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Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto

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A different kind of politics for a new kind of society--beyond work, scarcity and capitalism

In the twenty-first century, new technologies should liberate us from work. Automation, rather than undermining an economy built on full employment, is instead the path to a world of liberty, luxury and happiness—for everyone. Technological advance will reduce the value of commodities—food, healthcare and housing—towards zero.

Improvements in renewable energies will make fossil fuels a thing of the past. Asteroids will be mined for essential minerals. Genetic editing and synthetic biology will prolong life, virtually eliminate disease and provide meat without animals. New horizons beckon.

In Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Aaron Bastani conjures a vision of extraordinary hope, showing how we move to energy abundance, feed a world of 9 billion, overcome work, transcend the limits of biology, and establish meaningful freedom for everyone. Rather than a final destination, such a society merely heralds the real beginning of history.

278 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2018

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Aaron Bastani

5 books49 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 245 reviews
Profile Image for Naomi.
110 reviews28 followers
September 27, 2019
There was a lot here I disagreed with. The move to this kind of society should be led by the resource-rich global south, not pulling "underdeveloped" countries behind to be exploited for their minerals in the transition. The chapter on renewable energy is totally unrealistic and he doesn't mention nuclear as a transitional energy source, which is needed in some regions as long as energy storage lags behind energy capture technology. The argument for post-scarcity of rare Earth resources hinges on asteroid mining, but there's no move right now towards sustainable space travel, so it's incompatible with post-scarcity of energy for the foreseeable future. The policy proposals alternate between overly specific and overly vague.

However, I still recommend the book. Optimism about the future, true optimism that moves beyond our broken system to propose what could be better, is rare and refreshing. If you don't have a vision for what could be a better future, you may as well adopt this one. It's better than nihilism, though harder.
Profile Image for Mack.
188 reviews29 followers
June 23, 2019
“we have a world to win.” Cannot recommend this book enough, i’m honestly contemplating buying five copies and handing them out to my five closest friends. Utopian but practical, this manifesto has been a guiding light away from the doom and gloom of current neoliberal nihilism. Thank you Bastani
Profile Image for W.D. Clarke.
Author 3 books251 followers
October 4, 2021
Brucie's thoughts—pretty streamers
Guess this world needs its dreamers
May they never wake up….

—Prefab Sprout, Cars and Girls
OK, you got me: I did put that epigraph in there mainly cos I just love love love the lyrical stylings of Paddy McAloon from Prefab Sprout, true, but nevertheless I do still have a bit of a point to make with it: viz., that while the utopian impulse may well be a kind of dream, it is not merely the dream of macho ideology (as in Brucie's case); rather, it is the dream of a possible escape from ideology, specifically the ideology of what Mark Fisher once memorably called "Capitalist Realism*"

Capitalist realism, Fisher wrote, maintains that it is easier to imagine the end of the world (via nuclear, war, environmental catastrophe, you name it) than it is to imagine a post-capitalist one. Coming a bit more down-to-earth, practically-speaking this means that we shall continue to live under the seemingly-eternal aegis of neo-liberalism: that (per Ms. Thatcher's famous dictum) "there is no alternative" to the economic status quo of the past forty or so years.

Neoliberalism, born with the Volker interest rate "shock" in 1979 from the terminal crisis of Keynesianism circa 1968-1973 and characterized by the Carter-Thatcher-Reagan-Clinton-Blair-Bush-Obama adherence to a "monetarist" set of policies predicated upon the controlling of inflation, of defending investment assets rather than promoting, as with Keynes, full employment, had proved remarkably capable of revivifying, for a time, the global economy, but its policies of (i) removing barriers to international trade and capital flows, (ii) reigning-in organized labour and promoting a shift in manufacturing to lower-wage jurisdictions and countries, and (iii) actively privatizing publicly-owned utilities and services in the name of "efficiency", and, perhaps most importantly (iv) de-regulating banking practices to increase liquidity and thereby (figuratively-speaking) provide adequate "lubrication" to the wheels of industry—culminating, most infamously, in Francis Fukuyama's pronouncement that the fall of the berlin Wall meant "the end of History" with a capital-H….

Well, all of that may well have lost its allure with the return to History thanks to the crises of 2008, but unlike in all previous major economic shifts nothing has (yet) been born to take neoliberalism's place. Before Covid chucked a gorilla-sized monkey-wrench into the engine of the world economy, we somehow gimped along, inequality steadily widening, growth flat-lining and interest rates at seemingly-permanent near-zero—a tacit admission that Oz was now relying on the Wizards of Wall Street to keep already-inflated assets inflating, and relying on debt-laden consumers to keep spending like it was 1999 or something. There were no new ideas, no tricks left in the bag, and so in 2016 Hilary Clinton's campaign slogan was basically: "no, I'm not going to change much, or fund public health care or anything but at least I'm not a deplorable". 2015 was as good as it gets, in other words.

