Some thoughts on reading The hot young teacher they hired instead and Tom Hoffman's response
There is a difference b/w monopoly skills (a worker being indispensable) and general adaptability skills (being flexible enough to "go with the flow" on the job). The former is allowed but never fully recognised, the latter is essential to the ongoing continuity or reproducibility of the system.
Monopoly skills, indispensability, is anathema to capitalism. Sooner or later all workers have to be replaced.
Some creative workers may develop monopoly, indispensable skills. For example, a brilliant English teacher may develop outstanding skills in developing, delivering and assessing a course in Holocaust literature (well worth reading). But when it comes to the ongoing continuity of the system this does not count. The cheaper replacement teacher does not have to have these indispensable skills. In the final analysis creativity does not count, the system does not like it.
This is implicit in teacher training courses, which have a requirement of general skill level and adaptability but not brilliance or excellence in any particular area. Exceptional creativity just does scale in a system or sausage factory of mass production. And when this transfers to on the job skills then hard work - to the point of modern day slavery, not having a real life outside the job, see Martha Infante's ridiculous comment which triggered Tom's rage - and adaptability, being able to do a wide range of different tasks to a good enough standard, are more valued than deep creative brilliance.
The ongoing historical trend of the dynamics of capitalist production is in the direction of deskilling, simplifying and where possible human labour being converted into machine labour.
David Harvey has a great section in his book Limits to Capital, Ch 4.2 The Labour Process, where he explains Marx's words about the social process that goes on behind the backs of producers which reduces skilled to simple labour.
It is true that brilliant, creative individuals such as Mark Shuttleworth, Paul Graham, Nicholas Negroponte or Brewster Kahle can make personal fortunes by creating and selling their inventions to capitalists and then using their wealth for the public good, more or less. The system cannot eliminate creativity completely. Other brilliant individuals make fortunes as entertainers in sport or music. The system also needs to keep us entertained and distracted. A deeper analysis would require a further elaboration of these categories. But I believe the general trend is clear, as illustrated by Beth Aviv's tale. These issues are also raised by Tom Friedman's book The World is Flat, where he talks about plain vanilla jobs being exported to the developing world through globalization and that to retain your job in the industrialised world you need to develop some special, indispensible skills. However, David Harvey takes this analysis further than Friedman.
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