How could one subtly say that accusations have a tendency to turn back upon the accuser?By making an artwork consisting of boomerangs, of course! In the magnificent Museo de las Bellas Artes at the Parque 13 de Marzo in Havana, one can admire such an artwork, dated 1995 and entitled ‘Teoria del Transito’, by Abel Barroso from the town of Pinar del Rio (born 1970). Seeing that Cuba is always in an accusatory mood, the boomerangs in the artwork are many. But the boomerangs from Miami are also many, so that from the exchange a synthetical transition is bound to emerge.
Of course, we don’t know if we have interpreted this artwork as intended. Its message is veiled. Open criticism of the regime is rare. In the museum we did not see any of it. Artists are afraid of the boomerang-effect of criticism. So, even art is not free in Cuba. And what is art, if not free?
Another prominent artwork we had occasion to visit during an interruption of our march, is the Havana Christ-statue. It stands on top of a hill overlooking the Bay of Havana (on the ‘Casablanca’ side, opposite Havana Vieja). When we arrived, we were disappointed to see it being commercially exploited by the State and decided to leave. On a building-wall next to the Christ-statue one can read a quote from Fidel Castro, apparently dating from 1963. In translation it reads: ‘A Revolution is a force stronger than Nature’. Coincidence, or another boomerang?
The spiritual pursuit and the liberal arts (music, art, literature, philosophy, cinema, theatre etc.) take time. In Greek and Roman times only the slave-owners had the leisure to dedicate themselves to these luxury activities. Following the Industrial Revolution and the abolition of slavery, this privilege was mostly reserved for the capital owners, i.e. those people who owned the ‘means of production’ (land, farms, factories, shops etc.). With the introduction of the minimum-wage and the 40-hour week in the 20th century (made possible by the increasing productive use of technology), a window of opportunity opened for a wider public. But even today it remains a luxury most people just cannot afford, nor have the time for.
In a solidarist society, art without freedom is unthinkable. Not only freedom of expression, but also in the sense of having enough free time (and money) to express oneself artistically and/or to enjoy the art produced by others. Time spent on these pursuits Kelso called ‘leisure work’. He was aware that his proposals would accelerate the development of mechanization, automation and robotics. And also that this would fulfill the process, which had started with the Industrial Revolution, leading to an ever diminishing role (time-wise, that is) for labor in the productive process and thus more free time for leisure work.
Technology, friend or foe?
That is why Kelso took pains to explain that the concept of ‘productivity’ in mainstream economic theory was deficient, because it is labor-based and ignores the fact that by now capital is at least 10 times as important as labor in the productive process. Which means that unless one becomes a co-owner of capital (i.e. a co-owner of the robots that do most of the work), one will forever be marginalized as a laborer (cf. our earlier articles entitled: ‘The incredible story of the man, the donkey & the truck’).
Many workers instinctively know this, because nearly daily they have to compete with technology, which is forever threatening their jobs. That is why they try to resist the introduction of technological advances, often even agreeing to lower wages just to avoid being made redundant. Kelso pointed out to them:
a) that such resistance is imprudent as man could not survive without technology;
b) that such resistance is futile for in the end they would lose the battle against technology anyway, and
c) - more importantly - that there is a way in which everybody could share in the advantages of the wonderful ability of technology to do the hard manual work which even animals dislike, and nowadays to even do the burdensome intellectual work which dulls the human mind.
This way, of course, is the diffusion of capital ownership (i.e. the ownership of the robots that do most of the work) among the entire population. To that end Kelso designed a number of financial instruments which do just that, i.e. diffuse capital ownership. And he designed them in such a way that it would not be necessary to take from the rich. That would boomerang! Instead, they are designed to share (accelerated) future economic growth. This way - which forms the economic basis of Solidarism - the workers will gradually become co-owners of technology and will no longer view it as a foe who takes away their jobs, but as a friend who does the necessary dull work for them. And this will give them both the time and the required second income from capital to dedicate themselves to leisure work, which will inevitably boomerang into ever advancing new technologies to further make life easier and more enjoyable for all humankind.