(First in a series of reports)

                     High Tech Committee
               National Organizing Committee
                       September, 1994


This report began as an internal discussion document of the High 
Tech Committee of the National Organizing Committee. 
Philosophically, the NOC tries to begin with an assessment of the 
world as it is. So this report attempts to summarize the objective 
situation in key areas of the high tech arena, including 
employment, the National Information Infrastructure (NII), 
intellectual property, and the high tech police state. The 
objective situation reveals opportunities for our work, which are 
also discussed below.

We welcome questions, suggestions, and critiques. Please send them 
to, or High Tech Committee, NOC, P.O. Box 477113, 
Chicago, IL 60647.


High tech is a key sector of the economy. According to the Bureau 
of Labor Statistics, more workers in the U.S. are employed in 
electronics than in automobile production. Much of the growth in 
electronics employment and related industries over the past three 
decades has been at the expense of traditional industries, as 
companies replaced workers with electronics and the requisite 
software to control electronic-based machinery. However, the 
electronics industry itself, in the past four years, has been 
affected by the same forces affecting other industries. This is an 
expected development, as electronics permeates the economy, and 
the industries mature. 

These forces can be summed up as:

-- a glut in the market, with a corresponding crisis in 
profitability (or, the extraordinary profits of the previous 
period begin to come in line with overall profitability). For 
example, software companies are facing the saturation of the 
business software market, forcing companies to cut into their fat 
profit margins -- "$500" software packages being dumped at 
"introductory" prices of $50 or $100. (That is, the price of 
technology, especially software, is sinking to its value).

-- waves of new technology making older architectures obsolete, 
and jeopardizing the companies that championed them. The mainframe 
and mini-computer companies are the primary victims here (IBM, 
DEC, Amdahl, Groupe Bull, etc.), where less labor is necessary to 
produce state-of-the-art systems (these computers are smaller, and 
require fewer resources to manufacture). 

-- in a related move, a shift from complexity in manufacture 
(expensive to replicate) to complexity in software (inexpensive to 
replicate). "Massively parallel processing" computers, where 
hundreds of relatively simple processors work in tandem, are 
replacing the old model of larger chips and larger systems. 
Another example is the move to "reduced instruction set computing" 
or RISC, away from the trend to larger and more complex chips -- 
the designs tend to get simpler and faster, and the software to 
coordinate and run them gets more complex.

-- cuts in military spending. There are several reasons for this 
-- the end of the Cold War has undermined the rationale for a 
heavily subsidized military-industrial complex (or at leaset for 
particular types of weapons systems). Forces of a technology 
sector without ties to the Pentagon have emerged which have pushed 
for more research and spending in non-military areas (these 
forces, identified with John Sculley, then with Apple, and John 
Young, then with Hewlett-Packard were instrumental in Clinton's 
election). Military spending cuts can be seen as a retraction of 
the social bribe (defense spending as a public works project) as 
international capitalist competition increases, and public sector 
spending must be cut -- a parallel move to cuts in welfare, health 
care, etc. While military production-related employment cuts 
continue, however, the Clinton administration has retreated from 
more cuts in the military budget; at the same time we are seeing 
military technology bolstering police forces.

Companies have responded in traditional ways:

-- companies are cutting labor costs through "smarter technology" 
-- in the case of High Tech, this has been through such 
developments as object-oriented software, computer-aided software 
engineering (CASE), and faster and cheaper computers. (As the head 
of Radius, a company that makes computer equipment, told the _San 
Francisco Examiner_  recently, "We turn out (custom computer 
chips) with four engineers and a giant computer. That used to get 
done with 100 engineers. That's 96 engineers you don't need any 

-- companies are cutting labor costs by exploiting cheaper labor 
markets (made possible by high-speed telecommunications). Emerging 
new low-wage high-skill labor markets include the former socialist 
countries of Eastern Europe, and India, Ireland and Mexico.

-- particularly in the case of companies caught in the shift to 
new architectures, tighter profit margins, and shrinking 
government subsidies, companies are dumping workers as sales drop 
or as profitability fails to live up to investors' expectations.

