In my last post One Hundred Years, I looked back at our last century (1917-2017), essentially telling a story of disintegration, disorientation, contradiction, and collapse.
As the new year begins, I want to look forward, focusing on what is positive, coherent, and possible. My biggest recommendation these days is to read Paul Mason’s book PostCapitalism. And if you don’t have time for that, skip to the end, where he lays out a realizable Project Zero which involves localizing and de-carbonizing our energy systems, de-financializing our economies, and harnessing information technologies to increase social justice. It’s an informed and comprehensive view—I’m all in.
Neoliberalism may be on its last legs, but we will likely be living in a hybrid world of capitalism and “post-capitalism” for quite a while. Here are some of the economic and socio-economic texts that I draw from to understand the world we are leaving and the one we are heading towards.
These books and tools provide an excellent foundation for young people looking to understand and take control of their money. Some of them ascribe to the Efficient Market Hypothesis, which after the 2008 crash may or may not be logical—but there’s good information here that can be adapted to one’s personal circumstances, beliefs, and preferences, whatever those are.
Capitalism in hindsight (1600-2016)
The above resources make it clear that capitalism, despite its upsides, is always exploitive. The West, and America specifically as a cohesive project, have always depended on genocide, slavery, depletion of natural resources, war, needless consumption, and (under neoliberalism) the destruction of its citizens’ living standards to favor an elite financial class.
Capitalism functions like a living organism, an addiction, or a crash-only software program. The script will keep running until it hits a finite limit. As Frederic Jameson famously remarked: “[I]t is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.” Thinking about an alternative at this point is both healthy and timely.
Late neoliberalism (2008-2017)
The crash of neoliberalism in 2008 and its perpetuation since then through loose monetary policy, austerity, deregulation, and quantitative easing has contributed to a destabilized global economy with rising social and geopolitical tensions while the stock market remains eerily high.
After neoliberalism (2017+)
These resources are all inspiring to me. Although they take the collapse of neoliberalism as a historical given—it’s hard to argue otherwise—they look forward to a better future. An abundant one, where technology, political and social action, and economics all play a vital role.