PostCapitalism Take #2 – The China Angle

Despite being a big fan of Paul Mason’s PostCapitalism, selective Marxism and all, I’ve found myself having to keep his revolutionary-style participation in the New-Old-Labour politics at arm’s length. I was moved to revisit my own take on PostCapitalism by this tweet:

Tyfield’s extended review is here:

On PostCapitalism #1 – Overview.
A very positive and enthusiastic summary. Me too.

On PostCapitalism #2 – The Possibility of Information Capitalism
A detailed look at some of the challenges and criticisms, concluding that there really is something new and worthwhile here. My conclusion also.

On PostCapitalism #3 – The Non-Stalled Kondratiev Wave
The broken periodicity is something that has nagged at me too. Despite still holding up the natural Kuhnian / Kondratiev cycles of economic development paradigms to many others frustrated with expectations of plain-sailing progress, it has been clear that the information age is not simply another 80 year / 3 human generations cycle, but more like a relentless series of chaotically interdependent sub-cycles. Which legitimately leads us to think of a new and different set of economic cycles as something genuinely beyond capitalism rather than just another cycle of the same old same old. Good thinking.

My own take has been – around ubiquitous social-media comms – that the new problem we are dealing with is that the pace of information evolution (content and applications) has overtaken our collective mental (cultural) capacity to learn how to use it for human benefit, hence some of the problematic concerns and degenerate consequences. We really are dealing with a different model. It’s also why some are hyping (pale imitations of) AI and jumping straight to accelerationism, leaving human moderation behind, and giving me the uncomfortable feeling this is the wrong take. Right problem, wrong response. Tyfield’s looks like a better take.

So imagine my additional delight to find that Tyfield’s own book has this title:


Including the blurb:

[T]he pivotal location of a rising China, this book describes the global systemic crisis of a neoliberal world order and the embryonic emergence of an alternative global power regime of a ‘liberalism 2.0’.

This augurs both a web 2.0-based revitalization of the classical liberalism of the nineteenth century and new Dickensian inequalities and injustices …. Against hopes that the present is a ‘revolutionary’ moment, therefore, political engagement with this emerging power regime is thus presented as the most productive strategy for a progressive twenty-first century politics.

As well as generally well-travelled international experience of my own, I’ve had particular good fortune in the last decade and more to work with (Russian &) Chinese customers and collaborators and extended visits to multiple locations in both countries. The difference is staggering. Both have enormous disparities of wealth and power (and information freedoms) but nevertheless appear to be going in opposite directions. I already felt that China is doing something right that we can learn from and Tyfield is suggesting we might even throw in our lot.

Looks like a must read.

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