Saturday, 26 September 2015
A contradiction? Maybe not. We know nothing about postcapitalism. Nineteenth century theoreticians assumed that collective labor would continue to be necessary to generate social wealth. Anderson instead imagines universal automation and nanotechnology controlled by self-evolving artificial intelligences. In the latter situation, I think that:
every human being being should have a substantial share in social wealth;
groups should have the resources for any ventures that they envisage;
but no group would be able to employ members of a work-force economically dependent on being employed.
It is this third point that differentiates postcapitalism and that is hardest to imagine. A character in Anderson's Starfarers says that he has the right to make money and to invest it, i.e., in the labor of others. Of course he does, provided that he is operating in an economy that is organized on that basis in the first place.
"Passage [to the Moon] would consume most of his small savings, and the cost of living would be higher; if he didn't want to exist in poverty, he'd need work, pay, to supplement his citizen's credit." (p. 88)
An economy in which someone who overspends his citizen's credit must choose between poverty and employment is still not postcapitalist.