Paul Mason’s book “PostCapitalism” is out this week, but has been previewed in talks and articles.
Lots of material I’ve used here. Schumpeter and Kondratiev waves of economic cycles. Freeman and Perez “Techno-Economic-Paradigms” building on Kuhn. Drucker, the guru of management gurus, standing on the shoulders of Parker-Follett. The 5th wave is clearly the information driven wave – the Information TEP – products (even physical products) whose value largely comprises or depends on information. The point is that information (like love) increases in value when shared and isn’t made scarce by copying – that’s quite a shift in capitalism’s foundation. The only scarce resource is the creativity of new patterns, tools and uses. The information itself and the knowledge in people is in connected networks and therefore non-hierarchical. Again, a change affecting the established capitalist model. In many ways the thesis so far is not new – we’ve been working on it for 25 years already.
Personally, I think other aspects of markets will retain scarcity and hierarchy. Knowledge is more than information, in the same way information is more than data and wisdom more than knowledge. Mason’s thesis seems to be that the flattening of the network will destroy pricing mechanisms. Perversely, as Kevin Kelly also predicted, even where hierarchical market power remains, even if only legally enforced, it will tend – has already tended – to monopolies. When one source is easily shared, why create a second source? Hence my point, the real value-add will be beyond the content simply as shareable information.
A network of connected “individuals” – connected but independent, not a monolithic collective – will seek something different from post-capitalism. This much is true. Looking forward to reading.