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'Fully Automated Luxury Communism': Communism's coming of age

By David McMullen - posted Thursday, 1 August 2019

No LImits

Bastani tells a great story about how we no longer have to worry about limits to growth because of the imminent possibility of getting minerals from space. All the minerals we use are abundant on asteroids and meteorites, and we are developing the robotics and cheap rockets we need to harvest them. We will start off with the asteroids that hang around our neighborhood and then move on to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

However, he undermines his resource optimism by accepting the pessimistic view of earthly resources expounded by the so-called Club of Rome. This leaves open the prospect of a resource collapse before we have had time to get the space mining show on the road.


Although, full marks to Bastani for his implicit rejection of the idea that lots of production will inevitably lead to waste overload, which is the second arrow in the limits-to-growth quiver.

Despite these shortcomings, FALC is still quite a break with the green movement.

To the green movement of the twentieth century [FALC] is heretical. Yet it is they who, for too long, unwisely echoed the claim that ‘small is beautiful’ and that the only way to save our planet was to retreat from modernity itself.

His support for technofix should give greenies the willies. He mentions the motor vehicle saving us from mountains of horse manure, the agricultural Green Revolution of the 1960s and 70s preventing mass famines, and the present development of synthetic meat saving land and water.

Bastani makes disrespectful comments about Malthus, Jevons and Ehrlich, and even blasphemes against Gaia:

Our ambitions must be Promethean because our technology is already making us gods – so we might as well get good at it.


Together with delightful deficiencies in the green department, the book also has a thoroughly refreshing absence of identity politics. The words "racism" and "racist" only appear once each in the text while there is no reference to white privilege. "Women" only appears twice, while "sexist" and "sexism" are completely absent. "Men" appears nine times in non-disparaging ways. LGBTs, gays and lesbians go unmentioned.

Start of a New Discussion

Detractors will no doubt have a field day going through the policy recommendations at the end of the book. These include municipal protectionism, renationalizing industries and what he calls Universal Basic Services which would provide free housing, medical care, education and public transport. The case for FALC does not hinge on the merits of this stuff. Although, once a serious radical movement re-emerges, it will have to quickly get up to speed on what to do when it takes over the reins of government.

Then we have a whole historical period of transition that may prove rather tortuous. Automation and abundance are nowhere near complete on a global scale; and even if they were, it will take time for people to recover from capitalism and become fully functioning. So, in the meantime all kinds of blackguards will try to reverse the process with the assistance of dimwits.

Despite its delusions about renewable energy, I am thoroughly delighted by the book's message that automation and abundance are the basis for communism, and by the whole FALC meme which is starting to force all sorts of people to debate the matter.

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This is a review of Fully Automated Luxury Communism by Aaron Bastani, Verso, 288 pages (June, 2019)

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About the Author

David McMullen lives in Melbourne and can be found at Simply Marxism. Follow him on Twitter at @dfmcmullen.

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