So Fully Automated Luxury Communism is written by Thomas Friedman under a pen name, right?
Ok so I’m 20% through and this is like the worst book I’ve read in a long time. Discussion of progress/technological progress without critical analysis or even acknowledgement of wealth inequality, nevermind racialized wealth inequality
Discussion of superfluous energy, resources, and information very Friedman-style with no mention of land, food, or population.

Talk of genetic engineering and longer life with no mention of eugenics.

Now the guy is comparing Marx and Keynes and... how was this published
Like someone made the decision to press print in 2019 on a bunch of 20 year old ideas mixed up with some Wired magazine articles thrown in for fun
Yooo the guy who wrote it is not 60+ like I thought but the same age as me. As in, he took the airport bestseller books we read as undergrads and sat on those ideas for the last 15 years and somehow hasn’t learned anything since? I’m so baffled
“What happens when capital becomes labour? Adam Smith and David Ricardo presumed that labour would always remain distinct from ‘capital stock’, and that workers could never equate to human-made goods used in production.”

I guess Aaron Bastani has never heard of chattel slavery.
I think the target audience for this book is MBAs and management consultants, and the publisher did a huge disservice to their sales by having communism in the title. It should be Fully Automated Luxury Capitalism
If you were thinking about reading his book, please read David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years instead
How can this guy keep talking about progress, AI and automation from a Marxist lens without ever talking about the uneven impact of development on socio-spatial groups PLUS no mention of all the invisible humans behind AI and automation
I’m going to keep reading, because I read even cereal boxes, but the punch line is UBI, right?
Is he ever going to address public ownership of data and public data frameworks? Or how the State has heavily invested in most significant tech innovations (ie internet)? All of the talk on tech progress is about corporate innovations.
Ok I’m on the chapter about solar energy, and he’s leveraging the whole decarbonization argument on individual choices, like distributed micro solar grids 🙄
This book is like cheerleading for SpaceX, Tesla and the Musk solar roof things. Wwhhhhyyyyyyyy

Also going into building effiency. Who’s going to pay Aaron? We’re all too poor due to wealth inequality and renting to live in efficient buildings. Is the State going to pay?
So we’re not going to talk about where all the minerals come from and the labour standards and dirty international politics associated. But we’re going to talk about mining asteroids. 👍
I hate this book @VersoBooks
Took a break.

In the mining asteroid chapter he talked about all the ways “outer space” commons have been privatized already, and then says they shouldn’t be. No shit.

I’m wondering what the theory of change is going to be in this book other than wishful thinking
The chapter on ageing population starts out with Thomas Hobbes as the nature of humankind. This does not bode well, when John Locke and Peter Kropotkin are mainstream alternatives that don’t lend themselves as nicely to authoritarian policy justifications
“Increased life expectancy and declining fertility rates call into question the viability of socialized health and social care.”

Solution? DNA-personalized medicine. I don’t know why he assumes that the benefits won’t be privatized just like every other example in this book
The whole health argument is premised on States being benevolent and allowing equal access to this technology 🙄 no mention of what happens to folks in interim or for people with incurable or rare genetic diseases. What mechanism would make this universal public health?
The discussion on gene therapy is introduced by talking about crop breeding and then genetic engineering. Hello eugenics! Why am I not surprised to see you in this techno-solutionism book!
This book is completely lacking in humanity
I bet the rational comprehensive planner types and smart city planner types lloooovveee this book. And new urbanists are like intriguing but can that space colony please have peaked roofs and Doric columns.
Ok the health chapter ends with acknowledgement that gene therapy, genetic sequencing etc should be available to everyone otherwise we get Elysium.

Yes. We know.
“At present humanity consumes the resources of 1.6 Earths every year, despite the fact that more than 2 billion people survive on less than 2000 calories a day. That would appear to suggest that there are too many of us.”

No. That’s an indication of inequitable consumption
“So the last thing we’d want would be for the world’s poor to enjoy lifestyles similar to those of more affluent countries.”

This is how eco-fascist genocide gets justified. Why blame the same people who are still suffering from overconsumption in colonizer nations?
Cameo from Malthus plus a plug for everyone becoming vegan and eating genetically modified crops
This book is like reading media releases of one start up after another
Local food is an afterthought. No mention of permaculture or need to build healthy soils. No mention of tension between fake meat soy plantations and deforestation. Just a bunch of companies innovating.
Theory of change: Red-Green populism aka green new deal.

This is probably an accurate assessment, but depends on people voting for their own economic benefit rather than racism which hasn’t been the case
Theory of change: private capital-led innovation will lead to abundance and a post-scarcity world because ?? will ensure corps don’t benefit from artificial scarcity, then ?? and voila communism.
Ah next chapter. It will happen because the State will stop outsourcing and privatizing. No more P3s and neoliberal housing development corps. Ok.

But will the State start nationalizing?
Theory of change: municipal investment in public institutions as anchor bodies for economy plus technical assistance & co-op banks to support start-up shops as cooperatives. Put union pension $$ in housing development banks.
Theory of change: Universal Basic Services of housing, transport, education, healthcare, and information.

We’re 2/3 though the book. This should have been in the first chapter
There is no justice in his decarbonization plan. It is in fact a plan that puts greater burden on colonized countries in disguise of a “fair” approach. We’re just going to skip on to the next part.
Lol he recommends the world bank be the vehicle for delivering renewable tech investment to “the global south”. lol and adding a new world bank institution. Fuck oooooffffff. This is Breton Woods, but greenish.
New neoliberal institution (but reformed!) with a new global tax to send carbon payments from global north to global south, so we can save those countries with leapfrogging technology and increase the standard of living. Couldn’t possibly go wrong.
We could just pay reparations for colonization. It would be quicker and cheaper.
Chapter 11. Yes the punchline is universal basic income
At least it’s UBI on top of universal basic services. Just UBI without services is a subsidy to landlords and employers.

Tho some critics say UBI undermines worker power. I think Bastani would say technology is already doing that so make that $$
Oh no he’s actually saying universal basic services *instead of* universal basic income. If we’re mining asteroids, why not both?!
Some stuff about central banks, monetary policy, setting inflation targets to house prices in addition to the consumer price index. Doesn’t mention printing money but it’s an implication. Replace GDP with an abundance metric
Technology is neutral, blah blah disruption, social movements matter because they shape how we implement the technology

Postscript: for a self-described feminist he cites nearly all men and didn’t bring in a gender lens once
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