Post-Capitalism: The End of Capitalism Has Begun

Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopian.

he 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. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead 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.

If you lived through all this, and disliked capitalism, it was traumatic. But in the process technology has created a new route out, which the remnants of the old left – and all other forces influenced by it – have either to embrace or die. Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques. It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviours. I call this post capitalism.

As with the end of feudalism 500 years ago, capitalism’s replacement by postcapitalism will be accelerated by external shocks and shaped by the emergence of a new kind of human being. And it has started.

Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed – not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all.

Second, information is corroding the market’s ability to form prices correctly. That is because markets are based on scarcity while information is abundant. The system’s defence mechanism is to form monopolies – the giant tech companies – on a scale not seen in the past 200 years, yet they cannot last. By building business models and share valuations based on the capture and privatisation of all socially produced information, such firms are constructing a fragile corporate edifice at odds with the most basic need of humanity, which is to use ideas freely.

Third, we’re seeing the spontaneous rise of collaborative production: goods, services and organisations are appearing that no longer respond to the dictates of the market and the managerial hierarchy. The biggest information product in the world – Wikipedia – is made by volunteers for free, abolishing the encyclopedia business and depriving the advertising industry of an estimated $3bn a year in revenue.

Almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, whole swaths of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm. Parallel currencies, time banks, cooperatives and self-managed spaces have proliferated, barely noticed by the economics profession, and often as a direct result of the shattering of the old structures in the post-2008 crisis.

Read Full Article

Thomas Tait Spring Summer 2016

thomas-tait-spring-summer-2016thomas-tait-spring-summer-2016 _ARC0532

Thomas Tait Spring Summer 2016

Thomas Tait’s show this afternoon was one of those odd outings that don’t seem at first to be up to much, but then accrue in force as the looks accumulate. The impact of Tait’s latest collection generated from the ways the clothes forced your engagement, whether via the play of light on assertive, multicolor crystal embellishment, or the sound made by the jewelry that dangled off of certain pieces, jangling like cat bells. The most intriguing of Tait’s stratagems to command your attention were the porthole-like openings that decorated all manner of his garments—they were like little windows for Peeping Toms to peer through, and the more Tait reiterated the motif, the more you keyed into the collection’s compelling voyeuristic tone. Tait intended that reaction: As he explained backstage after the show, he wanted these clothes to create a sense of “awkward intimacy.” Job done.

Others of Tait’s engaging effects were more subtle. He was playing quite a lot with texture here, notably in his ribbed knits and his terrific jeans, with their patches of super-shiny black patent leather; other looks pulled you in with their wabi-sabi appeal, like the frayed quilted jacket and coat, or a leather A-line skirt made from antique calfskin. Tait also used the skin in his strangest look, a heavy jumpsuit featuring a monumental pattern and exaggerated perforation down the sides. The piece was interesting on its own, but something of an outlier in the context of the rest of the show, which emphasized rather accessible silhouettes. Tait’s stovepipe skinny knit flares, for instance, ought to excite widespread demand. Ditto his ribbed knits, and the cuffed jeans and denim jacket. If Tait’s goal was to create intimacy, he nailed it in those most straightforward looks: The best way to be intimate with clothes, after all, is by wearing them.

Read Full Article