For the sake of performing a thought experiment, let's carry the deflationary forces of technology through to their logical conclusion. Human beings become completely superfluous to requirements in the production of the goods and services an economy needs to assure its continued functional coherence. Capital has achieved escape velocity, as it no longer needs Labour's input in order to achieve optimal productive capacity.
Does this mean that the economic value of Labour goes to zero, and the only way we can prevent society from degenerating into a dystopian nightmare is to redistribute the wealth accruing to Capital through fiscal policy?
I don't think so. I think what happens is that Labour undergoes a paradigm shift in the way it is understood, and it understands itself. The essentially human aspect of Labour comes to the fore; the idea that there is no more fundamental expression of who you are as a human being than what you choose to expend your blood, sweat and tears on.
There's a viable bridge over the left/right divide there: it combines traditionally left-of-centre ideas, such as the labour theory of value and the dignity of the worker, with more libertarian/classical liberal ideas of individual sovereignty and self ownership.
Exactly what economic value will humans have in this new paradigm? I think the answer lies in one of the most basic principles of economics: that it is the science of studying human choice under conditions of scarcity. In the hyper-deflationary future of complete automation, goods and services... (More)