I have just finished reading Paul Mason’s book, Postcapitalism: A Guide to our Future. Scary stuff; and not because this is a rant by an extreme left wing political economist/journalist – because it isn’t. This is a serious attempt to analyse where the world is heading, what it means, and what can be done to prevent disaster.
Where is the world heading?
– Neo-liberalism is dead
– Climate change is a world-changer, and a new energy economy is required
– The ageing of the world population, coupled to migration, is also a world-changer
– Public debt is unsustainable and 60% of states are heading for bankruptcy by 2050
Paul’s view is that the global elite is in denial, and have no solutions to these problems. The market will not solve the problems.
So far, little to disagree with. What are the solutions? Paul offers some sense of the required direction of travel, rather than a step by step set of instructions. Centralised, strategic and fast action is required, with states acting together; revolutionary reformism leading (after a possibly lengthy transition) to Postcapitalism. This requires willpower, confidence and design. The key principles are:
– creation of a zero carbon economy
– production of machines, products and services with zero marginal costs; reduction of necessary labour time to as close to zero as possible (automated economy; less work, more non-waged activity)
– ecological sustainability
-human attitudes to work and societal structures need to change
-maximisation of power of information; allowing networks to attack societal (and other) problems and arrive at solutions collaboratively
-society to become overtly ethical
Very revolutionary, but not in a ‘up against the wall’ sort of way. The transition to a Postcapitalist world doesn’t abolish the state; it requires states and politicians to step up to the plate, and confront the structural problems facing the world, and to take the painful measures required. The transition cannot be left to market forces, although these can be co-opted to nudge the system into the desirable pathways to change.
Clearly, I’ve left a lot out. Recently, Paul Mason seems to have become a figure of fun as far as the rest of the media is concerned. I think that’s a misunderstanding. This book is definitely worth reading.