-- companies are consolidating through mergers and buyouts 
(Aldus+Adobe and Novell+WordPerfect most recently, as well as 
various other partnerships). Companies realize savings by cutting 
unproductive (sales & marketing) labor costs especially, but also 
tech support workers, engineers, and the relatively few production 
workers where overlap occurs.

The cuts have been substantial:

      Domestic employment in the U.S. electronics industry 
      fell for the fourth consecutive year in 1992. 
      December, 1992 electronics employment was 2,291M or 
      99,000 (4.1%) less than the 2.39M reported for 
      December, 1991. "The only industry segment that 
      experienced growth in 1992 was Prepackaged Software, 
      with a modest 2,270 new jobs. On the other hand, 
      Defense/Commercial Guidance Systems lost 30,000 jobs 
      last year. With one exception, U.S. electronics 
      employment showed no month-to-month growth for 30 
      consecutive months. Since August, 1989, our industry 
      has lost 309,000 jobs. And, when the industry's 
      healthy software segment is removed from the total, 
      domestic electronics employment dropped by more than 
      380,000 in the same period.[1] 

That "healthy sector", pre-packaged software, only employs about 
150,000 workers -- about as many people who work in cement 

One aspect of the shrinkage in the high tech labor force is the 
shift from full-time regular employment to contingent work -- 
temporary, contract and "consulting" work. This parallels trends 
in other industries (Manpower is supposedly the largest employer 
now), and is an integral aspect of the new "virtual corporation", 
where production is organized on a temporary, ad hoc basis, with 
workers being pulled together by capital as needed, and dispersed 
when projects are complete. The shock of economic contraction is 
shifted from the capitalist to the worker, as the worker must 
absorb training expenses, health insurance, and bear the cost of 
periods when no work is available.

The high tech workforce, especially in the weapons industry, has 
historically been a conservative bloc, consistent with maintaining 
their livelihood through inflated military spending. With the 
enormous job losses in that industry (an expected 1.2 million jobs 
in the 1992-1996 period, according to the federal Office of 
Technology Assessment), there is a real danger of those workers 
drifting towards a fascist solution to the economic crisis. One 
example of this danger are the efforts of the Coalition for Visa 
Reform, founded last January. "Its goal is to reform
the H1 visa program (and any other visa) so that technical 
professionals will not lose their jobs or see their pay reduced 
because of the cheap foreign labor being brought to this 
country."[2] The legitimate issue of pay equity for non-citizen 
workers is instead raised in the context of a nativist solution. 
CFVR focuses the problem on foreign workers taking jobs, instead 
of challenging a system that cannot provide productive employment 
to the world's engineers. As more high tech work is exported to 
cheaper labor markets, and mobile lower-paid workers are brought 
in as temporary workers, "Buy American Labor" could become a 
popular rallying cry among unemployed engineers.

The communications sector, which overlaps with high tech work has 
also been hit hard over the past three years. At the same time the 
"information super highway" is touted as a jobs savior, some 
44,000 jobs were cut last year among the companies who have laid 
claim to building the "infobahn." According to the Communications 
Workers of America, the phone companies in particular have been 
eliminating union positions through automation (particularly among 
phone installers and operators), and transferring capital to non-
union sectors of the industry, through acquisitions of related 
concerns (e.g., cable companies).

The privatization of information has resulted in the decimation of 
the _public_  library system and the closing of library schools. 
The reality of trends in public librarianship belies government 
and corporate assertions of concern for equitable access to 

Layoffs and other labor cutbacks especially affect workers over 
40. As technical workers get older, their salaries rise, their 
skills age (Sun Microsystems expects 20 percent of its engineers 
skills to become obsolete each year[3]), and their willingness to 
sacrifice family and community for work ebbs. So these workers 
tend to bear the brunt of "restructuring", "downsizing", etc. 

