Review and Notes : PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason

  • Lays out the foundation of  the story of economics for the last couple of hundred years.
  • Very topical to write something about 'fixing the economic system'.
  • His argument seems to be that there are some points missing from the economics theories that form the main backbone of the current economic system and by adding some more information and interpretation to the theories this will help to create progress.
  • Reading between the lines of the text, for me it is just as much about human difference e.g. different experience, upbringing, culture and separation of people, public / private space and openness that constructs the social and economic reality. The experience of basic human desire and behaviour through the fabric of the world and interactions.


  • A compelling read.
  • Following the narrative from earlier books.
  • Paul Mason is not just an author but also a journalist and has credibility.


  • It is too academic and theoretical and spends too much time looking to reframe theories and events.

My Notes

free work
wherever they can get labour for free – as in the American prison system or Nazi death camps – capitalists immediately take advantage of it. Another
For the high-value worker you are paid, effectively, to exist, to contribute your ideas to your firm and to meet targets. In parallel, the geography of working-class
To the younger, precarious workforce it is instead urban proximity that matters; they tend to cluster into city centres, accepting massively reduced living space as a trade-off for physical closeness to the network of contacts needed to find partners, sporadic work and entertainment. Their struggles – in places like Exharchea in Athens, or the London student uprising in 2010 – tend to focus on physical space. As they tried to understand
But there was a catch. In the first place, just like the market, the state can’t calculate what’s needed in advance. So each year’s plan is in effect an experiment – and not on a small scale but on a very large one. The
The USSR was inefficient for all the usual reasons cited, said Mises’s pupil Friedrich Hayek: no consumer choice, clunky allocation of resources, no reward for innovation. But
The equivalent of the new source of free wealth? It’s not exactly wealth: it’s the externalities – the free stuff and wellbeing generated by networked interaction. It is the rise of non-market production, of un-ownable information, of peer networks and unmanaged enterprises.
there is still the problem of space and who own what already exists - idling capacity
to focus all our actions towards the transition path
When, back in 2008, scientists trudged the mountains to find out what had happened to the 144 springs and mountain streams marked on the map, they reported: ‘With climate change and deterioriation of the environment, the southern mountainous areas have no springs and no mountain streams.’1
But for poor countries to become richer, they must break out of the so-called ‘middle-income trap’ – where countries typically develop to a certain point and then stall; both because they have to compete with the old imperial powers and because their corrupt elites strangle the emergence of functional modern institutions.
like Georgia armenia
Martians would see a system whose dominant colour was green. The message they sent home would say: this is a society primarily made up of organizations, not markets.1 It was a highly political point to make, in the year the triumph of the market was declared. Simon’s lifelong concern was to understand how organizations work. His
When they think about the state, it is at the level of laws to protect and extend the peer-to-peer sector. With the exception of thinkers such as Michel Bauwens4 and McKenzie Wark5, few have bothered to ask what a whole new system of governance and regulation might look like in this new mode of production. In response, we should broaden
The fifth principle for a successful transition is that we should maximize the power of information. The difference between a smartphone app today and the programs on PCs twenty years ago is that the modern apps self-analyse and pool performance data.
at present i feel like companie still expect people o pay fo this as luxury
The aggregated data of our lives – which will soon include our driving speed, our weekly diet, our body mass and heart rate – could be a hugely powerful
The best method for doing a distributed project is for small groups to pick a task, work on it for a bit, document what they’ve done and move on.
Gear technology towards the reduction of necessary work to promote the rapid transition towards an automated economy. Eventually, work becomes voluntary, basic commodities and public services are free, and economic management becomes primarily an
In pursuit of these goals, it will be important in all the economic changes we make to send transparent signals. One of the most powerful aspects of the Bretton Woods system was the explicit rules it enshrined.
The sociologist Max Weber believed the rise of capitalism was driven not by technology but by a ‘new spirit’ – a new attitude to finance, machinery and work, not the things themselves.
The important thing is to indicate – as clearly as the ‘organic’ label on the coffee does – what social good is being produced and who will benefit from it.
You could erect a sign saying ‘we sell coffee for a profit and that helps us give away psycho-social counselling for free’.
you incentivize the creation of local energy systems, so that excess power generated can be sold to nearby businesses, you create further positive externalities. We need a new understanding
To be brutally clear, this would reduce the value of assets in pension funds, and thus the material wealth of the middle classes and the old; and by imposing capital controls you would be partially deglobalizing finance.
S&P predicts, 60 per cent of all countries see their debt reduced to junk by 2050.
the postcapitalist form of the co-op would try to expand non-market, non-managed, non-money-based activity against the baseline of market activity it starts from.
The creation of monopolies to resist prices falling towards zero is capitalism’s most important defence reflex against postcapitalism. To promote the transition, this defence mechanism has to be suppressed.
But in order to control the transition, we would need to send clear signals to the private sector, one of the most important of which is this: profit derives from entrepreneurship, not rent.
The act of innovating and creating – whether it be a new kind of jet engine or a hit dance music track – is rewarded, as now, by the firm’s ability to reap short-term gains, either from higher sales or lower costs. But patents and intellectual property would be designed to taper away quickly. This principle is already r