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“As we have seen, neoliberalism propagated its ideology through a division of labour – academics shaping education, think tanks influencing policy, and popularisers manipulating the media. The inculcation of neoliberalism involved a full-spectrum project of constructing a hegemonic worldview. A new common sense was built that came to co-opt and eventually dominate the terminology of ‘modernity’ and ‘freedom’ – terminology that fifty years ago would have had very different connotations. Today, it is nearly impossible to speak these words without immediately invoking the precepts of neoliberal capitalism. We all know today that ‘modernisation’ translates into job cuts, the slashing of welfare and the privatisation of government services. To modernise, today, simply means to neoliberalise. The term ‘freedom’ has suffered a similar fate, reduced to individual freedom, freedom from the state, and the freedom to choose between consumer goods.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Direct democracy, prefigurative politics and direct action are not, we hasten to add, intrinsically flawed.19 Rather than being denounced in themselves, their utility needs to be judged relative to particular historical situations and particular strategic objectives – in terms of their ability to exert real power to create genuine lasting transformation. The reality of complex, globalised capitalism is that small interventions consisting of relatively non-scalable actions are highly unlikely to ever be able to reorganise our socioeconomic system. As we suggest in the second half of this book, the tactical repertoire of horizontalism can have some use, but only when coupled with other more mediated forms of political organisation and action.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Work must be refused and reduced, building our synthetic freedom in the process.136 As we have set out in this chapter, achieving this will require the realisation of four minimal demands: 1.Full automation 2.The reduction of the working week 3.The provision of a basic income 4.The diminishment of the work ethic While each of these proposals can be taken as an individual goal in itself, their real power is expressed when they are advanced as an integrated programme. This is not a simple, marginal reform, but an entirely new hegemonic formation to compete against the neoliberal and social democratic options. The demand for full automation amplifies the possibility of reducing the working week and heightens the need for a universal basic income. A reduction in the working week helps produce a sustainable economy and leverage class power. And a universal basic income amplifies the potential to reduce the working week and expand class power.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Parecería que la competencia capitalista ha sido un importante eje impulsor de este avance tecnológico. Una narrativa popular ve la competencia intercapitalista como impulsora de los cambios tecnológicos en el proceso de producción, mientras que el capitalismo del consumidor demanda un conjunto de productos cada vez más diferenciados. Al mismo tiempo, empero, el capitalismo ha puesto obstáculos sustanciales en el camino del desarrollo tecnológico. Aunque la bien cuidada imagen del capitalismo comprende la toma de riesgos dinámica y la innovación tecnológica, esta imagen en realidad oculta las verdaderas fuentes del dinamismo en la economía. Avances como los ferrocarriles, internet, las computadoras, los vuelos supersónicos, los viajes espaciales, los satélites, los medicamentos, el software de reconocimiento de voz, la nanotecnología, las pantallas interactivas y la energía limpia han sido alimentados y guiados por Estados, no por empresas.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventar el futuro: Postcapitalismo y un mundo sin trabajo
“While full automation of the economy is presented here as an ideal and a demand, in practice it is unlikely to be fully achieved.45 In certain spheres, human labour is likely to continue for technical, economic and ethical reasons.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“El sueño de escapar es sólo eso: un sueño. Ligados al imperativo de crear una ganancia, los negocios controlados por trabajadores sólo pueden ser tan tiránicos y dañinos para el entorno como cualquier negocio de gran escala, pero sin la eficiencia de dicha escala. Problemas como éstos son generalizados en toda la experiencia de las cooperativas y han surgido no sólo en Argentina sino en el modelo zapatista y en todo el continente.65”
Nick Srnicek, Inventar el futuro: Postcapitalismo y un mundo sin trabajo
“Full automation is a utopian demand that aims to reduce necessary labour as much as possible.”
