How much is Capitalism changing due to the silicon revolution in the means of production. A bunch of books, articles and reviews have been released over the last few months considering the short and long term future of the techno-economy. We are on the cusp of Silicon Revolution’s “Golden Age”, when the people rein in the excesses of the capital market’s hypergrowth excesses. This story was originally created in the Summer of 2015, my hope was to read both “Post Capitalism” and “The 2nd Machine Age” and write a blog on my views as to the nature of the changes coming; but life got in the way.

The first and most substantial contribution is, Post Capitalism, by Paul Mason, reviewed in the Guardian, in “The end of capitalism has begun“. I found this quote,

The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism.

and it had been preceded in my feeds by this review of the 2nd Machine Age, Securing Justice in the Second Machine Age by Tom Watson who said,

I’ve just finished the Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, which is an essential read for those looking to understand, as the Labour Party now is, the next decade and beyond.

here some other contributions mainly from Left thinkers, Shaping A Social Democratic Digital Revolution by Thorsten Shäfer-Gübel;, he says,

Social Democrats consider themselves to be the party of social and technological progress. The political left must therefore address digitisation as a policy issue. There must be no doubt in our minds that our traditional values of freedom, justice and solidarity continue to apply in the digital realm just as they do in our analogue …

I also found Jon Cruddas MP’s speech about building a digital state, I quoted the article,

Building a Digital State for Innovation and Democracy Speech to the Institute of Government Thursday, 27 November, 2014 Thank you Peter for inviting me to take part in your debate about effective government. I’d also like to add a thank you to Stefan Magdalinski for his contribution to this speech.

Chris Dillow at Stumbling and Mumbling also commented,

Paul Mason’s claim that we’re entering the post-capitalist era has met some some sneering from the right. But I wonder: might we not be reverting to a pre-capitalist era instead? I mean this in three different senses. First, we might be seeing a tendency for people to have multiple jobs. … Secondly, we are seeing a backlash against capitalism’s tendency to undermine communities. … Thirdly, secular stagnation, in its extreme form, might itself be a reversion to pre-capitalistic growth rates.

Tom Watson wrote in the GuardianI can’t wait for the next Airbnb or Uber, but we can’t let them kill middle-class jobs. Much of this seemed to be channeling a speech by Hilary Clinton.

It’s safe to say that Hillary Clinton is no luddite. But the 2016 US presidential hopeful acknowledged this week that new technology is transforming the world of work and warned that we need to wake up to the consequences. She was right to do so.

In November, Anne Pettifor was invited to a seminar on Mason’s book, “Post Capitalism”, and published her speech notes, critiquing Mason for his reliance on Capitalism’s mutations which she disputes, the mechanism and lack of human agency in Capitalist development which he sees in the opposition to capitalism and his focus on profit, when rent taking is a more prevalent form of capitalist accumulation. Her blog is immediately below, and the full notes s a .pdf at the bottom of this page. She posted at Is capitalism “mutating” into an infotech utopia?. She said,” I was privileged to be invited by the St. Paul’s Institute to discuss (on the 3rd November, 2015) the thesis in Paul Mason’s recent book “PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future” with a keynote speech from the author. Mason’s book is both a riveting and intellectually exhilarating read.”

This is a Californian libertarian’s view of the techno-economy, possibly the end game for people like Uber. What happens when engineers run the world?. It refers to two further books, “Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier and “Technology, Solutionism and the Urge to Fix Problems that Don’t Exist” by  Evgeny Morozov. The article is in the New Statesman, and I quote,

… an approach that focuses narrowly on “what works” without ever troubling to ask: “Works for whom?” Its watchword is “smart”, which can easily be appreciated, not “right”, which can’t. Putting trust in highly educated technocrats, it is naturally less interested in public debate. Amplify this by the imperative to deliver financial returns and the result is often easy to admire – and yet to dislike.

In 2010, Google’s chief financial officer, Patrick Pichette, explained how his company “is really an engineering company, with all these computer scientists that see the world as a completely broken place”. Friedrich Hayek would have recognised this sentiment. Over 60 years ago, he observed that the best engineers eventually “develop a passion for imposing on society the order which they are unable to detect by the means with which they are familiar”.

In his first book, The Net Delusion, Morozov rubbished the idea that totalitarian regimes could be toppled by “slacktivists”: Iranian hipsters retweeting badinage about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, say. It was a subtle argument in which both the Belarusian and his opponents splashed around a little too much black and white but Morozov captured how protesters in the internet age often place trust in tools such as blogs and twitter simply because they’re the closest to hand.

The new book develops that picture, suggesting that a cadre of technologists and policymakers is now so depoliticised that it naturally reaches for engineering solutions. The Prime Minister gets a dishonourable mention here, on account of his enthusiasm for nudge policies to prompt voters into eating better and being greener.

It couldn’t be complete with a look at what Marx has to say, and in the Grundrisse, he wrote the “Fragment On Machines”, and I have a precis, a let me google that for you, and a .pdf which is at the bottom of the page. I also found this,  What in the hell … is the Fragment On Machines? This is quite long, as it should be, written in clear English but it’s still complicated.

Here is a link to Let me google that for you: marx+fragment+on+machines.

And as ever, I include in my list, Financial bubbles, crises and the role of government in unleashing golden ages” 2013 by Carlota Perez. “Financial bubbles, crises and the role of government in unleashing golden ages” In Pyka, A. and Burghof, H.P. (eds.) (2013) Innovation and Finance. London: Routledge, Ch.2, pp. 11-25 Working Paper 2012 FINNOV WP-2-12. Forthcoming in Pyka, A.

Related Posts

  1. My storify, on which this is based and as usual, this article was backdated to the date of the storify.
  2. The fragment on machines/, more reading from my wiki.
  3. Is capitalism “mutating” into an infotech utopia? on Post Capitalism, by Anne Pettifor
  4. fragment on machines at New Objectivity

The featured image is a cropped version of the picture used by the Guardian. in their article referenced above.

The next evolution of capitalism
Tagged on:             

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: