The Dutch sociologist Hans Pruijt has surveyed the results of numerous European experiments in re-skilling the industrial workplace. There's no question that efficiency rises when workers are no longer appendages to machines. Volvo, for instance, put up a factory in Uddevalla, Sweden based around "neo-craft" principles, in which teams of eight-to-ten workers simultaneously built four cars by hand. This method quickly surpassed the efficiency of standard assembly plants (though it failed to outperform "lean production" plants.) All the experiments Pruijt studied were cancelled by capitalists and managers fearful of the loss of workplace control. Clearly, this is not something that need concern an economic commons. Since the few experiments we've seen in Europe have never been carried very far, the gains in efficiency are potentially much greater than anyone realizes, particularly if we were to create production machinery which *enhanced* human skill rather than replacing it. As Braverman notes in *Labor and Monopoly Capital*, throughout this century engineers have intentionally designed machinery that extends labor power not by augmenting skill but by mechanizing production. We have no idea what kind of a workplace could be created with a skill-centered approach to technological development.
But such a program is never going to help fuel a socialist uprising unless it's part of a communal environment based on intelligence in consumption as much as work. Skilled work costs more money per hour of labor, making it problematic for both capitalist-owned and worker-owned firms. This is no longer a problem when the workers belong to a community in which consumption is not stupendously wasteful, and high living standards are maintained on far less money. In that case, there's no need to shift cost from labor-intensive to capital-intensive production. No need for complex machinery with its breakdowns and bottlenecks and semi-annual upgrades. No more undertrained and stressed out workers with their slow-downs, sabotage, injuries, absenteeism and continual turnover. This is a model of productivity that can never be seized by the capitalists and used against us. In short, the perfect weapon.
Btw, Yoshie-- thanks for the comment. Even a negative one is better than nothing.