Paul Mason: PostCapitalism, A Guide to Our Future

Low-profit tech brings real abundance, but is (absurdly) incompatible with capitalism’s need for scarcity.

↑ Paul Mason joins Google to talk about his book PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future.

Much has been written about the ways capitalism no longer serves humanity’s best interests, or never did to begin with. It externalizes the catastrophic ecological and human “costs of doing business” in order to create a facade of profitability instead of loss. It steadily cannibalizes democracy and subverts our governments to enrich a select few at the expense of everyone else.

Perhaps worst of all, capitalism depends on creating artificial scarcities that keep people needlessly impoverished and sickened—look no further than the prices of life-saving medicines.

Paul Mason offers a framework for analyzing our economy by focusing primarily on the growing sphere of high-value, low-profit technologies (info tech, automation, new kinds of networks, etc) that have the potential to bring real abundance, but are (absurdly) incompatible with capitalism’s need for scarcity. This incompatibility tragically slows our transition to a more abundant economy. Within this new framework are glimmers of potentially new ways to arrange our economy for the greater good.

This talk’s Q&A is as valuable as the presentation—good questions, thought-provoking answers.

About PostCapitalism (from the press release):

Over the past two centuries or so, capitalism has undergone continual change—economic cycles that lurch from boom to bust—and has always emerged transformed and strengthened. Surveying this turbulent history, Paul Mason wonders whether today we are on the brink of a change so big, so profound, that this time capitalism itself, the immensely complex system by which entire societies function, has reached its limits and is changing into something wholly new.

At the heart of this change is information technology: a revolution that, as Mason shows, 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, he contends, it is already doing so. Almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, whole swathes of economic life are changing. Goods and services that no longer respond to the dictates of neoliberalism are appearing, from parallel currencies and time banks, to cooperatives and self-managed online spaces. Vast numbers of people are changing their behavior, discovering new forms of ownership, lending and doing business that are distinct from, and contrary to, the current system of state-backed corporate capitalism.

In this groundbreaking book Mason shows how, from the ashes of the recent financial crisis, we have the chance to create a more socially just and sustainable global economy. Moving beyond capitalism, he shows, is no longer a utopian dream. 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, rather than simply react to, seismic change.

By The Editors

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