Saturday, September 2, 2017

On Labor and Genius

A map of the world that does not include Utopia
is not worth even glancing at.
— Oscar Wilde

Not only will it drive innovation and equality, a universal basic income will spark genius. Or so thought Oscar Wilde.

In his 1891 essay, "The Soul of Man under Socialism," Wilde envisioned a world where automation relieves everyone from work; and a guaranteed income, from competition, "that sordid necessity of living for others."

Spared work and competition, everyone is free "to realize the perfection of what was in him, to his own incomparable gain, and to the incomparable and lasting gain of the whole world."

In a world without work and competition, everyone "is perfectly and absolutely himself"—free to be, Wilde says, an ingenious individual. Poet or scientist, student or shepherd, playwright or theologian, fisherman or child, "it does not matter what he is," Wilde says, "as long as he realizes the perfection of the soul that is within him."

We'd call it authenticity.

Wilde also thought accumulated wealth to be a "nuisance," because its possession "involves endless claims upon one, endless attention to business, endless bother."

Accumulated wealth drags down the wealthy, because "the true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is," Wilde says.

"In the interest of the rich we must get rid of it."
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