Basically asserts, HUMAN-LABOR, to obtain their means of subsidence, originally imposed by nature, is the ROOT CAUSE OF HUMAN EXPLOITATION. It results in inequality, injustice, corruption etc. Therefore, along with technological advancement, a gradual reduction in working hours intended, to completely ending it with an EQUITABLE Universal Basic Income (UBI) marks the beginning of NO LABOUR/WORK COMPULSION on people, the essence of Zero Work Theory (ZWT), for FUTURE HUMAN SOCIETY.
The original Zero Work
Theory (ZWT), under a long title: “An
ALTERNATIVE to Marxian Scientific Socialism – The Theory Reduction in Working
Hours - A Demand 6 Hour Working Day”; was published in the year 1981. The objective was, to present an alternative
to Marxian Socialism or Communism. It claims that the world working class population
needs a new theory because the Marxian Socialism/Communism utterly failed them as
it completely ignores the fundamental aspects of labor exploitation on the
working population, which wreak havoc in their everyday life, including the UNEMPLOYMENT. Moreover, Marxism could not foresee the rapid
development of science and technologies of the future especially the
exponential growth in the field of Artificial Intelligent (AI) ROBOTS that
going to replace most human labor, due to the rapid forces progress of the
productive forces the human labor soon will become REDUNDANT within a couple of
Having this historical
perspective in the 1980’s, this theory foresaw that the historical mission of
the laboring population" is to
gradually reduce working hours step by step. When the working hours finally
reduced to zero, there will be no more need of human wage-labor in the social
production therefore, the society requires new system to distribute the
economic income. That is why my theory at this point also professes that every
citizen of the world must receive an Adequate Universal Basic Income (AUBI) in
order to lead a healthy, comfortable, secure life. Thereby, the historic
compulsion of wage-labor, to obtain food and shelter, would end. My revised
name for this theory is "Zero Work Theory" (ZWT).
Why does the
Zero Work Theory want to abolish paid (wage) labor?
According to the theory,
“The basic relationship of workers to their LABOR” comes from the
COMPULSION" in order to obtain the “means of subsistence”, in the form of
food, shelter, clothing, health, education, comforts etc. Humans MUST work, it
is not a choice but a necessity. Originally, nature imposed the need to work,
on humans in general, which allows a strong minority of the population to
exploit (oppress, subjugate etc.) the weaker majority of the population to work
for them due to various reasons. It enables the powerful, to obtain a portion
of the products or “value” of the majority’s labor and become rich. This
exploitation of labor is the root-cause of most social injustice: poverty,
crime, etc. Therefore, as the labor productivity rises and the NEED for labor
decreases, the society as a whole should engage in a step-by-step reduction in
work hours to continually re-balance the labor value distribution to prevent
the widening the income gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. It should all finally end into the Zero
Working Day. It is the REAL FREEDOM or
liberation for the entire human race from its historical compulsion, adversity;
the drudgery of LABOR. The complete
elimination of the last remnant of historical human labor bondage or
SLAVERY. Thereby, to establish a truly
Democratic, humanitarian and equitable socio-economic system.
consider Labor as "COMPULSION"?
Aren't the workers free to make their own choices?
The large majority
(laboring class) in the society compelled to work, in order to obtain their
food, clothing, shelter, health, education, comforts, commonly known as wages,
salary, remuneration or income. It is true
that the workers are free
to do labor but they are not really free,
NOT TO DO IT. Otherwise, they will be deprived of their income. Without
the basic income one can’t afford the decent food, clothing, shelter, health,
education and other comforts in life. They will be forced to undergo immense
suffering, homelessness, left to die or reduced to BEGGING. One may call it a
“free choice” but I consider it as the most degrading kind of labor (job,
profession?) along with the prostitution, which existed since the dawn of human
species. Therefore, if the prostitution and begging are "genuine",
these evils can be completely eliminated in a single stroke, with an Adequate
UNCONDITIONAL Basic Income Guaranty, popularly known as the Universal Basic
Income (UBI) which I see as the early manifestation of the ZWT.
