Imagine a life in which all your basic needs were met, the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs forever lopped off. No concerns about college debt ruining your ability to buy a home. No worries about where meals would come from, or whether you would have enough cash to keep gas in the car. No problems paying medical bills.
Then, imagine a life in which virtually all of your needs were met. In this world, society would guarantee its members not just middle-income status, but the prospect of travel, the option of a fulfilling but nonremunerative career, time with family and friends, time spent with cats and gardens and on volunteering and road trips. Imagine that all your peers exercised regularly and watched as much Peak Television as they wanted. Imagine never retiring, because there would be no need to retire. And imagine this happening on a far greener planet.
If the former is the promise of today’s resurgent, left-tilting left, the latter is the promise of its revolutionary vanguard, its furthest flank. And it has a name, a great name: Fully Automated Luxury Communism, or FALC.
FALC is a strong brew of technological determinism, sunny utopianism, and souped-up socialism: Let the robots do all the work, and let humans enjoy the fruits of their labor in equal measure. A mainstay of science fiction and prophetic religious texts (minus the robots part), the idea has come into vogue over the past half-decade or so, both among progressive thinkers concerned about inequality and stagnation and among the internet’s meme makers, the promoters of FALC’s swervier cousin, Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.
Perhaps the most radical part of the FALC ideology is an emphasis on eliminating labor for the good of humans, rather than fearing the obsolescence of human work. Humans in rich societies could and arguably should work far less than they do, and might thrive far more if they did, FALC argues. There is no need for the world to look like Star Trek for that to become reality.