Bogdanov, Alexander. Red Star

Alexander Bogdanov, Red Star (1908).

As well as co-founding the Bolsheviks with Lenin, Bogdanov wrote this Martian utopia (and its prequel, Engineer Menni). It was published in 1908, shortly before Bogdanov's expulsion; translated into German in 1923, Esperanto in 1929, and English 1982.

This snippet of Red Star explains the division and allocation of productive labour. It anticipates themes of Bogdanov's Tektology: Universal Organization Science (1912-1917) and later the social and organizational cybernetics and systems theory of people like Stafford Beer, Margaret Mead, Niklas Luhmann.

Luckily "work is a natural need for the mature member of our society," so all labour is entirely voluntary:
As we were talking I suddenly noticed that certain figures on the table had disappeared and been replaced by others. I asked what that meant.
     “The figures change every hour,” Menni explained. “In the course of an hour several thousand workers announce that they want to change jobs. The central statistical apparatus takes constant note of this, transmitting the data hourly to all branches of industry.”
     “But how does the central apparatus arrive at its figures on surpluses and shortages?”
     “The Institute of Statistics has agencies everywhere which keep track of the flow of goods into and out of the stockpiles and monitor the productivity of all enterprises and the changes in their work forces. In that way it can be calculated what and how much must be produced for any given period and the number of man-hours required for the task. The Institute then computes the difference between the existing and the desired situation for each vocational area and communicates the result to all places of employment. Equilibrium is soon established by a stream of volunteers.”
     “But are there no restrictions on the consumption of goods?”
     “None whatsoever. Everyone takes whatever he needs in whatever quantities he wants.”
     “Do you mean that you can do all this without money, documents certifying that a certain amount of labor has been performed, pledges to perform labor, or anything at all of that sort?”
     “Nothing at all. There is never any shortage of voluntary labor—work is a natural need for the mature member of our society, and all overt or disguised compulsion is quite superfluous.”
     “But if consumption is entirely uncontrolled, there must be sharp fluctuations which upset all your statistical compilations.”
     “Not at all. A single individual may suddenly eat two or three times his normal portion of a given food or decide to change ten suits in ten days, but a society of billions of people is not subject to such fluctuations. In a population of that size deviations in any given direction are neutralized, and averages change very slowly and with the strictest continuity.”
     “In other words your statistics work almost automatically—they are calculations pure and simple?”
     “No, not really, for there are great difficulties involved in the process. The Institute of Statistics must be alert to new inventions and changes in environmental conditions which may affect industry. The introduction of a new machine, for example, immediately requires a transfer of labor in the field in which it is employed, in the machine-building industry, and sometimes also in the production of materials for both branches. If a given ore is exhausted or if new mineral fields are discovered there will again be a transfer of labor in a number of industries—mining, railroad construction, and so on. All of these factors must be calculated from the very beginning, if not with absolute precision then at least with an adequate degree of approximation.
In reality, necessary labor is computed by adding a certain quantity to the basic figures. In the most vital branches of industry—the production of food, clothing, buildings, machines, and so on—this margin can be as high as 5 percent, whereas in less important areas it is about 1.2 percent. Thus generally speaking, the figures in these tables indicating shortages express merely a relative deficiency, not an absolute one.”