Debate and Panel on Utopias Division of Work and Goods

A panel discussion about utopias with thinkers like Dass, Montagu, and Ginsberg discussing their ideal utopia's division of labor and goods.


4. How would work and goods be divided?

Asimov: Since my utopia would be thoroughly computerized and automated, the world would run without much more than minimal human interference. Consequently, each person would do whatever interested him to the extent that it does not interfere unduly with the interests of others. Undoubtedly, many will choose to do what we call "work," Since the population of my utopia will be well within the limits society could support comfortably, all people should be guaranteed a comfortable life whatever they do. Beyond that, a marketplace give-and-take would exist for those who cared.

Buckley: Secundum aestimationem geri. ["To be regulated according to the value."]

Dass: The community would be the economic entity. Within that grouping, consensus determines apportionment of work and goods.

Fadiman: Basic necessities for all; beyond that, the usual human, normal competition.

Ginsberg: Everybody do some physical work, goods divided amicably by "need."

Michener: Age 0-18. The child would depend primarily upon his parents with such state aid as was deemed advisable. Age 18-28. Communal living, with goods going into a socialist pot, and into savings for the establishment of a home and family. Age 28-58. A maximum amount of free enterprise, but with the acknowledgement that the U.S. can now produce with only a portion of its work force all goods that are required. Therefore, those who are not needed in the work force as currently established would receive payments from the government; but I would hope that we could devise whole new definitions of work, under which the necessary functions of a good society would be provided. I would encourage private ownership of everything that can be logically owned that way. Taxes would be high, but social returns would be great. I am in favor of heavy death taxes. Age 58-98. Early retirement from managerial responsibilities would be both encouraged and enforced. The management of social institutions like sewer commissions, banks, automobile agencies, libraries, universities, hat stores, and football franchises should be in the hands of young people. Managers should retire at age 55 or earlier, opening positions to younger experts, but the elders could work on in less demanding positions.

Montagu: Everyone would be required to work except young couples just beginning the business of raising children. The mother should be required to stay with her child during the first year of its life. The father should not be required to work more than four hours a day during that period so that he might be able to spend more time at home with his family. Intellectual workers and teachers should be the most highly rewarded, and others paid according to the quality--not the quantity--of the work they do. There should be no distinctions made between the sexes as to work or its rewards.

Untermeyer: Work would not be done merely for wages. There would be not only a satisfaction but an enjoyment in the act of work itself--a regaining of pride in work, function, contribution, as a personal fulfillment. All physical requirements would be supplied equally.

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