by Paul Mason (2015)
if can’t create a sustainable global order and restore economic dynamism, the decades after 2050 will be chaos
so i want to propose an alternative: first, we save globalization by ditching *neoliberalism; then we save the planet – and rescue ourselves from turmoil and inequality – by moving beyond capitalism itself
*a modified form of liberalism tending to favor free-market capitalism.
central message of neoliberalism: there is no alternative.. that all routes away from capitalism end in the kind of disaster that befell the soviet union; and that a revolt against capitalism is a revolt against a natural and timeless order
the aim of this book is to explain why replacing capitalism is no longer a utopian dream.. how *the basic form of a postcapitalist econ can be found w/in the current system and how they could be **expanded rapidly
i don’ think *the basic form of what we crave can be found in the current system.. so.. might **expand rapidly.. but not exponentially and definitely not sustainably..
neoliberalism is the doctrine of uncontrolled markets: it says that the best route to prosperity is individuals pursuing their own self-interest, and *the market is the only way to express that self-interest..
so find a way to express self-interest.. because if truly free.. can’t not want to give art away et al
it says that the state should be small (except for its riot squad and secret police); that financial speculation is good; that inequality is good; that
the natural state of humankind is to be a bunch of ruthless individuals, competing with each other
the absence of a clear alternative explains why most protest movements never win: *in their hearts they don’t want to. there’s even a term for it in the protest movement: **’refusal to win‘
? perhaps reality is 1/ not really in their hearts.. not deeper in their hearts.. actually hearts are craving to break thru to a nother way 2/ perhaps ‘refusal to win’ says more about desire for nonbinaryness/nonrivalrous ness than refusing to win
to replace neoliberalism we need *something just as powerful and effective; not just a bright idea about how the world could work ..
*actually.. beyond – just as
but *a new, holistic model that can run itself and tangibly deliver a better outcome. it has to be based on micro mechanisms, not diktats or policies; it has to work spontaneously.
in this book i make the case that there is a clear alt… called postcapitalism
capitalism is *more than just an economic structure or a set of laws and institutions. it is the whole system – social, economic, demographic, cultural, ideological – needed to make a developed society function **thru markets and private ownership..
**so it is *just an econ structure.. man-made and inhumane
its most basic survival instinct is to drive technological change.. if we consider not just info tech but food production, brith control, global health..the past 25 yrs have probably seen the greatest upsurge in *human capability ever.. but the technologies we’ve created are not compatible w capitalism – not in its present form and maybe not in any form. once capitalism can no longer adapt to tech change, postcapitalism becomes necessary..
depends on what how you perceive *human capability.. ie: efficient or effective (to the human spirit .. energies.. et al.. )
that is the argument of this book: that capitalism is a complex, adaptive system which has reached the limits of its capacity to adapt..
info is diff from every previous tech. its spontaneous tendency is to dissolve markets, destroy ownership and break down the relationship between work and wages. and that is the deep background of the crisis we are living thru
if i am right we have to admit that for most of the past century the left has misunderstood what the end of capitalism would look like. the old left’s aim was the forced destruction of market mechs. .. instead.. over past 25 yrs, it is the left’s project that has collapsed. the market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the massively expanded workforce of the world looks like a ‘proletariat’ but no longer things/behaves purely as one
capitalism, it turns out, , will not be abolished by forced-march techniques. it will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which breaks thru, reshaping the econ around new values/behaviours and norms.. capitalism’s demise will be accelerated by external shock and shaped by the emergence of a *new kind of human being.. and it has started..
or back to us.. rapid prototyping to slow as detox..
almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, whole swathes of econ life are beginning to *move to a diff rhythm. parallel currencies, time banks, coops and self-managed spaces have proliferated, barely noticed by econ profession and often as a direct result of the shattering old structure after the 2008 crisis..
new forms of ownership/lending.. new legal contracts: a whole business subculture has emerged over the past ten years, which the media has dubbed the ‘sharing economy’ buzz terms such as the ‘commons’ and ‘peer-production’ are thrown around, but few have bothered to ask what this means for capitalism itself
oh no.. these aren’t * a diff rhythm at all
not sharing.. not p2p
today.. terrain of capitalism has chained: global, fragmentary, geared to small scale choices, temp work and multiple skill sets. *consumption has become a form of self-expression and **millions of people have a stake in the finance system that they did not have before..
*self expression..? rather.. not-self expression..
**? stake..? or slavery..?
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..
connected yes.. i’d question educated.. what does that even mean..? i don’t think we are currently educated.. rather.. we’re voluntarily complianced zombies.. swipe of thumb isn’t going to cut it.. financial exploitation has compromised are human being ness
in the face of this change, the power elite of modern capitalism has a lot at stake. while writing this book, my day job as a news reporter has taken me into three iconic conflicts hat show how ruthlessly the elite will react…
in each case, the struggle for justice collided with the real power that runs the world..
why should we, as intelligent beings, not form a picture of the ideal life, the perfect society..t
millions of people are beginning to realize they’ve been sold a dream that they can never live. it its place, we need more than just a bunch of different dreams. we need *a coherent project **based on reason, evidence and testable designs, on that ***cuts with the grain of economic history and is sustainable in terms of our planet.
can’t be **based on reason/evidence/testables if want it to ***cut grain and be sustainable..