Well, enter Aaron Bastani, with a new idea, or lots of ideas, a whole grab-bag of'em, actually—and, when all is finally revealed and taken- and tied-together, all adding up to a beautiful dream, certainly, but also a practical call to action. His thesis, that certain recent technological developments herald a possibility for a shift*** to a post-scarcity, post-work, post-inequality, post-fossil-fuel (and even post-meat!) world in the coming decades is…a compelling one, I must confess. I began the book "As-if!"-ing him left and right, but ended it by doffing my (wholly imaginary) cap: for he made a good argument for each (well, most) of the components of what he calls, trippingly, by the acronym "F.A.L.C." (hint: it's the title of his book!). And he stirred that long-lost, reclusive emotion from some Unabomber's cave deep inside what a crime scene forensics-type might call my heart: hope, that is. Yep, you saw it here first: Bill Clarke's flirting once more with that many-feathered thang again.

Hey, not quite so fast, buster, the cynical. jaded dictator (or dictatorial jade**?) inside me (& you, too) simultaneously sez (Jinx!)…Just how's all this just gonna "happen", exactly?

Well, it's not. Unlike certain Silicon Valley execs, Bastani's no technological determinist, let alone an idealist. In fact, he goes to some trouble to show how, on numerous important occasions in history, innovative technologies and great ideas were simply much too ahead of their time (e.g. the theologian Wycliffe's dreaming-up the Reformation decades before either Gutenberg's movable type or Luther's very similar, and much more widely-disseminated, demands; or, more tellingly, Marx's idea of a proletarian revolution occurring in a backward, still-feudal—or certainly not-yet-capitalist—Russia in 1917). Rather, it is the politics of a given conjuncture which (can) allow for technologies to help precipitate or catalyze social change on a grand scale. But the human element remains all-important. Translation: it's up to us polis-dwellers as to whether the technologies of the present and very-near future will lead us toward positive, if very gradual change (Bastani is no supporter of violent insurrection), or towards still greater inequality and global instability.

(Oh, it's up to Us, is it?, the Jade sez… the selfsame "Us" who wrecked the planet, who dreamed up reality television and Instagram Bestlives? Etc., et cetera? That "Us", hmmm?)

Um, yes, actually. The iPhone and Twitter ain't gonna do it for us. But certain recent developments are going to help tilt us toward possibly making the the FALCing choice for once:
(i) Information (and information processing), unless artificially constrained behind Intellectual Property fencing, shows a marked propensity for freedom, and a tendency towards being free or nearly free to both produce and consume (think of the marginal costs involved in making/buying a 45 rpm single vs streaming that same song on Spotify, etc.)
(ii) Automation may well make physical human labour redundant in the coming century
(iii) Wind- and solar-power are now competitive with, if not cheaper than, coal, and should continue their march towards dominance of global energy production, making future energy supplies nearly-limitless and essentially free
(iv) [& I had a bit of a hard time with this one…] The privatising of the space industry is not only driving costs way down, it is leading mining companies to plan for the exploitation of near-earth asteroids, which would put an end to material scarcity for even comparatively rare important minerals such as cobalt, lithium, etc.
(v) CRISPR technology is driving the cost of gene-mapping and -editing from the billions of dollars down to the tens of dollars, making personalizing medicine through gene therapy a near-future possibility
(vi) The global scourge that is meat production is set to be disrupted by artificial, lab-grown meat (or cellular "meat"), with costs, again, tumbling as economies of scale are starting to kick in, opening up new possibilities for re-wilding the planet and fighting climate change.

Though perhaps Bastani is getting a tad starry-eyed with a few of the above pronouncements, the fact that he dares to think big is the real point here: neoliberalism's myopic "there is no alternative" is only a recipe for stagnation, leading to a certain collapse of life on this warming planet: that there is no Green solution without it also being a "Red" one is simply about the question of whether to scale up these emerging and advancing technologies to meet the needs of the many billions of global citizens, or to keep them sequestered in First World enclaves behind patents and other monopolizing schemes, so that we can virtuously fiddle or something while the earth burns. Again, as with sharing Covid vaccine IP, it's a political decision, not a technical one.

To that end, Bastani makes the case that it can be done by pointing to small, practical ways in which it is already being done:
(i) Pointing to the efficiencies enjoyed by the public-sector East Coast Main Line rail system in the UK vs. the mirage of "efficiencies" brought about through rail privatization, especially blatant in the debacle that was Carillon PLC (if you have ever "enjoyed" rail travel in Britain, you'll recognize the problem!)
(ii) The city of Preston in the (now post-) industrial north of England (home to Charles Dickens's Hard times, 1854!), reversed the worst effects of privatization, outsourcing, and austerity by actively choosing to develop local economic synergies via local-banking, worker-led cooperatives and tendering of public services.
(iii) The NHS in the UK, while hardly perfect is a global model of comparative efficiency, especially when compared to the private-sector costs and outcomes of the US medical system.