The job market for recent college graduates is also drying up. 
CFVR concluded that "[t]here are at least 50% more people entering 
the software programming labor market than new jobs being created. 
This amounts to an over supply of 22,000 workers or about 4.3% of 
the overall labor force."[4] These figures have been challenged, 
but the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 
recently found unemployment among electronic engineers to be the 
highest in more than a quarter century, and some 200,000 engineers 
were removed from U.S. employment rolls between 1991 and 1993.[5] 
IEEE also describes the jobs crisis as an international 
phenomenon. In addition, youth considering engineering or other 
high tech careers face the problem of getting into college in the 
first place, with state colleges raising tuition and closing down 


As electronics permeates production, the _product_  of production 
assumes a digital format, a form that can be easily stored and 
transported electronically. "Digital format" means the symbolic 
representation of information as 1s and 0s, which can be converted 
into electrical or light pulses, and transmitted over wires and 
fiber optic cable; or through air and space as electromagnetic 
waves. Electronics-based machinery at either end of the transport 
system encodes and decodes the symbolic traffic, and renders it 
into material use values. There are numerous enormous cost savings 
achieved by the digitalization of products: savings in storage 
space required, in transmission time and cost, and in the 
application of computers to completely automate the processing and 
routing of the digital rendering.[7] Just as railroads and trucks 
were needed to carry the product of production in the industrial 
era, digital carriers are required to haul the product of 
electronic production in the electronic age.

Every stage of technical development demands both a 
_transportation_  and a _communication_  system that corresponds 
to that level of the productive forces. The Industrial Revolution 
was also a transportation and communications revolution, that is, 
one could not have happened without the other, as capital demanded 
better and faster means of coordinating production and circulating 
commodities and capital; and the manufacture of new communication 
and transportation systems, especially railroads, spurred 
industrial production to more and more sophisticated levels.[8]

The ubiquitous debate over the so-called National Information 
Infrastructure" (NII), also known as the "information super 
highway", must be examined in this context. As modern production 
increasingly shifts to a digital basis, as a natural consequence 
of electronics spreading through production, modern production 
demands a commensurate means of transportation and communication. 
Or to put it another way, to paraphrase Marx, the old means of 
communication and transport handed down from the industrial period 
have become unbearable trammels on Modern [i.e., electronics-
based] Industry.

This process is most intensely affecting the information 
industries -- especially communications, entertainment (music, 
film, television and the hybrid "multimedia"), publishing, 
education, scientific research, financial services, and 
advertising. But the shift to "information-based" or "knowledge-
intensive" production affects traditional manufacturing as well. 
Just-in-time production requires sophisticated information 
networks to work. Modern robotics-based production requires not so 
much assembly workers as computer operators to monitor the work 
flow. Designs and orders enter into the machinery through digital 
ports: "'Retooling' with the new "flexible manufacturing systems", 
simply means changing the software that guides the machines. The 
assembly-line (hardware) remains unchanged. The robots, hardly 
pausing, begin exercising different actions in obeyance of the 
newly-loaded programs."[9] The production and circulation of goods 
is increasingly an information processing function.

The terminal phase in capitalism is being driven by the expulsion 
of labor from commodity production. Objectively, this manifests 
itself as rising global unemployment, and for those able to find a 
market for their labor power, falling wages. The increasing use of 
information technology in the context of intense global economic 
competition is rapidly eroding wages. In 1979, 12 percent of the 
full time workforce earned less than the "poverty wage", so-called 
because it is the amount necessary to support a family of four 
above the official poverty level ($13,000 in 1992 dollars). By 
1992, 18 percent of the full time workforce was earning less than 
the poverty wage, an increase of 50 percent. Thus, of those 
workers able to find full time employment, one in five is not 
earning enough to support a family.[10]

The expulsion of labor from commodity production results in a 
crisis in the realization of profits. To maximize profit, the 
capitalist is driven to a handful of strategies: expand markets, 
cut costs, speed up the circulation of capital. The digital 
transport and communication system, the NII, helps Capital in each 
of these areas. At the same time, the cure only worsens the 
deteriorating condition of the afflicted.

Transportation and communication is key to the realization of 
profit by ensuring the circulation of capital. The faster and more 
cheaply capital circulates (that is, goods leave the contemporary 
point of production and reach the purchaser as quickly and with as 
little human intervention/labor as possible, and money returns to 
the producer just as quickly), the higher the rate of profit. 
Seeking out faster, cheaper circuits is an expression of the quest 
to maintain profits as the technical level of production advances.

