In a fully automated communist system with post scarcity no money and goods distributed from each according to his abilities to each according to his need, how would this system address items that could not possibly be post scarcity

Example: I have collections of autographs from famous rappers. A Tupac autograph is worth a lot more money because he is deceased and no longer able to sign any more autographs, therefore this item can never be post scarce. How would a communist society handle such an item? Some rare non personal items like antiques from ancient societies could be put into a museum or library, but items of personal value beyond just a commodity market seems to be difficult to handle, you could use barter to trade it with another rare/collectible item, but that would be limiting who could have access to it. A market would allow you to buy this product without having to exchange another rare item in return. Such goods could be problematic in a communist society and potentially cause the rise of a black market. How can a communist society address this issue?

  • Don't have much of an answer for this, but did want to point out that a Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episode dealt with this problem. The Federation is a post scarcity society that lacks money and Jake wants to buy a autographed Baseball Card for his father's Birthday, and encounters this problem, which causes problems with his roommate, who is from a society where Capitalism is literally a religion. The episode was more comedy so and the solution was something that wouldn't address the issue.
    – hszmv
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:52
  • interesting, what ended up happening in the episode?
    – Evan
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:55
  • By having the government taking these post-scarcity items so nobody has them. That is how full communism works. Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:57
  • @Evan: Can't recall... It's been a while since I last saw it... and it wasn't one of the better episodes (especially since it was before the season 5 finale, which was a major game changer for the series). The title of the episode is "In the Cards", so feel free to watch it.
    – hszmv
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:58
  • 3
    @Matthew Liu there is no government in full communism, the state has already withered away in this hypothetical scenario.
    – Evan
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


It seems you're describing a society in which common items can be procured freely or replicated. Then you would only be able to obtain someone else's rare item through consent or barter.
- You could ask to have, borrow, or share their item. Related: in a truly Communist society, which is based on voluntary sharing, the person possessing the rare item would probably do what is reasonable to accommodate you, such as allowing you to photocopy or replicate the autograph.
- You could barter for the item using other rare items, services of manual labor, or favors.
- You could just get over the desire to have the item.
- People can commonly share and appreciate a rare item, i.e. if it is on display at a museum.
- The concept of possessing valuable things is a much weaker concept in a Communist society. So, under Communism, people would take less glee in possessing an original Picasso painting and keeping it all to themselves.
- Related observation: in a Capitalist society, there is no provision to possess every unattainable thing that you desire. I have no way of possessing the Mona Lisa, except to steal it or buy it, and I definitely can't buy it. So Capitalism has failed me in my desire to possess this rare item.

It's not a failure of Communism that it can't promise everyone ownership of a thing that cannot be owned by everyone. If, by definition, the object is too scarce for everyone who wants it to have it, then any system that makes this promise is lying about what it is capable of delivering on.

  • Additionally, communism (and the dictatorship of the proletariat) are most involved about the ownership of the means of production. The Tupac autograph may increase its price due to scarcity, but it does not help produce wealth (= more goods).
    – SJuan76
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 0:48

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