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Is Marxism "Realistic"?
I'd be happy to make a bet with real money that Marx was just plain wrong about immiseration, and will continue to be proved wrong.
Brian Leiter, the law and philosophy ratings maven, is an interesting guy. He's an insightful Nietzsche scholar and legal theorist with a bit of a reputation as a bullying ideologue. (He's treated me disrespectfully on a few occasions for what I assume are political reasons, which I mention in the spirit of full disclosure.) Anyway, I found this interview with Leiter in 3:AM really stimulating, and well worth reading. There's a bunch of good stuff in there, and some not-so-good stuff, too.
Leiter's right-on that the academic cleavage between "analytic" and "continental" philosophy fails to mark a meaningful intellectual (as opposed to stylistic) distinction. Leiter's alternative classificatory scheme, which distinguishes between "naturalists" and "anti-naturalists," on the one hand, and "realists" and "moralists," on the other, cuts across the analytic/continental divide (i.e., there are both continental and analytic thinkers in every square of the implied 2 x 2 matrix) and draws into focus some real differences in intellectual disposition and conviction. Like Leiter, I think of myself as a naturalist and realist, which leaves me curious about his idea of naturalist-realist politics. Well, it's not my idea. Though I knew him to be a staunch leftist, Leiter's politics turns out to be, somewhat to my surprise, a relatively orthodox form of Marxism. Why should I be surprised? I suppose it strikes me as odd that such an erudite guy with an evidently robust bullshit detector would treat old-school Marxism as a plausible explanatory theory. Here's Leiter:
Marx certainly didn’t need to be saved by sophomoric post-modernists; indeed, Marx didn’t need to be saved at all. On two central issues, Marx was far more right than any of his critics: first, that the long-term tendency of capitalist societies is towards immiseration of the majority (the post-WWII illusion of upward mobility for the “middle classes” will soon be revealed for the anomaly it was); and second, that capitalist societies produce moral and political ideologies that serve to justify the dominance of the capitalist class. Marx had three faults, to be sure: one was that he took Hegel seriously; another was that he wasn’t a very good fortune teller, so wildly over-estimated the pace of capitalist development; and a third is that he had no account of individual psychology, of the kind Nietzsche and Freud provide. Within academic philosophy, however, far more harm, in my view, has been done to Marx by moralists like G.A. Cohen than by any of the post-modernists. Cohen - a truly smart man and delightful human being to boot - did two unfortunate things to academic Anglophone Marxism: first, by offering a philosophical reconstruction of historical materialism in its least interesting form (namely, as functional explanation, rather than in terms of class conflict); and second, in his later work, by calling for a moralistic change in the consciousness of individuals, regardless of historical circumstances. This latter, Christian turn in Cohen’s thought represents as profound a betrayal of Marxism as Habermas‘ attempt to supply it a Kantian foundation - in this respect, both Anglophone and “Continental” Marxism betray Marx’s original realism.
This is pretty hardcore. Not included among Marx's faults: the labor theory of value; the tendency of Marxism when applied to produce totalitarian dictatorships that have caused upward of 100 millions deaths. Anyway, there is precious little empirical evidence that capitalist societies tend toward the immiseration of the majority. Leiter seems to recognize that he's on evidential thin ice here. He can't seem to decide whether to say increasing middle-class standards of living have been an "illusion" or an "anomaly". Either way, Leiter's struggling to explain away the fact that it appears quite clear to anyone acquainted with a few facts of economic history that capitalist societies in fact tend toward the opposite of the immiseration of the majority. If this is one of the two big-ticket theses Marx is supposed to have nailed, it doesn't look very good for Marx. An overwhelming preponderance of empirical evidence establishes that individuals and families at every decile in the income distribution grew much wealthier in capitalist societies over the last century. The case that this was an "illusion" is simply nonexistent. Leiter would be safer settling on the "anomaly" story, which allows him to admit that the data don't support the predictions of Marx's theory while holding out hope that the data will soon enough get its act together and vindicate the master. Leiter offers us no hints about why anyone ought to believe that it "will soon be revealed" that Marx was right after all, but it's an interview and you can't say everything. In any case, I'd be happy to make a bet with real money that Marx was just plain wrong about immiseration, and will continue to be proved wrong. Perhaps Leiter would agree with me that the top ten countries in the Fraser/Cato economic-freedom ranking count as "capitalist societies." I'd be willing to bet 10,000 of Mitt Romney's dollars, or a thousand of my own, that the incomes of those at the first and fifth deciles of the combined income distribution of the ten capitalist-est countries will rise in the next twenty years. It's a good bet because, looking backward, the welfare of people of every class has improved not a little but a lot under capitalism, and much, much, much more than that of people who suffered the misfortune of living under regimes that attempted to put Marxism into practice.
