by Michael Roberts
Leftist journalist and broadcaster, Paul Mason, has a new book out at the end of this month. It’s called Postcapitalism. I don’t have a copy but Mason has written a long article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, outlining his main arguments, http://gu.com/p/4ay9c
Mason has been a doughty publiciser of labour struggles in his journalism and also offered on occasions a more theoretical and strategic analysis of where capitalism and labour is going. I think this book is an attempt to sum up his views. As Mason has some influence among labour activists in Britain and internationally, it’s worth considering what he has to say.
Mason argues that capitalism is set to be replaced by ‘postcapitalism’ (not ‘socialism’, it seems). And this is for three reasons. First, there is an information revolution which is creating a society of abundance in information, making a virtually costless and labour saving economy. Second, this information revolution cannot be captured by the capitalist market and the big monopolies. And third, already the ‘post-capitalist’ mode of production, based on free ownership and cooperation in information, is emerging from within capitalism, just as capitalism emerged from within feudalism. Is Mason right? Does he make sense?
Well, I have a lot of issues with what Mason argues and concludes. He starts his article of explanation pessimistically by suggesting that neoliberalism has more or less triumphed in its aims for capitalism leaving ‘old labour’ methods and ideas in disarray: “over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.”
The first question that springs to mind here is: Read the rest of this entry »