1 – neoliberalism is broken
4 things that firs allowed neoliberalism to flourish but have begun to destroy it: 1\ fiat money (not backed by gold) 2\ financialization (debt) 3\ global imbalance 4\ info tech
i calculate the combined amount of money printed globally (fiat – not backed by gold) .. at around 12 trillion.. 1/6 of global gdp..
it worked in that it prevented a depression. but it was the disease being used as a cure for the disease: cheap money being used to fix a crisis cause by cheap money..t
good that.. but doesn’t matter if money is cheap or not.. the disease is our obsession with measuring transactions..
what happens next depends on what you think money actually is..t
gold too.. as made up measure of transaction..
they don’t understand what money actually is
in the popular version of econ, money is just a convenient means of exchange, invented because in early societies swapping… was too random.. in fact, .. graeber has shown, there is not evidence that early human societies used barter.. or that money emerged from it.. they used something much more powerful. they used trust..
money is created by states and always has been; it is not something that exists independently of govt. money is always the promise to pay by a govt. its value is not reliant on the intrinsic worth of a metal; it is a measree of people’s trust in the permanence of the state..
fiat money in texas would have worked if people thought the state would exist for ever..
i don’t believe that.. i think it’s the idea of measuring the transactions that is the problem.. doesn’t matter what with.. gold or paper or tokens..
once you get your head around this, the true nature of neoliberalism’s problem becomes clear. the problem is not ‘damn we printed too much money’ .. it is though few will admit it ‘damn nobody believe in our state any more’.. the entire system is dependent on the credibility of the state that issues the notes..
so .. the money system is dependent on that.. but we aren’t dependent on money/measuring.. in fact.. it’s killing us
stagnant wages were replaced by borrowing: our lives were financialized
no longer slaves only to the machine, to the 9-5 routine, we’ve become slaves to interest payments.
we no longer just generate profits for our bosses thru our work, but also profits for financial middlemen thru our borrowing.. a single mum on benefits, forced into the world of payday loans and buying household goods on credit, can be generating a much higher profit rater for capital than an auto industry worker with a steady job..
sept 2008.. nokias and motorolas pointed at lehman brothers hq, and the free wifi signal in the starbucks opposite, were in their own way way just as significant as the bank that had collapsed. they were conveying the ultimate market signal from the future to the present: *that an info econ may not be compatible w a market econ.. or at least not one dominated and regulated by market forces primarily
*rather.. humanity not compatible w market econ – any type of measuring transactions and validating people
that i will argue is the root cause of the collapse, fibrillation and zombie state of neoliberalism. all the money created, all the velocity/momentum of finance built up during the last 25 yrs have to be set against the possibility that capitalism – a system based on markets, property ownership and exchange – cannot capture the ‘value’ generated by the new tech.. in other words.. it si increasingly evident that info goods conflict fundamentally w market mechs
again.. i’d say we go beyond info ness to human ness..
let’s imagine an escape route fro capitalism….
the most far-sighted among the global elite know this is the only answer: stabilization of fiat money, a retreat from financialization, and an end to the imbalances..
the lesson from the oecd’s report is that we need a complete system redesign. the most highly education generation in the history of the human race, and the best connected, will not accept a future of high inequality and stagnant growth
2 – long waves, short memories
to a surfer, waves seem to come in sets, growing in size, so that the 6th or 7th is the big one that you want to catch.. in fact, this is just the result of a longer, flatter wave moving thru the short ones..
music is in tune when long and short waves are in strict mathematical proportion
what is in tune..? who’s to say
but in econ the wave-form can be dangerous. it can imply order/regularity where there is none. a sound wave simple decays to silence; but waves generated from random data become distorted and disrupted after a time..
it was the wave-chart experts of the last boom who failed to predict the slump. in surfing terms, they were looking at waves instead of sets; sets instead of tides; tides instead of the tsunami that was about to hit them..we think of a tsunami as a big wave: a wall of water. in fact a tsunamis isa long wave: it swells and it keeps on coming..
kondratieff’s real crime (8 yrs as political prisoner..original sentence expires..re sentenced, convicted of anti soviet activity and executed in his cell by firing squad).. was to think the unthinkable about capitalism: that instead of collapsing under crisis, capitalism generally adapts and mutates.
these moments of extreme crisis and survival were not evidence of chaos but of order. kondratieff was the first person to show the existence of long waves in econ history
though it was later popularized as ‘wave-theory’.. kondratieff’s most valuable insight was to understand why the global econ goes thru sudden change.. why capitalism hits structural crisis, and how it morphs and mutates in response.. he used the term long cycle rather than wave because cycles in scientific thought create a sub language that is highly useful: we speak of phases, states and their sudden alternation
i will argue that it is essentially right, but that the present crisis reps a disruption of the pattern – and that signals this si something bigger than the end of a 50 yr cycle.
the man himself was supremely cautious about the implication of his theory. he never claimed he could predict events – though he did predict the depression of the 1930s ten yrs before it happened..
but stalin’s police had, in a way, understood more about k’s theory than he did himself.. they understood that if pursued to conclusion – it would bring marxism face to face with a dangerous proposition: that there is no ‘final’ crisis of capitalism. there can be chaos, panic and revolution but, on basis if k’s evidence, capitalism’s tendency is not to collapse, but rather to mutate.
only a few diehards, mainly investors, remained obsessed w k. in 1980s wall street analysts turned his careful provisional findings into a bunch of crude, predictive mumbo-jumbo. in place of his complex data, they drew simple lines, showing a wave with a stylized shape: a surge, a plateau, a crisis and a collapse. they called it the k-wave
lines of best fit ness
in 2008, what the investors were waiting for (they predicted 1990 – *50 yrs from 40) finally happened..
now people in the mainstream are once again interested in long cycles. as it *dawned on them that the lehman crisis was systemic, analysts began to look for patterns produced by the interplay of tech innovation and growth
yeah.. see.. *these dawnings of assumed systemic ness.. that get a restart every 50 yrs (because of generational brainwashing capabilities) or so.. coupled with the ability to mathematically chart whatever wave you prefer/need in order to perpetuate this broken loop of not-us ness (aka: made up money ness et al).. are keeping us intoxicated..
but to use k’s insight properly we have to understand what he really said..his original research, in the 1920s was based on data fro five advance economies between 1790 and 1920. .. using most advance statistical techniques of his time.. he established a trend line out of the raw data.. he divided the data against populations size and smoothed it out suing a nine yr moving average to filter out random fluctuation and short cycles..
dang.. how silly are we.. we base our lives on these lines of best fit that we have manufactured.. then we base our theories of change on getting to the root (rather to the first one they know of who fit a line).. missing the real root.. and so missing us.. missing every opp to disengage the broken loop.
