A popular conceit of science fiction is that humans will at some point create a post-scarcity society in which the costs of production are so infinitely low that we are liberated from labor and need merely speak the words Tea, Earl Grey, Hot, from which command, with the tiniest cell-phone tinkle, appears a steaming cup in an alcove in the wall. And while life on a Culture Orbital sounds real nice an at, as a Pittsburgher would put it, let me propose to you that those who relegate the notion of existence without scarcity either to a nanobot future or to an Arcadian past are accepting the dour Present's bill of goods. For what is scarcity, and what are the costs of production? What necessity of human life and happiness is actually as opposed to artificially scarce? Now opposition to anarchist modes of thought generally falls into one of two camps. On the one side are those who say that in the absence of organized thugs with guns controlling all human life on earth, organized thugs with guns would take over. I like to think of this as crackpot Vicoism--I mean, one man's barbaric era of self-reflection is another man's Kali Yuga; it is true that history, like music, often recapitulates its major themes, but you will forgive me for doubting that the entire human cosmos is stuck on the spin cycle. Anyway, the other major objection holds that the sheer complexity of our material society requires a hierarchical, rule-bound, command-based social organization lest the factories decay, the fields wane fallow, the possibility of booking a transatlantic flight on Kayak for the following day be extinguished in an orgy of wanton travel agency. And while it may indeed be true that certain apparently pleasant aspects of modernity would be less readily available in a world that did not require them . . . well, a better world would not require them. Many of these precious conveniences of modern life are merely symptoms of a gross decadence, and much material progress is in fact evidence of human decay.