Nick Srnicek
“a series of well-founded critiques were marshalled from within the new left, prompted partly by the experiences of women in activist groups, who found their voices continued to be marginalised even in allegedly radical organisations. More hierarchical organisational forms, such as parties or traditional union organisations, continued to entrench the predominant patriarchal and sexist social relations prevalent in broader society. Considerable experimentation was therefore conducted to produce new organisational forms that could work against this social repression. This included the use of consensus decision-making and horizontal debating structures that would later come to worldwide fame with the Occupy Wall Street movement.35”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Our view is that, contrary to its popular presentation, neoliberalism differs from classical liberalism in ascribing a significant role to the state.7 A major task of neoliberalism has therefore been to take control of the state and repurpose it.8 Whereas classical liberalism advocated respect for a naturalised sphere supposedly beyond state control (the natural laws of man and the market), neoliberals understand that markets are not ‘natural’.9 Markets do not spontaneously emerge as the state backs away, but must instead be consciously constructed, sometimes from the ground up.10 For instance, there is no natural market for the commons (water, fresh air, land), or for healthcare, or for education.11 These and other markets must be built through an elaborate array of material, technical and legal constructs. Carbon markets required years to be built;12 volatility markets exist in large part as a function of abstract financial models;13 and even the most basic markets require intricate design.14 Under neoliberalism, the state therefore takes on a significant role in creating ‘natural’ markets.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“The fact that the information platform requires an extension of sensors means that it is countering the tendency towards a lean platform. These are not asset-less companies – far from it; they spend billions of dollars to purchase fixed capital and take other companies over. Importantly, ‘once we understand this [tendency], it becomes clear that demanding privacy from surveillance capitalists or lobbying for an end to commercial surveillance on the Internet is like asking Henry Ford to make each Model T by hand’.15 Calls for privacy miss how the suppression of privacy is at the heart of this business model. This tendency involves constantly pressing against the limits of what is socially and legally acceptable in terms of data collection. For the most part, the strategy has been to collect data, then apologise and roll back programs if there is an uproar, rather than consulting with users beforehand.16 This is why we will continue to see frequent uproars over the collection of data by these companies.”
Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism
“what set the left apart from the right was its unambiguous embrace of the future. The future was to be an improvement over the present in material, social and political terms. By contrast, the forces of the political right were, with a few notable exceptions, defined by their defence of tradition and their essentially reactionary nature.17 This situation was reversed during the rise of neoliberalism, with politicians like Thatcher commanding the rhetoric of modernisation and the future to great effect. Co-opting these terms and mobilising them into a new hegemonic common sense, neoliberalism’s vision of modernity has held sway ever since. Consequently, discussions of the left in terms of the future now seem aberrant, even absurd. With the postmodern moment, the seemingly intrinsic links between the future, modernity and emancipation were prized apart. Philosophers like Simon Critchley can now confidently assert that ‘we have to resist the idea and ideology of the future, which is always the ultimate trump card of capitalist ideas of progress’.18 Such folk-political sentiments blindly accept the neoliberal common sense, preferring to shy away from grand visions and replace them with a posturing resistance. From the radical left’s discomfort with technological modernity to the social democratic left’s inability to envision an alternative world, everywhere today the future has largely been ceded to the right. A skill that the left once excelled at – building enticing visions for a better world – has deteriorated after years of neglect. If”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“The complex and often disastrous record of the twentieth century demonstrated conclusively that history could not be relied upon to follow any predetermined course.22 Regression was as likely as progress, genocide as possible as democratisation.23 In other words, there was nothing inherent in the nature of history, the development of economic systems, or sequences of political struggle that could guarantee any particular outcome. From a broadly left perspective, for example, even those limited but not insignificant political gains that have been achieved – such as welfare provision, women’s rights and worker protections – can be rolled back.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Concurrent with the decline of manufacturing, the latter half of the twentieth century oversaw another shift. While earlier office technologies had supplemented workers and increased demand for them, the development of the microprocessor and computing technologies began to replace semiskilled service workers in many areas – for example, telephone operators and secretaries.20 The roboticisation of services is now gathering steam, with over 150,000 professional service robots sold in the past fifteen years.21 Under particular threat have been ‘routine’ jobs – jobs that can be codified into a series of steps. These are tasks that computers are perfectly suited to accomplish once a programmer has created the appropriate software, leading to a drastic reduction in the numbers of routine manual and cognitive jobs over the past four decades.22 The result has been a polarisation of the labour market, since many middle-wage, mid-skilled jobs are routine, and therefore subject to automation.23 Across both North America and Western Europe, the labour market is now characterised by a predominance of workers in low-skilled, low-wage manual and service jobs (for example, fast-food, retail, transport, hospitality and warehouse workers), along with a smaller number of workers in high-skilled, high-wage, non-routine cognitive