dang.. let’s try something diff.. let’s try something w/o wasting our time mathematizing/measuring/proving it.. when deep down we could know.. we’ve never really proved anything.. dang.. our *research is eating us alive
*noun: the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.. verb: investigate systematically.
unlike today’s wall street analysts, k not ultimately interest in the shapes of the waves themselves. he saw the sine waves.. as evidence of something deeper happening in reality: a succession of alternating ‘phases’ which, for our purposes, are the most useful tools to understand the 50 yr cycles’
imagine if instead.. we ran thru these cycles (supposed 50 yrs) every day.. ie: equity.. everyone getting a go everyday.. a fresh start.. to remind themselves to think .. wake up.. would this not be rapid prototyping to slow.. and thus .. back to us..? let’s try that.. via 2 convos .. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]
slutsky himself believe this pattern of sudden breakdown could operate at two levels: inside 10/50 yr cycles.. but his work had a third possibility. if .. produced a sequence of 50 yr waves over a period of more than 200 yrs, then maybe at some point this too breaks down, inaugurating a regime change that leads to a whole different pattern
exactly.. we have no idea..
all i can think is ..we waste so much time trying to figure this out.. trying to debate it.. equation it.. pen it..
maybe it’s time to stop that.. and try something different
however, given the *massive amount of extra data and **better methods that we possess, it should be possible to ***detect k waves in the global growth stats
1\ *doesn’t matter how much data we have if it’s the wrong data.. ie: not about us 2\ **same with methodology to take in that data.. however.. we do have the means to collect different data.. we should try that.. 3\ ***perhaps both k waves and global growth stats..are irrelevant.. which would beg we disengage from spending our energy there
huge.. for (blank)’s sake…
and though k was largely forgotten schumpeter’s work has lived on as a kind of religious insight: a techno-determinist account of boom and bust tha tmainstream economists can turn to at times of crisis, when their normative beliefs fail..
same with made up money .. et al
pere added some refinements to wave-theory that are useful for understanding the present phase
so .. we’re assuming this phase ness is spot on..?
the attraction of the tech-driven wave-theory is that *the evidence for it is tangible: clusters of innovation do take place before the start of long waves, and their synergies can be documented..
not buying it.. ie: *the evidence for anything is tangible.. if you believe it enough to take the time to craft the evidence..
let’s stop seeking evidence.. and just try something we’ve never tried before..
we are not done with k yet. but to complete what he tried to do we have to dive into a problem that has obsessed economics for more than a century: what causes crisis
our problem is that we keep trying to solve that problem..
god.. i wish i could have a serious convo with you paul
3 – was marx right
the premise of this book – that there is a diff route beyond capitalism,, and different means to achieve it – demands we deal with the marxist theory of crisis here..
why not just model a nother way..
4 – the long, disrupted wave
48 – marshall plan ($12 bn us aid pkg to europe to ensure post war econ boom would be under american leadership), cold war (distorted unfolding wave), bell labs invent transistor (info on an industrial scale)
productivity on an unprecedented scale.. results are evident in gdp per person data
evidence is not how much money a person has.. for neither productivity.. nor.. even more important – betterness/eudiamoniative-surplus
for the whole period (of the boom), the focus of debate was on what had changed at the level of the state, the factory , the supermarket, the boardroom and the laboratory. very little attention was paid to money. however, the *crucial factor that underpinned econ reality in the 50s and 60s was a stable international currency system, and the effective suppression of financial markets..
? boom..? or peak of ie: manufacturing consent..
second major change had taken place during wartime.. with the state taking control of innovation…. general motors..
war and cars.. not us
at fed level, research and development was centralized and industrialized..
contracts were placed where skills where high… competition and patent ownership issues were put on hold.
there were remarkable thing s to achieve w/in capitalism: to treat research as public property, to suppress competition and to plan not just production but the direction of research..
public property for a few (ie: not everyone could access) .. and research topics very spinach or rock ish (chosen topics: how to win a war, how to sell a car, .. when war and cars .. not us)
and thought the usa perfected it, all major combatant states attempted it. the result was to stimulate an unprecedented culture of *cross-fertilization in **strategic disciplines. the new approach inserted maths and science into the heart of the industrial process; econ and data management into political decision-making
*cross fertilization (rather certain select people with strict orders) = **strategic disciplines (rather two ego-centric/blinding disciplines.. just in case the strategizing didn’t blind us enough)
it was the osrd that took claude shannon , the founder of info theory, out of princeton and put him into bell labs to design algos for anti-aircraft guns. there, eh would meet alan turing and discuss the possibility of thinking machines..
these are super ie’s of what i last wrote.
in this sense, the wartime econ gave birth to one of the most fundamental reflexes w/in the capitalism of the long boom: to solve problems thru audacious tech leaps, pulling in experts from across disciplines, spreading the best practice in a sector and changing the business process as the product itself changed.
matters little if getting cranking at wrong problem..
and i’d question both: audacious and leaps.
here is the crucial diff: in all three previous cycles, workers had resisted the cheap and nasty solution to the crisis – wage cuts, de-skilling and a reduction in the social wage. in the fourth wave, for reasons we will explore in ch 7 their resistance failed. it was this failure that enable the entire global econ to be rebalanced in favour of capital
5 – the prophets of postcapitalism
the report showed that while ‘intangible assets’ were growing on us and uk co balance sheets at nearly 3x the rate of tangible assets, the actual size of the digital sector in the gdp figures had remained static. *so something is broken in the logic we use to value the most important thing in the modern economy..
