Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future

We know that our world is undergoing seismic change―but how can we emerge from the crisis a fairer, more equal society?

Over the past two centuries or so, capitalism has undergone profound changes―economic cycles that veer from boom to bust―from which it has always emerged transformed and strengthened. Surveying this turbulent history, Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism argues that we are on the brink of a change so big and so profound that this time capitalism itself, the immensely complex system within which entire societies function, will mutate into something wholly new.

At the heart of this change is information technology, a revolution that is driven by capitalism but, with its tendency to push the value of much of what we make toward zero, has the potential to destroy an economy based on markets, wages, and private ownership. Almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, swaths of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm. Vast numbers of people are changing how they behave and live, in ways contrary to the current system of state-backed corporate capitalism. And as the terrain changes, new paths open.

In this bold and prophetic book, Mason shows how, from the ashes of the crisis, we have the chance to create a more socially just and sustainable economy. Although the dangers ahead are profound, he argues that there is cause for hope. This is the first time in human history in which, equipped with an understanding of what is happening around us, we can predict and shape the future.

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3 thoughts on “Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future”

  1. Jedwardian says:
    22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A Brave New World? – Post Capitalism, October 10, 2015
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    A very insightful tour through capitalisms various incarnations as it fought its way to stay ahead of labours push for a fair share of the cake. However, the brave new world of information technology, with its vast store of virtually free information, is making it harder and harder for capitalism to create and sustain new “business models”. Are we heading into a world where the cost of producing, through use of robotics in combination with information technology will continue on a downward trajectory and if so will this mean that in order to sustain outlets for products and services capitalism will have to think the unthinkable and allow an unconditional income for all which is not tied to work? Paul explores all this stuff in an interesting, informative and entertaining way.
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  2. Veronica Dale says:
    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    “Ripped from the headlines!”, May 6, 2016
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    This review is from: Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future (Hardcover)
    “It hooked me at the first page!” “Ripped from the headlines!” “I couldn’t put it down!”
    Hey wait a minute. Isn’t this supposed to be a review of an economics book? It is, and for me all those exclamations are true. In spite of the fact that I usually think economics is opaque and boring, I found this book to be positively riveting.

    Like a lot of people, I’m worried about what’s going on in today’s world. The Arab Spring never bloomed; Occupy Wall Street petered out; the upcoming US election seems mired in chaos. We’re supposed to have recovered from the 2008 recession, but most new jobs can’t pay the bills. Every year breaks a record for world’s hottest, but certain political and corporate leaders still deny the existence of man-made climate change. Our population is getting older, poorer, and deeper in debt. What to do about the rising number of immigrants threatens many nations. So when Diane Rehm interviewed Paul Mason about his book, I decided to buy it. I wanted to hear more about his take on why we’re in this situation and what we can do about it.

    Mason begins by reviewing humankind’s turbulent economic history: feudalism, industrial capitalism, the rise and destruction of the labor movement, the booms and busts of neoliberalism, the phenomenon of today’s “precariat.” These are the stressed-out people forced to work two jobs, who have lost or will never get a pension, who are acutely aware of how monopolies, outsourcing, or their company moving overseas make his or her job extremely precarious. Many workers are expected to be “at work” on their smartphones even when traveling or at home, and—even worse—are forced to “live the dream of the firm they work for.” In spite of our rising productivity, it’s now clear that actual wages are in decline, except for the 1%.

    Mason then takes a look at how capitalism evolved in the last 200 years. It was mind-expanding for me to see how economic systems evolve and change just like human beings do. Today’s capitalism, the author points out, is in its fifth great wave. It’s trembling on the edge of becoming something new: postcapitalism.

    Why is this happening? The answer, basically, is because our planet has to meet several great challenges it never faced before: climate change, ageing, the information network, and massive immigration. Business as usual won’t be able to meet these challenges.

    So what will? What does this new mutation of capitalism look like? Mason says we’re already seeing it through models like the non-profit Wikipedia, Creative Commons, and Open Source. These share a communal nature, “free to use, but impossible to grab, own, and exploit.” Because of the unprecedented availability of free information on the internet, people are able to form artisanal local businesses, publish e-books, join global communities, share videos, get the equivalent of a free college degree. Information, one of the most valuable commodities available to human beings, isn’t scare anymore, but free to all.

    Like any great novel, this book builds and builds into an explosive climax. Using the nitty-gritty facts of history and economics, Mason reveals what postcapitalism can mean to us and our future.

    There’s tons more in in this book that I can’t even begin to deal with here. Whenever I read a book I think I’m going to review, I jot down notes: what grabs me, what new thing I learn, how it coincides with what I’ve noticed in the world and why it bothers me or gives me hope. For this book, I took six pages of notes. It’s hard to review a book in which you struggle to assimilate a new idea when, on the next page, the author is already using the new idea as the foundation for yet another new idea.

    This book isn’t an easy read, but boy is it an exhilarating ride! At the end—when we finally get the answer to the question “who’s going to save us?”—I actually yelled Yay!
    –review by Veronica Dale, author of Blood Seed,

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  3. Omar Ghaffar says:
    10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Simply amazing how the author ties together cutting edge economic theory …, February 20, 2016
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    This review is from: Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future (Hardcover)
    Simply amazing how the author ties together cutting edge economic theory on technology with political thinking. This is not a book to be missed for modern thinkers. There might be many automatically critical of this work on an ideological level but I would implore you to put your politics aside, get it and read. The ideas in this book correspond to many of those found in Martin Ford’s Book Rise of the Robot’s as well as the work by MIT economists called The Second Machine Age. Specifically, one should pay attention to whether “information goods conflict fundamentally with market mechanism.” I believe Mason is correct in asserting that they do.
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