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Speculations on Postcapitalism: How Digitalization Is Disrupting Everything We Know About Modern Civilization Paperback – March 1, 2017
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About the Author
Anthony Signorelli is a business consultant, intellectual, expert on postcapitalism, and the voice behind PostCapFuture.com. Anthony is the author of two books, numerous courses and webinars, and dozens of white papers. From organic farming to the corporate boardroom, Anthony’s life experiences have provided him with a unique perspective on business, climate change, social analysis, and creative thought.
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As he reads, so too does he write.
First, this book is very well-written: tight, clean, hard-edged prose, devoid of rhetorical flourish and hyperbole.
Second, the argument put forward here -- capitalism's adherence to its own sacrosanct internal logic guarantees its collapse -- is a departure from Marxist "historical materialism." At the risk of over-simplification, Marx argued that capitalism emerged, inevitably and necessarily, out of humankind's material circumstances of increased productivity gained by technological advancement. To put it sardonically, by way of an example, feudalism was an altogether inadequate system to monetize and squander our millions-of-years inheritance of coal, oil, and natural gas. Therefore, feudalism necessarily ended and capitalism necessarily took its place. In turn, the material circumstances of capitalism, specifically the exploitation and impoverishment of workers (the 99%) for the exclusive enrichment of capitalist owners (the 1%), will inevitably and necessarily destroy capitalism and give rise to socialism. The author's post-capitalist speculation is different: Capitalism will collapse because the logic of capitalism is itself driving the cost of goods and profits to zero via digitalization, undermining demand for its own products by rendering human labor worthless via automation, and destroying the environment in which we all live, including capitalists, via climate change. Provocative.
Third, this book is both a mirror and a looking-glass. The mirror is why capitalism will collapse under the weight of its own logic; the looking-glass is what might replace it. The looking-glass comprises the bulk of the book, and it's a fascinating exploration. The author has done extensive research into what a post-capitalist world might look like. These speculations are serious, far-reaching, often surprising, deeply insightful, mostly positive but never pollyannaish, and worth far more than the nominal price of the book.
There is much to wrestle with and argue about in this book. I suspect that the author wouldn't have it any other way.
Signorelli does not take a position on whether or not this is a good thing. True to the title, this book “speculates” on what could happen, not what will happen. He explores implications with social networks, democracy, currency, corporations, and even how food is produced. The speculations occur in the future, but we can see the roots of change in today's newspaper. How this ultimately turns out will depend on how we adapt to the changes occurring around us.
The theme of the book states that knowing that change is coming and understanding the possible implications, will allow us to make informed decisions on how to adapt to the change, so the next era, will not be worse. The next book in his series titled, Disrupting Capitalism: The End of the Great Mechanism and a Vision for the Postcapitalist Future, implies that he will lay out his vision for what the world could be like, Postcapitalism. He finishes with a plea to readers to join the conversation, bring your best argument, and creative ideas on what comes next.
Let's hope that people will join in this conversation on the future of economics, and work together to make the world better. Speculations on Postcapitalism gives us an opening to the conversation, it’s up to us to join in.
Because we are living in an increasingly digital economy, everyone would benefit from considering what the author says regarding the effect of digitization on not only the economy but society. I don’t mind admitting that as someone who relies on digital sales to make my living, it scared the crap out of me.
The ideas and speculations put forth in this book are intended to begin a dialogue. They will definitely do that! As I read the book, several people I knew came to mind as needing to get their hands on this book. If you want something thought-provoking to talk about at your next dinner party, then buy this. If you want to be ahead of the eight ball in our ever-changing economy, buy this book and think about how to deal with the coming changes in a digital economy.
The writing is such a pleasure to read. It’s easy to follow and conversational in tone, so it isn’t intimidating or dry. Yet, it is easy to see the author as an authority on the subject. The author knows what he is writing about.
I highly recommend this book!