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The following article appeared in Left Business Observer #75, December 1996. It was written by Doug Henwood, editor and publisher. It retains its copyright and may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form - print, electronic, facsimile, anything - without the permission of LBO.

Another article on this topic, "Work and its future," is also on this site.

Aronowitz' critique of this article - which he admits in his letter that he hadn't read - appears at the end of this page.


How jobless the future?

A few issues ago, LBO looked at some projections about the future of work - giddily optimistic from cybertopians, and relentlessly pessimistic from Jeremy Rifkin. Both were found wanting. Since the pessimistic line won't die - you can hardly go to any left gathering these days without hearing it in some form or other - let's revisit it, this time by examining the claims of Rifkin's Doppelganger, The Jobless Future, by Stanley Aronowitz and William DiFazio.

Aronowitz, of course, is most recently famous as one of the parties responsible for Social Text's publication of Alan Sokal's hoax article, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity." Sokal's article quoted Aronowitz and other heavies in the science studies field to make an argument that literally made no sense. Aronowitz, scholar of science that he is, had no idea that he was being duped. Now he denies having had much to do with the piece's acceptance, even though sources around Social Text say he was an enthusiastic advocate of publishing Sokal; instead, Stanley is gallantly blaming his colleague Andrew Ross. But there's no need to review this history here; it's been well-covered in Lingua Franca, among other places.


Rotten foundation

Aronowitz also considers himself an expert on labor, and views The Jobless Future as a sequel to his 1988 tome, Science as Power. Science and labor meet in the modern job market: technology is