The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Capitalism and Good Post-capitalism

Let us revisit the definition of capitalism.

Capitalism, everywhere, is defined by the removal of capital from most ordinary people and the concentration of capital in the hands of a few.

Capital, in this definition, is not money. It is the tools required to feed, house, and cloth oneself.

Medieval serfs, in most areas, had access to capital. They had the right to land to grow food, to take firewood, and so on. They built their own houses, spun their own clothes.

Depending on the time and place, they were healthy and relatively long-lived.

As I have pointed out before, early industrial workers, as a class, were worse off than the serfs and peasants they replaced. They worked longer, ate worse, died younger.

Capitalism is accompanied by enclosure virtually everywhere. The old rights are taken away and the peasants are forced off the land.

“Forced” is the operative word: In both England and China, the land to which they had rights — for centuries — was taken from them. If they won’t go peacefully, armed force is used to remove them. There are many, many stories of peasants in China resisting the government trying to take their land so they can hand it over to other owners.

Many people get “better” ownership out of the process of moving to capitalism. They get a better bundle of rights in terms of “property.” But most people lose their rights to productive capital.

You see this in virtually every developing country. Peasants are forced off the land, whether by law, crashing crop prices caused by unfettered “free” trade (which isn’t “free,” even slightly; Europe and the US massively subsidize agriculture), or by force. They flee to the cities, forming vast rings of slums. They are worse off than when they were peasants, in most cases, but there are no other options.

In most cases, this is done so that their country can concentrate on a few cash crops, plantation style, with a few owners making all the money.


A citizen in a capitalist economy is distinguished by having no independent ability to feed, clothe, or house themselves. They must sell their labor on “the market” or live miserably and likely even die. (People who live on the street long-term don’t, as a rule, live long term.)

The term “wage-slave” is old, used in the 19th century to talk about what was happening then.

A person who must sell their labor to another, then do their master’s bidding, is not free. Their entire working day is spent doing what someone else tells them to do. Only a very few people, under any capitalist system, have anything close to freedom. The majority of people are slaves in their daily life, free only to sell their labor.

Because most people are undistinguishable, they take the rates offered by the market, and those rates are determined primarily by how tight the labor market is, a factor that has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with any one individual worker.

Most workers in the world have miserable lives. Those reading this may have “good jobs.” In China, they make batteries by hand because it is cheaper than using machines. Other Chinese are now hand-pollinating crops.

That’s freedom for you.

People whose lives are lived doing what other people tell them are not only not free, but because their daily life is about obeying orders, they are not used to freedom and are conditioned to expect orders.

Being a wage-slave, taking orders is ordinary to them. It’s what they expect. They don’t know what freedom is because they have never experienced it (coming from a school system which is designed to turn people into obedient drones).

Real freedom is being your own master. It’s been a long time since that described most of the world’s population.

But capitalism, meaning wage slavery, contrary to the propaganda, has not been an unambiguous move towards freedom.

In the 19th century in North America, for example, if land was unused, you could simply go work it and after a few years it was yours.

You can’t do that now.

Capitalism is about taking the ability of the many to provide for themselves and putting it into the hands of a few. The argument is that this transfer allows for the creation of more goods and services than would be possible otherwise.

But we don’t need more — let alone the vast amount of surplus we are creating. We waste a third of the food we produce. We deliberately build “planned obsolesence” into the manufacture of goods. We are vastly overproducing past our needs, and because we distribute goods through corrupt market mechanisms, many people still don’t have enough to get by, let alone enough for a good life. We could easily provide for them if what we produced were more evenly distributed and not made to break down so we can make more.

Imagine a world with no planned obsolesence, in which everyone has a small garden (indoors gardens are easy to do now, and one pilot study found 10X yields from a basement garden with LED lights), everyone has basic maker tools, and every community has a few facilities capable of creating large appliances.

We can print buildings on 3D printers now (they could have been made well, prefab, long ago).

Freedom is the ability to make your own choices, daily, about what you do with your time and your abilities, without losing everything. It is the ability to support yourself.

Feudalism was no joy. But capitalism removed even more economic freedom than feudalism did. You don’t have to believe me, believe the people who lived at the time, who violently resisted the changes. They weren’t idiots, they weren’t fools; they knew their lives were being changed for the worse. That it worked out for some of their descendents means little: A century of technological improvement accounts for much of that.

