My take on Fully Automated Luxury Communism is that — if it is anything — it should probably look something like a Rousseauean techno-commercial cyber-manorialism. In short, think The Four Hour Work Week with ~150 people enjoying guaranteed material comfort and deep belonging supported by a cryptographically formalized nobless oblige from a legitimate cyber-producer elite. Plus a bunch of 3D-printed guns for distributed deterrence.
Here's an off-the-cuff 5-minute spiel that basically gets the idea across, with a text transcript beneath.
Maybe just to fix ideas a little bit, I'll give you a really just embarrassingly stupid kind of cartoon version of my kind of rough, practical, efficient — and it's so stupid. It's like completely not thought out and not impressive but just to kind of fix ideas a little bit and give us more concretes to debate about it… it might be productive… And also just kind of funny.
I don't imagine some sort of fascist personality cult or anything like that. But it's more like… my practical model would be something like, you just have like 5 or 10 highly successful Internet businesses and maybe that means getting people who already have pretty successful Internet businesses or you just get together with a bunch of other smart people and you make a bunch of agile, simple, relatively, you know, easy to automate types of a purely digital internet-based businesses that are successful and make a good chunk of money.
Not like super-rich, but you know, you have a few internet businesses that make good money. Maybe you have a few of them and then you go somewhere super cheap. You buy 20-acres, 30-acres, whatever, just like you said. Buy a house or two with money from successful, functioning commercial enterprises that are location-independent, that exist fully in cyberspace. You buy up some land and some houses and then those people invite their friends and their family and maybe a few strangers that they want to take on board according to the calculations of how many diverse, heterogeneous strangers a community can functionally sustain. With the money from a bunch of Internet businesses, you just basically fund a healthy, egalitarian, tight-knit, cohesive community on a private plot of land.
And then you also do the things that you said. I think that's all really smart. You also take over the local government. You also take over the zoning laws or whatever, but basically the idea is you just fund the thing with highly agile and successful internet-age income streams that are automated. To me this is the practical instantiation of the meme about Fully Automated Luxury Communism. To me, if that means anything, it means you fucking learn how to use computers to make money in an easy way. And then you use that money to sustain a commune basically. But you do it in a more functional and effective way. You use everything we know about science, everything we know about human psychology, everything we know about group psychology, cutting edge knowledge about permaculture, all these things. You use personality science to align people and connect people in optimal ways, you use cutting edge knowledge about how to manage successful relationships.
And you all engineer on optimal culture in a fairly rigorous and aggressive way. Everyone has to agree to make this, to optimize for flourishing. And I think when everyone agrees to optimize for flourishing, that means you're going to have some strange rules and people are gonna have to collectively enforced each other. People are going to have to kind of force each other to be free. But I think that could be figured out, in ways that are not really being experimented with, in part because the people that self-select into building communes — I think it's fair to say probably, I would wager, the community that you're a part of — the people who self-select into these types of ideas and cooperative projects are generally temperamentally averse to the idea of "let's start by just making a shitload of money," and then figure out how to use that the most aggressive way possible towards the sustaining of communism. So that's my estimate of where the bottleneck is. Like there's a kind of aversion to the cool-headed engineering of successful commerce and an optimal culture-design and the enforcement that that would require. People who want communism are generally averse to that. And to me, if you can solve that bottleneck, you could really create a highly functional patch. Once you have some people doing that in a way that's commercially successful, where money is abundant, people are thriving economically, and the relationships are thriving, and it's like actual legit communism where everyone is guaranteed dignified, relatively equalitarian lifestyles… If you can engineer that, that's when you'd start seeing massive organic defections from the status quo. Like office workers would just be like, "fuck this, I'm doing what those people did!"