I am writing a book, and need some help answering this question: How would the economy of a futuristic global utopia work? If you are educated in economics i would appreciate a detailed answer!


4 Answers

Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass , Writer, answered

When I think about the concept of "economic utopia", I can't help but be reminded of early socialism, and the anti-capitalist sentiment that arose from the hardships of the 19th century.

Subscribers to this social-democratic ideology envisioned a society where people were:

  • Treated equally
  • Worked in jobs they enjoyed
  • Everyone was afforded a high standard of living
  • There was plenty of time outside of work to pursue other interests, such as art and culture

In many of these utopian societies, the concept of money was abolished completely. Instead, individuals produced and traded supplies - with everyone devoted to working diligently for the common good.

If this is the kind of society you're interested in creating in your book, I'd recommend reading a little bit about a man called Charles Fourier.

He was a French philosopher who believed the key to social success was common "concern and cooperation" amongst mankind.

Fourier inspired several communes where people attempted to live together and build a utopia - the most notable example being the settlement of Utopia in Ohio, USA.

In this type of utopian society, market economies as we know them would cease to exist. People would take on work creating goods and farming the land, and would then share what they produced - supplying the community as a whole.

Thus, rather than having to go to work to earn money to buy food and supplies, people were able to simply trade what they grew/created/built - in return for a fair share of the supplies that they needed to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

Realism and utopia

The concept of early socialist utopias was effectively trampled upon and dismissed by Marxists and other socialists, as they were considered unsustainable and fanciful.

In fact, even the town of Utopia in Ohio effectively failed - and was forced to adopt more conventional economic activity to survive.

In the context of your book, the biggest challenge to your fictional economy will be to create a model that satisfies all the needs of a utopian society (as bullet-pointed above), but within a feasible economic construct.

Where the Fourier-inspired communes failed was that, despite their best efforts, they were still not completely self-sufficient. Especially not to the point where people could enjoy their jobs and lives in a carefree manner as implied by a utopia.

How to create a realistic economic utopia

One way of satisfying the economic needs of your utopia could be technology.

There are several novels and Hollywood films that base perfect societies in a time where advances in technology mean that mankind can live a life of luxury.

Robots could work the fields and perform other vital, but menial tasks - whilst humans go about enjoying their lives.

The economic implications of this would be that resources would be very cheap (assuming robots cost less to produce and run than how much it would cost to employ human beings to perform the same jobs).

In addition, the money saved by using robots to grow crops, build transport vehicles (whatever they may look like) and other such tasks, means there would be money available to subsidise the cost of jobs that humans will still need to perform.

Will humans still need to work in the future though?

As the author of this story, that's really up to you!

However, from a socio-economic point of view, I'd say "yes" for two main reasons:

A) There will probably be jobs in the future that we can't even imagine (or that you'll need to conjure up). For example, do you think that someone writing a book in the 1930s would have been able to write the character of an app developer or a desktop publisher?

B) Jobs are important, not only as a means of making money to sustain oneself - but to give people a purpose, a sense of community, ambition and hope.

If you are committed to making your utopia as real as possible, I think it's worth having your characters enjoy some sort of job - if only for the psychological benefits that employment can offer members of your society!

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Bruce Tillson
Bruce Tillson commented
A Utopian society would be devoid of an economy , so to speak. Every one and everything would be equal. There would be no individuality. There would be no personal opinions. Money would not exist in a way we know now. There would still be a hierarchy to run everything. Unfortunately that in itself would breed greed. It is human nature.
Yo Kass
Yo Kass commented
I agree Bruce - it is human nature to be greedy, that's why I think communism will never work. But perhaps if we were able to "alter" human nature through conditioning or something... Maybe we'd have less of the free-will, but would that be worth it if it meant living a problem free life?
Stan Smith
Stan Smith commented
I'm not convinced a "problem free life" would build that level of character in people, Kass. Some of the most giving people I know have traveled a path none of us would choose for ourselves if we were given a choice while alternatively those people I know with a sense of entitlement seemingly have had everything given to them their whole lives.
Christian Bell-Young Profile

I think that a Utopian society would be evolved beyond economy. I think that things like money and financial growth will cease to exist and will be replaced by the increasing of knowledge, discovery and self-worth.

I don't think Utopia and Economy can exist together. As long as there is  money, there will be the endless pursuit of power and wealth and, thus, there will be those who are rich and those who are poor. When such a divide exists, there can be no utopian society.

So, in my opinion, if you want to write about a future utopia, there really should be no economy.

Lynne Dwyer Profile
Lynne Dwyer answered
In a utopia, there may not be finances. People would work at various jobs, being paid similar salaries in return for housing, utilities, clothing, and food. 

Excess products from farms, manufacturing plants and the like would be traded with other communties or countries. 

A utopia can only exist if all are treated equally—something that can never happen without a total meltdown of Wall Street, Nasdaq, and such. 

Outlaw paper money, making it useless, and we would see the beginnings of a global utopia.

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Bruce Tillson
Bruce Tillson commented
Man is a complex animal and unfortunately, there will always be greed and want. There will always be a ruling class. It would be wonderful if everyone would be equal and everyone worked for a common goal but you would still need some type of leadership body to make sure everything is "running correctly". There would need to be rules. Some one would need to make sure these rules were adhered to so as to not upset the "balance". I don;t believe that Humans, as we know ourselves now, are capable of that. It would amount to totally giving up individuality.
Stan Smith
Stan Smith commented
I've always valued individuality and somewhat fear how easily some others are willing to give it up for some benefits I don't particularly find to be beneficial to myself.
Bruce Tillson
Bruce Tillson commented
I see this happening right here in the U.S. right now. People are becoming more apathetic towards everything and just "going along with the program". Less thinkers and doers. More "follow the pack" mentality. I think because of more "entitlement" programs from the Government, people are less likely to work to contribute or try to gain any ground.
Janey Profile
Janey answered
It would never work as there's no such thing as a utopian society as long as you have right-wing and left-wing politics with diametrically opposing views on finance, industry and commerce.
thanked the writer.
max atwood
max atwood commented
Its in humanities distant future, world peace and global government has been established for hundreds of years

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