Social Question

mazingerz88's avatar

If everything is free in the world, what would human civilization be like?

Asked by mazingerz88 (23585points) 1 month ago

An alien race supplies everything. No catch. There’s free food, free housing, free medical care, free clothing etc.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

39 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

There would probably not be one. People would lose the ability to do much of anything usefull.

Actually there would be two groups: There would be those who do absolutely nothing and those who pursue interests such as art, music, technology, athletics and other things to occupy their time. A class system would develop and it could get ugly. But… People would have what they need.

Eventually the species would diverge among social lines.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

We might be like the fat useless survivors from the Wall-E movie. Leisure studies would be one the few university classes still useful.

tinyfaery's avatar

Rousseau said that if we had all of our basic necessities met humans would create art. I’m not one of those people who think you have to constantly be striving to achieve satisfaction in life. That is a myth of capitalism.

jca2's avatar

Free food, free housing, free clothing, everything free but I still think there will be greedy people that want more. There will be some that want a bigger house, fancier food, fancier clothing, a pool, large cars, everything. Problems will develop. I think it’s human nature.

ragingloli's avatar

The catch would be, that once you turn 18, you get harvested for food.
Many of you get eaten even earlier. Some, a lot earlier.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I think our lives are so immersed in commerce, we can’t really wrap our heads around that scenario.
I feel we would probably be like the cattle on farms today, grazing, blissfully unaware of what lies ahead.
Somewhere would be that one guy who thinks he could wipe out the aliens, control the supplies, and take over the world.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Well somebody has to provide / build / grow all this free stuff. Bartering starts there.

anniereborn's avatar

@Dutchess_lll The aliens are providing it all.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Everyone would hopefully be at the transcendence level from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Inspired_2write's avatar

Controlled by an alien race.
One that could shut off those freebies at any time and therefore wipe out our race.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Then we would justn be zoo animals @anniereborn. Hopefully our keepers would be benevolent.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @jca2 that human nature probably means that there will still be at least a group of people who want bigger or more.

I think if everything was plentiful and free that life would be much better. We might lose some of our drive and ambition, but people will still be productive.

Where I live most people I’m around don’t have money concerns and they have fun every day, and volunteer, and seek to learn new things and share their knowledge.

One big concern I would have is for young adults ages 14–25. Work, and earning an income I think helps young adults become autonomous from their parents and feel self worth. If they lose this, it needs to be replaced with something.

Even if everything was free there are still struggles and concerns in life. Relationships, health, environment, there’s still a long list of things to do.

YARNLADY's avatar

Overpopulation would destroy the world.

SmashTheState's avatar

If you want to know what a want-free, property-free society would look like, just examine modern stone age hunter-gatherer societies. According to Jared Diamond, hunter-gatherers spent an average of 14 hours a week on survival. All the rest of their time was spent on art, learning, family, stories, and exploration. There is evidence of continent-spanning trade caravans tens of thousands of years ago, meaning even without personal property or need, people still engaged in gift economy trading.

Many years ago I read an interesting article in an anarchist zine which pointed out that despite more than a century of industrialization, homemakers spend exactly the same amount of time on household chores as they did a hundred years ago. All those toasters, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, irons, washing machines, etc. haven’t made life easier at all; all they’ve done is create a whole new class of busywork maintaining the infrastructure to make life “easier.”

Zaku's avatar

I’m with @SmashTheState, @tinyfaery and Rousseau. Having your needs met means people can let go of their mindsets of scarcity, fear of not having enough, resentment about having to work jobs they dislike, and so on.

There might still be some dysfunctional people and the transition might involve some issues (though I can’t see it being worse than the problems our current economic systems have), but people could do what they are actually interested in and gifted at.

kritiper's avatar

“To Serve Man.” It’s a cook book.

Inspired_2write's avatar

@kritiper From Twilight zone .

Patty_Melt's avatar

We have answers to this. Look at people before us. Look at how people behaved in more primitive times, when there was plenty. Natives to north America had all they wanted. People came from across the water, and started raping, the land, the women, the forests. Beauty turned to mud, dust, and rotting carcases.

jca2's avatar

I don’t think when the English and Spanish were exploring and came to America in the 1400’s and 1500’s, there was plenty for them. In the case of the English, there were not big choices of what to eat, food was not in abundance, and they heard of riches and bounty across the sea.

Patty_Melt's avatar

When they got here, there was certainly plenty. That’s my point. What was yours?

