In an age where the growth of information has prompted the creation of countless different specializations in the various different industries that make up the American economy, it is easy to forget where all these innovations and technologies came from. In the feudal systems of earlier centuries, science and technology was primarily advanced by the wealthy children of the bourgeois, who could afford the education necessary to learn about the material world and who had the free time only afforded to the idle rich at that point to experiment further. During this era, discoveries were often made through quite literally fucking around, as seen in the experimental electrical parties that Benjamin Franklin hosted and in the lonesome nights that Copernicus and Galileo spent in their homes staring at the stars through telescopes that cost fortunes. While we credit the Rennaissance with the birth of science, it wasn’t until centuries later during the Industrial Revolution and the resulting specialization of careers, in which proletarians could acquire far more wealth than they could previously, that we truly saw the boundaries of science not only begin to be implemented in mass technologies but begin to be primarily advanced by a far larger and more motivated portion of the population. 20th century America’s Fordism period ushered in an unending wave of innovation, in which well-paid proletarians could increasingly afford to educate their children, who in turn used their knowledge to create more efficient and productive technologies that could net their companies’ competitive advantages in the marketplace. Unlike the accidental and one-off innovations of the idle rich of yesteryear, the innovations of the 20th century were largely made by workers, most of who were American proletarians who now had access to comprehensive educations and had both the resources and incentives to invest in pursuing the widescale adoption of new technologies. Given that the economic output of a country rests primarily on labor productivity, the American model of economic growth worked throughout most of the 20th century in an environment where education, healthcare, and other costs like transportation were far lower than they are today, in which proletarians had the leftover resources to conduct R+D on their own and had access to marketplaces not dominated by corporations. While the progression of science in feudal times largely rested on the coincidental discoveries made by European aristocrats and American bourgeois, in which the material incentives for developing industrial technologies out of these discoveries were minimized by the comforts already afforded to the leisure class, by the heyday of Western industrialization it seemed that the premier substrate for innovations and technologies to sprout from was discovered in the basements and garages of the American middle class. In this article, we’re going to look at ways in which we can recreate the optimal substrate for technological growth that we discovered in the 20th century, as well as analyze why making proletarians the center of innovation benefits society in many other ways socially and culturally.
While it might seem strange for a socialist website such as ours to champion garage-bound innovators, the fact of the matter was that in Fordist America allowing the pursuit of progress to be democratized so much, that even people who could only afford to work out of their garages could take part in the economic process, America had access to far more intellectual resources than anyone else in the 20th century. Not every genius is born rich and for the many that aren’t, especially in societies where education costs a fortune and going into business for yourself without bourgeois connections is impossible, we see a severe underutilization of their talents by the nations that they reside in. When we look at many of the more aristocratic countries in the world, like India for example, we see that the caste system has largely stunted the nation’s ability to develop as fast as it should have, not only putting India at an enormous competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world but also creating a society in which for a very large portion of the population, trying at anything more than serving as a cog in the machinery is pointless. While you may point out that Indians can and do regularly go into business for themselves in India, it should be said that market stalls and gig economy jobs do not drive innovation and in severely restricting the proletarians’ social mobility, to the point that education and the subsequent homegrown R+D process can’t occur, a country severely restricts its own growth. The problem with capitalism, as a system in which profits are maximized and costs are externalized as much as possible, is that unless the market is well-regulated by an administrative state, the incentives to innovate for corporations aren’t much better than the Marxist-Leninist states that pour their resources into pointless vanity projects. This is because for the dominant market actors, scientific innovation and technological development only benefit them if it enlarges their market share, and when we look at corporate capitalism with its countless market boundaries that allow firms to specialize in controlling their own niche corners of the market, it’s easy to see that capitalist markets wind up uncompetitive very quickly. When we look at the latter half of the 20th century in special places like Silicon Valley, where the sons of government engineers and other well-paid proletarians could afford to get educations and start business ventures in garages that sought to advance nascent fields like computers, we see several commonalities:
- The fields that these garage innovators sought to get into were completely undeveloped and ripe for exploration by pioneering thinkers, many of whom found themselves intellectually constrained by the bureaucracies of larger and more traditional organizations that would’ve otherwise employed them.
- These garage innovators were almost entirely raised in middle or upper middle class households that had the room in their households to allow for workspaces to exist and had the resources to educate their children.