? something is broken.. the logic we use.. broken.. we have to let go of measuring things ..of deciding what matters for 7 bn people.. [ie: i don’t think 7 bn hearts are bleeding for a modern jet.. or the data we’re currently collecting.. or..] let’s go deeper
the great tech advance of the early 21sts cent consists not of new objects but of old ones made intelligent. the knowledge content of products is becoming more valuable than the physical element used to produce them..
still not deep enough..
info not working for capitalism.. rather.. dissolving it.. corroding market mechs, eroding property rights and destroying the old relationship between wages, work and profit. the first people to say this were an awkward squad of philosophers, management gurus and lawyers..
in this ch i’m going to survey and critique their main ideas. then i am boing to propose something even more radical: that info tech is leading us towards a postcapitalist econ
first, he (drucker) asked, how do we improve the productivity of knowledge..
i think he’s agree with first.. making sure it’s knowledge that matters.. rather than getting and a at knowledge that doesn’t.. drucker right thing law
drucker saying that the social archetype of postcapitalism is.. rather than the proletariat.. is the universal educated person.. opp of polymath.. rather.. someone able to pick up and run w products of expert research in narrow fields and apply them generally: applying chaos theory to econ, genetics to archaeology, or data-mining to social history.. (application over expertise)
we don’t need facts/ed.. cog surplus.. we need eduaimoniative surplus
the first group consists of what sociologist s call ‘networked individual’, adept at drawing down knowledge from a relatively open and global system. they behave in a networked way – from work to consumption to relationships and culture. 30 yrs on from stewart brand’s famous claim that ‘info wants to be free’ they instinctively believe that under normal circumstances it should be free.. they will pay for their drugs at a dance club but still find it an imposition to pay for downloaded music..
once you understand how info behaves as an econ resource, and who the new social archetype is, you are part of the way to understanding how the transition to postcapitalism could occur
once we understand what info is doing to work, to the boundaries between work and free time, and to wages, the scale of the change we’re living thru will be apparent
i don’t think so.. i don’t think we get a fraction of the scale of change we are now capable of .. we’re so intoxicated with a way of thinking/talking.. ie: like suggesting that kids have voice/choice in school.. when they get to pick between spinach or rock..
if you’re trying to ‘own’ a piece of info – whether you’re a rock band or a turbofan manufactuere – yoru problem lies in teh fact that it does not gegrade with use, and that one person consuming it does not prevent another person consuming it. economists call this ‘non-rivalry’.. a simpler word for it would be ‘shareable’
once a commodity is ‘non-rival’, the only way you can defend your ownership of it is by what economists call ‘exclusion’. so you can put a bug into the software that makes it impossible to copy – as with a dvd – or you can make copying illegal.. but the fact remains, whatever you do to protect the info – but it, encrypt it, arrest the pirate-dvd seller in the car park – the info itself remains copiable and shareable, and at negligible cost.
this has major implications for the way the market operates
or.. major implications toward us getting back to .. non commodified .. us..
they assumed the econ was, as in teh textbooks, composed of price makers/takers: rational individuals trying to pursue their self-interest thru the market.
those who did see the bigger picture were not to be found in the world of professional econ.. but among the tech visionaries. by the late 1990s they had begun to understand what romer didi not:
that info tech makes possible a non market econ and creates a demographic prepared to pursue their self-interest thru non market actions.
yes.. that.. i wish that meant what it sounds like..
according to standard economics a person like richard stallman (open source) should not exist: he is not following his self-interest but suppressing it in favour of a collective interest that is not just economic but moral..
according to market theory, it is those motivated by the pursuit of private property who should be the more efficient innovators.
kelly wrote: i prefer the term network econ, because info isn’t enough to explain the discontinuities we see.. we have been awash in a steadily increasing tide of info for the past century .. but only recently has a total reconfiguration of info itself shifted the whole econ
and i believe we can/should/can’t-not go deeper.. than reconfiguring the econ..
the whole.. what info matters .. bit
kelly himself was no advocate of postcapitalism.. indeed, his book new rules for the new econ was a breathless survival manual for old businesses as they tried to engage w the interconnected world. but his contribution was important. it was the moment we began to understand that the *’intelligent machine‘ was not the computer but the network, and that the network would speed up the rate of change and make it unpredictable..
*i question the intelligent ness focus.. the connections/network/interconnectedness are what matter.. ginorm/small.. intelligence (as i’m assuming it’s being defined) is not a basic to betterness.. eudaimoniative surplus ness
in a statement that defines our era, kelly aid: we are now engage in a grand scheme to *augment, amplify, enhance, and extend the relationships and communications between all beings and all objects..
*i would add (at least) .. change.. relationship/communications.. because i think this is something not yet tried.. something we’ve not yet done..
in 1997 just 2% of world had internet access. now it si 38% and in developed world 75%
benkler: ‘new mode of production.. the result is that a good deal more that human beings value can now be done by individuals who interact with each other socially, as human beings and as social beings, rathe r than as market actors thru the price system’
in 60s economists began to understand info as a commodity.. in 62 kenneth arrow,.. said in a free market econ the purpose of inventing things is to create intellectual property rights.
precisely to the extent that it is successful there is an under-utilisation of info’
in teh 1858 fragment, however, we are confronted w a diff model of transition: a knowledge-based route out of capitalism, in which the main contradiction is between tech and the market mech.
in this model, scribble on paper in 1858 but unknown to the left for more than 100 yrs, capitalism collapses because it cannot exist alongside shared knowledge. the class struggle becomes the struggle to be human and educated during one’s free time..
it was antonio negri who described the fragment on machines as ‘marx beyond marx’.
why does this model of the market mech being dissolved by social knowledge get lost in the writing of capital?
the obvious answer – beyond all the textual discussions – is that capitalism itself at the time did not bear out the proposition.. then.. following decade.. marx constructed theory of capitalism… & retreated from the specific ideas in the fragment on machines..
is there a route to postcapitalism based on the rise of info tech? it is clear .. marx had at least imagined such a route..
he imagined socially produced info becoming embodied in machines. he imagined his producing a new dynamic, which destroys the old mechs for creating prices/profits.. and he imagined info coming to be stored and shared in something called a ‘general intellect’ which was the mind of everybody on earth connected by social knowledge, in which every upgrade benefits everybody. in short.. he had imagine something close to the info capitalism in which we live
so take that.. take out the info.. and rather.. imagine the live bits.. that store.. ie: curiosities… as data.. in order to better facil our interconnectedness.. help us find our people.. locally.. every day..
