The post-scarcity collective
In this text I hope to sketch out what a post-scarcity collective could be and how it would operate on a daily basis. This might seem utopic, however that is not my intention. My intention is to sketch out a plausible, yet subversive, way of living in a capitalist society. I have no wish to overthrow the current mode of production, I’m just curious to know what a post-scarcity society could look like.
Who am I to write this? I know next to nothing about politics, economics, anarchism or marxism. I have no qualifications to speak of in this area. Still I hope that you will find some value in my musings.
The currently reigning mode of production is capitalism. Depending on where you live you capitalism may be completely unfettered or it may be reigned in by rules and regulations. Either way capitalism dominates our world and it is difficult to imagine what a different mode of production would look like. Other modes of production have been tried such as communism (queue memes about how “true communism has never been tried”), but capitalism always seems to win.
In many ways I am a fan of capitalism. Capitalism has brought an unprecedented growth in prosperity, at least for me. And therein lies capitalism’s problem. Being a devout Christian, and avid reader of the prophets, I’m moved by the deep pathos God holds for the poor, the stranger, the orphan and the widow. In ancient Israel these would be the groups that had the least status and protection in society. The prophets judged Israel on whether followed God or not, and one visible sign of Israel righteousness was how the poor and marginalized were treated. When Israel turned from God the poor and marginalized were soon oppressed.
How does society today treat the poor and marginalized? Depending on which country you look at the answer will vary. But few, if any, countries treat their poor and huddled masses with compassion. Clearly capitalism has a few defects.
Capitalism followed from the democratic revolution that Europe experienced during the 18th and 19th century and replace the feudal mode of production. All in all it was a clear improvement on feudalism. But still, I must ask myself: What’s next? What is the next mode of production?
The Diggers was a group of radical protestants that have been seen as forerunners of modern anarchism. They got the name from their attempts to farm common land i.e. they were digging up the land in order to use it for agriculture. Predating Marx by two centuries the instead took their guidance from the Bible. More specifically from the Acts 4:32: “The group of believers was one in mind and heart. No one said that any of his belongings was his own, but they all shared with one another everything they had.”
The group was small and never gained any mainstream traction. The world was clearly not ready for anarchism, and it had in no-way the technological necessities for creating a post-scarcity society.
Land was at the center of the Diggers fight, since land was the most important resource. The value of labor was still low.
I want to write more general stuff on anarchism and economics before getting to the meat of this essay. However I got bored so I’m skipping to the fun stuff. Maybe I’ll add more filler material later.
Let’s look at what a post-scarcity collective is, but instead of explaining what it is I will sketch out how it might work. It’s up to you, dear Reader, to determine what it is.
The first criterion is that the collective should be bootstrappable in a capitalist society. That is, the collective should be able to operate in a capitalist society. It should not require overthrowing the current regime in order to work. I have no interest in participating in revolutions. Rather, the collective should choose to stand apart from the capitalist mechanics that drive our society. In time the collective may come to change the society’s mode of production through peaceful means but the most important thing for the collective is to live their ideals without requiring any change from the surrounding society.
The second criterion is that the collective is not coercive. The collective does not coerce individuals to join it’s ranks, neither does it coerce it’s members to remain in the collective. Individuals should be able to apply to the collective and leave it as they see fit. All means of coercion must be removed, not just social, but also economic. So while all individuals of the collective will be required to contribute to the collective, individuals must also be allowed to retain a portion of their private income. Individuals need to amass private property while in the collective in order to be free to return to the capitalist society.
Consider the reverse case where individuals relinquish all private property to the collective. If an individual decide to leave the collective they will find themselves without any private property at all in a capitalist society. That’s is not an enviable position to find oneself in.
The third criterion is that the collective is governed by general consent. No individual in the collective has more say than any other. Decisions about the collective are made by consensus and failing that by voting. Finding consensus should be the main method of reaching decisions. While all decisions are made by the collective as a whole the collective may be served by individuals that are elected to executive positions.
The fourth criterion is that the collective abolishes private property (except for the private property mentioned in the second criterion). All individuals are expected to contribute their share to the collective. The collectives communal property is then used to provide for all it’s members needs. This is the post-scarcity part.
I know the rules and, after having read this, so will you.
- Members contribute 80% of their income to the collective. The remaining 20% the members are expected to save since all their needs will be met by the collective.
- The collective elects a president and a treasurer to manage day-to-day stuff.