Post-capitalism, if it is any good, will restore the ability to grow and make what they need to the people. Not like feudalism, but a craft-based, hunter-gatherer society. Work 20 hours a week to meet the essentials, spend the rest of the time as you wish and choose how and when to work those 20 hours.

More on this later.

Originally from April 17, 2016. Back to the top.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 18, 2021


Why Do We Do That?


  1. on the topic of what a good system of political economy is – Bernie Sanders at the Vatican – complete text

  2. Spinoza

    Have you heard of Peter Frase of Jacobin Magazine? He put out an article a couple years ago, subsequently turned to a book, titled Four Futures. Basically,

    1) If we have abundant resources that have transcended some of our resource limits and the fruits of this abundance are shared equally and fairly we get “utopian communism”
    2) If we have those abundant resources but then they are not shared equally, but rather hoarded by the rich we get a bizarre neofeudal system he calls “rentism”
    3) If resources are limited and we are unable to overcome the resource and production limits but they are shared equally we will have “socialism”
    4) If resources are limited and the rich hoard it without any care for the broader people we will end up under a dystopian regime or “exterminism”

    The article fleshes this out a great deal more. Haven’t read the book. Not smart enough to give a good critique. Interesting regardless and related to your thoughts, Mr. Welsh.

  3. Keith Werner

    Is there a typo here:

    “The argument is that that allows the creation of vast amounts more than if capital is in the hands of the few.”

    Should that be:

    “The argument is that that allows the creation of vast amounts [of] more [necessities] than if capital is in the hands of the few many.”


  4. Keith Werner

    I would like to hear more about what a “craft based hunter-gatherer society” would look like. We need a positive vision to hold up and capture our imaginations. Something has to replace the old stories.

  5. V. Arnold

    I don’t disagree with re: definition of capitalism and the concept of post capitalism.
    What’s missing is the entrenched and indoctrinated populations corrupted by forced educational systems. Which is to say, most people, IMO, do not identify as wage slaves and even if by chance they do so identify, believe changing jobs or careers is the solution.
    Change would require a tectonic shift in the very roots of society.

  6. tony

    I don’t understand the point of this post. Even if you are right about us being able to use LEDs and having sufficient energy for an industrial society, no one is working towards it. And once things fall apart, you have as good a chance of building that as you would in modern day Syria. Less actually, since Syrians can import dirt cheap industrial products and food, so they are relatively rich. It seems like a cornucopian fantasy.

    Could you post a link to the pilot study? I tried googling, but could not find it.

  7. V. Arnold

    April 18, 2016

    There is reams of information re: LED grow lights and indoor cultivation using LED’s. That’s the “pilot” Ian refers to. Oh, and google sucks; try duckduckgo or ixquick; neither tracks your searches or gathers information.

  8. Ché Pasa

    What a lovely 18th-19th Century Euro-American Utopian vision.

    Capitalism is no good; there are plenty of alternatives — if only we had a way to get there.

    Most of the main alternatives have been tried. Utopianism is a fundamental foundation for the US experiment. Some have been deliberately destroyed by the malevolence of power. Most seemed to fall apart through their own internal contradictions or from personality conflicts.

    One Utopian alternative that’s survived, even flourished (partly by out-capitalist-ing the capitalists though that’s not all they do), is the Mormons, anachronistic though they may be.

    To successfully get beyond the capitalist model, we need a vision for a moral economy that is not an evocation of some halcyon past time but one that leads thinking and action toward a better future.

  9. Jeff Wegerson

    @tony – See Buckminster Fuller, less is more. See Schumacher Small is Beautiful. Jane Jacobs for carless cities. Fukuoka One Straw Revolution. Moore-Lappe Food First. And that is just from the 1960s 70s before LEDs. (Ian has a ton more that I am not even aware of.)

    But as always the problems are not technical/resources but distribution and the politics/economics of mal-distribution. Many of the directions that Ian points towards are human labor intensive. And human labor is one thing for which there is an over-abundance.

  10. someofparts

    “We need a positive vision to hold up and capture our imaginations. Something has to replace the old stories.”

