Saturday, 8 February 2014

Murray Bookchin: Post- Scarcity Anarchism (1971)

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“We of this century have finally opened the prospect of material abundance for all to enjoy— a sufficiency in the mean s of life without the need for grinding, day-to-day toil. We have discovered resources, both for man and industry that were totally unknown a generation ago. We have devised machines that automatically make machines. We have perfected device s that can execute onerous tasks more effectively than the strongest human muscles that can surpass the industrial skills of the deftest human hands that can calculate with greater rapidity and precision than the most gifted human minds. Supported by this qualitatively new technology, we can begin to provide food, shelter, garments, and a broad spectrum of luxuries without devouring the precious time of humanity and without dissipating it s invaluable reservoir of creative energy in mindless labor. In short, for the first time in history we stand on the threshold of a post-scarcity society. The word "threshold” should be emphasized here for in no way has the existing society realized the post-scarcity potential of its technology. Neither the material "privileges” that modern capitalism seems to afford the middle classes nor its lavish wasting of resources reflects the rational, humanistic, indeed unalienated, content of a post-scarcity society. To view the word "post-scarcity” simply as meaning a large quantity of socially available good s would be as absurd as to regard a living organism simply as a large quantity of chemicals."

“For one thing, scarcity is more than a condition of scarce resources: the word, if it is to mean anything in human terms, must encompass the social relations and cultural apparatus that foster insecurity in the psyche. In organic societies this insecurity may be a function of the oppressive limit s established by a precarious natural world; in a hierarchical society it is a function of the repressive limits established by an exploitative class structure. By the same token, the word "post-scarcity " mean s fundamentally more than a mere abundance of the means of life: it decidedly includes the kind of life these mean s support . The human relationships and psyche of the individual in a post-scarcity society must fully reflect the freedom, security and self-expression that this abundance makes possible. Post-scarcity society, in short, is the fulfillment of the social and cultural potentialities latent in a technology of abundance.”

By South Utsire

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