For many generations, the long list of Utopians, Plato, Thomas More, Charles Fourier, Robert Owen, and Edward Bellamy, and many others have dreamed and planned ideal states of society. As mere speculations, they were disconnected from actual life and fell upon deaf ears. Today, the objective situation has become ever riper and the revolution no longer appears as an abstract theory and a mental projection. The objective conditions, in the shape of scientific knowledge and the technological means of creating material abundance, are already at hand in sufficient measure to do away with the menace of scarcity and deprivation to humanity. Automation and robotics releases productive forces strong enough to provide plenty for all and it destroys the whole accompanying capitalist baggage of ignorance, strife, and misery. But the trouble lies with the subjective factor. The will and determination to make such bountiful planet.
Capitalism has halted the evolution of the human species if it has not actually brought about a process of social regression. Capitalism, with its wars, wage-slavery, slums, famines and pestilence undermines the vitality and health of humanity. Socialism will not confine itself simply to thus developing the material conditions for a better life but will it turn its attention to the fundamental improvement of mankind itself. Socialism can free humanity from the stultifying effects of the present struggle for sheer existence and opens up before us new horizons. The socialist re-organisation of the economics of the world upon a rational and planned basis will bring the systematic conservation of the world’s natural resources, the beautification of the world, the liquidation of congested cities and their transformation into the convenience of country, and urban life, now hardly even imaginable.
People will not fear new technology. Anti-technology proponents in the environmentalist movement are the expression of the absurdity and despair of capitalism. Automation is to be seen as the emancipator from the drudgery and poverty of the past. We will have no dread of ensuing industrial crises and unemployment. We will control the machine; not be enslave by it as under capitalism. The creative impulses of people are not stunted by poverty and slavery, and the arts and sciences will not be hamstrung by the profit-making motive. Empowered by a free community and given the maximum cultivation of the intellectual and artistic powers—there will be no need to fear a society robotised by the machines. The unique stamp of individuality and originality will be upon everything. So long as the system of competition in the production and exchange of the means of life goes on, the degradation of the arts will go on; and if that system is to last forever, then art is doomed, and will surely die; that is to say, civilization will die.
As William Morris counseled us all:
“Nothing should be made by man's labour which is not worth making, or which must be made by labour degrading to the makers.”
And that we should:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”