The typical story that the left tells about the relative decline of the American working class is that it was the outcome of inevitable technological and historical processes. You can see many of the shells of old factories all around the “rust belt” yourself. Formerly great industrial cities like Detroit have become ruins with governance more typical of war-torn African countries than those you would expect in the West in the matter of few short decades.
The claims about the ‘obsolescence’ of industrial work are entirely false. There’s still an enormous amount of mass industrial labor going on. It just happens in Asia, with Asians doing the work for the pay that is appropriate for their jobs. This has happened repeatedly, especially since the 1970s, as the United States has made it harsher and harsher for businesses that have anything to do with the physical world to create businesses here that employ people.
If ‘automation’ has resulted in mass unemployment, then why does Foxconn employ so many goddamned people in their factories? Why are there so many factories in South Korea manufacturing items like televisions which America used to lead the world in? Why do Japanese auto makers enjoy an advantage in an industry America once lead?
The answer is that they employ so many people because it’s legal to do so, economical, and effective, even when it’s thousands of miles and an ocean away from the final market for the products that they manufacture. American entrepreneurs take long flights, endure language, cultural, and legal barriers, pay enormous shipping fees, and deal with irritating port problems because the legal environment in the US is so harsh for manufacturing.
If it can be said to have an ‘environmental impact,’ then it’s usually better to do it overseas, unless it’s absolutely necessary for the process to be completed near the final point of sale (such as meat or dairy processing). Any business that employs large numbers of people must also comply with diversity legislation and a host of other labor regulations.
In China, when a regulator doesn’t like you, he just has you shot and takes your factory. This is relatively straightforward compared to how the Americans will treat you if you try to start a factory here, if they even permit you to do so without bribing a dozen different alphabet agencies and the local politicians besides. Better a bullet in the base of the brain than a decade of your life wasted in court. At least that’s direct and honest.
American progressives have a certain ideal aesthetic for work. It doesn’t involve the working class, whom they loathe and consider to be deficient. They hate working class life patterns, they hate working class workplaces, they hate dirty factories, and basically anyone who doesn’t work in the realm of ideas and spreadsheets. Those industries they pretend are either outmoded or morally deficient, and push them into foreign countries.
Bourgeois Americans tend to be relatively happy with this state of affairs. Fewer factories mean for cleaner air, fewer strange smells, and a society that has largely pushed those social roles onto foreigners whom they never see. They never have to fear their children winding up working in factories, because all those jobs belong to foreigners now. They instead push their children, even the stupid ones, into college in the hopes of winning white collar jobs in business or the bureaucracy.
But dirty jobs still need to be done. The left has long since abandoned the pretense of being the friend of the working class, whom they have transformed into a handout-class of dependents, deprived of pride, honor, family, culture, and independent livelihoods. The promise of labor legislation was that it would lead to better quality of life for the working class. Instead it has lead to lumpen-prolification, and a further spiritual diminishment, even as the physical infrastructure in the country becomes more hideous, useless, and inefficient over time.
Hand-workers and technicians are not somehow worse than white collar workers. Many of them are capable of earning large salaries, because their productivity is worth quite a lot to their employers. What most people tend to think of as the ‘progress’ of the 20th century has often really been an enormous regression, redefined into goodness.
People on the right should not shrug their shoulders at the needs of the lower orders of people for meaningful, productive work. Knowing that they can’t be made into high-end ‘knowledge workers’ by education alone (because intelligence has biological roots), we ought to aim to roll back bureaucratized nature-worship and throw away the fossilized legislation of the New Deal both — without turning the country into an industrial sewer in the process.