(iii) points to a related near-field possibility: given the economies of scale enjoyed by single-payer health care, why not (other than for reasons of pure ideology) agitate for Universal Basic Services (UBS), expanding Medicare to include "housing, transport, education, healthcare and information"? By way of ending, I'll quote the author a bit extensively on this, as it will emphasise that his project is both utopian and immediately practicable:

As UBS, the intention for each is to become free public goods accessible to everyone – not as commodities for exchange and profit, but as the foundational resources on which to build their lives. That is not to say private ownership of housing, for instance, would be prohibited – it would not, but there would be a guarantee that the state would meet an individual’s housing needs if required. Market production and the price mechanism would endure, but this would become progressively rarer in those areas classified as universal basic services. With energy, labour, and resources wanting, like information, to be free, history and extreme supply would be on the side of UBS.

As a consequence, UBS will diffuse incrementally. In transport it might resemble the UK’s ‘Freedom Pass’ – which allows free travel on local bus services for those over sixty – being extended to everyone. This is sensible – as we’ve already seen, transport sits at the intersection of post-scarcity in energy and labour with extreme supply from renewable power (energy) and autonomous driving (labour) meaning the cost of public transport will fall precipitously. This should be to the benefit of users, citizens and workers – not profiteers. The UBS of progressively expanding free public transportation is the best way of ensuring precisely that.

Similarly, in healthcare, the rise of ultra-low-cost technologies in the areas of gene sequencing, therapies and editing will mean that a few decades from now public healthcare will be cheaper to administer with each passing year. But this will only be of collective benefit if we reject the notion that edited genes are the same as pharmaceutical drugs and must be subject to patent and the profit motive. Instead, the gains of healthcare becoming a true information technology should be socialised as we eliminate genetically inherited conditions like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and sickle cell disease – much like we did with smallpox in the twentieth century.

Even such breakthroughs, tremendous and unprecedented as they would be, would represent just the first step, as the arrival of virtually free gene sequencing – which would allow us to all but eliminate early-years mortality and locate cancers at ‘Stage 0’ – moves medicine from responsive to preventative. Again, rather than propping up the profits of private business while putting millions of healthcare workers out of a job, that should mean free, universal healthcare for everyone. The alternative of allowing market rationing amid conditions of such abundance, and for matters of literal life and death, is barbaric.

The same trends are evident in housing, education and information – understood here as media production and internet connectivity. Just a few decades from now paying for a bus, or an internet connection, or a university degree or renting a home, need not be an issue. In each instance payment might feel as counter-intuitive as it would today if you were invoiced for starting an email account or checking the accuracy of a date on Wikipedia. And why shouldn’t it?
Lewis Lapham, Editor Emeritus of Harpers magazine, once wrote a piece (called "Paper Moons") on visiting the New York Public Library to take in an exhibit on the history of utopian thought and art. He ends his editorial in the following manner:

on my way out of the library in early October I remembered the lines of Anatole France:

Without the Utopians of other times, men would still live in caves, miserable and naked .... Utopia is the principal of all progress and the essay into a better future.

Ask me where is the road to utopia, and I would guess that it probably can be found two blocks south or one block west, around the corner or across the street. Ask me to visualize the City on the Hill, and I would say that it is best understood as a "no place," a distant light on a far horizon, a generous idea whose time has not yet come.
I'm not sure if it is two blocks south, one block west, or on the other side of down, but we gotta start somewhere, folks, and get the heck on our way here. As climate scientists now tell us, that distant light won't shine forever, so we gotta bring it ever-closer to the horizon of possibility. In other words, who cares if Mr. Bastani's book is 40, 50, or 90% utopian? He points the way toward practical things that we need to be doing, and he has given us a lot to argue about. Let's talk.