    I think what you are looking for can be found here –

    There are four books in the series now. The idea behind all of the submissions to the anthologies in that series, is to start sharing new stories among ourselves to “replace the old stories”.

  11. someofparts

    V. Arnold – thanks for those search engine links

  12. V. Arnold

    April 18, 2016

    Welcome; hope they serve well…

  13. Jaimie

    This is my favorite post of yours in a while. Please continue to pound this drum. More people need to hear it.

    Such a sweet word, post-capitalism.

  14. Ian Welsh

    I’ve hit the education bit repeatedly, most recently in the last post.

    19th century utopianism was rather deliberately killed, and now we pretend that it had to happen.

    Enclosed fields were not significantly more productive than commons fields, by the way, this has been established.

    What allowed for scale factories in England was world conquest and the forced de-industrialization of other nations. India had more factories than England at one point.

    Slave labor was used to grow the cotton needed for the early textile mills.

    The only strong argument that industrialization had to be done the way it was is in the case of armaments and military infrastructure (which includes roads and railroads). The ability to turn production into military power is key. If you can’t do that with Jeffersonian yeoman farmers, then you have a problem.

    In the war of 1812 the Americans found they couldn’t keep up with the Brits when it came to armaments. That was a problem.

    This is found in Smith, by the way: “my system will produce better armies and navies” (well, ok, not that exact quote, but that’s his argument.)

    However, this is not an 18th or 17th century vision, this is something only possible now because we have technology they did not have.

    For for more on the past and industrialization, see here:

  15. subgenius

    …all of which is the basis for the age of predatory capitalism/kleptocracy…and all of which is subject to various ever more likely failure as the arbitrary nature of the rules of the game collide with some solid reality.

    I wonder how far back we have to go to find a truly sound basis for a society…

  16. markfromireland

    @ Ian

    Enclosed fields were not significantly more productive than commons fields, by the way, this has been established.

    It’s been known for a very long time the first recorded complaint against enclosure in the English speaking world that I’m aware of was made by an English priest and historian named John Rous, in his History of the Kings of England, which was first published around 1459.

    Then of course there’s Thomas More’s great condemnation of it in Utopia:

    “Your shepe that were wont to be so meke and tame, and so smal eaters, now, as I heare saye, be become so great devowerers and so wylde, that they eate up and swallow down the very men them selfes. They consume, destroye, and devoure whole fields, howses and cities . . . Noble man andgentleman, yea and certeyn Abbottes leave no ground for tillage, thei inclose all into pastures; they throw down houses; they pluck down townes, and leave nothing standynge but only the churche to be made a shepehowse.”

    And More wasn’t the only one Thomas Wolsey, Hugh Latimer, William Tyndale, Lord Somerset and Francis Bacon all agreed with More and said so, as did other figures in British history such as Cade, Kett and Pouch.

    Going forward from the Tudors about the only thing that Charles I and Oliver Cromwell agreed on politically was that enclosure was bad. Charles’ opposition to it was feeble and under severe financial pressure he resorted to it himself Cromwell on the other hand never gave up his opposition to it and his early opposition was what led to him becoming so popular that he was referred to as the “Lord of the Fens” and entered parliament on the back of it. About the only thing that Cromwell and the Diggers and Levellers (think of them as Puritan proto-socialists) agreed on was the enclosure was bad and should be stopped.

    I could go on but you get the point – it’s been known since at least the middle of the 15th century that enclosure is bad for society in general even if it’s very good for an oligarchic rulin class- now where did we hear that one before?


  17. highrpm

    post-capitalism. a return to the commons. dream on. not without severe dislocation. (and good riddance to the current state of the collective mind of mankind. always readily resorting to violent confrontation. us versus them. grab our share while we can. go ye into all the world and impose your world view.) thanks ian for a great post. i never adjusted to the adult world and its slavery. 4 years ago, at age 62 i finally concluded that i would never resort to selling my labor again. f*k the master/slave world. of course, socialism in the form of minimal soc security allowed me this. and f*k paul ryan and co who continue to favor armaments over social security.

  18. Richard Holsworth

    Great post, I’ve been following the subject for quite a while. The part about the feudal times be marginally less horrible the early industrial society rings true.

