- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (February 9, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374235546
- ISBN-13: 978-0374235543
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future Hardcover – February 9, 2016
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“Even readers not quite persuaded will appreciate Mason's readable, reportorial style, his use of a wide range of economists, business gurus, and economic thinkers to help support his thesis, and his deft treatment of sometimes-difficult economic theories . . . A radical diagnosis and a bold prognostication bound to energize progressives.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“[Postcapitalism]'s vision for the future . . . is absorbing and provocative.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Mason weaves together varied intellectual threads to produce a fascinating set of ideas . . . The thesis about ‘postcapitalism’ deserves a wide readership among right and left alike . . . Politicians of all stripes should take note. And so should the people who vote for them.” ―Gillian Tett, Financial Times
“Deeply engaging . . . [Mason] is asking the most interesting questions, unafraid of where they might lead. What’s more, he writes with freshness and insight on almost every page . . . I can’t remember the last book I read that managed to carve its way through the forest of political and economic ideas with such brio . . . As a spark to the imagination, with frequent x-ray flashes of insight into the way we live now, it is hard to beat. In that sense, Mason is a worthy successor to Marx.” ―David Runciman, The Guardian
“Ecological crisis signals the death knell for an economic system that was already profoundly failing us, as Paul Mason mercilessly illustrates in these pages. Building on a remarkable career's worth of reporting on the frontlines of global capitalism and worker resistance, this book is an original, engaging, and bracingly-articulated vision of real alternatives. It is sure to many spark vigorous debates, and they are precisely the ones we should be having.” ―Naomi Klein
“After postmodernism and all other fashionable post-trends, Mason fearlessly confronts the only true post-, postcapitalism. While we can see all around us ominous signs of the impasses of global capitalism, it is perhaps more than ever difficult to imagine a feasible alternative to it. How are we to deal with this frustrating situation? Although Mason's book is irresistibly readable, this clarity should not deceive us: it is a book which compels us to think!” ―Slavoj Žižek
About the Author
Paul Mason was the award-winning economics editor of Channel 4 News. His books include Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed and Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions. He writes for The Guardian and the New Statesman, among other publications.
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Hey wait a minute. Isn’t this supposed to be a review of an economics book? It is, and for me all those exclamations are true. In spite of the fact that I usually think economics is opaque and boring, I found this book to be positively riveting.
Like a lot of people, I’m worried about what’s going on in today’s world. The Arab Spring never bloomed; Occupy Wall Street petered out; the upcoming US election seems mired in chaos. We’re supposed to have recovered from the 2008 recession, but most new jobs can’t pay the bills. Every year breaks a record for world’s hottest, but certain political and corporate leaders still deny the existence of man-made climate change. Our population is getting older, poorer, and deeper in debt. What to do about the rising number of immigrants threatens many nations. So when Diane Rehm interviewed Paul Mason about his book, I decided to buy it. I wanted to hear more about his take on why we’re in this situation and what we can do about it.
Mason begins by reviewing humankind’s turbulent economic history: feudalism, industrial capitalism, the rise and destruction of the labor movement, the booms and busts of neoliberalism, the phenomenon of today’s “precariat.” These are the stressed-out people forced to work two jobs, who have lost or will never get a pension, who are acutely aware of how monopolies, outsourcing, or their company moving overseas make his or her job extremely precarious. Many workers are expected to be “at work” on their smartphones even when traveling or at home, and—even worse—are forced to “live the dream of the firm they work for.” In spite of our rising productivity, it’s now clear that actual wages are in decline, except for the 1%.
Mason then takes a look at how capitalism evolved in the last 200 years. It was mind-expanding for me to see how economic systems evolve and change just like human beings do. Today’s capitalism, the author points out, is in its fifth great wave. It’s trembling on the edge of becoming something new: postcapitalism.
Why is this happening? The answer, basically, is because our planet has to meet several great challenges it never faced before: climate change, ageing, the information network, and massive immigration. Business as usual won’t be able to meet these challenges.
So what will? What does this new mutation of capitalism look like? Mason says we’re already seeing it through models like the non-profit Wikipedia, Creative Commons, and Open Source. These share a communal nature, “free to use, but impossible to grab, own, and exploit.” Because of the unprecedented availability of free information on the internet, people are able to form artisanal local businesses, publish e-books, join global communities, share videos, get the equivalent of a free college degree. Information, one of the most valuable commodities available to human beings, isn’t scare anymore, but free to all.
Like any great novel, this book builds and builds into an explosive climax. Using the nitty-gritty facts of history and economics, Mason reveals what postcapitalism can mean to us and our future.
There’s tons more in in this book that I can’t even begin to deal with here. Whenever I read a book I think I’m going to review, I jot down notes: what grabs me, what new thing I learn, how it coincides with what I’ve noticed in the world and why it bothers me or gives me hope. For this book, I took six pages of notes. It’s hard to review a book in which you struggle to assimilate a new idea when, on the next page, the author is already using the new idea as the foundation for yet another new idea.
This book isn’t an easy read, but boy is it an exhilarating ride! At the end—when we finally get the answer to the question “who’s going to save us?”—I actually yelled Yay!
--review by Veronica Dale, author of Blood Seed,
The book nonetheless contains much to reckon with and is refreshingly eclectic in a spread of ideas which may or may not amount to confirmation of thesis. At the end however we seem to return to postcapitalism done the old fashioned way, a revolution, which is a choice/decision to operate not according to economic deterministic logic, but the logic of values set in advance to create a system where people are not subjected to the oblivion chosen for them by gangs of thugs called 'capitalists', and their organ grinder's monkey, the economist.
Economists specialize in looking past values to what a system does, and how it will undergo noble intentions, but we are arriving at the point where the whole game has to perform according to those values or be judged obsolete. We have burnt out a whole planet in the name of capitalism's 'successes', but must notice that after all of that the system now trends toward the abolition of middle classes. To say nothing of the imminent climate crisis.
Still, the cogency of the author's many speculative 'wild goose chases' might be useful for leftists if they can hope to ride the momentum of the system itself toward the phase of 'post...'.
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