The other "central issue" Marx is supposed to have nailed seems sort of vacuous. Every sort of society tends to "produce moral and political ideologies that serve to justify the dominance" of whatever group is dominant. But maybe that seems vacuous for the same reason Shakespeare seems full of clichés. So, sure, chalk one up for Marx.
Then Leiter comes down on G.A. Cohen for charitably assimilating Marx's theory into a credible form of social-scientific explanation! The theory that class conflict is the engine of social, economic, and political change is embraced by few reputable social scientists, mainly because class-conflict theory, no matter how one tries to specify the relevant classes, fails to successfully explain or predict much of anything. Cohen was doing Marx a favor! Even so, his improvement of Marx's theory of history remains a minority view in the social sciences for what are now fairly standard theoretical reasons that have helped us to account for the surfeit of evidence against group-interest theories of social change.
Russell Hardin's entry on "the free-rider problem" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's offers an excellent summary of the great political-economist Mancur Olson's criticism of Marx's theory of class conflict in The Logic of Collective Action, a modern classic. Let me quote at length, since this is absolutely essential to any account of historical change that seeks to be both naturalistic and realistic in Leiter's sense. Hardin:
The odd mismatch of individual incentives and what may loosely be called collective interests is the independent discovery of two game theorists who invented the prisoner's dilemma for two persons (see Hardin 1982a, 24-5) and of various philosophers and social theorists who have noted the logic of collective action in various contexts. In Olson's account, what had been a fairly minor issue for economists became a central issue for political scientists and social theorists more generally. From early in the twentieth century, a common view of collective action in pluralist group politics was that policy on any issue must be, roughly, a vector sum of the forces of all of the groups interested in the issue (Bentley 1908). In this standard vision, one could simply count the number of those interested in an issue, weight them by their intensity and the direction they want policy to take, and sum the result geometrically to say what the policy must be. Olson's analysis abruptly ended this long tradition; and group theory in politics took on, as the central task, trying to understand why some groups organize and others do not.
Among the major casualties of Olson's revision of our views of groups is Karl Marx's analysis of class conflict. Although many scholars still elaborate and defend Marx's vision, others now reject it as failing to recognize the contrary incentives that members of the working class face. (Oddly, Marx himself arguably saw the cross-cutting -- individual vs. group -- incentives of capitalists, the other major group in his account.) This problem had long been recognized in the thesis of the embourgeoisement of the working class: Once workers prosper enough to buy homes and to benefit in other ways from the current level of economic development, they may have so much to lose from revolutionary class action that they cease to be potential revolutionaries.
In essence, the theories that Olson's argument demolished were all grounded in a fallacy of composition. We commit this fallacy whenever we suppose the characteristics of a group or set are the characteristics of the members of the group or set or vice versa. In the theories that fail Olson's test the fact that it would be in the collective interest of some group to have a particular result, even counting the costs of providing the result, is turned into the assumption that it would be in the interest of each individual in the group to bear the individual costs of contributing to the group's collective provision. If the group has an interest in contributing to provision of its good, then individual members are (sometimes wrongly) assumed to have an interest in contributing. Sometimes, this assumption is merely shorthand for the recognition that all the members of a group are of the same mind on some issue. For example, a group of anti-war marchers are of one mind with respect to the issue that gets them marching. There might be many who are along for the entertainment, to join a friend or spouse, or even to spy on the marchers, but the modal motivation of the individuals in the group might well be the motivation summarily attributed to the group. But very often the move from individual to group intentions or vice versa is wrong.
This fallacious move between individual and group motivations and interests pervades and vitiates much of social theory since at least Aristotle's opening sentence in the Politics. [Emphasis added.]
Yet Leiter goes on to insist that, "class conflict is both the actual causal mechanism of historical change and intelligible to the people who are the agents of that change." I'm with Hardin and Olson and pretty much everybody on this one.
So, in what sense is a commitment to a discredited version of Marx's theory a way of being "realist" rather than a "moralist"? The question has teeth when we observe that Leiter tends to apply his Marxism in a ham-handed, moralizing way. Check this out:
If 75% of the wealth of the richest one-tenth of 1% of American society were immediately expropriated, there would be no need to discuss cuts to spending that affects the well-being of the vast majority. This is a democracy, why isn’t this a major topic of public debate? Why aren’t the national media full of debates between defenders of the right of the Koch brothers to keep their billions and advocates for seizing the majority of their fortune to meet human needs? One only needs to read Marx to know the answer.
