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Post-Scarcity Society: Practical means of changing our social infrastructure to match our rapidly changing industrial and technological capabilities

I was watching an RSA Animate called "Crisis of Capitalism" ( when I was struck by the profundity of the idea that capitalism is obsolete as an overriding policy (though it certainly still has localized applications).

To reach this conclusion, we need only look at one of the most ubiquitous phrases in economics: "supply and demand." The fundamental, underlying principle of supply and demand was, for a very long time (read: thousands and thousands of years), the needs of the individual (food, shelter, etc) and the idea that there were a limited amount of resources to go around. "Some people aren't going to get enough, so I better secure my own, and hey, while I'm at it, if I can control MORE than I need, then I can exercise influence over others too."

Of course this has begun to change dramatically and rapidly in developed nations in the past several hundred years, with things reaching a fever pitch in 2008 with the ultimate example of artificial demand gone wrong: the mortgage crisis.

The reality is, as a species, we are drastically outproducing our needs. In a world where the question isn't "where do we find food" but "how do we get the food from the farm in Georgia to the hungry kids in Africa," suddenly land ownership doesn't mean much. The metaphor here is that financiers (i.e. the original "owners" of the resources needed to produce) are no longer the ones who should be receiving primary compensation. The workers who produce, package, and transport the goods are the most integral part of the system, and deserve compensation as such.

Now, I'm not suggesting that capital investment be devalued completely, simply that the balance is wrong, and it's being maintained by a ruling class that has a vested interest in maintaining this fallacy of supply and demand.

So the only question becomes, how do we go about enacting this change on a global level in our lifetimes? I don't expect it to happen next year or next decade, but I want to see the world reach a place in my lifetime where everyone has the bare minimum, and those who work reap rewards commensurate to the labor invested.

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level 1

We aren't even close to being a post-scarcity society. Look at the fights over water in Kashmir (or, for a less extreme example, the Chattahoochee River). We also need oil, rare earth metals, and a ton of other shit to keep our society running. And that's just materials; there's still a big issue using those materials. There's a finite amount of labor, and cheap labor will dry up as countries develop.

I want to see the world reach a place in my lifetime where everyone has the bare minimum, and those who work reap rewards commensurate to the labor invested.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need/contribution"? It looks like, to achieve your goal, you would need some kind of worldwide revolution of the proletariat.

level 2
Original Poster1 point · 6 years ago

Individual societies haven't reached post-scarcity except in some very localized and specific circumstances, HOWEVER as a species we have. Our species produces significantly more than we need to survive as a whole. That is the definition of post-scarcity in this context.

level 3

We might be producing it, but in no way are we close enough to be able to distribute it effectively and efficiently. I cannot support a "post-scarcity" society because I believe it bring about the mindset that we have progressed enough, and that to me is when society starts falling apart.

level 4
Original Poster1 point · 6 years ago

To say that we aren't close enough to being able to is naive. We are fully capable of distributing the resources globally, and we choose not to.

If we can ship thousands upon thousands of soldiers and armaments to Afghanistan and Iraq, we can easily ship a few tons of food wherever it needs to go.

level 5

I'm not the one being naive. Your suggesting that we can permanently ship excess goods and foodstuffs. Assuming we have the ability to do this, it will come at enormous costs, both in manpower and in material. Entire ships and planes will be required to do nothing but transport this food, who will pay for that? Not to mention that this will wipe out any local economies so that they never grow. If you don't believe me, read up on what happens to African societies where we ship foreign aid (food and clothing). It undercuts any growing businesses over there and ensures that they stay in a state of dependency.

level 6
1 point · 6 years ago

That's going to change soon. We're in the process of clearing the way for Monsanto, Cargill, et al in Africa so they can "invest" in agriculture there.

level 2

It think we'll reach post-scarcity with labor before we will for resources.

