The Club of Rome report came out about half a century ago. What if we had listened then? The visionary book Eldorica by the late Jurriaan Andriessen (1951-1991) explores the possibilities.
Consumer society: cheap is expensive
Not only do we consume much more now than, say, a century ago. The stuff we use also lasts much shorter. Compare something as simple as scissors. Good tailor's scissors, from the Swiss brand Victorinox, for example, cost around forty euros, but with careful maintenance, will last a lifetime. A pair of scissors from a Chinese manufacturer that works with razor-thin margins and underpaid employees costs around two euros at the hedge fund firm Action. This may last a few weeks with intensive use.
There may be three times as much raw material in Victorinox scissors as in Action scissors, but this is negligible compared to the raw material in the hundreds of Chinese tailor scissors. What if we bought these quality scissors right away and avoid the clutter of the Action? That would save a lot of environmental pollution, unnecessary work and energy. This is exactly the rationale behind the late Jurriaan Brouwer's utopian society Eldorica.
Eldorica: a luxury car for everyone
In the Netherlands, 400,000 new cars are sold per year, with an average of around 35,000 euros each. These last an average of twenty years. But what if each of these new cars lasted a hundred years, for example because their build quality is five times better? Then we could spend five times as much on this car. In other words, a luxury Rolls Royce or Tesla for everyone. Or, a much lower amount, so that we would have to work less.
Fitness center? No, generate energy yourself
Eldorica is not for lazy people, although you would say that at first glance with a four-hour working week. Because you generate the energy for your household appliances yourself. The exercise bike in Eldorica is there to power your TV set, radio and music system. Our body can generate about two hundred watts of power. So an hour or two of cycling and swinging provides enough energy for an evening of watching TV (Eldorica dates back to before the advent of the personal computer). Everything that can be done by hand is manually operated. That also saves electricity. Cars are only available for longer journeys. There is a covered bicycle for rides up to five kilometers. Aircraft and oil tankers do not occur in Eldorica. Instead, Andriessen imagined zeppelins and computer-controlled sailing ships.
Could Eldorica be possible?
In short: yes, if we had a meritocratic and technocratic administration, without incompetent and lying politicians. Admittedly, with a few adjustments - for example, the temporary use of nuclear energy to lay the foundation for a sustainable energy supply cannot be avoided, and solar panels are more practical than his exercise bike power station. And he didn't think about anything as prosaic as heating houses. Or healthcare.
Capitalism will also have to be replaced by a form of managed economy. Eldorica's economic system can be seen as one of a kind luxury techno communism. It is not without reason that Jurriaan Andriessen strongly emphasized a computer-controlled (cybernetic) form of governance.
Unfortunately we can no longer ask Jurriaan himself. He died in a tragic accident in a swimming pool in 1991 at the age of 39. The Jurriaan Andriessen foundation was established in memory. His book Eldorica, a travelogue to a better world (ISBN: 9789027424846) is unfortunately no longer in print, but is still available second-hand. There are also PDF scans of the book in circulation.