Is the end of Capitalism upon us?

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There’s a new thought rippling towards our self-awareness courtesy of our thinkers today. One such thinker turned author is Paul Mason, who has ignited his debate on the utopian concept of postcapitalism.

His work deserves a read, and perhaps a re-read to get the full benefits. But that aside, the essence of his short essay published with The Guardian, which reflects his more ambitious publication Postcapitalism, engages in the notion of the info tech revolution propelling us towards a Marxist type direction of postcapitalism. His utopia is explained, where information is free and shared, and the proletariat alive and well.

It’s a difficult concept to grasp when all you have known is an economic based survival in our greedy world. Bet Mason maintains the slow de-construction of capitalism is already occurring – that we are returning to a notion of community but on a global scale assisted by “networked activity” in the form of the internet and information technology.

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He uses Greece as a current example of how this is happening and how economic life is shifting in the 21st century.

“…You only find this new economy if you look hard for it. In Greece, when a grassroots NGO mapped the country’s food co-ops, alternative producers, parallel currencies and local exchange systems they found more than 70 substantive projects and hundreds of smaller initiatives ranging from squats to carpools to free kindergartens. To mainstream economics such things seem barely to qualify as economic activity – but that’s the point. They exist because they trade, however haltingly and inefficiently, in the currency of postcapitalism: free time, networked activity and free stuff. It seems a meagre and unofficial and even dangerous thing from which to craft an entire alternative to a global system, but so did money and credit in the age of Edward III.”

Mason argues that the detail is in the occurrences negligible to economists, that they are missing the tell-tale signs. If studied closely, history is repeating itself, signifying the shift of civilization as it once did with Feudalism subsiding for Capitalism. Now, Mason argues, capitalism is making way for postcapitalism, our next step in social and ‘economical’ structure.

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Intelligence, knowledge, self-awareness and the connectivity on a global scale propels us to a new era of living, be that we want it or not.

“…By creating millions of networked people, financially exploited but with the whole of human intelligence one thumb-swipe away, info-capitalism has created a new agent of change in history: the educated and connected human being.”

Economists would shudder to think of such a change, and as Mason so bluntly puts it, “It is the elites – cut off in their dark limo world, whose project looks as forlorn as that of the millennial sects of the 19th century.”

And this is true – where does this leave the Rothschild and Rockefeller families? Where do the Wall Street bankers go when the proletariat share their communal information as well as their communal vegetable patches, working on the premise that knowledge is everything? If Mason is only half correct in his predictions, perhaps the utopian dream isn’t so far-fetched after all.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. That’s funny. I made a very very similar proposal in college. It’s going to happen, for the Human Race desires to prosper, not simply “survive”. People need to put away the wants of Twinkies and focus on the needs of the true definitions of Civilization, Knowledge, and Prosperity.

  2. “Postcapitalism” based on simple makeshift projects such as food co-ops? Sounds like more than one step backwards. What we need to go for is socialism. Why? Because the utopia stated by Mason doesn’t describe a political system – or at least there’s nothing stated here. But we need a political system as a tool of the struggle of the proletariat against the crumbling but self-defending bourgeoisie. This requires a unity of the proletariat under a fighting communist party. If there is no lead unity amongst the proletariat, we will be smashed by the once more arising fascist movement, which is known to be the radical defender of capitalism (refer to pre-Nazi Germany: Weimar Republic). The shift from capitalism, which has to be smashed in its roots, to socialism (or whatever system proposed) cannot happen by itself. It requires the proletariat to stand up against it.

  3. Resource based economy. Educated people….living lives not jobs. It’s happening. I will not be a slave to this outdated corrupt system any longer. Lets get this show on the fucking road.

  4. I hope not! Capitalism has raised the standards of millions, compared to socialism. Whereas socialism relies on force and plunder and a societal pluralism for growth, Capitalism utilizes voluntarism and free market as a means of exchange. Has anyone started a business without capital? Or obtained a job from a poor person? Socialism relies on forced labor for output, and the individual is property of the state. Capitalism utilization of cooperation voluntarily as a means of production. Don’t want to be a production line worker? Okay, you want to go to med school, okay. Can’t pay tuition? Okay get a student loan and go to school. Socialism dictates “okay, comrade the state needs you to put fuze on bomb.” But I want to go to med school you say. Socialism says “the state has a greater need for you in factory.” Capitalism gives you a choice grow, stagnate or die. Socialism doesn’t. I think the fundamental difference is economic illiteracy. Knowing the difference between capitalism and corporatism and passing the “Israel test” is the difference.

    • You cannot judge socialism based on poorly implemented versions of it, and you have totally ignored all the damage capitalism has done. Speaking in terms of economic models. The main problem with socialism is that in reality, not all people are equal, some are worth more, and some are a drain on society. The other problem is that the human race is still too selfish to make the socialism concept workable, and we need choice. Capitalism on the other hand sounds like a good concept but in reality it concentrates too much wealth into a parasite class who contribute little to society. This class will destroy the human race and the environment to further their own selfish interests. For the meantime we need a hybrid economic model containing elements from both these. Home, food, health should all be guaranteed by the government. But it should also allow those who work hard, and those who come up with good ideas to profit from them, but not obscenely. The political system would have to be a Meritocracy with leaders selected based on their empathy and selflessness.

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