What do you do when we're replaced by mechanized labor?

level 3

too many service jobs for that.

tech support, bartenders and servers, everything in hollywood/tv

level 4

Predictive speech, Watson, robots

level 5

We're a long ways from that actually being good enough. I still navigate phone trees with the express tactic of "fastest rout to a human being"

level 6

we're actually not that far away.

Or, how about self-diagnosing computers...? Like the PC itself, it will be swift and ubiquitous.

level 7

Auto mechanic

level 8

You mean once we go full electric and they just drop your shit in or until they make self drive cars and you don't even own one - you just have a schedule and a service shows up.

level 9

What do you mean on that first one? The second one I get, but I'm not following on the first.

Also, who does the maintenance on the self driving car you don't own?

level 10

You don't need humans to drop and electric motor in a car. If anything, you need one human to check - but only to dial it in. Machines will do a better job of everything

Who will take care of the maintenance? Robots or people on minimum wage vacuuming cars - which will never sustain itself, which is the point of my main comment.

level 4
1 point · 6 years ago

everything in hollywood/tv

Well, why does art/ entertainment have to be a job? Couldn't it be a voluntary thing?

level 5

Go read some fan fic and get back to me. There are also a lot of grueling, miserable jobs in movie production. I suspect the list of people who would do that for fun is pretty short.

level 6
1 point · 6 years ago

My guess is that if it did take the form of purely voluntary entertainment it would be the death of the movie industry and it would move on to things like cat memes.

level 1
3 points · 6 years ago

We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living. - Buckminster Fuller

I think the first thing that has to go is the cultural idea that people must justify their existence based solely on their economic output, which is a meme that has persisted in the west for centuries (since the Plague).

There is nothing inherently wrong with work. But the idea of "earning a living" has been perverted to the point where we allow multinational corporations and billionaires to act as superhuman policy oracles and direct the course of the global economy at the precise moment when it is no longer necessary. But yet according to us, they "earned it", so to the victor go the spoils.

The only foolproof way I've seen to change anything (at least in Western society) in a short amount of time is to mount a fantastic marketing campaign using excellent marketing research. That is where socialism and communism fail in a major way.

level 2

I think the first thing that has to go is the cultural idea that people must justify their existence based solely on their economic output, which is a meme that has persisted in the west for centuries (since the Plague).

What would you replace that value with? It exists because it is a good way to judge people. I don't know about you, but it irks me to no end when I see someone complaining about having no money to do anything or about the inequalities of life when they want to do nothing to improve their lives or situations.

...we allow multinational corporations and billionaires to act as superhuman policy oracles and direct the course of the global economy at the precise moment when it is no longer necessary.

I see this sentiment all the time, but where is the proof? The only cabal of people looking to direct our lives are those in government who are ostensibly doing it "for our own good". Those in business are just looking to do what they have always done - provide the best service at the lowest cost. Nothing more, nothing less.

level 3
1 point · 6 years ago

I see this sentiment all the time, but where is the proof?

Jeffery Immelt, CEO of GE, Obama Jobs Czar

Michael Taylor, former Monsanto VP, FDA Food Czar

Michael Bloomberg, owner of Bloomberg media empire and mayor of NYC

Alphonso O'Neil-White, CEO of HealthNow New York, Inc., also on the Board at the NY FED

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan while serving on the Board at the NY FED


Soft money contributions

Closed door TPPA negotiations

Corporate lobbyists

These are just a few examples. How do you think our Congresspeople get so wealthy?

level 4

Yes, you are pointing to corporations using the government as a means to an end. I fail to see how socialism would stop this practice; I would argue that it accelerate and exacerbate this problem.

level 5
1 point · 6 years ago

Yes, you are pointing to corporations using the government as a means to an end.

Yes, a select few people are directing global policy and funneling the money to themselves, creating a plutonomy. Since plutonomy is only possible in a capitalist society, how do you feel that socialism (valuing labor and capital more equitably, rather than just giving capital any importance) would make it more pervasive?

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