Profile Image for Benjamin.
17 reviews3 followers
August 5, 2019
Renewable energy solving our insatiable power demands and automation saving us from spirit crushing bullshit jobs? Lab-grown meat ending animal farming and feeding the world? Asteroid mining ending mineral scarcity? This is optimism! But grounded.
I confess I was likely to be a fan before I turned the first page because I share any desire to explore a potentially classless, more equal world. Given that capitalism is failing, inequality is feeding a rise in the far-right, left and right populism is replacing a collapsing consensus and GDP is no longer adequate to measure success, we need to visit how we construct society, in a century facing existential crises. Our ageing population, imminent food shortages and climate collapse mean it is long overdue to hear a positive message.
FALC is a place we can, or perhaps are heading, providing we demand the end of capitalism. The plummeting costs of information and renewable energy, the rise of automation and its impact on labour, the exponentially increasing role of AI and gene therapy are just some of the markers Bastani uses to characterise what is just around the corner, post-scarcity, abundance and luxury. Why not?
Bastani doesn’t disappoint in terms of style and pace. There is the feel of a storyteller with detail hooks and bags of enthusiasm. The reality of technological advancement holds water too it seems – we just need to dare to dream. I suppose if pushed I feel there is an area to have addressed in FALC, which is the how. As an activist, volunteer and amateur politician, I’m left seeking the incremental steps to impacting the status quo. For FALC and/or greater equality to happen, as it should, we have a battle on our hands to prevent the establishment from keeping all the gains to itself. A brighter future is not inevitable, but Bastani is inspirational in articulating what it could look like.
Profile Image for Robert.
22 reviews
September 8, 2019
I'm skeptical of tech-utopianism, and I think Bastani is too starry-eyed in some places, but I think that this book and books like this are essential and valuable, if for no other reason than as a reminder of the great possibility of the future and the sheer abundance of the world we live in, if we are willing to re-frame the way that we approach it and a demand a more just reality.
Profile Image for Paul Ataua.
1,288 reviews120 followers
September 6, 2020
Presented as a manifesto, the first threequarters present the case that we have reached or will soon reach a time when technology is or will be able to support a society in which everybody can live a life of relative luxury and leisure. The last few chapters outline a way in which through party politics this can be achieved over time. The reality, however, is that technology has long offered that possibility, but innovations have not led us in that ‘expected’ direction. I spent hours in education seminars in the late 1970s discussing how education could respond to the increased leisure that was an inevitable result of the then present advances in technology. That increase leisure never materialized. The developments just led to a race of billionaires and an increasing gap between rich and poor. I have my doubts that any party bringing in UBS or fighting for an hour off the working week within the system is really going to achieve much. A much more radical shift in the way we think has to take place.
Profile Image for Haley.
66 reviews3 followers
January 11, 2020
One of the most important things about this book is that it demonstrates the imagination of the left - the ability to envision a world very different than the status quo and then the ability to make tangible recommendations about how we get there.

Bastani takes us through prior "disruptions" to show that worlds previously unimaginable have come to pass multiple times in history - i.e., the agricultural revolution and industrial revolution. He posits that as we move toward a world with "extreme supply" in labor (via automation), information, and energy (primarily via solar) through exponential gains in these areas, capitalism's premise of scarcity collapses - and therefore so does the price mechanism itself. He argues that communism was not possible before now, because it was constrained by real limits on labor, energy, and information - for one person to enjoy more leisure, another had to work harder. He argues that this is the first time the conditions actually exist for communism to succeed, and describes a world where we all have the necessities we need as well as the time and resources and leisure necessary to live fulfilling lives.

My major qualm with this book is that it discusses genetic science and automation as the way to provide low-cost efficient healthcare at massive scale without grappling with (or even acknowledging) the history of racism, ableism, and eugenics in medicine. That chapter for me is not only incomplete but dangerous in making a recommendation that medical practitioners and institutions and corporations have access to such complete genetic information about all people from birth. In addition, one of the most radical parts of this book is describing what it means to create a society that fully deals with climate change - but I think at this point that is better done by the authors of A Planet to Save, and in a way that more explicitly addresses the need for just supply chains and respect for indigenous people and lands. Bastani suggests asteroid mining as a solution (not as outlandish as it initially sounds, after reading), and I'm not sure adequately deals with the strength of a profit motive that could apparently result in the first trillionaires.

Profile Image for Brandy Cross.
139 reviews13 followers
March 5, 2020
How could one best summarize this book? Incredibly morally appealing? Incredibly naive? A bit a both?

FALC (Fully Automated Luxury Communism) is a pipe dream (for now). But, for the most part, Bastani doesn't advocate for it, only for smaller measures that fit fairly well into democratic socialism. Much of it is practical, utilitarian, and applicable inside the structures we have now. UBI/UBN structures have been proposed since the 1800s, and we have the structure and tax systems to leverage and implement them providing we were to actually tax production and balance what is paid to the people who have money instead of the farce of Warren Buffet's secretary paying a higher percentage of her income to tax than Buffet does.

Overall, there is a lot to love here and I'd recommend reading it. I do feel that most readers will be part of the choir, Bastani's work simply states what most of us have been thinking since the 2010s. Automation breeds the need for redistribution of the value of production or the people will starve.

If I agree with the basic principles, what's so naive about it? Actually, a lot.

To an extent, it's a much-needed manifesto on the changes pushed by modern technology, but quite-often, it doesn't approach modern technology, it discusses what we're likely to have in 10-15 years. There is value in this, as this period is when we could begin implementing the changes he discusses using modern political processes, but naive in the leaps and bounds it takes on factors such as reducing meat consumption, solar energy production, and the capability of robotics and AI. The result is that some of what he discusses is so far off as to be impractical to plan around, considering the realized result might be completely different than the assumed result.

Bastani also heavily overestimates some of the "leapfrogging" managed by the global south. Implementations such as M-Pesa were pioneered by Vodafone, subsidized by the Gates Foundation, and subsidized by the tax payers in most countries Vodafone works in (USA, UK especially), meanwhile preventing governments in Tanzania and Kenya from implementing their own systems. The criticisms of these types of systems are many, especially when the claims of benefits have been shown to be minor at best. Taking this same sort of system and applying it to solar collectors and water collectors could likely put people at risk of debt, creating monopolies with the capability of controlling lives, and once again, creating a white-savior complex.

