Is economics (and work itself) an eternal feature of the life of man?
As the true nature of the universe is discovered, the amount of work needed to accomplish the basic job of living, lessens. In the far future, we can imagine that the quantity of work required to let every individual have, minimally, freedom from want in the areas of food, clothing and shelter … becomes infinitesimal.
Is it possible that the effort needed to collect the money to pay for the food supply could exceed the effort needed to actually supply food to the entire population? Could mechanization and computer robotics be so fruitful that you could just walk into a distribution center and walk out with whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it? I assume that this could very well happen in the next few centuries. It could happen in many other venues as well.
Would this be called “socialism” … or … would the inhabitants of this advanced planet just take it for granted that this is the way it should be?
Today, there would be a hue and cry against such a situation because … we simply can’t afford such a thing. If all cultures were stable, we might be able to support basic food stuffs … maybe. You’d have a card that authorized you to take, without payment, basic foodstuffs from a list … like potatoes, beans, oatmeal, bread, corn, peas, brussel sprouts, califlower, etc. , probably not much meat. And the amount you could take would be based on what one adult needed, say, per week.
No one would steal beans … if … everyone had the right to take them. No one would complain … if … the cost to society was so minimal as to be unnoticeable. The question would be … when does “unnoticeable” occur. It could be determined by the chain of command and if the people did not agree (for any reason), the project would be terminated by new representatives … from the ground up.
The Essential Decision
As given by Aristotle’s observation (and other philosophers), in a healthy civilization, there are few poor, many middle class and few rich. This distribution forms a graph similar to a standard Maxwellian distribution. As the civilization decays, the graph bifurcates into a hump denoting a wealthy class and a much larger hump denoting a poor class and the middle class is gone … their wealth having been finagled away by the rich.
If a civilization can be prevented from undergoing this ‘aging’ process, the healthy Maxwellian distribution will exist in perpetuity. I believe that the chain of command system ( given on page 2 ) is the mechanism of perpetual stability.
A fundamental question then is, can we take this distribution and advance the start point away form X=0 to X=n where ‘n’ is any number along the x axis? If yes, this would be “affordable socialism”. The proof of affordability would be that the distribution did not bifurcate over time but rather remained in the aforementioned ‘healthy’ state.
Or … should the healthy state always begin at X=0 and the Maxwellian distribution would stretch out from X=0 as the civilization continued to prosper. This would be a pure capitalist society and the people occupying the X=0 area would always be dependent on individually given charity (which probably would amount to voluntary socialism due to excessive prosperity).
Or … the civilization is so advanced that it no longer cares about socialism or capitalism and economics itself is discarded as simply an early stage in human development. That is, whatever an individual wants in regard to physical goods, he gets by pushing a button. These people spend their time thinking, designing and creating things and having a good time which they regard as simply ‘normal’.
That’s the question … I don’t have the answer. I can’t see that far into the future.