In Star Trek: First Contact, Captain Picard explains to a 21st-century visitor, “The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century.” Yusaku Maezawa, a multibillionaire who recently traveled to space, could double for just such a visitor. He recently echoed Picard’s idea in a press conference he gave from the International Space Station, saying,
Someday, money will disappear suddenly from this world. . . . my bank account will be zero. Everyone’s bank account will be zero. And everything in stores [will be] free. So, everyone can take everything for free from stores. If you love cars, you can ride a Ferrari as soon as you want—for free.1
The fashion tycoon added that capitalism “is not sustainable” and should be replaced with a money-free society as soon as possible, a view he promises to explain in a film he plans to make (which no doubt will cost a small fortune to produce). Is this a truly futuristic idea, one we should strive for? Or is it actually rather primitive and unworkable?
Capitalism, to the extent it has existed, has been incredibly successful at lifting most of humanity out of poverty, incentivizing the creation of incredible, life-enhancing technologies, such as those Maezawa used to make his fortune—not to mention, travel to space. But it’s long had its critics, and he is far from the first to propose a sort of garden-of-Eden world where everything is plentiful and free. Karl Marx envisioned a similar utopia. . . .
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2. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, vol. 2, ed. Frederick Engels, trans. Ernest Untermann, (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Company, 1910), 412, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1885-c2/ch18.htm#2.
3. Karl Marx, The German Ideology, vol. 1, part 1, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01.htm.
4. “A Global Holistic Solution: Resource Based Economy,” Venus Project, https://www.thevenusproject.com/resource-based-economy/.
5. David Bandurski, “The ‘Lying Flat’ Movement Standing in the Way of China’s Innovation Drive,” Brookings, July 8, 2021, https://www.brookings.edu/techstream/the-lying-flat-movement-standing-in-the-way-of-chinas-innovation-drive/.
6. Ludwig Von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Scholars Edition, edited by Bettina Bien Greaves (Auburn, AL: Mises Institute, 1998), 935, https://oll.libertyfund.org/page/mises-on-the-impossibility-of-economic-calculation-under-socialism.
7. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, fiftieth anniversary edition (New York: Signet, 1957), 411.