But this means at the same time that less labor is needed in the 
overall process of global production and distribution. For 
example, it is technically possible for music to be delivered 
_directly_  from the source (e.g. musicians or record company) to 
consumers, in CD-quality format. This eliminates the 
manufacturing, packaging, trucking, and retail workers involved in 
this particular industry. More value is driven out of the product, 
laying the basis for overall profit rates to fall further.

Another historic strategy for dealing with the falling rate of 
profit has been to expand the market (by bringing more of the 
world's population into the commodity exchange system, by 
commodifying new areas of human wants, and by putting cheapened 
commodities within the price reach of larger numbers of workers). 
Transportation and communication systems have been a fundamental 
component of capitalism reaching out over "the whole surface of 
the globe," as Marx described in the Manifesto. But with the 
entire planet pulled into commodity production and exchange, the 
contemporary transport and communications systems can only 
facilitate more intensive competition among various capital 
groupings for market share. Unable to extensify the market 
(geographically, there is no other known populated world to 
conquer) or intensify the market (consumers have exhausted their 
credit and savings), the capitalists can only raid each others' 

The digitalization of production and distribution smashes the 
technical barriers that once separated various industries and 
markets (e.g., the motion picture market was distinct from 
newspaper publishing market was distinct from the recording 
industry market; and cable was distinct from telephones was 
distinct from video stores). This represents both an opportunity 
for companies (other industries' markets become available) and a 
profound danger: Companies with once-secure monopolies in their 
respective sectors are now being forced to deal with new 
competitors now that the walls are falling. That is, the markets 
of these various sectors are converging, as their products 
converge to a vast sea of 1s and 0s.

The digital convergence is laying the basis for a new, extremely 
intense round of competition among very large concentrations of 
capital. The merger, takeover and partnership frenzy among 
computer, communications and media companies that has dominated 
the business news over the past two years is a life-and-death 
struggle for these enterprises, and when the smoke clears, we will 
see fewer companies competing in a greatly consolidated market. 


One other important process in the digital economy is the 
emergence of intellectual property as a key source of profit. As 
information and knowledge in its various forms assumes a dominant 
role in production, the monopoly control of that knowledge can be 
a source of tremendous profits in concentrated sections of the 
economy. The replication cost of digitized knowledge is near zero, 
and monopoly control allows the seller to demand whatever price 
the market will bear. That is, the law of value is temporarily 
defeated until the knowledge reaches widespread use. Substantial 
profits lie in the gap between social value and the individual 
value of products. This social value is propped up by patents or 
copyright (granting a temporary monopoly to the patent or 
copyright holder). "Knowledge can only acquire a price when it is 
protected by some form of monopoly."[11]  This makes possible the 
extraction of superprofits from that sector of the economy. 
"Intellectual property rights" are the linchpin of profit for high 
tech companies. This explains why companies are so quick to drag 
their competitors to court over various "property" infringements, 
alleging in some cases billions of dollars in losses (e.g., Intel 
vs. AMD, Apple vs. Microsoft, Lotus vs. Borland). The Software 
Publishers Association has pursued an aggressive campaign against 
unauthorized duplication of computer programs, including 
encouraging workers to turn in co-workers and employers via an 800 
number, and pushing the FBI and other police forces to arrest 

These "property rights" issues have taken on an international 
scope. Shared "property rights" conventions are required to 
internationalize the market and open up new profit-making 
potential. So the U.S., under pressure from Genentech, the 
bioengineering company, refused to sign the biodiversity agreement 
at the 1992 environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro, because they 
argued that the treaty did not provide enough "protection" for 
U.S. gene splicers. Aspects of GATT (the General Agreement of 
Trade and Tariffs), the WIPA (World Intellectual Property 
Agreement) currently under debate at the Hague, and the Berne 
copyright convention are attempts to harmonize international 
"intellectual property" conventions. Countries may be ostracized 
from world trade until they change their property laws to conform 
to contemporary world capitalism standards.

