Frase, Peter. Four futures. Jacobin. 2012 Winter; 5:27–34. Available from: http://jacobinmag.com/winter-2012/four-futures/.
Frase considers the endgame of our current political struggles, locating future scenarios along two axes: scarcity versus abundance, and social hierarchy versus equality. This yields four possibilities: communism (abundance with equality), rentism (abundance with hierarchy), socialism (scarcity with equality), and exterminism (scarcity with hierarchy). The rentist scenario reveals economic rents (return on use of owned property), rather than surplus value of labor, as the dominant source of profit—especially rents on intellectual property. This analysis of rentism dovetails with similar insights in Žižek’s “The revolt of the salaried bourgeoisie”, and is applicable in the present, since the relevant economic changes are already occurring. In the most dystopian scenario, exterminism, the ruling class kills off the vast majority of the population in order to secure its continued enjoyment of privilege under conditions of global scarcity, a scenario chillingly anticipated by Hannah Arendt near the end of Eichmann in Jerusalem.
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