An interesting set of scenarios “after capitalism” from “Four Futures: Life After Capitalism.”
The two key uncertainties (solid choices here):
- class power: to what extent can the 1% hold on to power
- ecological crisis: if “solved, we have abundance; if not, we have scarcity
A “predetermined” in the GNB parlance is the growing rate of automation. Interesting, and
I think a very useful way to think of it, although some might argue that the degree of automation is an uncertainty.
And a key assumption: “the starting point of the analysis is the capitalism is going to end.”
- communism: the utopic scenario of abundance and equality; really interesting concept here: the wage for desirable work eventually falls to zero, because people are both willing to do it for free and able to do so because a basic income supplies their needs; it becomes economically viable to automate undesirable work
- rentism: abundance and hierarchy, suggests that human nature will create hierarchy even when it’s not needed
- socialism: a fairly positive scenarios in which people band together to deal with issues of scarcity
- exterminism: the doomsday scenario, in which the struggle to survive in scarcity leads to mass extermination
I don’t want to give away the book: it’s rather brief and it’s worth a read, especially for those finding the “after capitalism” discussion we’ve been having to be interesting.
A few of the nuggets
- in the short run, the lack of jobs can be attributed not to automation, but to lack of “aggregate demand.” The reason employers don’t hire more workers is because there aren’t enough people buying their products, because they don’t have enough money [and later] wages are so low that it’s cheaper to hire humans than buy machines
- the existence of capitalism as a system of class power with a ruling elite that wil try to preserve itself into any possible future, is a central structuring theme of this book. In other words, any transition will not be easy (my words).
And a small complaint
- a few unnecessary jabs at “futurism” [in scare quotes, which is the first clue]; When someone uses futurism, it’s a sign they haven’t dug too hard to find out what futurist are all about.
- The “futurism” being objected to: “a paradigmatic futurist would be someone like Ray Kurzweil.” Also suggests not a very deep dig into who futurists are
But let’s not let that get in the way of a very nice book well worth our attention. – Andy Hines