Yellowdog's avatar

There would be much dirtier air, because everyone would be running to get the free stuff whenever / wherever the aliens landed and that would stir up a lot of dust.

jca2's avatar

@Patty_Melt: Oh, I thought you were saying the English had plenty in England and yet they still came and raped and plundered.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Oh. No, they came here to settle new land, be it for many that was not good enough.
They killed everything from pigeons to bison in numbers which could only be described as criminal.
They hunted and trapped like crazy trading furs and leaving carcases to rot.
They said the natives were both m ore than animals, but they rsped them, do I have to wonder if they were doing the same with bear and bison.
Probably not.
Some were greedy over land, some were greedy about other things. Only some were happy to take a chunk of land, work it, and build a home.
There were evil, greedy people who came knowing they intended to take advantage.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Just had this sent to me by my older brother about civilization etc Its a new book out.

“Connectivity has become a basic human right, and gives everyone on the planet the opportunity to provide for their family and contribute to our shared future. Connectography charts the future of this connected world.”—Marc Andreessen, general partner, Andreessen Horowitz

Yellowdog's avatar

People would never be satisfied with what they had. They would always want something more.
They would want theirs better or different than other folks.

Also, there is less satisfaction with the abundance than something more scarce that you actually have to work for. That’s not to say that work is fun or even all that rewarding. Just that if everything is free, its worthless. Just another placate.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Yellowdog A gift economy can exist quite happily alongside absence of property. People don’t have to starve for you to enjoy your trinkets.

Yellowdog's avatar


If you want to get nitty gritty about it, we ALL have all we need, free. If the birds in my backyard can survive, so can humans.

The problem is, we always want MORE than what we have. I don’t care what anyone else has or doesn’t. No matter what they have, they want more too, just like the rest of us.

SmashTheState's avatar

Who is this “we” to whom you keep referring?

Yellowdog's avatar


There are enough bugs. worms, roots, berries, and low-hanging fruit for humans to survive freely in most parts of the world, without aliens, and without much human effort. We can also scavenge what carnivours and dogs leave behind. Dogs and humans both became friends and companions through scavenging and eventually we tricked them into hunting for us. Dogs wanted human companionship; humans wanted their hunting skills.

But we humans always want more, or life gets pretty dull. So we strive for something better—better than what animals are satisfied with. If aliens gave us our every desire, we’d still want more—because if it didn’t take work, it wouldn’t mean much of an achievement.

Most of what ‘Yaw’ll” humans want is pretty damn pretentious and superficial, btw.

anniereborn's avatar

@Yellowdog Yes, life would be pretty dull and SUCK, if all we did was eat grubs and berries out in the wilderness.

ragingloli's avatar

I am sure there would be no problems at all with ecosystem stability and sustainability, if all of those stinky 7 billion humans suddenly descended upon the wilderness to ravage its resources in their ravenous hunger.

SmashTheState's avatar

“Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.”Arthur Schopenhauer

Yellowdog's avatar

My point is, everyone wants to achieve more than what they have, and everyone wants more than having their basic needs met, whether by aliens or by their natural habitat. And no matter how much we do get, we always want something just beyond our reach, even if we don’t desire great wealth.

Inspired_2write's avatar

In think by 2025 that we would all be living in apartment type homes not houses on large properties because of the climate changes that will occur more so often, fire,floods, hurricanes,tornadoes, accidents of nature and human disasters.that will force mankind to pair down to necessities.
It is because of Capitalism that we as a civilization compete, but without that things will calm down and no more rich and poor, just everyone equal.
Some futuristic movie in the past reminds me of what that writer saw for us .
Domed cities out in the ocean,everything grown in domed plantations, no variety in clothes all the same color , all food and apartments all paid for by a one world government.
Since politics will be run by the best people in charge, no need for elections etc

Yellowdog's avatar

There is already a move for elimination of elections, Evidently, most of us are too dumb to vote.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Yellowdog You keep using “we,” as if every human being shares your personal need for having more than they already have. This is projection.

I have a shop now, which changes things, but for many years everything I owned could fit in a single backpack. Even now, my personal belongings all fit in a single steamer trunk. I actually live in a closet in the back of my store and am perfectly content with that.

I used to know a Satanist who, once a year on Samhain, dragged everything he owned except his computer and the clothes on his back out of his home and piled it in his backyard, then set it aflame. He said it kept him from accumulating junk, and forced him to be mindful of everything he purchased, knowing that it would go up in flames within a year.

Neither of us sound like we’re driven to accumulate more than we have. While people may be conditioned by capitalism to be consumption machines, when that programming stops people will naturally return to the property-free, hierarchy-free lifestyles we knew and enjoyed for 200,000 years prior to the rise of agrarianism.

Yellowdog's avatar

Sounds like I could benefit from being a Satanist.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

You don’t have to be a Satanist to hold that philosophy @Yellowdog.

Yellowdog's avatar

Too late. I built two fires and blew nine times at the full moon. Then, I saw the small hills and the fire.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther