Paul Mason is an engaging writer but, now that I have finished his Post Capitalism – a guide to our future, I have to admit to a feeling of great disappointment.
The book simply fails to live up to the promise of its subtitle. Indeed at least one third of the book is actually devoted to writers and events of more than 100 years ago. Now I am someone who deeply respects the contribution which long-dead writers and people made and which is too easily forgotten – but I do draw the line at suggestions that we have something to learn from the travails of the early soviets of the Russian revolution (p267).
And it is nothing short of breath-taking that his reference to the potential of cooperatives and social enterprise (which employ tens of millions workers globally) dismisses them as “experimental and small-scale” and says that “with the exception of thinkers such as Bauwens and Wark, few have bothered to ask what a new system of governance and regulation might look like” (p 267).
This simply does not begin to do justice to the extensive material which is available – some of which can be seen in such posts as The undermining of cooperation, No Excuse for Apathy and Beacons of Hope
But I am grateful to the book for drawing my attention to the writings of these “thinkers” one of whom is the founder of the p2p Foundation and the other the author of a famous Hacker’s Manifesto. Although I don’t find their accounts coherent or easy to place in the wider literature - they seem the scribbles of young geeks….
The other text, however, which Mason references and of which I was also unaware, is much more serious – it is Jeremy Rifkin’s 2014 book The zero marginal cost society – the internet of things, the collaborative commons and the eclipse of capitalism (the link gives the google book). This does seem a sustained examination of the phenomenon which, despite the title of Mason’s book, he fails (in my view) to treat properly…..
There is also this review; this
Rifkin’s book does, however, get a fairly severe mauling from the right - the left – and others in between