Post-neoliberalism

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.
 

Personal investment

 
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.

The 2008 financial crash and the aftershocks of 2016 might not be enough to break global capitalism, but they have helped push the overall system from a stable to sub-critical state.
 

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.


One Hundred Years

One of my favorite books about history is Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: From 1500 to the Present: Five Hundred Years of Western Culture Life. It’s an impressive career summation, published in 2001 when Barzun was in his nineties. I love how he looks telescopically at broad historical trends, while also zooming into the messy details of specific times and places along the way. In the past two years, the long decline that Barzun observed has…


Brand marketing vs. performance marketing

There’s a simple procedure I use for creating or evaluating an organization’s marketing strategy. It starts with: Clarifying the opportunity we’re going after Articulating and segmenting the specific stakeholder relationships we must foster to capture that opportunity Designing and managing clear, custom funnels for each of those relationships These last two steps lend themselves to an easy-to-remember progression of images, where we could first depict an organization’s relationships with the outside world using a Venn diagram:  …


What is positioning?

Positioning is important for every organization. Yet there is no consensus on what the term means. Among positioning experts, Michael Porter talks about strategic advantage, Seth Godin talks about purple cows, and Clotaire Rapaille talks about tapping into enduring cultural archetypes. Are we really all discussing the same thing? Here is a simple description that I use to align teams and viewpoints: Positioning defines how external audiences see a company or product relative to its competitors. In…


Becoming #1, part two

Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner write: “When we open a cookbook, we completely put aside—and expect the author to put aside—the kind of question that leads to the heart of certain philosophic and religious traditions. Is it possible to talk about cooking? Do eggs really exist? Is food something about which knowledge is possible? Can anyone else ever tell us anything true about cooking? These questions may lead to enlightenment or satori; they do not lead to…