    “Yep, despite what you might have learned, the transition to a capitalistic society did not happen naturally or smoothly. See, English peasants didn’t want to give up their rural communal lifestyle, leave their land and go work for below-subsistence wages in shitty, dangerous factories…”


  19. I’ve been thinking and posting along similar lines for quite some time now. Having grown up rural, I at least understand what it takes in terms of tools, knowledge and effort to be more or less self-sufficient, both at the personal and the community level. My children haven’t a clue and my grandchildren wouldn’t even grasp the concept. I suspect my great-grandkids are going to have to learn .

    I could walk away from the world and survive in the wild, but my loved ones could not, so at 78 I find myself re-inventing my life, mostly for the sake of the younger generations. although building my own furniture, weaving my own cloth and growing my own crops is quite satisfying on its own. It’s also good for my mental state.

    “We owe it all to six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains”.
    Farming and animal husbandry are the foundation of all wealth.

  20. Peter*

    The only kind of hunter-gatherer society possible now with 7 Billion people, and especially in the advanced countries, would be hunting other humans and gathering their stuff.

    A while ago someone was blubbering over the wonders of the paleo diet so I did a little simple math and discovered that if just the Pueblo people here in NM, about 35,000 of them, adopted this foreign concept they would exterminate all the large wildlife in NM within a very few years and then have to steal Ted Turner’s bison herds to continue this hunting/gathering for another short time.

    A small remnant population could survive being crafty hunter-gatherers because if the majority of the human population is removed the wildlife populations could return to meet these smaller demands.

  21. Tom

    New York is a closed Primary. If you are an independent you can’t vote. Many Bernie and Trump Supporters including two of Trumps kids found this out only today and the deadline to register for party affiliation was last October…



    This is absolutely fucking undemocratic. Yet its legal and the State Legislature is refusing to pass a bill to fix it.

    If Clinton wins New York because of the disenfranchisement of Independents, Bernie is fucked. Pennsylvania has the same system as well.

  22. S Brennan

    A well written post Ian;

    While I see no way back from capitalism, shy of existential collapse, it’s important to understand it’s history is what night is to day from what we are told.

    As a side note; capitalism is often given credit for the doings of science, collective govern-neo-governmental actions. Indeed, capitalism’s contributions to humanity would have a hard time filling an essay, much less a short pamphlet.

    Consider what capitalism had nothing to do with:

    Fire – no
    Wheel – no
    Weaving – no
    Pottery – no
    Boat building – no
    Agriculture – no
    Metallurgy – no
    Electricity – no
    Math [all inclusive] – no
    Writing – no
    Physics – no
    Vaccines – no
    Electricity – no
    Chemistry – no
    Controlled flight – no
    Fission- no

    The list goes on and on and on and on…

  23. Proletarian

    Ian, I agree with you that developing the ability for individuals and small communities to meet their basic needs outside the capitalist economy is key to a better future. The improvements in solar power and 3D printing give me some hope it can be done. Given the extreme atomization of industrialized societies, I think it is a more plausible path than older models of class consciousness and collective action, although it strikes me as probably more fragile in the face of opposition of oligarchs and the state. It’s already vulnerable to the rentism described in the Frase article @Spinoza linked to — intellectual property laws and utility-backed anti-solar policies are the current battlegrounds in this war. Getting people to see the contradiction between the abundance and potential of our material world on the one hand, and the brutality and artificial scarcity of capitalism on the other, is both necessary to this transition and a likely self-reinforcing benefit of it as it gains steam.

  24. wendy davis

    thank you ian and mfi for explaining ‘enclosed places’ to me. if post-capitalism comes, and i think it must, it won’t be any sort of -ism, but a new paradigm; one that some of us must have called ‘creating intentional communities’, and david graeber calls ‘prefiguratives spaces’ as he chronicles #LaNuitDebout.

    hoping not to trip your software’s possible ‘too many links’, inside is a link to to Greece’s under-the-radar ‘Solidarity for All Movement’ which the interviewee describes as not monolithic, but local.