jobs.24”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Various modernities are possible, and new visions of the future are essential for the left. Such images are a necessary supplement to any transformative political project. They give a direction to political struggles and generate a set of criteria to adjudicate which struggles to support, which movements to resist, what to invent, and so on. In the absence of images of progress, there can only be reactivity, defensive battles, local resistance and a bunker mentality”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Meanwhile, in the halls of academia the utopian impulse has been castigated as naive and futile. Browbeaten by decades of failure, the left has consistently retreated from its traditionally grand ambitions. To give but one example: whereas the 1970s saw radical feminism and queer manifestos calling for a fundamentally new society, by the 1990s these had been reduced to a more moderate identity politics; and by the 2000s discussions were dominated by even milder demands to have same-sex marriage recognised and for women to have equal opportunities to become CEOs.34”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Resistance always means resistance against another active force. In other words, it is a defensive and reactive gesture, rather than an active movement. We do not resist a new world into being; we resist in the name of an old world.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“The participatory economics (Parecon) project, for instance, envisions direct democracy at every level of society; but this vision for a postcapitalist world translates into endlessly ramifying staff meetings over every detail of life – hardly the inspiring stuff of utopian visions.35 Under Occupy, many general assemblies devolved into similar situations in which even the most mundane of issues had to be painstakingly addressed by a collective.36 The acrimonious debates over drummers making too much noise in the Zuccotti Park occupation are just one particularly farcical example of this. The more general point is that direct democracy requires a significant amount of participation and effort – in other words, it entails increasing amounts of work. During brief moments of revolutionary enthusiasm, this extra work can become inconsequential; yet after the return to normality it is simply added to the ordinary pressures of everyday life.37 The extra work of direct democracy is problematic especially because of the constitutive exclusions it entails – particularly for those who are unable to attend physically, those who do not feel comfortable in large groups and those who lack public speaking skills (with all the gendered and racialised biases inherent to these factors).38 As the Occupy movement went on, the general assemblies simply collapsed, often under the weight of exhaustion and boredom. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that the problem of democracy today is not that people want a say over every single aspect of their lives. The real issue of democratic deficit is that the most significant decisions of society are out of the hands of the average person.39 Direct democracy responds to this problem, but attempts to solve it by making democracy an immediate and bodily experience that rejects mediation.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Work has become central to our very self-conception – so much so that when presented with the idea of doing less work, many people ask, ‘But what would I do?’ The fact that so many people find it impossible to imagine a meaningful life outside of work demonstrates the extent to which the work ethic has infected our minds. While”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Relative to the stable and well-paying careers of earlier generations, today’s jobs typically involve more casual working hours, low and stagnant wages, decreasing job protections and widespread insecurity.59 This trend towards precarity has a number of causes, but one of the primary functions of a surplus population is that it enables capitalists to place extra pressure on the lucky few who have found a job.60 As the surplus grows and the labour market slackens, more workers seek after fewer jobs, and power passes over to the employers. The threat of moving a factory, for instance, is only possible with a global labour glut. The result is that employers gain strength over workers and the quality of jobs decreases (supplementing the quantity measured by unemployment statistics). This is exactly what we have seen in the past few decades.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Un sentimiento de política folk se ha hecho presente tanto en el horizontalismo radical como en movimientos localistas más moderados, aunque algunas intuiciones parecidas apuntalan un vasto abanico de la izquierda contemporánea. En todos esos grupos se acepta ampliamente una serie de juicios: lo pequeño es bello, lo local es ético, lo simple es mejor, la permanencia es opresiva, el progreso se ha terminado. Se prefiere este tipo de ideas por encima de un proyecto contrahegemónico: una política capaz de competir con el poder capitalista en escalas más grandes. En su núcleo, gran parte de la política folk contemporánea expresa, por ende, un «profundo pesimismo: asume que no podemos llevar a cabo un cambio de gran escala, colectivo y social».91 Esta actitud derrotista de la izquierda corre fuera de control y, considerando los continuados fracasos de los últimos treinta años, quizá haya ocurrido por buenas razones. Para los partidos políticos de centro izquierda, la nostalgia de un pasado perdido es todo lo que se puede esperar. El contenido más radical que puede encontrarse entre ellos está hecho de sueños de una socialdemocracia y de la así llamada «edad de oro» del capitalismo.92 Sin embargo, las condiciones mismas que hicieron posible la socialdemocracia ya no existen. La «edad de oro» capitalista fue predicada sobre el paradigma productivo de un entorno fabril disciplinado, donde los trabajadores (blancos, varones) recibían seguridad y un estándar de vida básico a cambio de toda una vida de aburrimiento atrofiante y represión social. Dicho sistema dependía de una jerarquía internacional de imperios, colonias y una periferia subdesarrollada; una jerarquía nacional de racismo y sexismo y una jerarquía familiar rígida de subyugación femenina. Además, la socialdemocracia se apoyaba en un equilibrio particular de fuerzas entre las clases (y una disposición de éstas a transigir) y todo esto sólo fue posible tras la destrucción sin precedentes ocasionada por la Gran Depresión y por la Segunda Guerra Mundial y de cara a las amenazas externas del