American Samizdat

Friday, February 20, 2009. *
There is no phrase in biz lingo more insidious, odious, and degrading than "human resources". Every company has a department with that title (or outsources its functions). Such departments used to be called "Personnel" or "Employment". Pretty neutral and innocuous, I think. Then, I guess, somebody came up with the bright idea that putting "human" in the title modernized the concept and/or made it more, well . . . "humane". Just the opposite, I'm afraid. It's that concept of "resource" that really singes my socks . . .

I was born in California in the late 40s. Pretty early on it was just my dad (a school teacher) and myself. We lived and I grew up in a series of communities, some of them in the northern rural part of the state and others that were in Sacramento, Stockton, San Francisco, and Eureka. These communities were called "neighborhoods" and our friends were, well, "friends".

I left California in 1960 and returned to the Bay Area as a 40-something. I found out that "friends" were now "networks" and neighborhoods had turned into "bases". I was a "human resources and organizational developer". I lasted two and a half years.

I think of a resource as "something that is used". If I can't use it, it has no value to me. It is, therefore, very difficult for me to think of a human as a resource, because I don't "use" him or her. S/he has value, whether I need her or him for something specific or not. From time to time, there might be things that a person might give me or do for or with me that may benefit me, but that, as they say, is icing on the cake. I understand that not everyone feels that way, but that makes me sad.

Corporations, with their nasty tentacles wrapped around the very genitals of "democratic capitalist" government have the legal status of "persons." But they're not human. To corporations, then, we humans are their resources, like oil and sand and meat-cattle. We're stuff. A corporation uses stuff it needs to make other stuff and/or money. Don't need it, no value.

We humans can be bothersome stuff, however. We can be pretty high maintenance. We have the aggravating habit of reminding corporations that we have some basic rights and basic needs. We can make things messy, especially since we gave some of us stuff to the grinding wheels of the corporation and didn't get much of a return from it. The folks who manage and own corporations took us stuff and kept a lot of it. And now, they say, a lot of us stuff they took just kinda disappeared. So now . . . We. Are. Less. Stuff. Messy, as I said.

Something pretty serious has happened as the capitalist monster has gone around devouring stuff in its slash and burn and gobble juggernaut. You see, for awhile now it's been depending on "play money" to fund its gluttony: I guess we usually call that "credit" - you know, fly now, pay later. The fantasy was that later would never come. But it did, because people started playing too hard with play money and the game collapsed. So now, none of the corporations can afford stuff and we stuff can't afford ourselves. Oops. We end up being not such hot stuff, after all.

The question of whether we can "recover" and put everyone back to work is hereby moot. As a writer calling himself "edutrain" writes at Socyberty,
in "Can Capitalism Survive?" . . .
Collapse 2008

Western capitalism collapsed in 2008. It is still with us, a very lame duck, because governments, mainly in the USA and Europe, bailed it out - by pouring £ Billions into bankrupt banks.

Why did they do this? Their answer is that, without government support, banks and the economy would have collapsed.

But there is no evidence that anybody, except the bankers (who continue to pay £&$ Billions in bonuses), have benefited. Companies collapse, and people lose their homes - because they are refused the loans which the banks, when they received government funds, agreed (we are told) to arrange.

It is obvious that capitalism, which we are told, consistently, is a model for us all to follow, cannot "stand on its own two feet". Despite the £&$ (and Euro) Billions already provided, the banking system is still extremely shaky . . .
The author goes on to suggest that state socialism is the next step, while at Global Research, Professor Michael Hudson explains:
In periods of looming collapse, wealthy elites protect their funds like rats fleeing a sinking ship. In times past they bought gold when currencies started to weaken. (Patriotism never has been a characteristic of cosmopolitan finance capital.) Since the 1950s the International Monetary Fund has made loans to support Third World exchange rates long enough to subsidize capital flight. In the United States over the past half-year, bankers and Wall Street investors have tapped the Treasury and Federal Reserve to support prices of their bad loans and financial gambles, buying out or guaranteeing $12 trillion of these junk debts. Protection for the U.S. financial elite thus takes the form of domestic public debt, not foreign currency.
It is all in vain as far as the real economy is concerned. When the Treasury gives banks newly printed government bonds in “cash for trash” swaps, it leaves today’s unpayably high private-sector debt in place. All that happens is that this debt is now owed to (or guaranteed by) the government, which will have to impose taxes to pay the interest charges.
The new twist is a variant on the IMF “stabilization” plans that lend money to central banks to support their currencies – for long enough to enable local oligarchs and foreign investors to move their savings and investments offshore at a good exchange rate. The currency then is permitted to collapse, enabling currency speculators to rake in enough gains to empty out the central bank’s reserves. Speculators view these central bank holdings as a target to be raided – the larger the better. The IMF will lend a central bank, say, $10 billion to “support the currency.” Domestic holders will flee the currency at a high exchange rate. Then, when the loan proceeds are depleted, the currency plunges. Wages are squeezed in the usual IMF austerity program, and the economy is forced to earn enough foreign exchange to pay back the IMF . . .