- These garage innovators were almost entirely raised by educated parents, who not only passed on their more intellectually competitive genes to their children, but also instilled in them sets of secular and scientific values that would be impossible to find in more traditional countries like Saudi Arabia and India.
- The pragmatic, technical, and critical thinking enshrined by the administrative state in Cold War America created a culture for these children to develop in that encouraged productivity and scientific inquiry. These children were largely raised by parents who in many cases were participants in the Space Race and other international scientific and military competitions, where brains were the most competitive assets that the nation could cultivate.
- The reigning economic powers of this time period were technology-based companies and government agencies, as opposed to the financial institutions that dominate our economic landscape today. The proletarians ogf mid to late 20th century America were intimately tied to production and innovation in their workplaces, with far more knowledge about how their world worked than we have today.
While it may seem that America is well past this point in time, as a country on the decline in both intelligence quotients and scientific focus, the destruction of our scientific substrate is more a result of the system that arose in America following the end of the Cold War. While Reaganomics ushered in a wave of market liberalizations that saw Wall Street grow to become the dominant force in America, it wasn’t until America lost the Soviet Union as an enemy that it began to unravel culturally and politically, in a world where it no longer had external forces that pushed it to remain internationally competitive. The unity provided by a common enemy, once the Soviet Union disappeared, was replaced by a political polarization that championed diverging and extreme values, left unmoderated in a country that seemingly no longer had to conform to reality in order to be successful. In a world where international scientific competitions had ceased to be a thing, where trade alliances and international deals took on greater importance than innovation itself, where tax loopholes determined a country’s wealth more than any actual productivity, the values that helped to cultivate the Cold War generation of Garage Innovators have long since become absent in modern society as the material and social conditions have changed so much since that era. While science has certainly become more sophisticated, requiring ever greater levels of education to contribute to pioneering fields in, and the barriers to entry have only risen as the machinery required to compete in modern markets have become only more expensive, the fact of the matter is that just because the system’s requirements have changed doesn’t mean that the values that worked in the prior system were inferior. While many chalk up the crisis of the 21st century to being one of cultural conflicts or declining birth rates, I see the erosion of America’s scientific substrate as having far wider implications going forwards, as technologies create a far more lasting impact on history, as opposed to cultures, which as I’ve previously implied in this paragraph, can transform completely from decade to decade as systems and incentives change. While the intelligence quotient of America on average may continue to decline and the cultural homogeneity of America continues to be supplanted by a mishmash of hostile and backwards cultures, as long as we can maintain bastions of scientific substrate from which innovation can blossom, the nation can continually enrich itself even while it degrades in every other way. While I am not extolling the values of ignoring other problems in society at all or condoning the creation of culturally isolated cities full of scientists and innovators separated from an America otherwise in decline, I am saying that the enormous wealth and innovation birthed by 20th century America’s scientific substrate is of the variety that far outweighs any of the temporary degeneracy seen in the rest of capitalist society. While culture is temporary, merely emerging and subsiding over time as economic trends evolve, technology is almost always forever, and in identifying what created America’s optimal substrate for technology, we can look into ways in which we can recreate the conditions that gave rise to it.
While I can go the typical blog route here of highlighting the problems, while offering zero solutions and essentially bitching about how society doesn’t conform to my ideals, with this being a DSMG article, you know that’s not going to be the case. When we look at solutions to the problems here, it is important to break down the solutions into two varieties, with the first variety being solutions that can be achieved in a non-ideal but cooperative political climate, while the second variety being solutions that can be achieved in an ideal political climate (which in a case of obvious bias, DMSG believes to be Surplus Statism.) The two varieties are listed below:
The Non-Ideal but Cooperative Political Climate Variety: In the event that no regime change occurs in America and major political trends continue to divide the country rather than create any lasting changes, the best that can hoped to be achieved in America is that the government, in operating agencies large enough to employ significant portions of towns in which their branches exist, can create more isolated areas full of proletarians who can comfortably afford homes and raise children. Similarly, in the way that NASA’s engineers in the Bay Area gave rise to the garage innovators of yesteryear, these small scientific communities might be able to afford the same opportunities for their children, should the parents be frugal enough and invest their savings into college accounts. While the rest of the nation may continue to culturally degenerate, while prices for the necessities of middle class life like secondary education and healthcare may continue to skyrocket, there exists the chance that in these small towns where government branches take root that the scientific spirit may live on, albeit in a much more muted manner. While it is unavoidable that many of these children would be contaminated with the degenerative values of late-stage capitalism and hate-stage democracy, it is possible that others would exist that would be resistant to this cultural indoctrination and would prefer rationality and performance over what was politically trendy. Just as DMSG evolved out of several groups in different universities throughout the West Coast, all of whom despised the progressivism that had infected their campuses, it is possible that similar organizations and ventures would arise in these scientific isolates captained by people equally resistant to indoctrination. With American firms grappling with politicking and infighting more than innovation as their established market boundaries continue to foster stagnation, this climate of distraction may allow young, educated people raised in these scientific isolates to outmaneuver the established firms of their generations, just as Microsoft outmaneuvered Xerox and Apple outmaneuvered IBM in the past.
