to build), and more shiny mirrors for ignorant indians.

    Of course, the Adidas pair that you’re wearing right now has little in common with the aforementioned pilot factory, which just recently manufactured 500 pairs of shoes. Additionally, those 500 pairs are quite different than the pairs made from dark-skinned Vietnamese children hands. According to Adidas, robot-made shoes are different than classic shoes – though I can’t express an opinion whether they are better or worse.

    On the other hand, the Thai or Chinese hands that made your Adidas pair, did so using the same manufacturing methodology that has been used for the last 100 years. Shoe manufacturing is a typical labour-intensive process, just like shirt, pants, etc manufacturing is. In other words the primary cost of the product comes from worker labour. That’s why Adidas owns just 3 production spots in Germany and France (and we don’t even know what they those spots even produce).

    However, robot factories won’t be stealing poor Vietnamese jobs any time soon, since they will supposedly be deployed “mid-term”. Would you like me to spoon-feed to you what this means, or is the term itself enough? (Remember the Syntagma square protests, Papandreou and the “mid-term” memorandum).

    Why this widespread panic with robots, drones and terminators that has flooded the fake news outlets for the last year then?



    The Elephant in the room


    It’s been almost a decade in crisis since 2008, and while the official narrative has been trying to preserve the current status quo with duct-tape, paper clips and QE, the wide middle class of the west is deeply disappointed with it, precisely because it has slowly been sinking in anonymity. Various Tsipras, Obamas and Podemos have tried to tap into and manage this disappointment leading to the current situation.

    During this whole process, the elephant has ever been present: It was globalization, not automation that pushed the cost for businesses down during the last 25 years. This sacred beast of the post-1990 order has to be salvaged at all costs because it is the fulcrum upon which the current status quo turns. This dissonance has been there all along. What Trump did was simply wage war against the current system by leveraging the mounting public outrage against the last 8 year of Obamic destruction.


    Obama’s profile was not smeared by the fact that he was the American president that ravaged more countries than any former president. Americans don’t really give a damn about countries that they often cannot even point at on a map. Neither was his profile smeared by the fact that he was the president that deported more dirty brownies than any other president. Even if non-citizens can (unofficially) vote in some states, voters don’t usually care about non-voters.

    Obama’s main problem was that he was handed the government of the U.S. at the onset of the crisis and, 8 years later he leaves an even worse chaos behind. Dow Jones breaking one high peak after the other is yet another symptom of this chaos.

    In all honesty, there could be no better president that could perpetuate the very same policies that led to the crisis for 8 years and pass them off as solutions. The fact that he was black and had a good sense of humor were further assets to this card trick.

    Whenever he was asked about issues that were central to the middle classes, such as the jobs that were responsible for the creation and survival of those same classes, Obama would pat their back, he’d say “tough luck” and he would propose them to grab one of the new opportunities that were sprawling all around you (you fool).

    In 1997 this system worked flawlessly and the so called dot-com bubbles came to life. After those bubbles burst in 2002 the brave new market was real estate, but when this market also collapsed in 2008, the only advice Obama could offer was startups for Apple or Android apps or a kickstarters. I hope I won’t need to explain how well those ideas worked (they didn’t).

    At the same time that Obama’s recipe would fail to convince anyone of its potency, Amazon’s Bezos would multiply his fortune ten times over and he would become richer that Warren Buffet. In other words, the income divide gap in the US increased the same way Bezos’ missiles distance from the Earth’s atmosphere did. And the 4trillions that obama gave nearly directly to a small handfull of rich, (via TARP, QE and other abbreviations), didnt really help gridge this gap


    The U.S. is by no means a peaceful place. Violence is a very central part of its identity. Its Bill Clinton who puts a substantial amount of the black population in prison but it would be Obama who would break the record of mass shootings, a kind of public protest that would bloom during the service of the peace Nobelist.



    And thus we arrive to Trump, who uses this unrest to climb to the top of the system. At the same time the status quo promotes a genuinely bad candidate: Hillary. The marketing was the same that was used to push Obama to presidency. Vote for the first black president, vote for the first woman president. Hillary promises to start the third world war in public, but she’s a woman so you should vote for her if you don’t want to be smeared as a sexist.


    I won’t claim that a good candidate would win over Trump. Even though Trump was not a good candidate, he was the one that was more in touch with the political zeitgeist (and please, don’t mention Bernie. Just watch how he completely succumbed to the wills of those he was supposed to fight against).


    Identity politics are very relevant to the marketing that the Democrats and Soros (as their main sponsor) promote: Our vaginas and dicks, the color of our hair and Rights are oh, so important. Maybe I’m poor because I’m a gay. Or maybe not? Maybe patriarchy is to blame for my crappy Latte.

    The exact same clothes, when worn by Hillary are a symbol of being presidential, byt a symbol of the KKK when worn by the poor immigrant Melania ten days earlier.

    In stark contrast to this mud, Trump clearly speaks about the Elephant in the room. And you cant miss the irony of how the person who does that is a man who was known as a characteristically kitsch American from the far-away 80s.



    What the fuck dude, what do robots have to do with Trump?


    Nothing at all, besides this is exactly what we showed by deconstructing the paper of the previous article. Robots have nothing to do with Trump, or reality itself for that matter. But they serve as marketing for a very specific purpose: Convince the western middle classes that their misery for the last 10 years is wrought not by globalization, but by Amazon’s drones. Just like yet another kind of identity politics, automation and robots act as mirrors so that popular discourse will never, ever mention the Elephant.

    During Trump’s inauguration day, thousand of women protested against Trump’s misogyny. Not his program, not the custom duties that he threatens to impose, not his promise that the U.S. would stop wreaking havoc to other countries on Hillary’s whim (she did promise to do it only when it’s for the interests of the U.S. which is progress compared to Obama) but because Trump is a “misogynist”.

    The exact same technique is used with automation. The argument goes like this: There is no reason factories will return to the west because Adidas will produce shoes with robots anyway. Therefore custom duties and other measures that target globalization are completely useless. Automation is progress, and going against progress makes you by definition a deplorable Ludite. At the same time, progress is faceless. It’s not Trump’s fault or the fault of the Chinese. It’s the fault of the invisible hand of History.

    One week ago, McKinsey in Davos advertised that 1 billion jobs could get lost today due to automation. I didn’t read their paper but you needn’t be a prophet to guess at its content: If every restaurant in India has 7 dish washers then if we buy 7 dish washing machines we would only need 2 dish washers. India has 8 million restaurants, so we just nuked 40 million jobs and Bosch just found a market for all of its dish washing machines. Am I great, or am I great?



    The final days of globalization

    This is Trump’s main wager and, weirdly enough he seems to actually mean it. At the same time his opponents strive to set up the stage for yet another Maidan when the time is right. The prize is not obamacare or immigrant deportations (as we discussed, Obama holds the record already) but globalization (that is, the way the system works circa 1990) itself. The rest of the rhetoric such as what goes inside my ass, how many robots I have in my house and the color of my hair are smoke and mirrors for the ignorant indians at worst and pop-corn to pass the time at best. The reason we have been constantly bombarded with technological wonders in prime time during the last few months is because discussions regarding the Elephant are now more relevant and present than ever.



    P.S. Looking for information on the Adidas factory (the equivalent Apple one that Varoufakis was talking about still hasn’t been implemented), I came upon this amazing video. The author, after explaining how surgeons and lawyers will soon be obsolete, says that the only remaining practical occupation for humans is telling stories. I couldn’t resist not posting so much irony gathered in one place.