Revisioning postcapitalism: 10 questions for Paul Mason’s ‘clear bright future’
Eloïse Sentito of These Isles pens an open letter to Paul Mason, in which she poses 10 questions arising from his book ‘Postcapitalism: a Guide to our Future’, that she hopes will be addressed in his new book ‘Clear Bright Future’.
I really enjoyed your erudite, challenging, intricate analysis of the modern history of capitalism. I was deeply disappointed though with your conclusions, which I felt to be overly masculine and susceptible to the lure of the hyper-expansionist.
Info tech and social media are indeed exciting for both the economic reasons you describe to do with undoing the capitalist power equation, and for the political reasons you describe to do with a systemic shift in organising principle from hierarchy to network. What a nexus!
However I feel that you overlook some other crucial feminine principles that must, if we and other species are to survive capitalism, be carried forward into postcapitalism. I’m looking forward to reading your new work on the future of sustainable economics, but will be doing so with the below questions shouting loud:
1. Why pursue growth when there is already plenty to go round?
2. Why minimalise the markets when they could be made to redistribute?
3. Why erode the cultural exchange and ties of trading relations in the community hub that the marketplace has always been?
4. Why depart from money when a truly neutral, non-scarce currency is such a useful and efficient tool?
5. Why burn our fossil fuels in a frenzy to find technological substitutions?
6. Why pollute the mountain village with Wifi when its community hall keeps its network intact?
7. Why deskill and disempower ourselves still further with replacement by machines?
8. Why forego the handmade alchemy that is manufacture from primary resources?
9. Why wash the land from our hands altogether when it could be reparcelled?
10. Why complete our deracination from nature to save it?
Let’s keep the baby, cherish what ain’t broke, level the playing field, stop accumulation, quit the race to the bottom, and value the greenest energy of all: humanpower!
Positive money and collaborative credit solutions could cool the whole system organically over 30 years through unlocking the growth mechanism by which capital capitalises: money creation as debt at interest. Extraction of surplus would cease to be a mathematical necessity, and so would growth. Honest transactions and sustainable initiatives would finally be free to thrive.
‘Change money: change the world!’
The Greens know this. The European left knows this. It’s high time Labour caught up.
In handwoven earthenwear scarves, stoles, snugs, snoods, shawls, saddlecloths and blankets, Eloïse Sentito of These Isles seeks to capture the essence of the landscapes and folk traditions of her native Dartmoor, Cornwall, the Highlands, Islands, Brittany and Ireland. In her mobile weaving shed she travels these isles, seeking local wool, making to order, writing a blog, and campaigning for a sustainable maker economics with the Green Cloth Collective.
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's
1roselle angwin May 29th, 2019
You need to be in politics, shaping our new directions!
Excellent questions, and you make some very good points – I hope Mason responds.
My own response to #4 is that perhaps it’s not either/or?
To #9, I’d argue that the land is not ours in the first place to co-opt OR redistribute. So a shift in general global attitude from ‘the earth belongs to us’ to ‘we belong to the earth’ would go a very long way to re-establishing a more harmonious set of relationships.
Although I don’t entirely buy the ‘stewardship economy’ theories in relation to the earth (still overly-anthropocentric for my taste), landowners paying rent to those others who are thereby excluded would help rebalance, perhaps?
2Eloise Sentito July 20th, 2019
Mason did kindly say he’d answer, and the following great article may be that answer. Unlike in Postcapitalism, here he critiques growth in GDP; adopts a more cautiously nuanced position to the potential solutions of technology; acknowledges the limitations of taxation systems; and urges the left to do better, faster, more authoritatively: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/environment/2019/07/my-manifesto-post-carbon-future
I am certainly in agreement about stopping capitalism in a hurry, though I think my understanding of capitalism differs from Mason’s: I have come to think that the markets may be separable from capitalism, and thus still offer bottom-up assistance to redistribution and environment – WHEN they are based on positive monetary systems and therefore not growth-dependent. And how achievable you feel that this is probably depends upon your optimism as regards the goodness of human nature. I’ll shortly read his radical defense of the human being and hope to see more optimism there. Or he might be right that command and control is the only fast-enough solution: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2019/06/tackling-climate-crisis-means-end-capitalism-we-know-it