    It may just be that in the not too distant future we’re forced into new systems of self-sufficiency, shared production, bartering, but as far as growing our our on food in basements w/ LED lights, i tried to find out how many USians live in in apartments, but couldn’t interpret the various charts: a hella lot, in any event. iirc, i once googled about food consumption per year, and i believe in the US it was close to a ton of food. yes, waste, yes, empty calories. hemp seeds and oil seem to be good very whole food dietary additions.

    i saw a piece recently that said: ‘40% of our energy could be supplied by rooftop solar panels!!!’ trouble is, as with grow-lights, how many can afford them? and they don’t last forever, in any event.

    I live in a Mormon community, and while their church rules dictate that they store food for two years ahead, most are just…people (whose eschatology is bizzarely patriarchal, and male are loved by the FBI, smile). Perhaps think of the Amish, or the Mennonites, both of who iirc abjure technology.

    Well, we’ll see what happens after May 15 and the call for #InternationalLaNuitDebou.

  25. wendy davis

    Pardon my ditzy mind; I can just give the ‘Solidarity for All’ link in a separate comment. An interview with Christos Giovanopoulos.

  26. DMC

    Back in 1972(I think) John Muir, the author of “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive”, a seminal work at the time, wrote a now almost wholly unknown book called “The Velvet Monkey Wrench” in which he describes a society where political power has devolved to the localities in the extreme. The basic unit of society is the “Neighborhood” (500-1500 people) 10-20 of which form a “Council” and all of North America divided into three great Regions, comprised of the councils within their borders. The Neighborhoods send a representative to the Council to which they belong and the Councils send a representative to “National”, a unicameral legislature with executive functions, whose only concerns are inter-council trade, foreign relations and national defense. It envisions a highly networked society that eliminates cash, for electronic currency, has ONE sliding sales tax of 1-50% progressive with income, a guaranteed income, public housing(at the council level), free education and healthcare for all. Neighborhoods and Councils retain a great deal of sovereignty, in that they can enact laws(Muir terms them “customs”) that their Members approve of, provided that any unusual ones are posted at points of entry, the idea being that “how you live is a function of where you live”. Thus White Nationalists and Lesbian Separatists can live as they choose and nobody else has to be bothered by them. The system assumes some sort of Capitalism, in that there would still be buying and selling and businesses but that there would be some iron clad restraints in the form of “Non-ownership of the 4 elements” which means that no person or group of persons can OWN land, water, air or Energy. Property taxes turn into rents, which depending on how well you use the land can go higher or lower. Pollution is forbidden ABSOLUTELY to business. Your factory can NOT emit smoke, toxic liquids or any such thing. Everything that leaves the premises, save ordinary sewage, has to be for sale. A cap on profits with a FEW rare exceptions for startups. A few of the ideas have not aged as well, like a justice system based on polygraph tests or small nuke plants in every neighborhood but the overall framework he describes looks amazingly prescient considering that computers were big mainframes with reel to reel tape drives and punch card readers when he wrote it.

  27. Joan

    I just finished reading a series of articles about the Amish. I think their example is one that Americans and other industrialized nations should look at. Other communities wouldn’t need to go “full-Amish” because obviously a lot of their strict code of life has to do with their religious beliefs, but there’s something to be said for taking care of yourself and having the skill set for daily life within one’s own community.

    Another thing to note is that not everyone farms in the Amish. If you have a specialized skill and someone else in your family to farm your land, then you likely end up doing that skill full-time. Everyone has a basic knowledge of carpentry, for when the community builds a house or barn, but the more skilled carpenters build furniture to sell to non-Amish and bring cash in. Also the buggy makers do that full-time and don’t also farm, from what I can tell. There isn’t necessarily one buggy maker for every Amish community, but often one for several communities, since it is highly specialized.

  28. bruce wilder

    I agree: Amish communities might be exemplary.

    I follow some guy on TikTok, who is converting a bus into a “tiny house” and he bought high-quality lumber for his floor from an Amish sawmill for a fraction of what a big box store was selling it for. Speaks to the economics of modern capitalism in a way.

