Here are the answers to the most frequent questions about A Celebration Society. (Have additional questions? Post them on the Forum!)
Please note: This FAQ does not provide a comprehensive understanding of the book or its proposal. One can gain a fuller understanding from the Overview summaries. However, even if one reads those, many points in the book and most of the reasoning and evidence are, of necessity, glossed over.
Is this a communal or communistic system of ownership?
No. It is a condominium structure, with personal ownership of private property, and joint ownership of certain community assets. Community assets might include parks, certain means of production (but not exclusively), and government facilities. In effect, it is condominium government raised to the level of a society, including societal institutions of governance.
It will not be communistic. There will be no coerced labor or redistribution of assets. There will be a basic income paid to Citizens, but Citizen is an earned office with duties. As the productive system becomes highly automated and prolific, everyone’s basic needs will be met, but not at anyone else’s expense.
In a Celebration Society, who owns the means of production for highly automated goods and services?
Initially, this will be a combination of private ownership and ownership by the city-state, which will itself be owned by its residents. Eventually I expect the private ownership of means of production to lessen as people find less and less advantage to owning what, in effect, duplicates a system they can use as needed.
Highly automated systems of robotic goods and services production will require the services of many highly skilled humans to function. What is the incentive for this minority to work for the majority of others?
Why do you believe that this will remain the case as we move further into the future?
However, assuming you’re right (and certainly it will be so during the transitional period from Capitalism to Celebrationism), such persons will be highly respected and even revered for their service, which will be offered to whatever extent they care to serve. If an insufficient number care to serve or are unable to do so without compensation, they will be paid in whatever mutually agreeable capitalist means of exchange is used.
Do companies like Google own the robotic infrastructure?
Already, there are multiple manufacturers of robots and AI’s, and some of them will happily contribute their products and services in exchange for payment in national money obtained by the city-state through investment and/or tourism. Google is making its AI engine available on an open source basis.
Do property rights exist?
Yes, in individual condominium lands and improvements, in shared common area ownership, and in whatever other assets one cares to maintain. (Keep in mind that there is considerable burden in maintaining assets. I expect that many people will choose to share ownership of various assets to minimize the maintenance.)
Do patent / intellectual property rights exist?
In my view, the society should respect international patent, copyright and trademark conventions in order to participate in the fruits of those and have the opportunity for Citizens and residents to market their own properties.
Who owns the business infrastructure?
People will remain free to own and operate whatever sorts of businesses they find useful and interesting, provided those don’t violate the Charter. (A wider variety of businesses will be possible than in less free societies.)
What about the city’s infrastructure?
The city-state will have transportation systems, parks, waterways, offices and so forth. Each celebration society will decide whether to fund these as part of the owners’ common area or in some other manner. Such infrastructure may also be funded by private investors who agree to respect the Charter, or by impact investors, as discussed in the book.
How do ordinary citizens make money to purchase desired good and services?
However they do it now, with additional opportunities to launch businesses and offer services in this tourism-rich environment. Keep in mind that a Citizen (always capitalized, to distinguish from the “citizens” of existing nations and to respect the office) receives a guaranteed minimum income (may either be universal or needs-based) in exchange for participation in the government.
I expect a Celebration Society to basically consist of wealthy people and those who don’t personally own such extensive assets but who enjoy a modest yet comfortable income thanks to the automated production.
How are goods and services priced?
On a free market basis, with less government intrusion than in most parts of the world, until the prices become so low that pricing becomes meaningless.
For quite a while, I expect that extremely capital-intensive, IP-rich manufacturing such as computer chips will not be part of the Celebrationist economy but will be purchased in exchange for national money. When there are enough Celebration Societies to justify such shared infrastructure that may change.
I do envision a future time when a human waiter or masseuse is a special service not widely available. Then such personal services by people will be highly respected and appreciated; probably offered by those who love doing it on special occasions and for friends/loved ones.
Is there a gradual transition from an existing form of government to the celebration society? Or is it all or nothing?
Celebrationism has two aspects: the government, and the system of production.
The government will be “all or nothing”. However, I expect this government to be designed and refined in a massive simulation before it’s applied in the real world. Further, it will always be subject to improvement based on the consensus of the Citizens who practice it.
The economic aspect will be gradual since we don’t yet have fully functioning Celebrationist systems of production anywhere in the world. However, once the means exist for full Celebrationism and the physical systems of production have been refined until reliable, I see no reason why enclaves or existing nations wanting to make the conversion couldn’t simply acquire the necessary resources and make the conversion quickly. (The pay-it-forward cultural aspect will help. One Celebration Society will sponsor two others, and so forth. Each new society will accept this responsibility in exchange for the help they received in being founded.)
