Eran wrote:What "large scale" drive? Left-wing movements form a tiny minority in western democracies. Even so-called "socialist" parties largely advocate a maintenance of the status-quo. Most importantly, (virtually) everybody accepts the basic constitutional-democratic order. Even those who feel aggrieved by its outcome.
I feel that reformist socialists and social democrats accept the current order because capitalism is held in check, and government programs provide an alternative (which were driven by large scale reformist leftism in the first place). If we were to simply roll back the state with privatization and throw people into the jaws of profit, I imagine they wouldn't stay so reformist and so placated, as the thing they strongly advocate as a bullwark against what they might call the "law of the jungle" is taken away.
Any movement towards anarchy with full private property rights that is successful must assuage the reasoning of its opponents by resolving their concerns in a way that is still consistent with full private property rights. Automation can do this as (in its matured form) it allows for distribution without any confiscation of labor product, coercion, or taxes, meeting both the concerns of left and right while bypassing their explicit ideologies.
Eran wrote:But to suggest that giving people free stuff would minimise economic justification for aggression is odd. After all, poor people today enjoy far more free stuff than people ever did. And that doesn't seem to minimise economic agitation. A hypothetical perfectly-egalitarian society might forestall envy-based agitation. Is that your goal?
Crime has certainly gone down over time and societies have become less violent as they have become more abundant, and this is a historical trend, however there is certainly still poverty, and people certainly still feel pressure they blame on the market and capitalism.
The fact that people have it a lot better today even when things are kind of crappy in an economic recession means that movements like communism have declined in popularity in the West. However, the pressure people still feel to make ends meet is not an insignificant source of stress.
I happen to feel this stress may get a lot worse as automation continues. You can observe that automation should have something like the "uncanny valley" effect (I can't think what to call it in this case), where up to a point, labor-saving improves things, but then after that you see too much low skill job loss (with no remaining low skill sectors to transfer to) and thus nobody has the disposable income to consume and maintain growth, so the automation would stall itself.
The final state in which all the economy can be automated, and each person might own robots (and other high-tech means of production) to perform the tasks they want would mean the end to all required
human economic toil, which would consequently mean the end of collectivist coercion driven by economic wants. As I claim though, the market has little incentive to reach this point due to the connection between wages, consumption, and profit in a macro-economic sense. This is why I point to the state as needing to smooth over the valley I've identified.
A perfectly egalitarian society is not required. Equality is something that's difficult to define anyway. We just need a society in which the basic needs of life do not have a price. In this society people will still be envious of others who have more robots/gadgets and land, but getting to this state completes the trend in the decline of reasonable justifications for mass collectivization. A violent mass movement may come out of not having enough bread to eat, but not out of not having Ipods. People just aren't willing to die for that.My goal is not to bring about perfect egalitarianism, but to minimize economic justification for collectivist slavery by creating the possibility of abundance without human toil, and in a form which can be held as individual property, surpassing both capitalism and socialism in terms of peoples basic needs and consumer desires.
Once people's requirements require no toil by those with opposing wills, but only a machine will of our designing, people's need to force others to labor for them is as minimized as it can possibly be. Consequently, large scale collective projects (whether compensated in capitalist fashion or not) can finally be voluntary with as many people as possible, with both "left" and "right" (or other) persuasions finding lower levels of disadvantage in cooperation.
Eran wrote:Needless to say, free markets are the best mechanism for researching, developing and implementing labour-saving automation.
In general, yes, but I do believe there are limitations to the incentive of profit. The problem I identify above can be simplified into economics terms thus: If capital replaces labor more and more, then that labor has less wage to buy the products it produces, because most of those products have a capital (in this case automated) origin. It'll be good for skilled labor like technicians and engineers and university professors for a while, but not for everyone else. The ultimate diminishing and then declining return of profit in returns means that the market cannot leap over the valley and close the loop on automation (it can't make the profits to do so).
So, I believe that the state should:
1: Increase the budget dedicated to automation technologies and AI.
2: Subsidize automation in the industries most vital to life most rapidly, such as agriculture.
3: Subsidize decentralization of means of production (3D printers/other customizable mass market desktop manufacturing trends) and energy, so as to reduce dependance on the state (and corporations! lefties!).
4: Possibly provide more provision for welfare in the interim to further smooth over any transitory turmoil.
5: Reduce most other spending as much as possible to counteract any tax raises.
6: Stop enforcing loads of nonsense laws which libertarians have been on about for years, war on drugs, ludicrously over the top health and safety, business license requirements, etc etc.
7: Allow individuals to homestead a certain quantity of so called public land, so as to sidestep "absentee land lordism" in libertarian fashion.
(Sorry about the long read. I should be more succinct, but I labor the point a bit to make sure I'm understood.)