This week is dedicated to discussing the ideas of Paul Mason’s new book Post Capitalism: a Guide to Our Future, in which he argues that the end of capitalism has begun, unnoticed. He argues that information technology has the potential to reshape utterly our familiar notions of work, production and value; and to destroy an economy based on markets and private ownership – in fact, it is already doing so. NewTech has ushered in a postcapitalist era characterized by free time & collaborative networks.
Paul Mason is the award-winning economics editor of Channel 4 News. His books include Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: the New Global Revolutions; Live Working Die Fighting ; and Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed. We are publishing a series of review features on his work which we believe to be hugely significant. This will culminate in a live online discussion with Paul and the other reviewers at the end of the week. Use the hashtag #postcapitalist.
We think its significant that this work comes not from a theorist but from a journalist reflecting on lived experience. We also welcome Paul’s approach which is to say ‘open this debate’ – ‘I may not have got this right’. Paul writes in apiece that has already been shared hundreds of thousands of times:
“Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed – not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all.
Second, information is corroding the market’s ability to form prices correctly. That is because markets are based on scarcity while information is abundant. The system’s defence mechanism is to form monopolies – the giant tech companies – on a scale not seen in the past 200 years, yet they cannot last. By building business models and share valuations based on the capture and privatisation of all socially produced information, such firms are constructing a fragile corporate edifice at odds with the most basic need of humanity, which is to use ideas freely. Third, we’re seeing the spontaneous rise of collaborative production: goods, services and organisations are appearing that no longer respond to the dictates of the market and the managerial hierarchy. The biggest information product in the world – Wikipedia – is made by volunteers for free, abolishing the encyclopedia business and depriving the advertising industry of an estimated $3bn a year in revenue.
Almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, whole swaths of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm. Parallel currencies, time banks, cooperatives and self-managed spaces have proliferated, barely noticed by the economics profession, and often as a direct result of the shattering of the old structures in the post-2008 crisis.”
Read the whole article here ‘The end of capitalism has begun’.