difference between the ZWT "Wage-Labor Exploitation" and Marxian
“Working Class Exploitation”
According to the ZWT,
throughout the human history, till the present day, humankind has undergone
four basic labor exploitations. 1. Subsistence Sustenance Exploitation 2. Relative Labor Exploitation 3. Productive
Labor Exploitation 4. Absolute Labor
Exploitation (the book explains, each of it in details). These exploitations
are, primarily responsible for most of the social injustice, inequality,
poverty, repression which exists both in the capitalist and socialist systems
in the world today. The concept of "Labor Exploitation" in Zero Work
Theory is fundamentally different from Marxian socialist concept of ruling
(capitalist) class exploitation of working class.
Marxism claims that
LABOR-EXPLOITATION exists mainly due to the social "class" system, which
results in the constant "class struggle" between the minority ruling
"capitalist class" and the majority working class. It classifies
the human history so far, into three main
social systems: 1.Slavery, 2.Feudalism, 3.Capitalism. In all these three
systems the “property owning” minority rich class primarily lives on the labor
exploitation of the poor majority class. Therefore, Marxism claims that the
private ownership of wealth or property is the fundamental reason of the
exploitation on the working class, which is responsible for all kinds of social
evils like injustice, inequality, poverty, repression, crimes which exists in
the human society. Therefore, it proclaims that there is a 4th system namely
the socialist or communist system which will abolish the labor exploitation
mainly by the ABOLITION of private
ownership of the means of production, commonly known as the Private Property.
Marxist fundamentally claim
that the human society will have social, economic and political equality if it
abolishes the “private ownership of means of production”, which in turn will
abolish labor exploitation of the working class, thereby ushering in a
"classless" communist society. But today, all of it have been proven
completely wrong. Another Marxist basic concept, that only human labor creates
value and wealth in society also proving to be absolutely wrong as the Artificial intelligence robotic
automation making the human labor redundant.
One of Marx's most famous quotes is, "From each according to his
ability, to each according to his needs." This means that you need to
labor according to your capacity, and then society provides everyone with
everything they will need. It is like the science fiction movies we see today,
where all of the humans in the future still engaged in labor, despite the high
tech world they live in.
ZWT agrees with the main
Marxist theory that the capitalist basically exploit the labor of workers in
the form of Relative Labor Exploitation.
Nevertheless, it thoroughly denounces Marxism for failing to recognize the
rest of the labor exploitation, which makes it unable to address the labor
exploitation on the unemployed and self-employed. Moreover, ZWT does not accept
that the abolition of “private property" will end any of the Labor
Exploitation in the society. Irrespective of whoever runs/manages the means of
production (factories, industries, companies, business, corporation etc.) as
long as the compulsion of labor exist for workers to earn their livelihood
(means of subsistence, wages, income) the entire chain of labor exploitation
will continue. Only the overall reduction in working hours will reduce labor
exploitation. A two-pronged approach can achieve this goal, first by directly
reducing working hours, and secondly (and most importantly), allowing a
significant number of people (especially the unemployed) to leave the labor
market, opt for the Zero Work with the aid of an adequate Universal Basic
How does the
ZWT view the new generation of AI
Robots are basically the
decedents of the tools used by primitive humans as an extension of their body
parts to perform functions that increase the productivity of their labor. We
have now achieved such a high degree of technological sophistication that the
robots can (or soon will) SUBSTITUTE nearly any function of the human body,
including our BRAIN function.
As per the ZWT, at the
early human historical developmental stages, the primitive man made
tools (knives, scrapers, hammers) that substituted the human body functions, was
an extension of their hands and legs etc., to improve the labor productivity.