The concept of shying away from nuclear energy and instead pretending that solar will somehow be enough for the global north is ludicrous at best. Most scientific estimates suggest our capacity to improve solar power will cap out before it reaches grid parity in much of the global north without significant changes in technology or batteries. Solar is not a global solution and we've known that for decades.

Bastani's writing also changes from clear and concise to somewhat all over the place. There are repetitions, information shared more than once, and a lot that tells me this book was written as individual chapters, jammed together, and then not fully edited into a cohesive whole. Much of it feels like an excited romp through an idea that was not entirely taken down and deconstructed into something more cogent. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as one could say the same of some of the "Greats" of modern leftist writing (e.g., Slavoj Žižek).

Overall, a good read. I was hoping for something slightly less optimistically naive and slightly more hard-bitten and practical, because the ideas are good, the implementation is practical, and it's such a shame that I can't hand it to critics of leftism without having to tackle those concepts first and foremost. But then, it's perhaps a bit selfish to ask for a work that is utterly free of logical criticism if the people I am sharing to are unable to refrain from voicing that logical criticism in favor of the moral which is the point.

Profile Image for Matthew Henry.
2 reviews3 followers
June 30, 2019
Aaron Bastani investigates the consequences of emerging technologies on our politics. He sets the stage by describing the crises currently unfolding: climate change, ageing population, resource scarcity, automation ... Then he argues that emerging technologies will bring "extreme supply" in labour, energy, resources, health and sustenance. This changes the way we should imagine the future.

I think the book sometimes sounds like technological determinism - the theory by which technology is the main source of social change. In this case, emerging technologies and extreme supply would necessarily lead to communism (production based on needs rather than profit).

But, to be fair, nuance is added in the sections where our political choices are discussed. I would have preferred even more nuance though: what do we do if extreme supply does not emerge because we cannot mine asteroids for example? And, I would have appreciated more discussion on the implications of automation and gene-editing in a world where the social relations stay fixed.

Four futures by Peter Frase does a better job with these nuances, but probably lacks the depth of understanding of current technological developments present in FALC. I also connect with the enthusiasm of FALC, I also think the future could be great.
Profile Image for Harry.
10 reviews
January 14, 2021
Essential reading for 2021 - neoliberalism got us into the mess of 2020, and the ideas in FALC are the beginnings of a roadmap to a new future.
Profile Image for Luis Miguel.
35 reviews1 follower
December 1, 2020
El libro me ha parecido una maravilla por tres razones principalmente:
1. Claridad. El lenguaje empleado es totalmente natural y accesible. Podría leerse en una charla de bar y no desentonaría en absoluto. Y aun así, mantiene la elocuencia, el orden y el rigor propios de un ensayo político. La organización del contenido y el despliegue en capítulos me parece completamente adecuada.
2. Información. Se da una cantidad enorme de datos que respaldan a cada capítulo y epígrafe la tesis que quiere defender. La argumentación es amena, pero cargada de referentes concretos y ejemplos.
3. Tesis política. La propuesta de un «comunismo de lujo totalmente automatizado» es absurdamente obvia a la luz de sus planteamientos. La tesis es sencilla pero feraz: produce grandes expectativas y caminos que seguir.

Así, me parece un muy buen ensayo para acumular datos, comprender nuestra situación político-económica y ubicar una utopía realizable a medio plazo.

Como crítica, argüiría que echo en falta más estudios científicos y diversidad en la bibliografía. Me hubiese gustado ver más análisis científicos de las energías, publicaciones en papers y ensayos de otros políticos y filósofos. Pero es justificable dado el objetivo del libro.

No es recomendable. Es obligatorio.
Profile Image for Mikael  Hall.
122 reviews7 followers
May 8, 2020
As stupid as stupid goes. It has the form, content and style of a California ideology fantasy. It praises the most outlandish and horrendous people and technologies there are. Bastani reading and understanding of Marx appears to be so bad that it is astonishing that he can call himself a social democrat, let alone a communist. And when push comes to show the best he can argue for is some populist watered down social democracy that supposedly should be able to transition into communism. I wounder why these accelerationists know that their strategy and thinking is similar or even a farsical repetition of the right-wing social democracy of Bernstein and his ilk.
Profile Image for Andres.
44 reviews1 follower
July 8, 2019
Bastani' diagnostic of the potential impact of disruption is thought-provoking and well argued, particularly how the pricing mechanism breaks in the age of abundant supply with minimal marginal cost. The vision for a new societal contract that addresses capitalism's flaws is inspiring. But...

As usual, the devil is in the details, and Bastani's proposed actions to get from current state to Utopian state are poorly laid out and disjointed. Hopefully he'll spend more time addressing this in future publications.

The choice of "Communism" in the title is a poor attempt at being controversial, when he could have chosen a word that would let prospective readers keep an open mind.

