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Four Futures: Life After Capitalism (Jacobin) Paperback – October 11, 2016
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“Frase injects a sorely needed dose of reality to the conversation, and the result is invigorating … I lost sleep over it.”
—Ben Tarnoff, Guardian
“An engaging thought experiment on the intersection of technology and the environment. Indeed, as we ponder the interplay between digital abundance and physical scarcity, the digital industrialist solutions of most thinkers in this space pale in comparison to Frase’s more open-minded, less deterministic understanding of the future unfolding before us.”
—Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed and Present Shock
“A remarkably clear-eyed view of the futures we’re facing, bringing humor and intelligence to the lab of speculative fiction to create four smart and sharply lit early warning signals.”
—Warren Ellis, author of Gun Machine and Transmetropolitan
“Are the robots eating our jobs? Will technology set us free? These questions aren’t new, but Frase’s approach to answering them is refreshingly inventive. Four Futures is a thought-provoking work of political speculation. This incisive little book offers the vital reminder that nothing is set in stone—or silicon—and that in order to fight for a better world we first need to be able to imagine it.”
—Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform
“Brexit looms. Trump leers. Populism shouts. Reactionary politics casts long shadows. The right and left tear at themselves and stretch outwards. International tensions simmer. This seems like an appropriate moment for re-envisioning, and contributions to this process are arriving at some pace. Peter Frase’s engaging short book is another addition to this collective reimagining.”
—David Beer, OpenDemocracy
“Frase deserves great credit for illuminating the possibilites our politics, technology, and environment now enable and constrain. Simultaneously entertaining and deep, Four Futures should inspire more ‘social science fiction.’”
—Frank Pasquale, Commonweal
About the Author
Peter Frase is an editor at Jacobin magazine, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, and has written for In These Times and Al Jazeera. He lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
Frase's speculative writing is not a secular eschatology setting a firm end date to capitalism. Following the sociologist Wolfgang Streeck, he warns against viewing abstractions like "capitalism" and "socialism" as social systems with discrete endings; a mistake too many socialists and apocalyptic preachers have made. In sketching out possibilities rather than likelihoods, Frase takes automation as a constant, with ecological crisis and class power as variables. This model posits that, depending on contingencies and political developments, we can end up in a world of either scarcity or abundance, alongside either hierarchy or equality. Such a typology leaves us with the possibility of Communism (Abundance & Equality), Socialism (Scarcity & Equality), Rentism (Abundance & Hierarchy), or Exterminism (Scarcity & Hierarchy). Frase dedicates a chapter to each of these futures, and in each chapter emphasizes a key theme that is relevant to the world we live in now.
Unlike other publications on such topics, which have become an entire sub-genre in recent years, "Four Futures" emphasizes the importance of politics, particularly a politics of class struggle. As a result, Frase avoids the technocratic-utopianism of books like "The Second Machine Age", and certain strands of Accelerationism, which are part of a larger 21st century philosophical movement known as "Speculative Realism". Avoiding the nihilist fatalism of the Left, what philosopher Slavoj Žižek has called a Left-Fukuyamaism, Frase successfully writes a work of "speculative social science", presenting Dystopias that function as critique and Utopias to build towards.
One thing is for sure: we should have a universal basic income, and stop treating jobs like the only source of status and personal satisfaction.
In a nutshell those of us who imagine our future can veer from Star Trek to Mad Max and this book covers that gamut with a few other variations. There is also the general health of the planet to consider.
The book is short and very conversational. You can imagine having these conversations at a party of what is next in the world. For this reason too, it is also very subjective. Since we seem to be able to argue about whether or not we have damaged the planet, you also imagine how subjective/controversial some of these other ideas are since they include some options like a universal wage, property ownership, distribution of wealth and such. But that does not mean it is not a fascinating read. As much as I cringed when I read about a universal wage (I’m a bit conservative), the logic and reasons were quite compelling.
Overall, this book held my interest and for a person who does not following many sociological issues (my bad), this book made me feel a bit more informed on many of the topics that will impact our future. As there is so much here in a short book, I do plan to read it again. If nothing else you also find a treasure trove of Sci-Fi references.
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Superfluous - adj - unnecessary, especially through being more than enough.Read more
Enjoyed read his.
Whole book seems gloomy and dark somehow but the book presents me to look clearlyRead more