    I don’t share Ian’s sunny view of European feudalism.
    1.) the Lord of the Manor was extracting a large part of a meager surplus to supply a tiny elite engaged in constant warfare and pillage — even in the High Middle Ages, when some of that surplus was augmented and diverted in culture by the Church, it was a pretty questionable design for society and produced short lives and misery. Many, probably most of those attached to a manor, were hardly their own masters — they were dependent and marginal.
    2.) there was no brake in European feudalism on population growth; congestion drove down marginal productivity, eroding the extracted surplus, and leaving the marginal peasants near starvation. By the 1320’s, much of western Europe was thoroughly miserable; the Black Death rescued things by killing off half the population, and hugely boosting marginal productivity in agriculture by removing the congestion pressure, resulting in a jump in the surplus available for towns of merchants and artisans and mercenary armies (oh joy!)

    What we, collectively, are doing today is driving straight off Seneca’s Cliff. And, further concentrating wealth and power in an ever more complex and steep political and economic hierachy is making things worse. We have to think long and hard about how to find a better way.

  29. someofparts

    I get the impression that utopian communities have cropped up in the U.S. throughout our history. There is a small book by Hawthorne called Blithedale Romance loosely modeled on the Brook Farm community of his day. When I lived in San Francisco in the 70s, I hand-delivered a small newsletter to several utopian households that existed in the city at that time. Peter Coyote was part of the Diggers community back then and wrote about it here –

    The first comment about Coyote’s book at the goodreads site is so interesting I’m going to share it here –

    “Peter Coyote is an actor now, but back in the day, he was a member of the San Francisco diggers community. His dad Morris was from rough, East-side, Jewish NYC, later a plutocrat financier. According to this narrative, in 1970, while visiting Peter, Morris said:“Capitalism is dying, boy. It’s dying of its own internal contradictions. You think the revolution’s gonna take 5 years? It’s gonna take fifty! So keep your head down and hang in for the long haul, because I’ll tell you something. The sons of bitches running things don’t give a shit about their children or grandchildren, and they certainly don’t give a shit about you! They’ve paid their dues, and they want to get out with theirs! They’re going to sell off everything’s that not nailed down to the highest bidder. Don’t get crushed when it topples down. Take care of yourself and your family. If you can make a difference, do it, but there are huge forces at work here, and they have to play themselves out according to their own design, not yours. Watch yourself.”

  30. Dan Lynch

    I generally agree with where Ian is going with this essay, but want to suggest that perhaps freedom is proportional to the amount of leisure time a person has after making a comfortable living. A self-employed person who works 70 hours a week is not very free (I speak from experience), even though he may be his own boss. A homeless person may have lots of leisure time but he is not free because he lacks security and basic needs.

    Realistically, in any economic systems, humans have to work for most of their life to make a living (unless they are parasitic elites). Whether you work under the direction of a boss, or whether you are your own boss, it’s still work — work is something you *have* to do whether you want to do it or not.

    A religious person might say that freedom is the ability to worship as you please, but what they really mean is the freedom to *associate* with like minded people, because no one can stop an individual from quietly believing certain things.

    Freedom to travel is another type of freedom. In the U.S., we are free to travel on public roads (as long as we comply with various regulations) but not free to go for a stroll on undeveloped private land, whereas in much of Northern Europe there is an “Every Man’s Right” or “Right To Roam” so that people are indeed free to stroll on private land. In that sense, Northern Europeans are more free than Americans.

    So there are different kinds of freedom, and as FDR pointed out, “necessitous men are not free.” To be free, first we have to have basic needs satisfied, and then we have to have time left over to do things we want to do, go where we want to go, and associate with people we want to associate with. By that definition, the Nordic countries have the most freedom today.

  31. Soredemos


    Of course, More’s version of an ideal society was explicitly a patriarchal, theocratic nightmare where privacy didn’t exist and where everyone without a supernatural belief was openly despised. So maybe let’s not try and adopt all his ideas.


    Guaranteed income is actually a terrible idea that has been tried before and utterly failed. In practice it just amounts to a business subsidy that allows businesses to get away with paying shit wages. If a Silicon Valley parasite like Yang is championing something, it probably isn’t actually as progressive as it might at first appear.

    Some will argue that we *need* UBI because soon a lot of jobs simply won’t exist because of robots and AI, but the reality is that most of what can be automated already has been. AI especially is about 95% hype (and even when it isn’t, it’s mostly just automated sets of dumb algorithms; there’s little if anything resembling intelligence involved).

    But guaranteed income has unfortunately become a brain worm on the left.

