OL and the economy of time, part 4: how and why can Open Lifespan society be classless?

In the previous, third part of our study we introduced our main thesis defining  Open Life Society as the Free Association of Open Lifespan (Citizen) Producers. We started to work out an argument, using only the vocabulary of OH workers and OL citizens leading to the conclusion that in an OL Society that can be characterised as Free Association of Open Lifespan (Citizen) Producers, literally everybody should do OH duties for that OL society to qualify as such.

In other words the defining feature of OL Society is OH technology and work, and in terms of social roles it means OH workers are the one defining this society.

For the basic thought experiment and vocabulary please check Open Lifespan Possible World part of Part 2.

The main bundle of problems I’d like to discuss today is related to whether such an OL society can be described as a class society?

The crucial problem to analyse here is whether OH workers in an OL society can form an actual economic class in the Marxian sense.

The answer is an unambiguous NO, OH workers cannot form a class and hence OL society is not a class society. But we need to leave behind some conceptual sweat before we can reach this conclusion. So let’s start the intellectual exercise.

First, I introduce the concept of class, class division, class society, class oppression, class struggle following mainly G.A. Cohen’s reading of Marx.

Second, I specify the Open Lifespan possible world a bit further to situate the class-question.

Third, I introduce separate arguments to show why OH workers cannot form a proper class in an OL society.

Fourth, I try to describe the role of OH worker further by describing it as a mandatory social role.

1. The concepts of class, class division, class society, class oppression and class struggle

The concept of class

On page 255 of History, Labour, and Freedom (HLF) G.A. Cohen introduces Marx’s class concept as ‘A member of a social class belongs to it by virtue of his position within social relations of production’ For instance ‘proletarian producer nothing to sell but his own labour power’.

The relations of production are mainly related to who own the means of production, these are mainly ownership position, rights.

Quick introduction to relations of production via Cohen’s Karl Marx’s Theory of history (KMTH) p34-5: Production relations are either relations of ownerships of production forces or relations presupposing such reactions of ownership.

And while we are at productive forces, these include means of productions, instruments of productions or raw materials or labour power.  

Class division

Class division occurs, if there are at least 2 different groups of people with different nested ownership positions in terms of the productive forces. Say there is a group who is producing, and another who is not, but owns the technological tools.

A class society is where there’s class division applicable on large scale. Still it’s possible that there’s no subjugation of one class by another.

Class oppression

Class oppression is class division involving antagonistic relationships between different classes. Antagonistic interests arise where there’s an attempt of subordination of one class by another class.

Class struggle

Class struggle is the result of systemic class oppression in a society.

KMTH p73 ‘person’s class is established by nothing but his objective place in the network of ownership relations’, in other words, with his position in the economic structure.  

2. Specifying the Open Lifespan possible world a bit further to situate the class-question

Why does our problem, of whether OH workers form a class or not, make sense in the first place?

So far in our description of the Open Lifespan thought experiment the only social group we have assumed and mentioned by name were OH workers. Hence the only class-like entity in our intentionally partial specification of the Open Lifespan possible world are OH workers, whom we described as

Open Healthspan (OH) Worker: OL citizens working in the core OH industry of OL society.

and the all-inclusive category we have used is

Open Lifespan (OL) Citizen: citizens living in an OL society.

What do I mean by ‘core OH industry of OL society’? Open Healthspan technology enables providing Open Healthspan services to individuals and it is the defining feature of Open Lifespan. Now, in terms of political unit this can be imagined as Open Lifespan being one specific polity, a state, that is built upon OH technology and coexist with other countries, not having access to OH. Or it can be imagined that somehow it is being introduced in different polities, different parts of the world, everywhere, at its extreme. I prefer the first scenario, for several, here not worked out reasons, but let’s only mention one relevant parameter: in a possible world with one OL polity with an OH industry at its core, it’s easy to imagine that the decisive income of this country is due to medical OH tourism, or OH technology provided.

