Is capitalism digging its own grave?
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany in the early 1990s, there has been a broad political consensus that capitalism is here to stay. ‘There is no alternative’, as Margaret Thatcher put it. Even in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, there was little suggestion that anything could replace capitalism, beyond a brief uptick in interest in Karl Marx.
But are we now seeing the arrival of capitalism’s ‘undertaker’, in the shape of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation? A slew of books, from Paul Mason’s Post-Capitalism to Nick Srnicek’s Inventing the Future, have argued that technological innovations have opened up a new opportunity to transcend capitalism, as opposed to the old, state-planned socialism of the twentieth century. Yet alongside the techno-optimism, there is also an increasing sense of dread around the advance of technology, with panicked discussion about the robots causing mass unemployment, the social impact of the gig economy and the decline of the home-owning middle class.
Are we really living in a watershed moment for capitalism? Is a new way of organising our economy really on the horizon? Far from ushering in a new society, will the internet and corporations simply result in Digital Capitalism 2.0 – and if it does, is that a bad thing?
membership coordinator, education trade association; producer, Battle of Ideas economy debates
The end of capitalism has begun
Paul Mason, Guardian, 17 July 2015
The Economic Singularity
Callum Chace, 26 July 2016
Why the phrase ‘late capitalism’ is suddenly everywhere
Atlantic, 1 May 2017
Even at Davos, capitalism’s critics are now centre stage
Raphael Behr, Guardian, 23 January 2018
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PostCapitalism by Paul Mason review – a worthy successor to Marx?
Guardian, 15 August 2015
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FT, 22 September 2017
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Sceptical Optimist, 9 March 2017
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Guardian, 18 March 2015