Profile Image for Javier Alemán.
Author 20 books82 followers
March 7, 2021
Un ensayo potentísimo y muy bien argumentado, que quiere escapar del marco del realismo capitalista y recuperar la utopía del proyecto socialista. Bastani demuestra en varios capítulos que la escasez a la que se nos somete en muchos ámbitos (energía, alimentos, recursos...) es un artificio y que podría acabarse si hubiera voluntad política, para luego pintar un futuro sin trabajo en el que el lujo es lo habitual. No se corta en abogar por el populismo y por abandonar los viejos dogmas de una izquierda que se ha conformado con ser gestora amable del neoliberalismo en vez de precipitadora de nuevos mundos. Porque si vamos a salvarnos, ha de ser con todo.
Profile Image for David Rae.
43 reviews
October 3, 2020
Before reading FALC: Oh, I like technology and socialist ideas.

After reading FALC: Rejoice comrades! Our technological unemployment is nigh and we must rise up to seize the means of producing our own futures! We have nothing to lose but out chains!
Profile Image for Nils.
22 reviews32 followers
September 25, 2020
Eins der besten Bücher, die ich dieses Jahr gelesen habe. Es zeigt nicht die Zukunft, sondern die Gegenwart und ihre Möglichkeiten, die wir zwar vor uns haben, aber nicht sehen.
Profile Image for Navya.
239 reviews4 followers
December 29, 2020
3.5 stars

A very interesting and informative read. Bastani starts with the assumption (fact?) that the rapid changes in technologies will render capitalism, and even basic economics as we understand it, useless, and a new economic and political paradigm must soon take its place. His answer is fully automated luxury communism.

The book was a quick read - a manifesto more than a guide book (as the name suggests), with half of it dedicated to discussing disruptions in technologies that are leading towards a post-scarcity world and the other half laying the blueprint for an economic order that can cope with it and deliver maximum benefits.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about Bastani's core arguments. On one hand, some of his insights are very useful in describing some economic problems of even the present (market imposed rather than inevitable scarcity, the break-down of price mechanism when marginal cost of production starts to become negligible etc.) On the other, I don't fully buy a lot of beliefs that underpin his vision of the future. Particularly, I think that a reliance on techno-solutionism, with timely development in technology solving literally all problems, may be misguided.

But then, maybe I am suffering from what Bastani labels a 'constraint of imagination'. Which is also where I found this book the most interesting. While individual opinions about the exact solution may differ, Bastani convinced me that at least a radical re-imagination of the present order is necessary (and inevitable). We live in a different world, and we will live in a very different one still. Our method to understand and construct it also needs to be very different.

For that reason alone (though there are many more), I would recommend this book for everyone.
Profile Image for Martin Hare Michno.
123 reviews28 followers
April 5, 2020
I could not finish this, unfortunately. When I first got into reading, around the age of 18 or 19, I read all of these pop-science books like The Ascent of Man, A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Ancestor's Tale, Origin of Species, Brief History of Time, etc. etc. All of these books that championed scientism, glorified nature and the objective world and all that. These books to an extent, are okay. I did learn a lot and they did change my view on important things. But all of these books rely heavily on a language riddled by rationalism, subject-object duality, Man vs Nature and eternal scientific progress - and that gets boring. And it's precisely that which put me off this book. I mean, I do agree with a lot of what I read, and I do agree technology can offer a future beyond capitalism. But everytime I read Bastani rambling about humanity's three major disruptions I just sighed and skipped a few pages ahead. We get it, we learnt how to plant crops.
41 reviews4 followers
January 14, 2021
Una tesis interesantísima sobre futurismo, tecnología y política.
Profile Image for Ietrio.
6,597 reviews25 followers
December 27, 2021
Disgusting. An endless gulag, in which the automata are the guardians making everyone an equal slave: the stupid, the lazy, and the workers, all in an uniform mass of flesh.
Profile Image for Mickey Dubs.
161 reviews
September 19, 2021
Aaron Bastani's provocatively titled manifesto foretells a world of abundance where technological improvements have liberated us from artificial scarcities imposed by markets.

In the past, there were two great leaps forward in economic life. The First Transformation encompassed improvements in agriculture, the Second the Industrial Revolution. Today, according to Bastani, we are at the onset of the Third Transformation. The bulk of the book details different emerging technologies and how they can address today's crises. Gene editing will save us from disease. Solar power will generate unlimited energy. Mining asteroids will give us huge quantities of precious metals without spoiling our environment or exploiting child solidiers in the Congo.

Bastani's argument isn't just one of unbridled techno-utopianism. Key to his book is a vision of a new form of politics where luxury and leisure become the main goals of a populist communism. In some respects, Bastani's book makes the opposite argument to Andreas Malm's Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency. Rather than state enforced hardship, governments and business should be brought to heel by the people's desires and deliver material comforts like lab-manufactured steaks and more leisure time.

