This week, the New York Times gave space to Aaron Bastani, who warns readers that our planet is in “crisis” because of runaway capitalism. His suggestion is that we put the kibosh on the very system of economic freedom that has led to unparalleled and unprecedented prosperity and progress in the West and replace it with a system that has destroyed millions of lives over the last hundred years or so: Communism.
But instead of being upfront about the fact that he’s endorsing the same delusion that has already sent so many people to their graves and so many countries to their ultimate dissolution, he pretends as though his “fully automated luxury Communism” is something new and fancy and attractive.
The New York Times would rather close down than run a piece opining that the United States should embrace right-wing fascism, but for some reason, Communism is still cool and chic and popular. Apparently some death tolls matter more than others.
“We have to go beyond capitalism,” Bastani contends. “Many will find this suggestion unwholesome. To them, the claim that capitalism will or should end is like saying a triangle doesn’t have three sides or that the law of gravity no longer applies while an apple falls from a tree. But for a better world, where everyone has the means to a good life on a habitable planet, it is an imperative.
“We can see the contours of something new, a society as distinct from our own as that of the 20th century from feudalism, or urban civilization from the life of the hunter-gatherer,” he continues. “It builds on technologies whose development has been accelerating for decades and that only now are set to undermine the key features of what we had previously taken for granted as the natural order of things.”
Perhaps he is right about the future. To imagine that “capitalism” in its present form will remain the foundation of economic freedom forever is to lack imagination. Our descendants may very well outgrow it. As Bastani predicts, automation and technological advancement could render “work” and “investment” all but obsolete. There’s really no telling what the future holds in store for us.
But that’s the thing. The future will tell us when it arrives. We don’t need to prepare the road by adopting intellectually and morally bankrupt ideologies that have already filled more cemeteries than we can count. If the Grand Communist Utopia really does loom in the future, it will manifest itself naturally in the Age of the Robot. Until then, we would be wise to acknowledge that it was capitalism and liberty that got us to the edge of technological revolution, not Communism and totalitarianism.