The second stage was centred around the industrial revolution of the 18th
century. Human/animal muscle power was replaced by steam engines and later by
the gigantic electric power. These powered tools or machinery, tremendously
increased labor productivity but it always needed the human brain intelligent power to make them to
perform the work.
By the second half of the
20th century, we entered the third stage of labor productivity. The silicon
integrated-circuit microchip the cybernetic revolution. Calculators, computers,
software programmed machines. Today it can replace most of the functions of human
brain power, intelligence. This sophisticated technology today popularly known
as the AI autonomous bot, robots or
the humanoids. They can do most of the
jobs that people perform, making most of the human wage-labor completely
Today, the new autonomous
AI machines, incorporated with DEEP/MACHINE-LEARNING (self-programming
software, algorithms of various types), in combination with web-based cloud
sharing, can already do things that are beyond any human capacity and with
every generation of software will become faster and better, superior to human
intelligence in many significant ways. The emerging QUANTUM computers can bring
in further paradigm shift in the field.
At some point, perhaps in the very near future, it will completely
remove the need for human labor. Industrial, manufacturing blue collared work
and most of the white collar, office, service jobs in the process of getting transferred from
humans to robots. Therefore, a gradual reduction or even a complete end to
working hours (zero work) with the empowering UBI will become a necessity for
human society. This is the historical perspective of the ZW Theory, in contrast
to Marxist Historical Materialism, which I described earlier.
How did readers
respond to your book when it published?
Except for one or two
positive book reviews in the popular Kannada News Papers in 1981 (which still
remain popular today), there was not much response. I think my book failed to
get the "response" it needed, to become a book that made political
changes, because of my situation of that time.
Reduction in Working Hour (RWH) theory
book failed to get the response that needed?
Imagine some unknown young
guy with no academic background or any credentials, proposing this theory of
Zero Work with Basic Income Guaranty in 1981 as an alternative to Marxian
Socialism. No one will believe it would be possible; even today for many
people. No sensible publisher at that time would even look at it. It had to be
self-published by my small workers group. We tried to distribute it to
well-known academics, but outside our group no one was interested. With
hindsight, I see that I was the wrong person to deliver this message, I was
underprivileged and disadvantaged, (a description that still applies). I wanted
to achieve an impossible task, exposing a fundamental flaw in Marxism, a
philosophy followed by hundreds of millions of people and for a century. No
matter what I did, I would never convince the world socialist/communist
leadership (who, in India, are leaders of most organized workers) to abandon
their socialist revolution ideology for my reduction in working hours demand.
If no one would listen to me, I had to wait for history to prove which theory
Since 1980, the working
hours of the working class not reduced significantly as it should be as per the
ZWT, as a consequence, the overall “value of the labor power” has decreased.
The technological progress has wiped out the large portion of industrial
manufacturing jobs, shifting the large portion of employment into the service
sector jobs. This has declined the
strength of the working class nearly to a collapsing point. On the other hand,
the strength of Capitalist or “ruling”
class had grown many folds. Paradoxically, Instead of the working class
demanding a reduction in working hours, the ruling class has begun to offer a
reduction in working hours. The corporates giant of the “Silicon-Valley”, have
even begun to promote the idea of UBI, which will allow the laboring class to
completely escape wage labor. I see this as an early manifestation of the ZWT.
Today I am more confident that history will prove that ZWT is right. I warned
about the rising threat of robot driving unemployment and proposed a scientific
solution, the gradual Reduction in the Working Hours (my theory in 1981).
Sadly, however, pundits in the field even today have not yet recognized or very
reluctant to accept this important historical message of ZWT.
In 1980 the "working
class" meant industrial jobs, manufacturing, and factory jobs. As per ZWT,
these jobs have dwindled away around the world, even in late developing
countries like South Korea. As working class jobs shrink down, countries are
examining Universal Basic Income (UBI). Office and professional jobs, which
were formerly "ruling class", have been demoted to the new
"working class", and they are following the same process of dwindling
away. Against the wishes of the Marx and all his predecessors, almost all of
the Communist/Socialist countries are gone. All capitalists nations did not
become socialist, and no socialist country evolved into a Utopian paradise.