Now the reason it is important is that by now this kind of external abundance makes it possible that we don’t have to define or over-characterise the internal political-economical system of the OL polity. This way we are trying to not to beg the question related to a class society, but to unfold the arguments arguing from a more restricted position. For instance, we don’t know who owns the tools, the means of production of OH technology in the OL society. It might be that the polity itself owns it, so it is public property, or that a benevolent council of ‘ultra-rich’ elders are controlling it, outside of state positions. 

3. Why OH workers cannot form a class in an OL society: 4 arguments

We said earlier that in an OL Society that can be characterised as Free Association of Open Lifespan (Citizen) Producers, literally everybody should do OH duties for that OL society to qualify as such. We are not arguing for the truth of this thesis in this post, that was done partly in the earlier post and other arguments will be provided later.

Let’s add temporal indices to this thesis and play out the interplay between our 2 key categories: All OH workers are always OL citizens and all OL citizens are sometimes OH workers.

Now let’s see the arguments where I highlight different, sometimes nuanced aspects of either the traditional class concept or the OL scenario.

The unicity argument

1. A class society is one where there is class division, so there are at least 2 distinctive social classes at a particular time T or during a period of P.

2. In the OL partial description so far, there’s only one defining and instrumental producer group, that is of the OH workers at a particular time T or during a period of P. No other specification was needed to capture the defining characteristics of such a society.

Conclusion: OH workers cannot form a proper class in the Ol society.

OL does not have 2 or more identifiable class-like entities, so it is not a class society at the level of the current description.

The analytical argument 

Here we use the temporally indexed version above as a premise in our argument.

  1. All OH workers are always OL citizens (at least when doing OH work) and all OL citizens are sometimes, at a particular time T or during a period of P, are OH workers.
  2. If all adult members of a society belong to a particular social/economic/producer group, even if a temporally stretched out way, the particular group cannot form a class.
  3. Variant A of 2.: All working-age members of a polity, all adult citizens of a state cannot form one particular class.
  4. Variant B of 2: Classes are exclusive, not inclusive entities relative to a society.
  5.  Variant C, Set theoretical version: Functioning classes are a proper subset of a   society as a set, so they cannot be equal to it.

Conclusion: OH workers cannot form a proper class in the Ol society.

The temporal/membership flexibility argument 

  1. All OL citizens are sometimes, at a particular time T or during a period of P, are OH workers. But not all of them at the same time.
  2. Classes are rigid, temporally persistent structures of society. Their members are members for a longer period, up to a lifetime, and it’s not easy to leave class-membership behind.
  3. Practical consideration: OH workers are continuously rotating to occupy other roles in OL society. Their turnover can be high.

Conclusion: OH workers cannot form a proper class in the OL society.

An instant consequence of this conclusion is that OL society can be considered a classless society in a defining sense.

The struggling class struggle argument 

Here I go admittedly a bit far and ask whether in OL what roles can be antagonistic, or what roles can nurture antagonistic interests compared/in relation to OH workers? 

The answer is: No other roles or groups can develop persistent antagonistic interests. Since everybody should do OH duties and everybody should go through OH interventions, this leaves no opportunity to antagonise OH workers. If X has a professional issue against it, still personally X needs it, if Y has a personal issue with it, professionally Y still must do OH work.

4. Further understanding of the role of OH workers

While so far I argued to establish the conclusion that undermines the applicability of the important Marxian class concept in an OL society, at the same time I provided arguments that might point towards showing OL society as a class-less entity.

But the analysis drives the curiosity to learn more about the role of OH workers, to carve out some positives.

One thing that can be said is that although when exactly is a particular OL citizen chooses to act as an OH worker is flexible but when it is happening it takes the form of a mandatory ‘maintenance’ work. These ‘mandatory’ elements were captured by the different dependence theses in the Part 3 post.

With a wrong analogy, think of this as as compulsory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. It is a wrong analogy, since currently we have not specified any algorithm on how to pick the period in an indefinite lifespan to serve OL society. So this fails to be an enlistment in any conventional, existing term.

But the ‘mandatory’ aspect nevertheless stays. I’m not specifying the thought experiment here further, only hint at one consequence of an internal ‘mandatory maintenance work’, it cannot really serve the accumulation of capital, if it is mandatory. As an external service, provided for other polities, it might though. But let’s chew on this in a subsequent post in the series.