  32. Lex

    Indoor agriculture is a scam. LED lights are a vast improvement over HID, both in spectrum delivery and efficiency but there are huge energy input factors that don’t work at scale. They work at scale for weed because it’s expensive, but unless tomatoes are going for $200/oz, it flat doesn’t work. It can work reasonably well for a handful of crops like leafy greens, but still not as well as the sun.

    It’s not just the lights. A 300 watt LED will be enough to grow in about a 2×4 area, but the light will run at about 125’ F. For maximum light efficiency you’ll need to enclose that area (reflection), which will raise the temperature in the room such that you need electric ventilation. If soil temps fall much below 70 plants don’t grow very well, which means you need to periodically add heat. You may need to cool and there’s a good chance you’ll need to humidify and dehumidify the space. Plus the biology of plants makes the temp/humidity swings pretty drastic when combined with artificial light. You’ll need to maintain that environment for at least 55 days before you see your first tomato.

    Micro greens and a handful of leafy greens can be made to work as they require less light energy, have short life spans to harvest and tolerate cooler temperatures. A hoop house with a solar exhaust fan is a far better way to approach high density food production with a much lower carbon footprint.

  33. js

    We may need to work to a degree most of our lives but we don’t need to work nearly as much as we do. If there was so much social need for everyone to work all their lives, the job market wouldn’t routinely discard people at 50, which is not anywhere close to the average lifespan. But we know it does in the form of age discrimination. If there was so much social need for everyone to work all their lives, we wouldn’t have long term unemployment where the job market sees no need to employ people for vast spans of time. But we do.

    There may be a need for an individual to earn money all their lives, but that’s not because of the social need for anywhere near as much labor, but because of the current setup.

  34. rangoon78

    I see the inevitability of climate induced societal collapse as something to embrace and prepare for. Frank Hole, an early-agriculture specialist, and Kent Flannery, a specialist in Mesoamerican civilization, have noted that, “No group on earth has more leisure time than hunters and gatherers, who spend it primarily on games, conversation and relaxing.”

    The best of the best, the Chumash once lived the good life from SLO to Malibu. Great spot for the post-climate-apocalypse-hunter-fisher-gatherer. “When Spanish explorers and missionaries came onto Southern California’s shores in 1769, they encountered the large towns and villages of the Chumash, a people who at that time were among the most advanced hunter-gatherer societies in the world.”

    **Future climate change will return planet Earth to the unstable climatic conditions of the Pleistocene and agriculture will be impossible. Human society will once again be characterized by hunting and gathering.

    Our hunter-gatherer future: Climate change, agriculture and uncivilization

  35. Jan Wiklund

    What is really meant by capitalism seems a bit confused. There are several definitions.

    – Werner Sombart, who coined the term capitalism, referred to a production in which the fixed costs, “capital”, were greater than the variable, “labor”, which was new in his time.

    – Karl Marx, and perhaps even more so the chief ideologue of the early German labor movement Karl Kautsky, referred to a production in which those who worked and those who owned the means of production were completely different classes of people.

    – Fernand Braudel, a French historian who investigated how what we call capitalism actually emerged, refers by the word capitalism to activities that govern by force and power, unlike markets which have always existed and where buyers and sellers talk about the conditions, and where both parties can abstain if it does not suit them.

    – Immanuel Wallerstein means by capitalism a society where capital accumulation in the long run beats out all other human needs.

    – David Ellerman believes that capitalism means societal routines that mean that it is mostly capital that hires labor and not labor that hires capital or a third person who hires both. The last case implies that as soon as producer’s cooperatives is not the norm, we have capitalism.

    So what do you mean with capitalism? A theme for a future post, maybe?

  36. rangoon78

    As talking of survival turns from an academic exercise into urgent need, understand the life of a hunter gatherer take son needed urgency. I came across this article of how Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs. I didn’t understand that he had lived with the people of the Blackfoot nation for an extended period and his observations led to his seminal work. But, according to this article the final draft turned what he learned from this first nation on its head: “While in Maslow’s model, we find love and belonging only after attending to our basic needs and safety, the Blackfoot model describes that our tribe or community is the means through which we are fed, housed, clothed, housed, and protected. The tribe knows how to survive on the land and uses that knowledge and skill to care for us.”“

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