There Will Still be Death on the Fully-Automatic Luxury Space Commune


Caspar Dowdy

Collage by Caspar Dowdy. Free images from David Mark, Colored Contacts and Luminas_Art on Pixabay.

Caspar Dowdy, Editor-in-chief

I’d like to think that, at their core, my political beliefs are pretty boring. I don’t like war, I don’t like corruption, I don’t particularly like arguing. I really jibe with the idea of ending human suffering wherever possible. Basic stuff.

In their execution, I think my political beliefs trend towards radicalism, even if I don’t think they should be radical ideas.

I think everyone has a right to free and safe housing, food, healthcare, education, transportation and employment. I think billionaires have too much money and that they should give it back to the people they exploited to reach that point of wealth. I think letting others profit off of your work is exploitation and, as a result of that, employees should be respected and valued and paid thriving wages.

It’s in that realm of thought, the idea that people deserve free things sometimes, that I see people face the most internal resistance. They might be on board for ending suffering, but when ending suffering means giving “handouts”? They’re out.

Across all of their arguments, there’s a common thread. You can see it in the “I worked for it, why can’t you?” and the “pull yourself by the bootstraps” and the “not with my tax dollars.” It’s the idea that strife is necessary to be fully human. That the struggle is the point.

And while I am dismayed at the idea that suffering is a necessary part of life, as I think most people are, I see where the doubters are coming from.

How do you build character if all of the hardship is taken out of your life?

The answer, both unfortunately and gratefully, is that our world will never know. Even in a world where no one has to slave away under capitalism to make ends meet, people will be motivated by pain.

People will fall in love and have their hearts broken, they will push themselves to become better, they’ll get sick or hurt, they’ll lose. People will come and go and die, and that grief will inspire those around them to create and to destroy.

Humans will struggle because they are human. And they’ll turn their dark moments into something that will improve society after them.

And they can do it without a profit motive.

There’s this idea, this meme, that has bounced around the leftist internet for the past few years. The slogan “fully-automated luxury Communism,” originally an ironic embrace of utopian daydreams, now occupies an interesting space in the intersection of economy and technology.

It’s the idea that, as technology progresses, the jobs that humans don’t enjoy doing can be automated. And, at that point, no one is forced to work, and everyone gets to spend their lives doing what they want. Thus, the fall of capitalism occurs, as people like author Aaron Bastani — who wrote a book with the same name as the slogan — suggest.

I’m comforted by the idea that my descendants won’t, in theory, have to work their lives away.

But I also can’t help but wonder and doubt about what life would be like in a world like that. Spending time doing as you please. Will people still value the good moments in life if they don’t have to suffer under a restrictive economic system?

And then I console myself, strangely enough, with the thought that there will still be problems.