Leiter's appeal to Marx here strikes me as a way to avoid thinking realistically about the question he has posed. The implication, I take it, is that we are not now having a major public debate over the propriety of seizing enormous fortunes because, what?, the capitalists and their running-dog apologists have snowed the public with its propaganda? False consciousness? As Karl Popper rightly pointed out, it's precisely this sort of thing that makes Marxism a cozy circle of self-reinforcement--an unfalsifiable pseudo-theory. When Marxists lose an argument, the most devout among them soften the blow by reinterpreting the loss as a prediction and thus vindication of the creed. And, make no mistake, Marxists did lose a big argument, one we now know as "the 20th century." The evidence has been in a while. People fare best in liberal-democratic welfare states with capitalist economic systems. This is a fact available to any honest inquirer. The places where human needs are best met are not those in which aggrieved majorities swoop in and suddenly confiscate 3/4 of the assets of successful capitalists. They are places that don't do that.
Societies in which human needs are best met are blessed with stable legal and economic institutions that facilitate the production of wealth. Those who through hard work and good luck do especially well are made by law to relinquish a larger portion of their incomes to the state than the rest. And those who have fared the worst are helped both by the well-financed welfare state and the flourishing civil society capitalism facilitates. That's what works. You can look it up.
We are, of course, having a major public debate over whether the wealthiest among us are taxed too little or too much. Everyone seems to agree that the framework rules of our economic and political system have been twisted to enrich the few at the expense of the many, but there is a major debate over the precise nature of the problem and what exactly should be done about it. The reason Leiter's proposal to "expropriate" or "seize" wealth on a monumental scale is not presently a hot debate topic is not that Charles and David Koch have somehow kept the subject off "Up with Chris Hayes." And it's not that the tender-headed liberal "moralists" have lulled the 99% into scrupling to loot Tim Tebow's bank account. The reason is that it is well understood by intelligent, well-informed people that Leiter's is a disastrously stupid idea inconsistent with the sort of social order that does meet human needs reliably and well. Welcome to the 90s, realist.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
A new study finds surprising evidence of the self-evolution of urban foxes.
- A study from the University of Glasgow finds urban foxes evolved differently compared to rural foxes.
- The skulls of the urban foxes are adapted to scavenging for food rather than hunting it.
- The evolutionary changes correspond to Charles Darwin's "domestication syndrome."
How much can living in the city change you? If you were an urban fox, you could be evolving yourself to a whole new stage and becoming more like a dog, according to a fascinating new study.
Researchers compared skulls from rural foxes around London with foxes who lived inside the city and found important variations. Rural foxes showed adaptation for speed and hunting after quick, small prey, while urban fox skulls exhibited changes that made it easier for them to scavenge, looking through human refuse for food, rather than chasing it. Their snouts were shorter and stronger, making it easier to open packages and chew up leftovers. They also have smaller brains, not meant for hunting but for interacting with stationary food sources, reports Science magazine.
Interestingly, there was much similarity found between the male and female skulls of the urban foxes.
The observed changes correspond to what Charles Darwin called the "domestication syndrome," comprised of traits that go along with an animal's transition from being wild, to tamed, to domesticated.
The study was led by Kevin Parsons, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Glasgow.
"What's really fascinating here is that the foxes are doing this to themselves," Parsons told the BBC. "This is the result of foxes that have decided to live near people, showing these traits that make them look more like domesticated animals."
The researchers are not suggesting you should go out and get a fox as a house-pet just yet. But they are seeing the evolutionary process taking place that's moving the urban foxes along the path towards becoming more like dogs and cats, explained the study's co-author Dr. Andrew Kitchener from National Museums Scotland.
A fox beneath a tree in Greenwich park, south east London on May 14, 2020.
Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP
"Some of the basic environmental aspects that may have occurred during the initial phases of domestication for our current pets, like dogs and cats, were probably similar to the conditions in which our urban foxes and other urban animals are living today," said Kitchener. "So, adapting to life around humans actually primes some animals for domestication."
The specimen came from the National Museum Scotland's collection of around 1,500 fox skulls.
You can read the study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
A fox at the LV County Championship, Division two match between Surrey and Derbyshire at The Brit Oval on April 9, 2010 in London, England.