comunismo y el fascismo. Pese a toda esa nostalgia que muchos sienten, este régimen es indeseable y también imposible de recuperar. Empero, el punto más pertinente es que, incluso si pudiéramos dar marcha atrás hacia la socialdemocracia, no deberíamos hacerlo. Podemos hacer cosas mejores, y la fidelidad socialdemócrata a los empleos y el crecimiento significa que siempre actuará de manera afín al capitalismo y que lo hará a expensas de la gente. Más que modelar nuestro futuro sobre un pasado nostálgico, deberíamos apuntar a crear un futuro para nosotros mismos. El paso más allá de los obstáculos del presente no se logrará mediante el retorno a un capitalismo más humanizado, reconstruido desde una remembranza del pasado con ojos llorosos. Si bien la nostalgia de un pasado perdido claramente no es una respuesta adecuada, tampoco lo es la glorificación actual de la resistencia. La resistencia siempre significa resistencia contra otra fuerza activa. En otras palabras, más que un movimiento activo, es un gesto defensivo y reactivo: no resistimos para traer a la existencia un mundo nuevo, resistimos en nombre de un mundo viejo. El énfasis contemporáneo en la resistencia oculta, por ende, una postura defensiva contra la intrusión del capitalismo expansionista”
Nick Srnicek, Inventar el futuro: Postcapitalismo y un mundo sin trabajo
“Tied to the imperative to create a profit, worker-controlled businesses can be just as oppressive and environmentally damaging as any large-scale business, but without the efficiencies of scale.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Hayek had been planning since at least the mid 1940s to establish a system of think tanks propounding neoliberal ideas, while at the same time working to place Society members in government positions (a strategy that eventually produced three heads of state and a large number of cabinet ministers).31”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Opening the ten-day event, Hayek diagnosed the problem of the new liberals: a lack of alternatives to the existing (Keynesian) order. There was no ‘consistent philosophy of the opposition groups’ and no ‘real programme’ for change.24 As a result of this diagnosis, Hayek defined the central goal of the MPS as changing elite opinion in order to establish the parameters within which public opinion could then be formed. Contrary to a common assumption, capitalists did not initially see neoliberalism as being in their interests. A major task of the MPS was therefore to educate capitalists as to why they should become neoliberals.25”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“In the absence of images of progress, there can only be reactivity, defensive battles, local resistance and a bunker mentality – what we have characterised as folk politics. Visions of the future are therefore indispensable for elaborating a movement against capitalism.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“As Milton Friedman famously put it, ‘Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.’51”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Folk politics presents itself as another possible response to the problems of overwhelming complexity. If we do not understand how the world operates, the folk-political injunction is to reduce complexity down to a human scale. Indeed, folk-political writing is saturated with calls for a return to authenticity, to immediacy, to a world that is ‘transparent’, ‘human-scaled’, ‘tangible’, ‘slow’, ‘harmonious’, ‘simple’, and ‘everyday’.27 Such thinking rejects the complexity of the contemporary world, and thereby rejects the possibility of a truly postcapitalist world. It attempts to give a human face to power; whereas what is truly terrifying is the generally asubjective nature of the system. The faces are interchangeable; the power remains the same. The turn towards localism, temporary moments of resistance, and the intuitive practices of direct action all effectively attempt to condense the problems of global capitalism into concrete figures and moments. In”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“If politics without passion leads to cold-hearted, bureaucratic technocracy, then passion bereft of analysis risks becoming a libidinally driven surrogate for effective action. Politics comes to be about feelings of personal empowerment, masking an absence of strategic gains.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Any postcapitalist project will necessarily require the creation of new cognitive maps, political narratives, technological interfaces, economic models, and mechanisms of collective control to be able to marshal complex phenomena for the betterment of humanity. OUTDATED”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“In a world of synthetic freedom, high-quality public goods would be provided for us, leaving us to get on with our lives rather than worrying about which healthcare provider to go with. Beyond the social democratic imagination, however, lie two further essentials of existence: time and money. Free time is the basic condition for self-determination and the development of our capacities.57 Equally, synthetic freedom demands the provision of a basic income to all in order for them to be fully free.58 Such a policy not only provides the monetary resources for living under capitalism, but also makes possible an increase in free time. It provides us with the capacity to choose our lives: we can experiment and build unconventional lives, choosing to foster our cultural, intellectual and physical sensibilities instead of blindly working to survive.59 Time and money therefore represent key components of freedom in any substantive sense.”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
“Under particular threat have been ‘routine’ jobs – jobs that can be codified into a series of steps. These are tasks that computers are perfectly suited to accomplish once a programmer has created the appropriate software, leading to a drastic reduction in the numbers of routine manual and cognitive jobs over the past four decades.22 The result has been a polarisation of the labour market, since many middle-wage, mid-skilled jobs are routine, and therefore subject to automation.23 Across both North America and Western Europe, the labour market is now characterised by a predominance of workers in low-skilled, low-wage manual and service jobs (for example, fast-food, retail, transport, hospitality and warehouse workers), along with a smaller number of workers in high-skilled, high-wage, non-routine cognitive jobs.24”
Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work

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