Our civilization is at a crossroad of unfathomable dimensions.
On one hand, it is the first time that productivity, and new technology just below the horizon, signal the opportunity of an economy of abundance. Until now, the economy has been known to be an economy of scarcity. That is what the economists study and Lionel Robbins, a British economist and head of the London School of Economics, in 1932 defined economics as ‘the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.’
Productivity is up now, when it is compared with 1932. It is so high that one of the main problems that factories and distributors have is to sell enough of their production. In advanced countries there are no shortages of day-to-day goods. Food, appliances, housing and transportation goods are available, or could be made available just by increasing the existing factories output to a higher level. If somebody is hungry in America, in Europe and in most countries, it is because that hungry person has no money. Not because there is no food. And the future points to enhanced productivity.
Productivity is raising, and it will increase even more when smarter computers and robots take over more and more jobs and they will produce more per employee. The era of scarcity is being replaced by an era of abundance. Soon it will be possible for everybody to have all they need, and after that it could very well be all they want.
On the other hand, our economy is shifting into a no-holds barred capitalism. Capitalism is good, but just as water, too much is dangerous. Too much of anything is dangerous.
Capitalism intrinsically acknowledges the value of capital over anything else. Under its principles, only profits and wealth accumulation are sensible. At the end, there will be only one. One person, or a group of persons will own everything. Oligarchies and monopolies will be the rule of the land. And it will be the rule of the land because politicians will also be bought. It could be a dictatorship where the person who has more money is in charge.
To make it worse there could be fewer jobs, where only well-educated geniuses would find a job. Most people do not fall into that category. Most people would be unemployed or underemployed.
We have seen pictures and sound where the ‘takers’ are belittled. We know that many successful people believe that they are superior, just because they are rich. Even though, many come from families who gave them better opportunities. And, even if they are better, the rest have a right to survive. The rest being 99.9% of the population, if current trends continue unabated.
The rest is you and I, all of us, our families and our friends.
People will survive, even if left out of the system; they will survive. The human race has survived for thousands of years under appalling conditions. It will not be the first time. However, there is this question of human rights. The question of justice and the question of who will win.
A minority of cruel people can and have kept a majority under control. It could be even easier to do with robocops and surveillance drones. Thus the theater is set up for seven million living in utmost luxury and seven billion in utmost poverty. I kind of like this future, only that I am not a billionaire and I do not think that I will ever be. Therefore, I do not like this future.
Reconsidering, I like this future, for my books set in a ‘near future dystopia.’
Reviewed in 2018: conditions of income disparity, poverty and exploitation by the very rich have increased, and will keep growing. I could be on the right track in my stories taking place in a ‘near future dystopia.’