Lately I have been reading more Kropotkin and Bookchin. Both of them have elements of post-scarcity found in their visions for anarchism. I have always perceived this as a utopian ideal that I liked. Post-Scarcity: is a hypothetical form of economy or society in which goods, services and information are free, or practically free. This would require an abundance of fundamental resources (matter, energy and intelligence) – Wikipedia. In looking at the concept I have been trying to understand it on a level I find real and practical. I have been trying to see how this non-market system would work, how it is implemented in a real world situation. I am, not rejecting it, I am not claiming it is possible, I am simply trying to gain an understanding of it and see how it might be possible.
Saturday was hot. I don’t have central air and it has been getting into the hundreds around here. My spouse and I decided to get out of the ghetto and go somewhere there is air conditioning so we drove out of the city to the exurbs to walk around the mall. I have not been to a mall in years. As we walked around this vast structure of non-essential commerce we grew jaded. Store after store of the same crap. I could not believe how much stuff there was. There was stuff made for the sole purpose of selling stuff. Most of it served to fill no real need whatsoever. This massive monstrosity of mindless shopping and endless commerce just got under my skin. Nobody actually needs a misogynist t-shirt that says ‘I have the dick so I make the rules’. Everything being bought and sold was surplus. It was all non-essential goods being marketed to create a need within the mind of the consumer. As much as I love books and I love to read I walked in to the book store and saw the very same thing. It was discouraging.
As I looked around I began to see something I have not seen before. I began to see potential in all of this. Lots of mass manufactured crap made in China and sweat shops by slave labor I saw as potential. It began to become painfully obvious to me that this much surplus production has potential to lead to a society of post-scarcity. The problem I started to see is a problem of property and ownership. It became more clear than ever just how capitalism as the ownership of the means of production was blocking access go goods while claiming the wealth and paying workers nothing to perpetuate this mindless consumption. Holy shit. I saw the potential of post-scarcity in the suburbs.
I saw that supply and demand was not actually working. It doesn’t work in the ghetto and it is obvious. Take housing. There is supply and demand but the supply is not getting to the demand. If it were there would not be people sleeping on streets while so many houses and buildings sat unoccupied. Go to this middle class neighborhood and the real illusion is present. Everything is okay, buy this popular item. Capitalism has become the opiate of the masses. Endless bikini women, rock stars and cell phones serve to distract as we piss away the product of our labor so that the capitalist can buy a second home in the Hamptons. The private security worked with the police to keep out the desperate and to keep the peaceful illusion that everything is fine so that you could go about your way consuming and throwing wealth to the capitalist.
The production that occurs is surplus. The labor is non-essential except for the fact that those who do labor do so out of desperation so that they can attempt to meet basic needs because the product of labor is owned by another. I began to see quickly that this amount of surplus production could easily be redirected if it were no longer hindered by the rule of the capitalist. I began to see exactly where we could begin to build a society of post-scarcity.