Herein lies the radicalness – but also the strength – of what Labour proposes: automation is not to be avoided but instead embraced and repurposed for the benefit of all – most obviously through the liberation of our time.
Concretely – if automation technologies are publicly managed – in some cases by the state- in others by workers’ cooperatives – the new economy could be a ‘gateway to a new settlement between work and leisure’.
Corbyn coupled this statement with the desire that such a settlement might become a ‘springboard for expanded creativity’ – pointing towards the cultural benefits of a world with less work.
In sum suggesting a structural re-organisation of free time – i.e. enabling the possibility of working less – alongside the usual promise of better jobs – is to pursue an agenda that is both realistic and emancipatory – pragmatic and enriching.
As John Maynard Keynes understood nearly one hundred years ago the point of an economy is to distribute time and wealth so as to improve the lot of everyone.
For him the reduction of overall human labour (to around 15 hours a week on average) was an obvious consequence of an economy that is efficient – high-tech and fundamentally for the public good.
With Labour under Corbyn we are now seeing this attitude back on the mainstream political agenda.