furthermore.. he had imagine what the main objective of the working class would be if this world every existed: freedom from work… charles fourier predicted.. labour would become the same as ply. marx disagreed. instead, he wrote, liberation would come thru leisure time: free time has naturally transformed its possessor into a diff subject, and he then enters in to the direct production process as this diff subject.. in whose head exists the accumulated knowledge of society..
leisure as school
this is possible the most revolutionary ida marx ever has: that the reduction of labour to a min could produce a kind of human being able to deploy the *entire accumulated knowledge of society; a person transformed by vast quantities of socially produced knowledge and for the first time in history more free time than work time..
rather.. *entire accumulated energy.. via hlb of our curiosities.. creating eudaimonitative surplus..
marx i think abandoned this thought experiment because it has scant relevance to the society he live in. but it has massive relevance for ours
as long as we focus on curiosity/energy over knowledge.. – mate basic needs..
in late 1990s the literature of the mainstream.. was filled with celebratory descriptions of the new system. but there was an ominous silence about how ti worked.
ironically, it fell to the people who had rediscovered the fragment on machines, the far left disciples of antonio negri, to make the first attempt at a theory of info -capitalism, which they dubbed ‘cognitive capitalism’
gotta go deeper.. eudaimoniative surplus..
cog capitalism .. say its proponents, is a coherent new form of capitalism: a 3rd capitalism.. following the merchant capitalism of the 17th/18th cents and the industrial capitalism of the last 200 yrs.. it is based on global market, financialized consumption, immaterial labour and immaterial capital..
however. the cog capitalism theory contains a major flaw. it would be one thing to say’a new kind of info capitalism has been born w/in late industrial capitalism’ but the key cog capitalism theorist say the opposite: many of them believe cog capitalism to be a fully function ing system already.
this is a technique common in european speculate thought; to invent a category and apply it to everything, thus reclassifying all existing things as sub-categories of your new idea. it saves you the trouble of analysing complex and contradictory realities..
in fact.. the system we live in is not a new, coherent and functioning form of capitalism. it is in cohere. its tense, febrile and unstable character comes from the fact that we’re living in an age of the network alongside the hierarchy, the slum alongside the web cafe – and to understand the situation we have to see it as an *incomplete transition, not a finished model..
peer produced free stuff drives out commercially produce commodities.. wikipedia is a space in which commerce cannot operate
non-market forms of production and exchange exploit the basic human tendency to collab – to exchange fits of intangible value – which has always existed but at the margins of econ life.
this is more than simply a rebalancing between public/private good: it is a whole new and revolutionary thing. the proliferation of these non-market econ activities is making it possible for a cooperative, socially just society to emerge..
today.. everything is pervaded by a fight between network and hierarchy..
so we have to design the transition to postcapitalism. because most theorists of postcapitalism either just declared it to exist, or predicted it as an inevitability, few consider the problems of transition.. so one of the first tasks is to outline and test a range of models showing how such a transitional econ might work..
today we are used to hearing the word ‘transition’ to describe tentative local attempts to build a low carbon econ; local currencies, time banks, ‘transition towns’ and the like. but transition, here, is a bigger project..
let’s try a ginorm small one: short bp
if we want to create a postcapitalist society, we have to know in detail *what went wrong
*we measuring things.. and validated people.. – 10 day care ness..
we need, in short, a better defn of value and a more detailed history of work.. what follows is an attempt to provide them
or.. just to let go of all that.. and try something new.. that creates value daily.. via 7 bn idiosyncracies.. and hosts life bits as all the history we need.. ie: studying history of work at this point.. is like druckers.. doing something right vs right thing.. so we study history of work right (not to mention this isn’t new).. yet it’s the wrong things to focus on..
6 – towards the free machine
capitalism made us see the price mech as the most organic, spontaneous, granular thing in econ life. now we need a theory of its disappearance..
this: short bp
the source of all wealth .. said smith.. is work.
the classic labor theory of value: it says the work needed to make something determines how much it’s worth.. it is the workers not the machines that produce the added value
1832 – wages, prices, and profits were no longer things to be investigated by social science, they were just there, to be described and counted…
if, as a result, mid 19th cent econ was reduced to ‘describing and counting’ there is a parallel with natural science.. darwin – theory of natural selection 1844
resorting to routine of ‘collecting, naming and categorizing’
her employer is not buying her work per se: he is buying her ability to work
if we forget money and measure everything in ‘hours of necessary work’ we can see how profit is generated.. if the cost of putting nasma at the factory gate six days a week is 30 hrs work by other people spread across the whole os society (to produce her food, clothing, energy, childcare, housing and so on), and she then works 60 hours a week, her work is producing double the amount of output for the inputs. all the upside goes to the employer.. out of an entirely fair transaction comes an unfair result.. this is what marx calls ‘surplus value’ and is the ultimate source of profit..
another way of putting this is to say: labour is unique. of all the things we buy/sell, labour alone has the ability to add value. work is not just the measure of value but the motherlode from which profits is mined
why.. if the real weekly value of my labour is 30 hrs of other people’s work, would i ever work 60 hrs.. the answer is: the labour market is never free it was create thru coercion and is re created every day by laws, regulations, prohibitions, fines and the fear of unemployment..
a rigid system of timekeeping was implemented: rationed toilet time, fines for lateness, product defects or talking, enforced start times; and immovable deadlines..
even in advanced countries the labour market is built overtly on coercion.. just listen to any politician make a speech about welfare: cutting unemployment and disability benefits is designed to force people to take jobs at wages they can’t live on. in no other aspect of the market does the govt coerce su to talk part; nobody says ‘you must go ice skating or society will collapse..
work for salary is the bedrock of the system.. we accept it because , as our ancestors learned the hardy way, if you don’t obey, you don’t eat..
two kinds of productivity gains possible.. increased skills in work.. and .. better machines
theory of marginal utility: that there is no intrinsic value to anything, except what a buyer will pay for it at a given moment
this is all blah blah if we disengage from money.. measuring ness.. no..?
