The proverb, ‘Many hands make light work’ happens to also be a truism. Work, laborious, tedious, unrewarding work can be made lighter if shared by more people. Today, the ticking of a technological Einsteinian clock made entirely from photonic components is forming a new dawn. Rising from the automated robotic horizon which seeks to revolutionise our working environments. Pushing so many of us into initially uncertain futures – can we retrain, regain new employment? What exactly am I going to do when the school, supermarket, and factory no longer needs me? Einstein himself needed unrewarding monotonous work. Working in a patent office enabled this scientist to unlock light’s materiality. The discovery of relativity is a good example of how the human always assumes their work to be theirs and theirs only. Which is greedy, selfish, and depressively untrue. This darkness, the darkness that extinguishes the flame of that which should be familiar. Einstein is a good example of the need to make light work. Remember, that the word genius which Albert symbolises; does not always have to be so individualistic, it can refer to a spirit or character. So, when we look at Einstein’s story, of course his own abilities shine bright, yet there was another spectrum of light at work in this physicist’s successful voyage into understanding.
He worked in a patent office dealing with many technical problems related to electrical-mechanical synchronisation. These requests for intellectual property, that were submitted by other people helped Einstein. The stream of documents fed into his thought experiments. Yes, he was the one that wrote the papers, that created the equations, but in tandem to this one should acknowledge the effect of the behaviour of others on the usually solitary system of work. Therefore, the discovery of the physicality of light led to the harnessing of the secrets of energy. The aim of this writing is then to see the aforementioned discovery as being a metaphor. Thus transforming and transferring the common alienation one experiences at work into a deeply embedded potential for work to radiate with a light of social solidarity. How is it even possible, that their exist people that steadfastly refuse to see work in this light? Why should an individual’s struggles: the struggles to pay rent, feed your children, garner recognition, and achieve happiness not be viewed as belonging to you, me, and Einstein? Let us then see this social sun’s rays burning brightly in some examples. Both, in real life circumstances and fictional formulations one will describe how work can always be brighter. Let us return to Einstein’s achievements.
One of the facts about him that is hardly touched on is his socialism, his is one of the most eloquent ways of asking why socialism? Explaining the process of capital domination as a predatory phrase in human development, science’s inability to produce ends only the means, and the prolonged existential crisis humanity has been facing. (1) This is somewhat of a repentance for Einstein because he was one of the signatory of a letter to President Roosevelt persuading him of the dangers of allowing the Germans to accumulate an atomic bomb. Resulting in the creation of the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s, and the subsequent crippling of WW2 Japan. Einstein’s support of Socialism is not just a personal confession of his own part in capital reality, but it reminds everyone today how little we have progressed from Thorstein Veblen’s ‘predatory phase’ of human development. Therefore, against the huge contemporary tsunami of monetary evils one sides with Einstein’s optimism, ‘human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.’(2) Einstein’s socialism would then be one with a deep understanding that humanity constitutes a society at once produced and consumed by the individual. Yet, here resides what is at stake: in the right talons stands Capitalism with its constant internal abuse of workers with a dead weight of devalued labour, and on the left paw rests Socialism in which workers have rights to share, access, and distribute the value of work.
‘This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.’ (3)
This lightness of work is only possible if today the living population rejects the crude oily market education of Neo-Liberalism, favouring the Renaissance ideal of Umanitas, and finding it in the contemporary German notion of Menschenkenntnis. This intuitive grasp of humankind is not some make believe leftist fantasy. No! Socialism is simply the system which fully supports the fact that you and I are animals living with the name ‘human’, and that now is a period in time simultaneously translated and shared with many millions of others.
The time we call now is like no other time before it. Right now as you the reader read this our species consistent techno-scientific advancement is on the verge of a real paradigm shift. In 1962 when Thomas Samuel Kuhn was articulating just how revolutionary science is, it is likely that he would see today as the epitome of what a shift in the paradigm looks like. (4) The birth of advanced robotic and mechanics shows this to be true. But, as Einstein shows individual brilliance often comes from a brilliant individual, yet this brilliance of the individual is as Marx and Engels understood most clearly either common or social. Since science is social, the community finds itself always in new laboratories. What remains is that these current scientists, mathematicians, and any worker for that matter makes improvements in human understanding through surpassing what came before. This is done by intuition, collaboration, and sharing what one has been lucky to experience or observe in the work of others. There exist many examples that support the sharing of work, and a subsequent liquidisation of labour value. Firstly, let us look at one which is connected to our initial subject of the science of physics, a source of marvel, and wonder.
Today, this year the international community of researchers are bringing the sun’s internal workings down to earth. They have succeeded in mastering Nuclear Fusion, and this promises clean energy. Fusing atoms together will light up our future cities with much less danger involved. However, in light of these achievements it’s very important to discuss the shadow in which this new technology has had to pass through. In 2011, Japan faced another nuclear disaster. The Fukishima Daiichi nuclear disaster showcased how nuclear decay and harnessing destruction as a form of energy production was never going to be a good idea. However, it should be said that it was a step away from the pollution of coal powered energy and a leap towards clean energy. Those that say human progress is not possible should focus deeply on this progression from skies so black the workers merely glimpsed a blue dimmed daylight to a radical potential to forever power our mass communicating societies. Nuclear history, Japan as an example of what self sacrifice means and the power of nature… society is the only thing that has allowed humans to continue growing when faced with the realities of our darkest ideology, Capitalism – a system of inauthentic existence.
The pursuit of understanding in physics needs sharing within the wider community. As we await the completion of the standard model of particle physics one demands that we take this time to dwell and ponder the uniqueness of the light we are about to generate. Some individuals lament the fact that the lights of the urban masses of humanity are polluting the natural beauty of the night sky. This is sadly true, but the engine which powers the fictional spaceship Voyager is one powered by fusion so within one hundred years humans will be star trekking, and the stars we used to see every night will be accessible once more. To reach this point and not have social coherency, not have togetherness, even after our greatest act of creation would be a travesty of such incomprehensibility it is hard to type. In the same way when one hears an esteemed scientist claim that Philosophy is dead and useless, it becomes necessary to stress that this is not helpful if ‘making light work’ is indeed our aim, our desire, our target. Philosophy in all its formulations and mutations has in its calling the subversive necessity to challenge jaded beliefs of its time, and there exists nothing more exhausted then the mantra that progress is only seen in science and technology.
Progression is not a prized possession of the latter it is instead inevitably social. Its this way this brief expression of light and labour can end by asserting, ‘though there is darkness it can not stop the rays of light emitted from the sum of social reality.’ Perfectly understood by the ancient Italian Parmenides.
‘Fr. 14 … Shining by night with alien borrowed light [darkly bright], wandering around the earth.’(5)
(1) Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? Monthly Review, Volume 9 Issue 01 (May 2009).
(4) Thomas Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions, International Encyclopaedia of Unified Science, University of Chicago, (1962, 1970)
(5) A.H. Coxon, The Fragments of Parmenides. A Critical Text with Introduction, Translation, the Ancient “Testimonia” and a Commentary (Assen – Maastricht, Van Gorcum, 1986), pp. 44 – 92.