"Intellectual property" reaches its most absurd heights in 
biotechnology (and explains why biotechnology is such a popular 
speculative arena for capital). Patents on genes in biotechnology 
enables monopoly control over the production of food, rather than 
just the distribution of food, as is the current case. This very 
complex process is just beginning -- that of converting 
economically important plants and animals into private property 
through the mode of modifying their genomes, and then patenting 
them. The application and enforcement of intellectual property 
rights will be accomplished in biotechnology through increased 
impoverishment, starvation and death of those who cannot afford 
patented foods and pharmaceuticals.


The economic revolution that is proceeding from the technology 
revolution is creating a social crisis, from which the beginnings 
of a social revolution is emerging, as is well-documented in the 
pages of the People's Tribune. The response by the ruling class 
"is turning from neglect to attack," with greater levels of 

Beyond the welfare agencies and social engineering institutions, 
lay the armed state agencies. Police forces have turned to more 
sophisticated technology to control the emerging social 
revolution. This technology takes many forms -- satellite 
surveillance of communities, INS databases of undocumented workers 
and proposals for a national ID card or national employment 
registry, automated prisons, electronic fingerprinting of welfare 
recipients, DNA "fingerprints", etc. Historically, new forms of 
control of the working class are first advanced against the most 
vulnerable and least organized, and afterwards spreads to the 
general population.

At the same time, the various police forces are moving to control 
the new areas of human interaction made possible by new 
technology. New technologies provide powerful tools for protecting 
privacy and sharing information. To maintain control over the new 
technology, information and the people who use it, the U.S. 
government is clamping down on several fronts. 

Here are a few recent developments:

* The FBI wants to require all computer bulletin boards and 
communications carriers and makers of electronic communications 
equipment to give it a way to spy on everyone who communicates. 

* The federal government is pushing ahead with its so-called 
"Clipper Proposal," a plan to subvert private communications by 
requiring users to give cryptography keys to the government.

* The Commerce Department has recommended changes in the copyright 
law that will outlaw the use of technologies that can break "copy 
protection" schemes. 

* This summer, a Tennessee jury convicted a couple who ran an 
adult computer bulletin board in California of 11 counts of 
transmitting obscenity through interstate telephone lines. A U.S. 
district attorney used conservative Tennessee "community 
standards" against the couple because he was able to copy pictures 
from the couple's computer, 2,000 miles and several states away. 
With computer networks, what is legal in one state or country can 
still be prosecuted in another place where that same activity is 

* Various proposals have emerged from the Clinton administration 
over the summer for proposals that will facilitate tracking 
people: electronic delivery of government benefits via an ATM-like 
benefits card, a national health card, and a national "work-
eligibility" card and/or employment registry.

The government claims that it needs these proposals to protect the 
citizenry from drug dealers, child pornographers, welfare frauders 
and terrorists -- these are the trojan horses by which the police 
state will be introduced in this country.

Another level of control is emerging through the debate on human 
genetics. The proposals of biological determinism, trying to 
assert a genetic basis for joblessness and criminality, will be 
intensified, with more sophisticated and even more fraudulent 
pseudo-scientific models.


As the old system of lifelong stable employment breaks down, 
opportunities arise to influence how high tech workers comprehend 
what is happening to them. Without ideas being introduced into the 
debate that point the way towards a reorganization of society 
along the basis of distribution of social wealth according to need 
-- a communist resolution -- those workers will succumb to fascist 
agitation (the problem is Indian programmers, or undocumented 
workers, or people on welfare; the solution is more police and 
prisons, less welfare, gated communities and walls around the 

High tech workers being displaced through the technological 
changes discussed above need a program that points the way 
forward. What would such a practical program be? Developing self-
defense organizations (e.g., a union) for high tech workers? 
Pushing for a guaranteed income, to remove the economic terror 
faced by contingent workers? A redistribution of work, based on a 
shortened work week? A government jobs program? Effective training 
programs? Such a program overlaps with the demands rising out of 
other sections of the trade union and unemployed workers movement. 
Events like the MIT Technology and Employment Conference last 
January, and the planned Chicago Technology and Employment 
Conference next March provide opportunities to raise these issues, 
and advance the development of a practical program. As workers in 
high tech, we need to raise these issues in the various forums 
that we have available.