How does one address national defense and mutual defense alliances?
This is discussed in the Dogun section of the book.
Does one fund a huge military to protect this utopia?
Your question makes certain assumptions. There is a section in the book, Never a Utopia.
Internal security will be greatly facilitated by a unique approach to surveillance, along with restricted physical access to the society.
Regarding external threats, Israel is cited as an example of how to achieve security, and there are additional solutions proposed including particular alliances. Unlike Israel, early Celebration Societies will likely be located in parts of the world that are stable and peaceful. This will greatly reduce defense requirements, which will also be automated to the extent practicable.
How does one deal with civil crime, judicial systems, punishments and incarceration?
As discussed in the book, the system will primarily be preventative and restorative rather than punitive. Contracts and their enforcement will be streamlined by a different approach to law and the judicial system, coupled with an easy way to determine what was promised and delivered.
What would be done about an issue such as global warming?
I see this as soon becoming a non-issue thanks to new technology discussed in the book.
What regulations would be enforced and by whom?
The Administration would have this responsibility, as in other governments. Keep in mind that the Citizens would BE the government, so irrational or needlessly intrusive regulations would either never become law or be rapidly adjusted/repealed. Likewise, there is a section in the book on the value of using “nudges” rather than regulations.
Does a formal elected government exist to enforce a defacto constitutional rights?
The Charter will enumerate societal rights and responsibilities. (It is called that because Charter seems more intimate than Constitution, and the world is full of constitutions that are routinely ignored. The Charter will be the highest law of the land, without exception.)
There is an Appendix at the end of the book that explores elections and government operations. Elections will be different than in current democracies. Positions such as the legislature that are elected elsewhere will instead be filled by Citizens selected through lottery. There will also be a formal Initiative process whereby the Citizens, operating through supermajority, may take control of any aspect of government.
How large and powerful is the government?
That is a matter for the consensus of the Citizens to decide. I prefer that it generally be minimalist in scope, providing the functions of common defense, enforcement of honest contracts and laws, and for the general welfare including commonly desired public works.
Who decides on regulations?
To whatever extent regulations are needed, this would be the responsibility of the Ministries constituting the Administration Council. However, Ministers are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of Parliament, a body which is comprised of Citizens.
How can a region of land form a Celebration society (Iceland was given as an example)?
There is a section in the book about Dogun, a proposed model city-state in Iceland. That section discusses how nations are formed under international law. Briefly, there are two established theories for formation and Dogun is proposed in a way that appears to fulfill both.
Such formation will require two existing nations and the founders of Dogun making certain agreements. I expect an involved and lengthy process of negotiations in which multiple concerns are aired and addressed on all sides.
In my view, such a process should be preceded by extensive simulation of the city-state. This process of simulated design and refinement will resolve many challenges.
What happens to the minority that objects favoring the existing nation state?
Eminent domain is the power of governments to compel small groups to cooperate in the development of large scale projects. I’m wary of eminent domain, but I don’t regard it as an inherent evil as some do. If the existing government is unwilling to exercise eminent domain, we will look elsewhere.
That said such displaced persons would be offered excellent compensation to move, or land and residency in the new city-state, provided they commit to uphold the Charter.
Could a substantial number of people be convinced to risk such a large leap into the unknown?
That is one of the great unanswered questions. We’ll find out!
No one will be asked to risk a large sum of money, or asked to move into an unknown system.
Following successful simulation, prospective residents will be asked to escrow money for the purchase of condominium interests, and that money will be returned if insufficient funds are committed to acquire the land and build basic infrastructure within a reasonable period of time. A mechanism will also be created so that persons who can’t escrow significant money but who have excellent personal skills and qualities may be invited to join as support staff, and earn eventual residency and land. All residents will be welcome to participate in the process of qualification for Citizenship.
With adequate funds in escrow, a viable business plan and a credible team of founders, overtures will be made to appropriate parties regarding acquisition of a land lease and nation formation.
As I see it, most people won’t seriously consider major changes that take them outside of their comfort zone except when their lives are disrupted. I expect the tsunami of accelerating automation to provide the necessary stimulus, if nothing does so sooner.
Aside from such disruption, I hope that people will want to participate in the creation of a simulated Celebration Society as the prelude to building one. This should be fun and risk-free! Second Life shows the appeal of such simulations, even without the possibility of creating a new REAL life.