We can have our genetically-engineered cake and eat it.
Profile Image for Cris Rodríguez.
84 reviews27 followers
October 12, 2021
"Tenemos un mundo por ganar" es la frase que remata este ensayo político. Creo que leerlo produce ciertas sensaciones de esperanza con respecto al futuro y eso ya es un elemento importantísimo para escapar de lo que se ha acuñado como realismo capitalista, donde es más fácil pensar en el fin del mundo que en un sistema alternativo al actual. Entiendo que es un manifiesto y no un manual de instrucciones, entiendo que el objetivo del libro es otro; estoy de acuerdo con que la escasez en nuestros sistemas es artificial y que con el desarrollo tecnológico actual es más que probable que pudiéramos satisfacer las necesidades de la población mundial (y el que queda por llegar), pero me he quedado con ganas de entender o conocer en profundidad qué pautas más concretas dentro de los grandes bloques que menciona son las que pretenden utilizarse como guías hacia este comunismo de lujo totalmente automatizado que suena, como mínimo, prometedor.

Es un ensayo que contiene muchísima información y unos facts que igual no conocías antes de leerlo. Me ha resultado entrañable que muchas veces leyéndolo -en su versión en inglés- me he sentido un poco como si estuviera en un Reading de la asignatura de inglés del instituto, o los ejercicios de preparación para las certificaciones oficiales.
7 reviews
February 1, 2022
Interesting concept if a bit idealistic but guess that’s the point, but sometimes too complicated and boring for my tiny brain lol x
Profile Image for Henry Hakamaki.
47 reviews16 followers
August 11, 2021
2.5*, but I'm rounding down for the lack of citations within the text making it difficult to track down where certain things were coming from.

This book champions a few interesting ideas, and puts forth some statistics that I was previously unaware of, but ultimately fell into several of my biggest pet peeves on the nominative "left".

Imperialism, and global North/South relations more generally, play an incredibly minor role here, while this in my mind should be one of two contradictions that must be tackled (along with the climate crisis). Bastani somehow manages to put enough thought into mining asteroids that he included an entire chapter on the possibility (or necessity) of it, but without appearing to put any thought into how the resources would be allocated (hint, without overturning capitalism and imperialism, you're going to simply end up with more monopolies and a significantly greater concentration of wealth. Perhaps this particular lack of thought similarly explains how the author manages to write about the industrial revolution throughout the book (his Second Disruption) while only mentioning slavery and its foundation of modern capitalism twice (Towards the beginning of chapter 5: "One consequence of that complexity was the emergence of human slavery, a significant basis for social hierarchy and economic production during antiquity", which is then never followed up on, with the only other mention in the entire book on the subject coming late on in a passing comment that there are movements for reparations for, among other things, slavery.).

Bastani also writes about tech CEO's and "futurist leaders" (my words, not his) like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in a glowing fashion as individuals pushing forward the technological innovations needed for his "Third Disruption", without thinking about how these individuals with their massively accumulated wealth would actually be standing in the way of achieving communism. This brings me to another of my pet peeves, redefinitions of fairly easily understood words that have already had their meanings clouded by bad faith actors co-opting the language for their own means. Take communism, for example. Bastani creates an entirely new definition of what communism is to suit his own purposes, because without doing so, it's obvious that technomodernist and ecomodernist solutions to our problems won't actually usher in communism, but rather entrench capitalism and imperialism, albeit with perhaps nicer faces. His definition of of communism essentially boils down to the ability to live a decent life while not doing any work, which is far afield from the two summaries of what communism can be envisioned as from Marx and Engels, a classless, stateless, moneyless society based on the ethos of "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Bastani's writing-off of other socialist projects (he literally called the Russian Revolution an anti-liberal coup) because they weren't predicated on ushering in an era of 0 work (due to technological and ideological constraints, according to him) was more than a bit unsavory, and completely misses that the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Moving to ecomodernism and technomodernism, not much for me to say here other than there's always a distinct naivety on display when someone suggests that these "solutions" under a capitalist mode of production will work for the average person. Even beyond that, though (but really, no Marxist should have even fallen into this basic trap), is the fact that Bastani completely disregards the criticisms of the technologies he's championing. Many an article about the criticisms of synthetic meat have been written, as have the ethical limitations of adopting genetic editing as a therapy, as have limitations of technological advancement to robotics in the agricultural sector, yet these are completely disregarded. Naive (in believing that capitalism will allow for equal sharing of the fruits of the technological advancements being made) and disingenuous (in ignoring criticisms of the very technologies Bastani makes essential for his creation of FALC).

There's certainly more I could discuss here, but instead I will briefly mention who this book IS suited for. This work was a fast read, and was somewhat enjoyable (from a literary standpoint, though I was frustrated at many times from theoretical and academic standpoints), and does actually have some intriguing ideas in it. If you have a friend who is not engaged in politics AT ALL, this book might be for them. I could see this being a dip of the toe into the murky waters of left politics, and perhaps has its greatest use there. For people who have read more political theory previously and are actively engaged in activism, though, there are certainly other places I would recommend turning instead of here.