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Is Bitcoin akin to 'digital gold'?
- In October, PayPal announced that it would begin allowing users to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies.
- Other major fintech companies—Square, Fidelity, SoFi—have also recently begun investing heavily in cryptocurrencies.
- While prices are volatile, many investors believe cryptocurrencies are a relatively safe bet because blockchain technology will prove itself over the long term.
Presentation slide from Sanja Kon's presentation on the evolution of money at 2020 Web Summit
Credit: Sanja Kon<p>The move came shortly after the payments company Square invested $50 million into Bitcoin, and after Fidelity announced that it was opening a Bitcoin fund into which qualified purchasers could invest <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-26/fidelity-launches-inaugural-bitcoin-fund-for-wealthy-investors" target="_blank">(minimum investment: $100,000)</a>. Together, this institutional backing might have something to do with Bitcoin's recent surge back to near its 2017 price peak of $19,783. (Bitcoin is listed at 19,384.30 as of Dec. 3.)<br></p>
Presentation slide from Sanja Kon's presentation on the evolution of money at 2020 Web Summit
Credit: Sanja Kon<p>But more importantly, it suggests cryptocurrencies might soon have the opportunity to prove themselves in real-world use cases. After all, skeptics have long doubted the ability of cryptocurrencies to go mainstream as a form of everyday payment. But people seem increasingly comfortable with digital payment systems.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The entire world is going to come into digital first," Schulman said at Web Summit, adding that PayPal's services already go hand-in-hand with cryptocurrencies. "As we thought about it, digital wallets are a natural complement to digital currencies. We've got over 360 million digital wallets and we need to embrace cryptocurrencies."</p><p>Sanja Kon, vice president of global partnerships at the cryptocurrency payments processor company UTRUST, also spoke at Web Summit about the increasing adoption of digital payments:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Physical cash is becoming more and more obsolete. And the next step in the evolution is digital currency."</p><p>Kon noted some of the inherent advantages of cryptocurrencies, namely ownership. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"For many people, this is really the main benefit of cryptocurrency: Users owning cryptocurrencies are able to control how they spend their money without dealing with any intermediary authority like a bank or a government, for example," Kon said, adding that there are no bank fees associated with cryptocurrencies, and that international transaction fees are significantly lower than wire transfers of fiat currency.</p><p>Kon said cryptocurrencies have unique growth opportunities in areas where people aren't integrated into modern banking systems:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"With cryptocurrencies and blockchain, with the use of just a smartphone and access to internet, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies can be available to populations of people and users without access to the traditional banking system."</p>
Bitcoin as 'digital gold'<p>Still, it could take years for people to start using cryptocurrencies for everyday purchases on a large scale. Despite this, many cryptocurrency advocates see digital currencies, particularly Bitcoin, as a way to store value—digital gold, essentially.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I don't think Bitcoin is going to be used as a transactional currency anytime in the next five years," billionaire investor Mike Novogratz recently told <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-23/novogratz-says-bitcoin-is-digital-gold-not-a-currency-for-now?srnd=markets-vp" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a>. "Bitcoin is being used as a store of value. [...] "Bitcoin as a gold, as digital gold, is just going to keep going higher. More and more people are going to want it as some portion of their portfolio."</p><p>There are obvious parallels between gold and Bitcoin: Both are mined, do not degrade over time, are finite in supply, and aren't directly tied to the value of fiat currency, making them <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gold-inflation/gold-as-an-inflation-hedge-well-sort-of-idUSKCN1GD516" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">relatively invulnerable to inflation</a>. The obvious objection is that the price of Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, is far more volatile than gold.</p><p>But for investors who believe the inherent value of cryptocurrency technology will prove itself over the long term, these price fluctuations are just bumps on the long road to the future of currency. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's no longer a debate if crypto is a thing, if Bitcoin is an asset, if the blockchain is going to be part of the financial infrastructure," Novogratz said. "It's not if, it's when, and so every single company has to have a plan now."</p>
Singapore has approved the sale of a lab-grown meat product in an effort to secure its food supplies against disease and climate change.