but there is a crucial piece of ideology build into marginalism: the assertion that the market is ‘rational‘
the assertion that any measuring of transactions is rational.. our transition.. is a means to wake 7 bn people up from this deception/compliance/consent/sleep/intoxification.. everyday
the new science of econ should assume the market is and expression of our collective rational will, walras argued. *but it should be mathematical, makinga one-time leap out of its ethical and philosopical roots by using abstract models and considering all cases in idealized form
*this is where we lost it.. where we bound us.. over and over and over again..
the achievement of marginalism was to show that markets governed by free and perfect competition must achieve ‘equilibrium’ it was walras who worked this into a demonstrable law: since all prices are the result of a *choice by a rational individual (buy the lipstick or keep the 10 bill) once the supply runs out the rational choice is to stop trying to buy it.. supply creates its own demand
*1\ not a choice.. rather a specific/coerced/concocted selection.. ie: spinach or rock ness 2\ not rational.. because of 50 yr cycled manufactured-consent/voluntary-compliance/pluralistic-ignorance.. et al..
like marx, walras was working at a high level of abstraction. his model assumes that all agents have *perfect info, that there is no uncertainty about the future and no extraneous factor influencing the market – such as (monopolies, trade unions, import tariffs, et)
* back to info .. (and i’d say a perfect ie of why info isn’t the thing).. ie: perfect info on what..? certainly not on humanity/living-fully-alive.. because then we’d be reminded that this whole money thing is made up.. et al..
these abstractions are not invalid, as long as we do not suggest that they represent reality. the question is: was marginal utility the right *abstraction..
*1\ the quality of dealing with ideas rather than events. 2\freedom from representational qualities in art.
rather.. the question is.. what have we represented.. and have we represented it.. or coerced it.. then too.. what is reality.. what is value
an early hint that it was not came in the marginalists; attitude to crisis.. they were so convince of capitalisms’s inner tendency towards equilibrium that they assumed crises must be produced by non-econ factors..
jevons, *in all seriousness, suggests the long depression beginning in 1873.. was simply… caused by sun spots
is it not as crazy that we keep on suggesting.. ie: measuring transactions.. *in all seriousness..? what level of crazy is too crazy..
crazywise.. et al.. we’re so missing a great opp to be alive..
marginalism’s obsession with the continuous present (what would you pay now), its hostility to future things, made it a brilliant model for understanding forms of capitalism that do not change, mutate, or die.. unfortunately these do not exist..
because marginalism was a theory of prices and prices only, it cannot comprehend a world of zero-priced goods, shared econ space, non-market orgs and non-ownable products..
but the labour theory can.. labour theory actually predicts and calibrates its own demise.. predicts a clash between the social forms driving productivity and productivity itself.. automation can reduce necessary labour to amounts so small that work would become optional.. useful stuff that can be made with tin y amounts of human labour is probably going to end up being free, shared and commonly owned, says the theory. and it is right..
so info is a product that costs energy to produce and exists as matter. bits take up room in reality: they consume electricity, give off heat and have to be stored somewhere. google’s famous cloud is in fact acres of air-conditioned server farm space
server farm ness
but wiener was right to understand that the product of a computing process is qualitatively diff from other physical products.. the real wonder of info is not that it is immaterial but that it eradicates the need for labour o an incalculable scale..
makes new operations possible that no previous forms of labour could have achieved..
users feedback in real time data that allows them to be improved for free
what would info-capitalism look like?
every interaction – between producer and consumer, consumer and consumer, friend and friend – would need to be mined for value
1\ why still titles like – consumer.. 2\ why would interactions need to be mined.. for value..? mined in order to connect perhaps.. but for value..?
early capitalism, when it forced people into factories, has to turn large parts of the non-market lifestyle into a serious crime: if you lost your job you were arrested as a vagrant; if you poached game,a s your ancestors had always done, it became a hanging offence.. the equivalent to day would be not just to push commercialism into the deep pores of everyday life, but to make resisting it a crime.. you would have to treat people kissing each other for free the way they treated poachers in the 19th cent. it is impossible.
real danger inherent in robotization is something bigger than mass unemployment, it is the exhaustion of capitalisms’s 250 yr old tendency to create new markets where old ones are worn out.
another obstacle..property right.. it would have to own our selfies.. those who continually try to impose collab legal norms on top of market structures are missing teh point..
an economy based on info, with its tendency to zero cost products and weak property rights, cannot be a capitalists econ
labour allows for this.. allows us to use same metric for market and non-market productions.. enables us to design the transition process so we know what we are trying to achieve: a world of free machines, zero-priced basic goods and min necessary labour time..
next questin is: who is going to make it happen
7 – beautiful troublemakers
but they were wrong. this is a strategic change. those who cling to the idea that the proletariat is the only force that can push society beyond capitalism are ignoring two key features of the modern world: that the route to postcapitalism is diff; and that..
the agent of change has become, potentially, everyone on earth..t
has to be..
andre gorz, who was wrong on may things, was right about the reason why. work – the defining activity of capitalism – is losing its centrality both to exploitation and resistance.
info tech.. ultimately,, will erode the link between labour and value altogether
if capitalism must have beginning, middle and end.. so must the story of organized labour..
200 years experience show it (proletariat) was preoccupied with ‘living despite capitalism’, not overthrowing it..
the labour movement created a breathing space for human values inside an inhuman system..it produced, out of the depths of squalor, makers of what we today call ‘beautiful trouble’: martyrs, autodidacts and secular saints..
but far from being the unconscious bearers of socialism, the working class were conscious about what they wanted, and expressed it thru their actions. they wanted a more survivable form of capitalism
did they..? or was this just another case of spinach or rock.. stu voice ness..? key sign that it was.. survivable.. ness.. is not what our hearts crave..
info tech makes the abolition of work possible.. all that prevents it is the social structure we know as capitalism..
