Bastani paints a vivid and intoxicating picture of a luxurious and plentiful superstructure undergirded by a base of intergalactic automation and excess supply of everything. For that, he is to be applauded, and this book should be read by anyone who feels that capitalism has had its day (which given the current state of the world, should be everyone). But the one thing I felt missing from this tangible utopianism was the agency of the people he is so keen to foreground ... Bastani is keen to evoke populism as a means to move beyond the neoliberal order of technocratic governance, but does not delve further ... the book leaves open the question of identity politics and what role that plays in FALC. This in part stems from the overly masculine tone of the book ... Despite these omissions, the book is an extremely timely interjection into what is a vital moment in human history.
Bastani writes earnestly and at breakneck speed. His opening treatment of the current political moment and its various crises is quickly dispensed with—he doesn’t think he needs to convince readers that something is wrong with capitalism ... it’s a whirlwind of possibilities that, for sure, might happen. But Bastani skims past most of the potential hellscapes that also might happen as a result of some of these technologies—like the potential for eugenics if we can custom-select our DNA, to take just one example ... Fully Automated Luxury Communism is at its best when it’s focused on the horrors of the current world ... But these reminders, these moments where he brings a human touch, are too rare, and without them Bastani’s book ends up seeming a little slick, like promo videos for the tech miracles he champions ... Nonetheless, I find Bastani’s optimism refreshing, even if I don’t share his faith in the wisdom of Elon Musk ... We desperately need to dream bigger than the mild social democracy currently on offer—for no other reason than getting just to that point the first time around required actual revolutions.
...a startlingly sunny and audacious manifesto ... Bastani, co-founder of a left-wing, London-based media organization called Novara, gamely reclaims the stuff of dystopia for a more buoyant vision ... For some readers, this will veer too far into the realm of utopian fiction ... Yet the book’s power is in its reminder of how much convenient fantasy is already required to sustain the status quo ... The most affecting moment in the book comes before it begins, when Bastani acknowledges that he’s 'indebted to the many people who fought for a political settlement which gave me free healthcare and cheap education' ... Bastani’s is an optimism regarding social life that’s sometimes hard to square with the underlying situation...[mixed with a] healthy suspicion of a spuriously depoliticized 'common sense.'
...[a] short, dizzingly confident book ... In the doomy world of 2019, to come across this forecast is quite a shock. Enormous optimism about humanity’s long-term future; faith in technology, and in our wise use of it; a guilt-free enthusiasm for material goods; and yet also a belief that an updated form of communism should be 21st-century society’s organising principle—these are Bastani’s main themes. The immediate temptation is to see the book as some sort of joke: a satire, or a political prank ... Fully Automated Luxury Communism is a typical Bastani catchphrase—attention-grabbing, armored against attack with a sparkly coating of irony—and he has been deploying it shamelessly for years in the lead-up to this publication ... Like many futurologists, he bases his predictions on a broad-brush reading of history ... But Bastani writes with pace, economy and infectious enthusiasm, and he solidifies his most speculative chapters, to an extent, with some telling facts ... Bastani’s vast proposals sometimes lack the relatively human scale and rootedness in history of the schemes, similar in optimism and intent, currently being promoted by other leftists as a Green New Deal. Yet sometimes the nimbler Bastani persona lightens these pages ... Some readers will finish this book exhilarated and energized. Others will be unconvinced, or utterly baffled. There are more ideas crammed in here than in a whole shelf of standard politics books. And in today’s fraught world, the time to read whole shelves of politics books may have passed.
What this argument exposes is the profound delusion that has been afflicting the left ever since Thatcher and Reagan came to power 40 years ago. Namely, that if only the socialists could wrest economic control from the neoliberals then everything else in life will magically fall into place ... Why does Bastani insist that the slogan of a democratic energy policy should be 'cheap and abundant energy for all' without so much as reflecting on why it’s so unthinkable to imagine a world in which people might actually be willing to consume less? ... Bastani’s statist politics — municipal protectionism, credit unions, universal basic income and services — sit starkly at odds with his disruptive power of technology argument ... The glaringly absent variable from Bastani’s technological revolution is class struggle ... the fully automated society, whether in Bastani’s luxury version or in the austere version of Khrushchev and Kim Il-Sung, has nothing whatever to do with communism.