They went back to being capitalist. Since no socialist theory said, "we
will become socialist, then go back to capitalism, then become socialist again,
and THEN become a Utopia", we can safely say that history has spoken, and
we can forget about traditional socialism.
ZWT written in 1981 in India. What is the
relevance of it to the rest of the world today?
ZWT is more relevant to the
world today than ever before! It applies primarily to industrially developed
nations, rather than developing countries like India, but as any nation
develops the theory has a greater impact. My writing definitely applies to the
United States, the world's leading industrial superpower as the ZWT model. The
majority of economists say that China will soon be the world's #1 economy.
China and a few smaller nations were very late to develop (much of Africa has
still to develop) and their Industrial base is still growing. ZWT predicts that
as China develops, they will follow the same pattern of massive industrial
unemployment, followed a few years later by growth and then decline in
white-collar work. China will seek relief through some form of UBI, as will
India. In the developed world, Sweden is testing UBI, Finland had a vote on UBI
(but lost), and in the US there is a lively discussion of the minimum wage,
which is a bit different than UBI, but overlaps on the idea of a "basic
I don't expect to read
about economists using my theory by name, but I do see them expressing their
concerns and the solutions now that I spoke back in 1981. Nations need to
realize that "Technological Unemployment", created by the AI
deep-learning robots, will make human labor redundant, requiring the
implementation of an adequate Universal Basic Income (UBI).Therefore, the need
of the wage-labor for the people in the society can be completely done away
Does this theory
apply just to the rich, or equally to the poor countries? How would it be applied
in India vs. America?
Even though India is still
a developing country it will quickly follow the world, particularly the US. The
IT and Knowledge Industry in India will be impacted the first. I am not sure to
what extent we will see the entry of self-driving vehicles on Indian roads or
Wal-Mart robots in our supermarkets in the next 5 to 10 years. However, the
most important thing to know is that developing countries like India, seeking a
place in today's Globalized world, will be HELPLESS to do anything other than
following the technological trends in industrialized nations.
If robots take
over all work, what happens to today's jobs?
Past industrial revolutions
created far more jobs than they replaced. The intelligent robot revolution will
be different, wiping out all jobs performed by humans today. This is the first
time that there is a potential for NO net job creation. These robots are
capable performing not just existing jobs, but new jobs that are created by
technology changes. Robots are always more efficient and cost less than human
alternatives. Every year, the best robot gets better. The best human, the
absolute best in the world at doing a job, doesn't get better but does want to
be paid more. Don't we all expect to get a raise, especially as we become
experienced and perform better? Robots get cheaper as they improve. The robot
revolution will create new jobs, such as robot service technician. But new jobs
can be taken over by robots, just like old jobs were. Some new "jobs"
may go directly to robots because they are too difficult or dangerous for
humans (retrieving humans from a fire, working inside of a nuclear reactor,
medical aid for Ebola patients).
When most human labor
becomes redundant, and there are far more people than work, the majority of
people will have no employment. However, humans will still fill some jobs,
those that robots are not yet ready or not allowed to do. This could be less
than 30% of the jobs today. If there are only 30 jobs for 100 workers, no
amount of effort or perseverance on the part of workers will result in more
than 30% employment. The 70% unemployed can start their own business. A few may
have the skills to run a restaurant, make jewellery, write a book (that sells),
or even invent something. In America today, 90% of new businesses fail in a
good economy. Self-employment and small businesses might add 5% to 10% jobs...
at best. For everyone else, the vast majority, we need an adequate Universal
Basic Income (UBI).
