Out of a rather winding and over-philosophizing public talk, I have extracted an answer of why we don’t already have that wonderful world of prosperity and leisure for everyone promised to us a generation or two ago and made possible by our technology. (By over-philosophizing I mean that David Graeber looses track of who the decision-makers are, which is as bad as not following the money.)
It is clear that we could build this great society right now and could have been well underway 40 to50 years ago. I grew up at a time when everybody I knew believed that we were on the verge of it, but it didn’t happen. The world has actually gone in the opposite direction, gone down the drain, gone to the dogs, slid towards a precipice throughout my entire adult life. What a horror this has been to watch!
Furthermore, I did realize years ago that the ancient Greeks could have created the modern industrial age some two millennia before our time (they were experimenting with steam engines and robots back then). They didn’t because the decision-makers had slaves. So what would they have needed robots for, other than mere toys? Their robots and steam engines therefore were just toys, not labor-saving machines; and so it never became a serious development. So, had it not been for ancient slavery, the industrial revolution could have happened 2000 years ago. It’s stunning to try to imagine where we would be by today.
In his winding talk, David Graeber eventually gets around to state that the same thing happened back in the sixties and seventies when we seemed on the verge of creating Paradise on Earth. Continue reading “Why we Don’t Have the Promised Utopia Today”