Today it is easier to see that the Western economies cannot go on the way they have been. They have reached the point where the debts exceed the ability to pay. Instead of recognizing this fact and scaling debts back into line with the ability to pay, the Obama-Geithner plan is to bail out the big banks and hedge funds, keeping the volume of debt in place and indeed, growing once again through the “magic of compound interest.” The result can only be an increasingly extractive economy, until households, real estate and industrial companies, states and cities, and the national government itself is driven into debt peonage . . .
I'm no economist, believe me. So I've got some questions . . .

Socialized or not, if there's no money around, what becomes of us stuff and our stuff? Do we just do away with money and give everybody the stuff they need? Capitalism has been based on the right of every individual to choose what "need" means. Will humans be able to accept what we "need" instead of what we "want"?

From the point of view of the corporatist, the relationship of the "human resource" to the corporation is that the corporation provides money for the human resource's work so that the human resource can keep its stuff together well enough to continue being a resource.

But this relationship is broken, it appears. So if state socialism is the answer, the state is now burdened with keeping stuff going to maintain and produce stuff and around and round, and round. Dizzy? I certainly am.

The vertigo gets critical when the technology of The Computational Singularity and Trans- and Post-Humanism are added to the mix. Again, from the point of view of the corporatist, these just may lead to a situation where, well, they don't need us stuff so much anymore. We have no value - at least as we're presently constituted. Or, at the very worst, our value is only to be enslaved to the ruling class in order to pay their debt.

One conclusion to all this is simple: the rulers don't really need us. We're just useless at best, a drag and hindrance to total control at worst. Is there not a direct correlation between the amount of money one has and the number of people one needs?

Still the most popularly unexamined interrelated phenomena on the planet are eugenics, robotics, and trans/posthumanism. In our present circumstances, they are inseparable. The new eugenics movement calls for population reduction through decreasing birth rates in general and especially in "defective" humans (read "the poor" and the genetically "at risk"). Poor and "sick" humans, as far as eugenicists are concerned, are the most useless stuff, and even redirect resources to keeping that stuff around.

In addition to supporting population reduction, the most quickly developing trend is the integration of eugenics with robotics in population control. I do not use "control" as a synonym for "stabilization" or "reduction" here. I mean it as a mechanism for keeping stuff (read "angry, unruly mass mobs of 'left out' humans threatening ruler's wealth and power).

In collusion with both academic and applied science, DARPA and other government-ensured entities have become very advanced in developing crowd control and battlefield weapons systems that increase the power of the owners and users while reducing risk to the same. Witness . . .
DARPA, AI and Super Tanks

The U.S. Super Research arm of the Department of Defense is at it again with another psychotic addition to its maniacal wish list of super deadly and undefeatable weapons, namely the self-aware AI robot mega-tank.

Pentagon chiefs have announced that they would like some self-aware computer systems capable of “meta-reasoning” and “introspection”. The plan is to place these machine intelligences in command of heavily armed, well-nigh invulnerable robotic tanks.

This latest plan for humanity’s subjugation comes, of course, from DARPA - the agency believed to harbour the largest known group of lifelike people-simulant robots piloted from within by tiny, malevolent space lizard infiltrators in the entire US federal government.

The plan is called Self-Explanation Learning Framework (SELF). It is being handled by Dr Mike Cox of DARPA’s renowned Information Processing Technology Office . . .
And we all know about Predators and other aerial drones, used by the Obama administration for surveillance, as well as for unmanned missile strikes in Pakistan.

Furthermore, at the point that artificial intelligence meets and exceeds human intelligence (the "computational singularity") robots will have the capability of sentience, learning, and self replicating. The US Navy has already spoken of the need for codes and systems which protect against robots actually turning on their human creators.

Finally, although it is the therapeutic value of nano/bio-tech advances which get all the PR these days, the implications of the potential for body/mind invasion of molecular enemies are frightening. Imagine mandated vaccine programs secretly designed to also inject genetically-spiked molecular substances which radically influence brain neurochemistry or which are deadly viruses.

Carolyn Harris, writing at War is Crime in January ("Genetic Engineering: Turning Humanity into Slaves") has more details on all of these themes, and I strongly recommend her piece.

In short, the great danger is that "posthuman resources" is quickly becoming more valuable, and perhaps controllable stuff than human resources. If I were you, I'd be very suspicious of that cute nannybot cyborg you want to watch your kids while you're out shopping . . .

Be at and about peace.

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Originally posted at P!
posted by Unknown at 11:33 AM
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