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  • Tomislav S. Šola

Is work just a marketable good?

Even the communist regime false care for the working class was serious enough to bring, in many stats, full employment, social security and free education for all. Be that "equal distribution of poverty” as it was belittlingly called in the West or true advancement of social contract, remains to be judged. The ideological experiment failed, but to stay on positive side, it was true that the daily framework guaranteed security of citizens, low criminal rate. Bureaucracy had little understanding of both sides of the labour but tried to create some positive aura about it. The workers started the day (I take a Czech example) , by saying "čest práci", or honour to work. To us who know that robotization adds reasons to the constant rise of unemployment their slogan "Nechme dřinu strojům", which meant, let's leave the hard work to the machines is another naïve call. The machine was then still perceived as a means for easier life, - not for a bigger profit. As past should be a teacher, I would suggest that this clumsy strive to respect labour be reintroduced into society, at least as an ideal not realized but worth the effort. Yet the chances that on would pull out without being proclaimed a ("bloody") communist are infinitesimal. Too bad, because what is at stake is only deciding what are the long-term priorities in automatisation and social contract. If the answer is profit which goes to the minority of owners (however socialized stock market may appear by its widening circle of stakeholders), then technology is basically wrongly positioned.

I am painfully aware that any discourse which seems political and engaged, may sound awkwardly to any expert thrilled by the formidable richness of scientific research one can find reasons for when about industrial archaeology. Yet, myself being, in comparison to such feverish researchers, a mere interested citizen (curiously, so much like any of the visitors they depend upon when industrial archaeology is turned into museums, interpretation centres, visitor centres and sites),- I would plead for a research and issuing interpretation that would imply full context, majority of circumstances and full scope of social, psychologic and political consequences. Then the communication, as two way process, - indeed an exchange, becomes possible.

If conceived conservatively, industrial archaeology omits completely the present, making, - again, the channel of communication narrow and impenetrable. Why museums could not explain all the vocabulary (free trade, free trade zones, outsourcing, layoffs, technological surplus...) and meaning of other daily phrases that seemingly explain to the "masses", through "mass media" - their proper, only future. By the way, “mass” and “working masses” was a term so much criticized as a communist slighting of human beings let alone citizens, but it was actually less used than now. Or, provocatively, may we conclude that corporations prefer to be undisturbed by public opinion and that scientists and curators prefer to be undisturbed in their sinecures? We have learned that prefix "free" denotes a positive value, but nobody tells for whom and which way we suffer this "freedom".

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