In my favorite TV show, in the series of Star Trek, the people have already dealt with poverty, they lived in sufficiency, they were able to cover everyone’s needs, they didn’t have to work, but they still worked – not for profit or to get money to fulfill their needs, but they did the work which they loved, which they considered to be their purpose and they did the work where they wanted to contribute to better humankind with their natural talents. It was the 23rd and 24th century there. The people were lead to be enlightened individuals with high standard manners and to spend their lives wisely.
However, there is one big problem with the idea of Star Trek society. They never convincingly explained how it all could work economically. They often said that they do not use money anymore and they had machines called replicators which were something like 3D-print and it could create almost everything or every food they wanted on the molecular basis. Even if they had some miraculous and inexhaustible source of energy, there were still many occasions where the scarcity could occur. And the best example might be the condos or residences with amazing views or large properties or maybe even food or drinks which were not synthetic and so on.
I do not want to give up the idea of post-work society. However, I am very sceptical about the idea of post-scarcity or post-capitalistic society which is sometimes proposed not only by sci-fi literature, but also by some futurists or social and political thinkers. In my opinion there still will be goods which will not be free like air or water in nature are. And it seems that it is not the lack of my economic knowledge or of not being able to predict the future, but it seems that it is more about logic or physics. The post-scarcity doesn’t seem to be real if we would still be individuals with our biological or even mechanical bodies.
This all brings me to a question how our society could work if we did not have to work. Many of us would probably still work but not for money but because of the joy of their work and because they would want to contribute with their talent and time to the good of all humankind. But would it not lead to totally decadent lifestyles, wasted days in virtual reality and so on? For some people probably yes.
But I would not agree with those who think that about most people. They would be trying to demonstrate this opinion on how people spend their free time today, how students or some unemployed people live. There is a huge difference because these people today use the great opportunity of many ways of procrastination to escape from reality. They come exhausted from their jobs or they are afraid that they will have to find some job immediately so they want to enjoy at least the rest of their free time by doing nothing as their obligation.
Part 9: Will we work in the future?