However, some people will
demand a job. They may have critical skills, such as doctors and scientists,
that strongly benefit society should be kept employed. Other individuals will
outright reject a government stipend. To address these social issues, we need
to reduce the number of hours in a typical working week. The reduction in the
work week to 30 or fewer hours is probably a good starting place. For every
nation, their formula for an UBI and for a reduced work week will vary and may
change over time. It is for the people of every nation to DEMOCRATICALLY decide
What needs to
happen to implement the ZWT and when? Who needs to take action?
My present position is that
rapid AI robot automation will cause massive job losses and immense
unemployment problems. Public opinion, mass demonstrations, social media etc.
will compel Governments to implement "Universal Basic Income" (UBI)
or something of that sort, more so in the industrially developed countries. It
fundamentally differs from classical poverty/welfare programs. When Governments
implement and UBI, it will provide an "escape valve" for people who
cannot find a job and do not want to work anymore. My interpretation of the UBI
today is that it is an early manifestation of ZWT, a visible sign of society
adjusting to the overall Reduction in Working Hours Theory.
Why the UBI
essential part of the Zero Work Theory?
A Universal Basic Income or
whatever the name may be, will provide an alternative to a socially destructive
level of technological unemployment. Realistically, when most jobs go away,
they won't go away evenly. Robots will quickly replace clerks and truck
drivers, but heart surgeons will take longer. America already has tens of
millions of adults who do not work, for one reason or another. If everyone was
not financially required to work, parents would spend more time raising their
children or taking care of their elderly parents. That's what adults want to
do, that what their children want, and it's what THEIR parents want. It is also
what governments say are good family values and they want.
Will implementing UBI be
difficult? Yes, tremendously difficult. But what is the alternative?
Governments are just beginning to realize the extent of the disruption that
will be caused by robots. Will America outlaw technology? Can that be done if
China and other countries continue to use technology to dominate the global
economy? We have seen in the global financial collapse how difficult it is to
deal and "cure" unemployment to 8-10%. How will governments deal with
robotic unemployment of 50% or more? Will they offer training programs for jobs
that do not exist, or are about to be replaced by robots? What is the
alternative to a UBI that offers any dignity to the millions who cannot ever
re-enter the job market? For a dislocation in the job market this big, it takes
a solution that is equally big. To survive the AI Deep-Learning robot
revolution we need the UBI to reduce the total number of workers in the labor
force, and then we need to share the remaining work through a reduced-hour work
The historic progress of
science and technology has created smart machines... robots and artificial
intelligence. Deep learning is a technology with the capability to understand
and duplicate human labor functions, and then instruct robots how to
independently produce goods and services in abundance. Little if any human
wage-labor will be needed. In the past, asking to be paid without working for
the money was considered lazy, or greedy, or dysfunctional. In the age of the
robot, instead of compelling everyone to have a job, people who are not willing
or capable of performing jobs should be allowed to withdraw from the job market
through the UBI and reduce the unemployment level. They can be free to do
whatever they like. Millennial might like it the most!
How much would
it cost to implement the ZWT/ UBI?
The costs, the features,
the timetable for implementing the ZWT/ UBI vary from nation to nation.
Therefore, the experts in every nation need to work out these details and allow
their people to approve the proposal. The total cost of it could be not much
more than is spent presently on government entitlement and welfare programs.
The UBI will replace many of these programs and their costs. There will
probably be some increase in cost, but that is a nation by nation discussion.
Any plan to deal with 50% unemployment will have significant costs. A UBI could
cost less than any alternative. Remember, the "disruption" from the
robot revolution, will be cheaper robots taking over human jobs. Every replaced
job means more profits, most of which will go to the wealthiest technological
companies. It is up to each nation, but higher corporate profits are an
opportunity for new tax revenues to cover the cost of the UBI. Likewise, that
same increase in efficiency simultaneously lowers the cost of goods and
services that all citizens purchase. More potential tax revenue and a lower
cost of living reduce the financial impact of implementing a thoughtful and
Revised on 19-3-2017 (India time) Email: email@example.com