When we look at the decline of American workers’ purchasing power, real wages, and benefits, as well as the lowering intelligence quotients of the American population, it can argued that in the future, as the American population… uh… continues to change, that American firms will begin to bring back manufacturing and other more labor-intensive industries as the broader workforce here devolves in capability and labor becomes cheaper to source domestically. In a country without homogeneity, where race relations are deliberately antagonized by the political parties, the unionization rate of these new workplaces will be practically nonexistent in comparison to similar workplaces in the past here. The children born in the previously mentioned scientific isolates, where the technical workers of government agencies still reside, may find that starting brick-and-mortar businesses is easier than it was in prior generations, as labor costs are far lower and manufacturing facilities don’t need to be sourced from abroad. When we consider this dynamic, where the productive and educated children that are reared in these scientific isolates find themselves uniquely suited for management in the more economically and socially primitive areas throughout the rest of the country, it may be the case that over time we will once again see established firms uprooted by the future garage innovators, who unlike their forebears, exist almost in a different caste when compared to their proletarian counterparts raised outside of these scientific communities. Apart from these scientific communities, bastions of the traditional middle class may still exist where specialized employees that work for natural monopoly industries exist, such as in areas with heavier concentration of medical and utility facilities, but these people won’t be so isolated from the general degradation that the rest of America endures as the employees of government agencies in small towns will be.
Overall, considering the mounting material shortages and the collapsing of global trade, it is unknown how the future looks. Should the world continue to pursue the business-as-usual model outlined in MIT’s study, “Limits to Growth,” while the dual forces of shortages and supply chain collapses continue to mount, it is only natural that America would gradually reindustrialize in due time as its wealth diminished by no small measure. While this may seem like a fantastical scenario, I think its relatively realistic considering that for all intents and purposes, automation in the physical aspects of the economy has come about far slower than anticipated in the recent years, while analytical workers like engineers find themselves increasingly estranged in a society consumed by emotions and pettiness. This culture of estrangement, carried over to communities where larger amounts of the town were raised to be rational and were educated in technical matters on top of that, could foster cohesive cultures of their own, where children would find themselves raised on the same blend of 20th century enlightenment values that gave rise to the internet, rocketry, and a host of other cutting-edge technologies. While the labor aristocracies of the 20th century would most likely not be replicated in this arrangement given the fractured cultural landscape of an even more diverse America, scientific progress would continue to be advanced at a steady pace by an upper middle class of specialized American proletarians, who’d have access to manufacturing facilities domestically to affordably implement their ideas in ways that generations immediately following the Cold War could never have hoped to have in their prime years.
Note: this is on the assumption that affirmative action does continue to not completely derail the hiring process for technical roles in the government. If the scientists and technical workers come to have 80 IQs on average and were rewarded their positions not on merit but out of having a politically trendy set of intangible characteristics, well, we’re fucked. At that point, look at ditching America. Additionally, this is based on suspending the fact that the destruction of America’s culture would completely disrupt the functions of the American government, most likely upending whatever infrastructural organizations and federal agencies continued to survive. This is a simplistic best-case scenario, that strictly only considers technological progress and broader economic outlooks, while dismissing the majority of peoples’ declining living standards and societal problems as irrelevant.
The Ideal Political Climate Variety: [awaiting agreed-upon statement as of February 4th. Will edit very shortly once rewriting and accommodations have been made for this section.]