Approve for your dining pleasure<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd3f57f8baf14e654812d30a309d1f17"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/307gysA18_E?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><a href="https://www.ju.st/en-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Eat Just</a>, a company that produces animal-alternative food products, announced the news earlier this week. In what the company is calling a world first, Singapore has given it permission for a small-scale commercial launch of their GOOD Meat brand product line. For the initial run, the cultured chicken meat will be sold as an ingredient in "chicken bites."</p><p>"Singapore has long been a leader in innovation of all kinds, from information technology to biologics to now leading the world in building a healthier, safer food system. I'm sure that our regulatory approval for cultured meat will be the first of many in Singapore and in countries around the globe," Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201201006251/en/Eat-Just-Granted-World%E2%80%99s-First-Regulatory-Approval-for-Cultured-Meat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said in a release</a>.</p><p>According to the release, Eat Just underwent an extensive safety review by the Singapore Food Agency. It provided officials "details on the purity, identity and stability of chicken cells during the manufacturing process, as well as a detailed description of the manufacturing process which demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met quality controls and a rigorous food safety monitoring system." It also demonstrated the consistency of its production by running more than 20 cycles in its 1,200-liter bioreactors.</p><p>While Eat Just did not offer details on its propriety process, it likely follows <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24032080-400-accelerating-the-cultured-meat-revolution/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one similar to other lab-grown meats</a>. It starts with muscle cell samples drawn from a living animal. Technicians then isolate stem cells from the sample and culture them <em>in vitro</em>. These cultured stem cells are then placed in a bioreactor, essentially a fermenter for fleshy cells. The bioreactor contains scaffolding materials to keep the growing tissue from falling apart as well as a growth material—the sugars, salts, and other nutrients the tissue needs to grow. As the cells grow, they begin to differentiate into the muscle, fat, and other cells of meat tissue. Once grown, the tissues are formed into a meat product to be shipped to restaurants and supermarkets.</p>
An abattoir abatement?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg2Mjg5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODg1NDI3N30.AYmFJfWQbPjK-o1IatyFHL-OLjcfXBMmQKYyvz4oT3s/img.jpg?width=980" id="8a82d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="93f824fe4c6f397ab2b65e4665847e71" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A graph showing the number of animals slaughtered in the United States per year from 1961–2018.
Credit: Our World in Data<p>Singapore's approval is an important step in support for clean meats—so-called because they don't require animal slaughter and would likely leave a reduced carbon footprint—but hurdles remain before widespread adoption is possible.</p><p>The most glaring is the price. The first lab-grown hamburger was eaten in London in 2013. <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-23576143" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">It cost roughly $330,000</a>. As with any new technology, investment, iteration, and improved manufacturing will see the price drop substantially and quickly. For comparison, Eat Just's chicken will be priced equivalent to premium chicken.</p><p>Other hurdles include up-scaling production, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00373-w" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the need for further research</a>, and developing techniques to reliably produce in-demand meats such as fish and beef. Finally, not all countries may be as receptive as Singapore. Countries with large, entrenched meat industries may protect this legacy industry through a protracted and difficult regulatory process. Though, the meat industry itself is investing in lab-grown meat. Tyson Foods, for example, has <a href="https://euromeatnews.com/Article-Tyson-Foods-announces-investment-in-clean-meat/697" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">invested in the food-tech startup Memphis Meats</a>, the company that debuted the world's first beef meatball.</p><p>"I would imagine what will happen is the U.S., Western Europe and others will see what Singapore has been able to do, the rigours of the framework that they put together. And I would imagine that they will try to use it as a template to put their own framework together," <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eat-just-singapore/singapore-approves-sale-of-lab-grown-meat-in-world-first-idUSKBN28C06Z" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tetrick told Reuter's during an interview</a>.</p><p>Regardless of the challenges, the demand for meat substitutes is present and growing. In 2020, plant-based substitutes like Beyond Meat and Impossible foods <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/plant-based-meat" target="_self">gained a significant foothold in supermarkets</a> as meat-packing factories became coronavirus hotspots. The looming threat of climate change has also turned people away from meat as animal products. Livestock production is environmentally taxing and leaves <a href="http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a much larger carbon footprint</a> than grain and vegetable production. </p><p>Then there's the moral concern of animal cruelty. In 2018 alone, 302 million cows, 656 million turkeys, 1.48 billion pigs, and a gob-smacking 68 billion chickens were <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/animals-slaughtered-for-meat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">slaughtered for meat worldwide</a>. And those figures do not include chickens killed in dairy or egg production.</p><p>If brought to scale and widely available, clean meats could become serious competitors to traditional meat. <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/meat-alternatives" target="_self">One report has even predicted</a> that 60 percent of the meat people eat by 2040 won't come from slaughtered animals. It could be just the thing for people looking for a meat substitute but who find tofurkey as distasteful as, well tofurkey.</p>