Post-scarcity is a theoretical economy in which goods, services and information are universally accessible.[1]

The term post-scarcity economics is somewhat of a misnomer because scarcity is a defining feature of modern economics. Quoting a 1932 essay written by Lionel Robbins, economics is: "the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses."[2]

Mainstream economics[edit | edit source]

Main article: Scarcity

In a 1932 essay Lionel Robbins defines economics as being "the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses."[3]

Unavoidable scarcity[edit | edit source]

Population growth, as it continues, will lead to unavoidable scarcity. As pointed out by Thomas Robert MalthusPaul R. EhrlichAlbert Allen Bartlett, and others,exponential growth in human population has the capacity to overwhelm any finite supply of resources, even the entire known universe, in a remarkably short time. For example, if the human population continued to grow indefinitely at its 1994 rate, in 1,900 years the mass of the human population would equal the mass of Earth.[4]

The post-scarcity model[edit | edit source]

Socialism and Communism[edit | edit source]

Karl Marx, in his Grundrisse, argued that scarcity would eventually be eclipsed by the further development of automation, eventually reaching a point where human activity is free from material constraints to pursue the sciences and arts, and to pursue creative activities.[5] Marx's concept of a post-capitalist communist societyinvolves the free distribution of goods made possible by the abundance provided by automation.[6]The fully developed communist economic system is postulated to develop from a preceding socialist system. Marx held the view that socialism - a system based on social ownership of the means of production - would enable progress toward the development of fully developed communism by further advancing productive technology. Under socialism, with its increasing levels of automation, an increasing proportion of goods would be distributed freely.[7]

Digital abundance[edit | edit source]

Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU project, has cited the eventual creation of a post-scarcity society as one of his motivations:[8]

In the long run, making programs free is a step toward the post-scarcity world, where nobody will have to work very hard just to make a living. People will be free to devote themselves to activities that are fun, such as programming, after spending the necessary ten hours a week on required tasks such as legislation, family counseling, robot repair and asteroid prospecting. There will be no need to be able to make a living from programming.

Fiction[edit | edit source]

Science fiction[edit | edit source]

The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. Over three novels, Robinson charts the terraforming of Mars as a human colony and the establishment of a post-scarcity society.

The Culture novels by Iain M Banks. The Culture is a post-scarcity society.

The Rapture of the Nerds a post-scarcity society about "disruptive" technology. The Rapture of the Nerds is a derogatory term for the Technological Singularitycoined by SF author Ken MacLeod.

Con Blomberg's 1959 short story "Sales Talk" depicts a post-scarcity society in which society incentivizes consumption to reduce the burden of overproduction.[9]

See also[edit | edit source]

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