The burden of dead end, low wage jobs, or no jobs at all, 
especially hits youth. For full time workers age 16 to 24, the 
increase in poverty earnings went form 23 percent in 1979 to 47 
percent in 1992.[12] Growing numbers of college educated youth are 
finding their opportunities defined by dead end, low wage jobs. 
When the bleak prospects of fully employed youth is combined with 
the fact that, in many areas of the country, youth unemployment 
approaches 50 percent, the revolutionary position of youth becomes 
clear. For a vast section of America's youth, the capitalist 
system offers no future.

The phenomenon of "hackers" should be examined in this context. 
Expressing an explicit disdain of capitalist property laws, these 
youth represent in many cases the hint of a new society in 
formation, expressing the values of sharing, exploration, and 
creativity. They have succeeded in drawing a great deal of fire 
from the Secret Service, the FBI, and local law enforcement 
agencies who recognize the vulnerability of the digital 
infrastructure. As with other sections of society, this loose 
youth movement will likely polarize. Generally missing from their 
discussions is an overall understanding of the historical 
significance of their activity. Although implicitly communist in 
their outlook, unless this impulse is nurtured and cultivated 
through discussion and education, it will wither, be bought out, 
or pervert into a fascist impulse. Important opportunities exist 
for linking up the hackers movement with other currents of the 
youth movement -- the truce movement, the new student movement, 
the "Break the Blackout" movement, the anti-censorship movement.


At the same time that once-distinct capitalist markets are merged, 
the various popular organizations that addressed individual arenas 
around media access, education, artists' rights, and labor issues 
in the various computer, communications and artistic spheres are 
also thrown into working together. Organizations that fought for a 
vital public library system or that fought for public access to 
local cable television systems or that represented culture workers 
in film, music, writing etc. have a new, practical basis for 
working together with each other and with new groupings like the 
community networking movement. This has taken a concrete 
expression in coalitions like the Telecommunications Policy 
Roundtable, probably the largest of these efforts on a national 
level. Organizations as diverse as the American Library 
Association, the Consumer Federation of America, the 
Communications Workers of America and Computer Professionals for 
Social Responsibility, along with another 100 or so organizations, 
find that they are on the some battlefield in the struggle for 
equitable access to work, information and audience. Coalitions 
like this are replicated on the local level, for example, in 
Chicago in the recent formation of the Chicago Coalition for 
Information Access.

The breadth of organizations that have stepped forward to advance 
a progressive position on the NII affirms the broad nature of the 
struggle for democracy in culture -- culture in its grandest sense 
-- that the battle around the NII represents. Missing from most of 
the debate around the NII, though, is a broader context for 
understanding the relationship of the technology revolution to the 
global economic and social crisis.

The general tendency in the current discussion is to begin from 
the point of view of those already able to afford access to 
information, the upper strata of the working class that is afraid 
of being shut out of the developing process. Largely ignored in 
the debate is the growing section of the population that has no 
financial means, often no educational means, and no social means 
(housing, food, health care, etc.) to use the NII as it is 
envisioned. It is important that this survival movement (the 
movement for shelter, welfare rights, health care, etc.) take up 
the call for access to culture and knowledge, and that those with 
the skills and access encourage and defend their participation. 
The general struggle around the NII will be to define "universal 
access" in the broadest, most democratic way possible -- access to 
knowledge, access to culture, access to technology, access to 
skills, access to audience, access to democracy, access to a 
future worth living in. What this means in programmatic terms 
needs to be worked out.


Companies attempting to claim "intellectual property" rights are 
in a position analogous to the landlords attempting to enclose 
common pasturage in the 17th and 18th centuries. The propertyless 
class generally sees no problem with copying videos, computer 
software, music, magazine articles, etc. for friends. As in the 
period of the land enclosures, capitalists must force a new 
understanding of "property" and "property rights" onto people, 
through propaganda campaigns like the SPA's "Don't Copy That 
Floppy"; the force of the police; and international trading 

Within the science and high tech sectors, the private, capitalist 
appropriation of technology for the purpose of amassing profit 
stands in stark contradiction with its possible benefits. Battles 
have emerged, and will intensify over patents and copyrights. In 
the international arena, the fight over patenting of plant life 
has important consequences for developing countries, by forcing a 
new kind of dependency on the U.S. This struggle will be 
especially sharp over the patenting and private ownership of human 
genes, which is particularly significant because of its impact on 
the larger question of private ownership of life forms. 