1770s – everybody in the factory had been forced to learn the new culture of work: to follow the employer’s clock instead of the body clock; strict attention to the task; the non-negotiable nature of instructions and the need to risk serious injury for 13 hrs/day. every other group in society had roots, cultures and traditions, but the factory workforce had none – it was new and unique. for the first 30 yrs, this allowed the system to be operated in a way that ruthlessly destroyed human life..
as they tried to understand these qualitative transformations in the working life, sociologists focused first on space. barry wellman chronicled the move from group-based communities to physical networks and then digital networks, terming the outcome ‘networked individualism’ and link it explicitly to greater job flexibility…
lse prof richard sennett meanwhile began to study the new characteristics of a hi-tech workforce. if work rewards detachment and superficial compliance, values adaptability over skill and networking over loyalty, sennett found, this creates new kind of worker: s/he is focused on the short term, in life as in work, and lacks commitment to hierarchies and structure,
one thing to doc these changes; the challenge is to understand their impact on humanity’s capacity to fight exploitation and oppression. michael hardt and antonio negri summed it up well in their 2012 declaration
the center of gravity of capitalist production no longer resides it the factory but has drifted outside its walls. society has become a factory – with this shift the primary engagement between capitalist and worker also changes..exploitation today is based primarily not (equal or unequal) exchange but on debt
they are the working class ‘sublated’ improve upon and replaced. they (networked individuals) maybe as clueless as to strategy as the workers of the early 19th cent were , but they are no longer in thrall to the system.. they are enormously dissatisfied with it..
8 – on transitions
it can be a shock to find out capitalism has not always existed. economists present ‘the market’ as the natural state of humanity..t
all this makes postcapitalism possible, but we have no mode for the transition..
if capitalism and state socialism are just two diff ways of allocating goods rationally until you reach equilibrium, the transition between them is merely a technical challenge, not a revolution
and mises’s work on calculation contains a second valuable insight: it is not trading between enterprises that is the true mediator of supply and demand in a market econ, tis ti he finance system which puts a price on capital…. perceptive.. which has relevance today: if we want a postcapitalist econ, not only do we need something better than the market for *distributing goods we also need something better than the finance system for **allocating capital
ok to the *distributing goods.. (although within a nother way to live.. less goods desired)..
and to the **allocating capital ..becomes irrelevant
it was only the russian left opposition – above all its leading economist preobrazhensky – which understood the centrality of the labour-theory to the transition. for them the goal of the transition was quite simply a rising supply of free, abundant things and the erosion of ‘necessary labour’ as the yardstick of exchange. as in red star, the early soviet planners aimed to produce as much as possible so that work would be de linked from wages and the ability to consume. in marxist terms, this was understood as ‘abolishing the law of value’.
but the russian left could only achieve this by promoting heavy industry and state control.. by the early 1920s there was a shortage of everything.. needed heavy industry and electrification.. and industiralized agriculture.. power stations,steel works, big machinery. however, they showed great awareness that equilibrium was unlikely to be achieved and that planning was likely to be anarchic
in econ terms, the most important thing the russian trotskyiests left us was probably the ida that a transition phase generates its own dynamics; it is never just the fading of one system and the rise of another
money said preobrazhensky would function normally in those sectors you could not plan while in the planned sector of the economy money would start to function as a technical accounting device. and while the aim is for the plan to swamp the market, the market could be expected to constantly ‘pollute’ the plan
we also have negri’s ‘social factory’ to contend with: a highly financialized and granular consumer society, in which what we buy has become a question of identity..
so lesson one is: the market sector is much more complex and therefore more difficult to replicate or improve on thru planning
also to disengage from thru planning
lesson two is: any attempt to move beyond the market is going to start from a different place than it would have in the 1930s
yes.. because didn’t have the tech/mech then.. to facil/listen-to the chaos.. of 7 bn free people..
we have to understand that, even w the best supercomputer and the biggest data farm planning is not the primary route beyond capitalism
once you remove the market, they argue, there are no other signals for the boss of a factory or care home or coffee bar to rely on . they have to know exactly what they’re supposed to be producing..
the model they’ve produced is the best demo yet of why any attempt to use state planning and market suppression as a route to postcapitalism is closed.
fortunately another route has opened up. to follow it we must exploit a granular spontaneous micro process , not a plan..our solution must map comfortably on to a world of network, info goods, complexity and exponential change
of course on the route to postcapitalism we will have need of planning. large parts of the capitalist world are effectively planned already – from urban design/construction to supply chains of a large supermarket.. big data and digital tracking.. that part of our project which requires planning would be well equipped because of this
ouch.. this is why we haven’t yet.. (gotten to global equity).. we can’t let go enough.. so we perpetuate into our new vision.. ie: 10 day care ness.. ie: we’re assuming the things we’re tracking would matter to us if we were free.. begs we do this first.. before planning/tracking/perpetuating-cancer..
but the nature of modern society alters the prolbem.. the plan cannot outdo the market unless there isa retreat from complexity and a return to hierarchy
only if hierarchy is w/in each art ist
a computerized plan… even if.. might tell the shoe industry to produce shoes, but it cold not tell beyonce to produce a surprise album
what we’re trying to build should be even more complex, ore autonomous and more unstable..
but change from one econmic system to another takes time
unless it doesn’t.. unless we model a means for 7 bn to leap to a nother way.. for (blank)’s sake…
it will be *long; there will be **confusion; and in the process the very concept of an ‘economic system’ will have to be ***redefined..
*rather .. the blink of an eye (if you grok expo ness.. from something that matters to 7 bn free people..)
***deep cleansing ish redefine.. and/or rather.. simply disengage from..
in feudalism, the concept of lordly power and obligation pervaded everything. in capitalism, the equivalent force is the market, private property and wages…. another revealing question: ‘what reproduces itself spontaneously” in feudalism it si the concept of fealty and obligation; in capitalism, it is the market…
if such a society is structured around human liberation, not economics, unpredictable things will begin to shape it..t
we cannot imagine the kind of human beings society will produce once economics is no longer central to life..t
the new techs that underpinned the rise of merchant capitalism were the ones that stimulate commerce (printing and accountancy) the creation of tradable wealth (mining, the compass and fast ships) and productivity (mathematics and the scientific method)
present throughout the whole process is something that looks incidental to the old system – money and credit – but which is destined to become the basis of the new system. many laws and customs are actually shaped around ignoring money; in high feudalism credit is seen as sinful. so when money and credit bursts thru the boundaries and create a market system, it feels like a revolution..
