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So, for some context:

  • This is a world artificially engineered by a single hyper-advanced precursor in an attempt to rapidly develop some new civilizations and militarize them in hopes of combating a mysterious foe and subsequently starting reconstruction across the observable universe.

  • As of "present-day", the world is 2056 years post-scarcity, with the original upgrade coming from a number of "ready" civilizations on-world being granted precursor technologies by said engineer. Replicator tech is cheap and common, with even kindergartners having basic knowledge on how to produce the means of production, in this case.

  • Most governments practice a form of socialist meritocracy, with the closest thing to a global currency being called "Rep", which is not unlike Facebook's Like system.

  • One state, known as the NOTA Republic, uses a form of representative democracy / democratic republic. It likewise recognizes Rep.

  • NOTA is fairly well-known worldwide due to practicing a form of capitalism in addition to the socialism - that is, basic human rights like housing and hormones are provided via the usual tech, but it also has an extant "material economy" of sorts stacked on top of it, as opposed to most "immaterial economies" which either utilize digital currency like Rep above or simply Replicate goods in and out of existence as needed.

What I'm struggling with at the moment is providing a believable justification for why a government would attempt to sustain its own capitalist market(s) in what's otherwise mostly a sea of socialism. Two possible excuses I've thought of are:

  • The economy exists as a form of autonomy due to paranoia; just in case said engineer decides to take away Replicator tech come reconstruction, they'll have physical goods to work with. That being said, I'm kind of hoping to have a more... benevolent justification than this.

  • Competitive markets have been established in order to prevent NOTA's people from "getting soft" leading up to the inevitable encounter with said mysterious foe.

As-is, I'm not really satisfied with either of those two, though.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, Azuaron, kingledion, L.Dutch, sphennings May 14 '17 at 19:06

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Failure of imagination mainly, besides the capitalists don't want to give away a system that benefits them. Otherwise you have to persuade the powerful to surrender their power. $\endgroup$ – a4android May 14 '17 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ Are you committed to them being capitalists? You seem skeptical and your instincts as an author are probably correct. There are other ways. Failure of imagination on the part of your world's leaders does not necessitate failure of your own imagination. Look up other bases for an economic system. For example one based on scarce luxury goods: things that cannot be replicated. That would also be more fun to write! $\endgroup$ – Willk May 14 '17 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ What there to compete with, if "Replicator tech is cheap and common, with even kindergartners having basic knowledge on how to produce the means of production"? $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 15 '17 at 19:16
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A post-scarcity environment necessarily means one with fewer beings than resource needs. That has to cover land area/living space. That never goes post-scarcity, not really. Also, unless your tech makes every person able to live completely on their own -- no need for repairs or expertise -- then there is a service that is limited in availability for which trading will be necessary. Finally, even if there is just 1 human per star system with enough tech to make whatever they want in that space come to being, there may still be trade among the stars simply as a game to pass the time -- capitalism to score points.

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  • $\begingroup$ "A game to pass the time" seems like it'd be in-line with the Republic leadership's motivations, honestly. Even if there may be deeper reasoning higher up the food chain, it just being another "pastime" to the little people while still providing goods and services to those who need them would be consistent with some of the world's established logic. $\endgroup$ – gravitygauntlet May 14 '17 at 2:11
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This is a preparation for war, but what exactly does that mean in a post-scarcity economy? By definition you don't have to beat ploughshares into swords, because you can have as many as want of both. Instead, you need to come up with better swords and better ways to use them. Anyone can print a gun, but someone still needs to come up with the best composition for a bullet, the best firing mechanism, etc.

One way to achieve this is to create an artificial form of scarcity: intellectual property rights.

To be war ready, your society needs to be a brilliant idea machine. That means you need an incentive for citizens to come up with better ideas than the current best. One sort of incentive is to allow you some control over whatever idea you have, so you can profit off of it.

Secondly, war is competitive. If a post-scarcity society becomes totally noncompetitive, they may have trouble understanding war. Do they understand what bluffing is? What about double bluffing? Post-scarcity means never having to give up one thing so you can have another: will they understand why winning a war might involve losing battles because your soldiers are needed elsewhere?

I can imagine post scarcity citizens having trouble understanding "we're cut off from reinforcements", so they just keep throwing bodies at the problem. Not in a "does not compute" way, it's just that ideas like "make every bullet/soldier count" would be foreign to them. To capitalists, "use resources efficiently" is second nature.

Finally, maybe the mysterious foe is a capitalist civilization. Even if war doesn't require a capitalist mindset, it would be very important to be able to understand how they thought. Therefore, the precursor declares that NOTA has to be capitalist society or else.

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what you need to realize is that unless we have figured out how to break the laws of entropy there is no such thing as post scarcity as all resources would be limited, the only thing that would actually happen is EFFECTIVE post scarcity and that would not last 2000 years everywhere, it would only exist for people living in a dyson sphere and even then only rarely.

now capitalism is the best way to manage resources because even if there are more then enough raw resources they need to be made into things and competition allows those things to continually get better because to win in a competitive market you need to provide better or cheaper stuff then your competitors and better and cheaper stuff is always best, if their is socialism you have a monopoly in every market and monopolies have no reason to get better as they can do whatever they want and they would want to maximize profit with both price and quantity as a dependent and independent variable. even if the resources are practically infinite, time and labor are not and really socialism would CAUSE the end of EPS.

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  • $\begingroup$ There's effectively unlimited resources via what amounts to space magic. One of the themes in the world is that it is a vacuum, meaning "perfection" is possible, including all of the ramifications that come with that. That being said, the "improvement" aspect of competitive markets seems like a logical motivation. $\endgroup$ – gravitygauntlet May 14 '17 at 2:08
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    $\begingroup$ Even if you can readily produce material goods at negligible cost, that just moves scarcity to some other good: perhaps very scenic living places (Hawai'i simply won't hold all the people who'd live there if money weren't an issue) or the company of attractive people of the opposite sexual persuasion. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf May 14 '17 at 4:59
  • $\begingroup$ This answer doesn't answer the question. Considering the OP's question postulates a post-scarity society with capitalism and is interested in a rationale for that. This only disputes the possibility of post-scarity society. $\endgroup$ – a4android May 14 '17 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android: Pointing out that the situation postulated in the question is impossible is a valid answer. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf May 14 '17 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ you can always trust the internet to argue for you... when you don't disagree with everyone. $\endgroup$ – skout Jan 19 '18 at 17:10

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