In this battle, we have a class culture of sharing on our side, 
which the information capitalists must attempt to dismantle. In 
this battle, the capitalists present a weak flank -- the conflict 
between property relations and productive forces stand in stark 
contrast. On the other hand, the battle is certainly not won, and 
the information capitalists have organization, money and the state 
on their side. Organizations like the League for Programming 
Freedom and organizations of geneticists and other scientists are 
raising the issues, but the fight needs to be broadened and 


The Industrial Revolution represented a process in which commodity 
production was uncoupled from the limitations of individual human 
muscle power and manipulative skill. Machinery was developed which 
harnessed and integrated the manipulative and muscle power of 
individuals to much greater power sources: water power and steam 
engines, and later, internal combustion engines and the electric 

The current electronic revolution represents a process in which 
the intelligence and knowledge of the individual is appropriated 
and incorporated directly into the production machinery. Under 
capitalism it displaces the worker and the worker's skill. 
However, the electronics revolution also represents the 
collection, summation and integration of the intelligence of 
individuals and groups into a higher form of knowledge. This 
knowledge potentially then becomes available to all members of 

To our colleagues and fellow workers, we must articulate the 
simple truth that capitalism stands in the way of social progress. 
We must be clear in communicating that whatever moral or 
humanitarian impulse led a scientist or engineer or technician 
into this particular field is being blocked and stifled by the 
private appropriation of social wealth.

We also need to articulate a vision of what this society could be, 
to provide a rallying point for the forces of change. In a 
reorganized society, for example, the enormous potential of 
biotechnology to identify the causes of disease -- rather than to 
provide therapeutics to alleviate symptoms, or to condemn 
individuals before they are even born -- could be unleashed. The 
sharply increased production capacity is sufficient to provide 
sophisticated goods to all members of society. The new information 
networks have the potential to make the total of human knowledge 
accessible to all of society. High tech workers -- scientists, 
engineers, researchers, technicians, etc. -- those of us who 
design, use and understand the potential of the new technologies 
must help give shape to the vision.

We welcome your comments, and invite you to join with us in 
carrying out the work before us.

The High Tech Committee of the National Organizing Committee may 
be reached by writing P.O. Box 477113, Chicago, IL 60647, or 
sending email to


1. CPU: Working in the Computer Industry #005. CPSR Working in the 
Computer Industry Working Group. Figures are from the American 
Electronics Association, in the 1993 Computer Industry Almanac
2. "Standard greeting and charter." Coalition for Visa Reform.

3. CPU: Working in the Computer Industry #004.

4. CPU: Working in the Computer Industry #011.

5. "Jobs at Risk" IEEE Spectrum. August 1993.

6. The biotechnology industry represents another face of the 
technological revolution. Its direct impact on employment and the 
economy is much smaller than electronics, with less than 200,000 
(mostly scientific) workers nationwide. More work needs to be done 
on employment trends in this sector of high-tech.

7. This "digital advantage" may be the material basis for the 
radically different features of the so-called "information 
economy", rather than some essential character of "information" or 
"knowledge" as has been advanced elsewhere. For a deeper critique 
of "information exceptionalism", see Dan Schiller's "From Culture 
to Information and Back Again: Commoditization as a Route to 
Knowledge." _Critical Studies in Mass Communication_. March, 1994.

8. "The revolution in the modes of production of industry and 
agriculture made necessary a revolution in the general conditions 
of the social process of production, i.e., in the means of 
communication and transport." (Marx, Capital)

9. Davis and Stack, "Knowledge in Production", Proletariat. 1992.

10. Census Bureau, Current Population Report, 1994.

11. Tessa Morris-Suzuki, quoted in Beyond the Casino Economy. 
Verso, 1989.

12. Census Bureau.