Profile Image for Frank.
287 reviews
August 12, 2019
WOW! Bastani gives us an exciting look into a future that is already upon us. Exciting investment opportunities await us in active stock market listed companies as well as future IPO's to get in on the ground floor with when they emerge. Also, read about many of the "far-fetched" technological advances that are already in the making - I just ordered my first bottle of GLYPH (whiskey), "the world's first 'molecular spirit' from my local liquor store - Thanks Aaron! When you consider this quote from the book, "In 1847, the journey from New York to Chicago took at least three weeks by stagecoach. A decade later, the same trip by rail took three days", you will begin to understand why mining on the asteroids circulating the earth will actually occur during your lifetime. A Very futuristic
Profile Image for Elon.
31 reviews1 follower
November 5, 2019
Innan jag börjar påpeka saker jag ogillade så vill jag poängtera att det var så mysigt att läsa om en positiv framtid (som känns möjlig) efter att ha lyssnat på alldeles för många avsnitt av P3 dystopia.

Men: Vem var målgruppen? Den är populistisk och förklarar en del saker på väldigt låg nivå samtidigt som Marx citeras flitigt. Och ibland kändes det som att den ändå hyllade kapitalismen?

Hursom så var det en mysig värld att tänka sig och gav mig nya tankar, som: Kan kommunism existera utan full automation?
Profile Image for Joel.
146 reviews21 followers
January 9, 2021
A critical examination of the challenges faced by humanity in the 21st century and the political ideologies that block our way forward to a more equitable and prosperous world. The suggestions proposed are decisive and reasonable for the project of raising living standards and equity, if only we choose a new framework.
Profile Image for Zéro Janvier.
1,398 reviews60 followers
December 2, 2022
Fully Automated Luxury Communism est un essai du journaliste anglais Aaron Bastani, dans lequel il expose sa vision d'un futur technologique libéré du capitalisme.

Dans un premier temps, l'auteur fait le constat de l'échec patent du capitalisme à tenir sa promesse d'une prospérité perpétuelle et à faire face aux enjeux du XXIe siècle, aux premiers rangs desquels figure la crise écologique : changement climatique mais aussi épuisement des ressources non renouvelables, et leurs conséquences sociales et migratoires. Il estime également que nous sommes actuellement au cœur d'une révolution technologique de grande ampleur, dont l'impact sera similaire à deux révolutions majeures dans notre histoire : l'apparition de l'agriculture et la sédentarisation de l'humanité lors de la révolution néolithique ; l'exploitation de nouvelles sources d'énergie (la vapeur, le charbon puis l'électricité) et l'industrialisation de la production lors de la révolution industrielle au XVIIIe et XIXe siècle.

Partant de ce constat, il dessine ensuite un futur possible où cette révolution technologique aura permis de répondre aux enjeux du XXIe siècle. Il propose ainsi des scénarios basés sur les "nouvelles technologies" pour cinq thématiques principales : le travail, l'énergie, les ressources, la santé, et l'alimentation. Pour chacun des thèmes, il s'appuie sur des technologies existantes ou émergentes en extrapolant leur potentiel : réduction des coûts, amélioration des performances, démocratisation. Ce dernier aspect, la démocratisation, est importante dans le propos d'Aaron Bastani : contrairement à de nombreux ouvrages de prospective technologique, il aborde cette révolution sous l'angle politique autant que technologique. Pour lui, il ne suffit pas que la technologie résolve un problème pour quelques uns (les plus fortunés) mais qu'elle contribue au bien-être de tous.

L'aspect politique est d'ailleurs au cœur de la troisième et dernière partie du livre, où l'auteur présente les moyens qu'il propose pour aboutir à la vision présentée dans la deuxième partie. Si la deuxième partie peut être vue comme la description d'une utopie technologique (en tout cas du point de vue de l'auteur), la troisième est l'ébauche d'un chemin pour y parvenir. Il s'agit avant tout de remettre en cause les principes du capitalisme et du néolibéralisme et de proposer des alternatives concrètes.

Il y a quelques années, quand j'avais une approche purement positive, voire positiviste, de la technologie, j'aurais certainement été totalement emballé par cet essai. Désormais, après avoir été sensibilité aux arguments technocritiques, je suis un peu plus mesuré. Le propos d'Aaron Bastani est très technosolutionniste, je n'ai pas été totalement convaincu par l'approche et par certains arguments, je le trouve notamment trop optimiste sur les usages de la technologie. L'ouvrage est toutefois très intéressant présente l'avantage d'imaginer un futur alternatif plus ou moins désirable où la technologie pourrait être mise au service de tous.

Un point sur lequel l'auteur revient à plusieurs reprises est sa conviction que Karl Marx a eu, en quelque sorte, raison trop tôt : la société communiste qu'il avait imaginé ne pouvait pas advenir sans la révolution technologique que nous sommes en train de vivre. Dans les conditions historiques et technologiques dans lesquelles il s'est réalisé, le "communisme réel" du XXe siècle ne pouvait qu''échouer. Désormais, la révolution technologique permet d'imaginer une société de l'abondance : comme dirait l'autre, "les conditions objectives sont réunies". Je serais presque tenté d'y croire. Est-ce illusoire ou prémonitoire ?
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