We now seem to be nearing the end of an interval of ten thousand
years or so between two thresholds. The first threshold was the appearance of
the first large-scale technology of abundance: agriculture.
Since then we have been involved in the aforementioned arms race.
Sometimes technologies of abundance produce an increase in the social surplus
faster than the class superstructure can expropriate it, and things become
better for the ordinary person―as in the late Middle Ages, when the horse collar
and crop rotation caused a massive increase in agricultural productivity, the
craftsmen of the free towns developed new production technologies, and the decay
of feudalism resulted in falling rents and de facto emancipation of large
sectors of the peasantry. Sometimes the advantage shifts to the social
structures of expropriation, and things get worse―as in the case of the absolute
monarchies' suppression of the free towns, what Immanuel Wallerstein called the
"long sixteenth century," and the Enclosures.
We're approaching the second threshold, when the technologies of
abundance reach a takeoff point beyond which the social structures of
expropriation can no longer keep up with the rising production curve.
The interval between the two thresholds has been comparatively brief,
compared to the hundreds of thousands of years that homo sapiens has
existed in something like its present form and the billion years or so that the
sun will likely be able to support human life. Seen in that light, this interval
is a brief initial adjustment period in the early stages of human productivity.
The state was an anomaly in this early stage of the technological explosion, in
the childhood of the human race, by whose means the parasitic classes were
briefly able to piggyback on the revolution in productivity and harness it as a
source of income for themselves.
During this brief interval, parasitic classes―bureaucrats, usurers,
landlords, and assorted rentiers―used the state to create scarcity by artificial
means, in order to enclose the increased productivity from technologies of
abundance as a source of rents for themselves. But after these first few
millennia, the productivity curve has shifted so sharply upward that the
increases in output will soon dwarf the rentier classes' ability to expropriate
it. What's more, new technologies of abundance are rendering artificial