Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is the Venus Project just a name for "the direction the economy is already heading"?

Right after class I found this article from one of the more interesting bloggers out there. He's a libertarian who wants to reform our monetary system (the dollar would be backed by futures contracts rather than gold) but who also favors heavy redistribution ("on utilitarian grounds" as he puts it, meaning money is more useful to the poor than to the rich)  and thinks the Scandinavian countries are among the most free-market around.

The fascinating thing about this is that he basically is saying a version of the same thing as the Venus Project, but just recasting it in purely descriptive language: basically, the economy is headed almost by necessity toward something that looks like the Venus project. It is the inevitable outcome of capitalist prosperity.

Marx, of course, also said that capitalism would inevitably lead to communism--he just was more focused on the negative aspects, namely, that people would rise up against a system in which such a tiny minority owned the majority of wealth. As automation proceeds, the owners of capital thereby own an increasing share of the wealth even as aggregate wealth is increasing, which would necessitate redistribution. Of course, this is what this blogger is saying too--he's just casting redistribution as something done voluntarily (which I suppose does not exclude the Marxist claim at all that the capitalist is just doing this out of a fear that if he does not people will just take it from him anyway).

So three apparently radically different philosophies--Marxism, a version of libertarianism, and whatever the Venus project is--are all basically saying the same thing. The way questions are framed can make an enormous difference.

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