the think that is corroding capitalism, barely rationalized by mainstream economics, is information. the equivalent of the printing press and the scientific method is info tech..
rather than automating work out of existence, we are reduced to creating bullshit jobs on log pay, and many economies are stagnation..
equiv of free wealth.. free stuff.. un ownable info… modern day external shocks..climate change..
once you understand the transition in this way, the need is not for a supercomputed five year plan, but for a gradual, iterative and modular project….
rev of everyday life..
build alternatives…focus all our actions towards the transition path – not the piecemeal defence of random elements of the old system..t
the socialists of the early 20th cent were absolutely convinced that nothing preliminary was possible w/in the old system.
the most courageous thing an adaptive left could do is to abandon that conviction. it is entirely possible to build the element s of the new system molecularly w/in the old.. in the coops, the credit unions, the peer networks, the unmanaged enterprises and the parallel , subcultural economies, those elements already exist.
dang.. and so.. they are still/already/perpetually compromising us/vision
we have to stop seeing them as *quaint experiments; we have to **promote them with regulation just as ***vigorous as that which capitalism used to drive the peasants off the land or destroy handicraft work in the 18th cent
*but .. part\ial is killing us – experimenting in partial (not fractal) ecosystem and with partial solutions (anything that continues to measure transactions.. ie: coops, credit unions..)
**if it has to be promoted.. regulated.. it won’t work.. it won’t be us
***vigor means little if wrong thing..
9 – the rational case for panic
wherever i go i ask questions about economics and get answers about climate..
in the world of suits and climate summits, a complacent calm rules..
any project to move beyond capitalism has to shape its priorities around the urgent challenge of climate change..
10 – project zero
we’ve had.. small scale radical reforms.. this ch i spell out what a large scale postcapitalist project might involve..
1\ first principle is to understand the limitations of human willpower..
2\ second is ecological sustainability
3\ third is the transition is not just about economics.. it will have to be a human transition
indeed.. actually not at all about econ (measuring things.. validating people).. except perhaps as temp placebo
so the project can’t be based purely on economic and social justice
4\ fourth is to attack the problem from all angles..
all 7bn.. new everyday.. but.. first make sure we have the root of the problem..
at present the community of thinkers and activist aroudnd the p2p movement are heavily focused on experimental, small scall projects – credit unions or co ops fo rie. when they think about the state it is at the level of laws to protect and extend teh p2p sector. w the exception of thinkers such as michel bauwens and mckenzie wark, few have bothered to ask what a whole new system of governance and regulation might look like in the new mode of production
rather.. we have bothered to listen to few.. begs a mech that can listen to all of us.. at once.. everyday.. w/o judgment..
5\ fifth is that we should maximize the power of info..t
that’s simple.. we need to look at diff data.. ie: self-talk as data..
the iot will complete a vast social ‘machine. its analytical power alod could optimize resources on a scale that significantly reduces the use of carbon , raw materials and labour..
nothing compared to getting the right data first..
how much more powerful would that medicine be if the poverty and disease that blight poor communities could be mapped, understood and collaboratively dismantled in realtime
maximizing the power and openness of info needs to become an instinct, embedded in the project
top level goals
*decision making decentralized.. **structure needed to deliver it emerge during the delivery .. *** targets evolve in response to real time info
***rev of everyday life.. as the day
top level aims:
1\ reduce carbon emissions.. 2\ stabilize finance system 3\ resources to people 4\ gear tech towards reduction of work
what follows is my best guess at what a project plan would look like, if we were to follow thees principles and aim for these five top level goals. i will be more than happy to see it quickly torn apart and revised by the wisdom of angry crowds.
model first act later
first we need an open accurate and comprehensive computer simulation of current economic reality
so one of the most radical – and necessary – measure we could take is to create a global institute or network of simulating the long term transition beyond capitalism.. it would start by attempting to construct an accurate simulation of economies as they exist today..
rather.. it would start by setting 7 bn people free first.. and using tech to facil that chaos.. ie: economies as they exist today are irrelevant..
anybody could use it.. anybody could suggest improvements
this seems wasted time/energy to me.. rather.. 7 bn being curious.. everyday.. let’s facil that.. trust that..
nike questions.. this, rather than the meticulous planning of the cyber stalinists is what a postcapitalist stat e would use petaflop-level computing for. and once we had reliable predictions, we could act
ugh.. no predictions.. just trusting free people.. as they are acting.. as free people.. (the thing that is radically diff today.. is that we can facilitate this ridiculous idea)
the wiki state
the most challenging arena for action is the state..we need to think positively about its role in the transition to postcapitalism
the most pressing issue, if states are to help drive the transition to a new econ system, is debt
it would be more sensible to combine controlled debt write-offs with a ten to fifteen yr global policy of fin repression.. t
expand collab work
in a network based transition, collab business models are the most important thing we can foster..t
suppress or socialize monopolies
sounds like we’re playing defense here..
let market forces disappear
but in order to control the transition, we would need to send clear signals to the private sector, one of the most important ow which is this: profit derives from entrepreneurship, not rent
socialize the finance system
morally, if the risks are socialized, then the reward should be socialized too. but there is no need to abolish all financial complexity
? – 10 day cares.. cancer..
and that leads us to what is probably the biggest structural change required to make postcapitalism happen: a ubi guaranteed by the state
pay everyone a basic income
rather.. provide a temp placebo.. otherwise.. cancer
but it’s only a transitional measure for the first stage of the postcapitalist project.. the ultimate aim is to reduce to a min the hours it takes to produce what humanity needs..
again.. can’t tell that (what humanity needs) from – not-us people.. need to free people first.. hari rat park law.. then authentic haves/needs will appear.. and our interconnectedness will take care of them
the network unleashed
what we are looking for are rapid tech leaps that make things cheaper to produce and benefit the whole of society
rather.. we’re looking for a means for 7 bn people to leap to a nother way to live.. nothing to do with making things cheaper..
we need to be unashamed utopians
rather.. unleashed utopians.. everyday..
the 1%.. they become poorer and therefore happier