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Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,165 ratings  ·  316 reviews
From Paul Mason, the award-winning Channel 4 presenter, Postcapitalism is a guide to our era of seismic economic change, and how we can build a more equal society.

Over the past two centuries or so, capitalism has undergone continual change - economic cycles that lurch from boom to bust - and has always emerged transformed and strengthened. Surveying this turbulent history
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 30th 2015 by Allen Lane
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Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I deliberately read ‘Postcapitalism’ quite slowly, as it deserves considerable thought. I find it striking that such a book was written by a journalist, in an engagingly journalistic style, rather than an academic or that ambiguous figure in between, a public intellectual. Although perhaps Paul Mason falls into the latter category? I’m not sure. Anyway, he isn’t an economist, and I think this book demonstrates quite clearly why that enables him to think beyond neoliberalism. As an aside, a few d ...more
Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it
By Kate Duguid

Paul Mason is that rare creature: a left-wing optimist. He isn’t mourning the death of labor power or the rise of machines. That’s because the two have converged to kill off capitalism. Well, nearly. The British journalist reckons we are close enough to a new order that he has eschewed the hyphen in the title of his new book, “Postcapitalism.”

Mason is right to question whether our current system can handle the looming prospects of climate change, long-term wage stagnation and sover
Manda Scott
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are books we want to read, books we think we ought to read, and books we need to read. This one falls in the latter category, along with Naomi Klein's 'This Changes Everything' and George Monbiot's 'Rewilding' - actually, anything by either of these authors.

Paul Mason is a man for our time. He has reported from all the major political events of the past years and can tell us what was happening behind the scenes - from the ECB's annihilation of Greece for having the temerity to vote in an
//2020 Update:
I should have known by the silence on foreign policy in this book (and the British mainstream media presence of Mason) that something was off, as I had not followed Mason previously. Alarms sounded after reading his reflections of Jeremy Corbyn's electoral defeat and what the Bernie Sanders campaign can learn from it, targeting Corbyn's anti-imperialism as a weakness:
Unfortunately, for a large part of Corbyn’s followers, taking toys away from British imperialists and disrupting th
Taru Luojola
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This really was a positive external shock to my thinking, reviving my once lost interest in socioeconomical litterature by building a well-thought-out (and credibly materialitsic) bridge between historical Marxism and ahistorical ”mainstream” economics. True to the spirit of the classical critics of capitalism, the book does not just describe the world as it is and has been, but also outlines a transitional program of action out of current crises looming above humanity. Much to think of for a lo ...more
Sarah Mansour
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics
Very good effort by the author to recap our modern history and how neoliberalism came into play.
However, I wouldn't call it a Guide to Our Future as he barely ever says HOW we could do it, but merely mentions the obvious.
I gave it 2 stars as its title was very misleading.
I'd start by reading the last chapter first to see the author's point of view, but the first chapters are very interesting economic history.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a really interesting, and accessible book about the economy, which focuses on realistic and serious solutions and hope for the Left when it comes to the economy.
Mason, informed by his previous research into economics, uses a heterodox (in the most open sense of the word) analysis to demonstrate that neoclassical, classical Marxist and neoliberal economics will not be able to cope with the growth of intellectual, nonphysical and non-unionised precarious work, in combination with growing
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I was really excited about the promise of this book after reading the first 3rd. It seemed to be a big idea book weaving in Marxism, capitalism, and the new information age. In the end, it was not that. The theoretical chapters were followed up with a catalog of how things have changed and then overly simplistic proposals for the future. He also was not right on the money issues--he talks about reckless spending and seems to be pushing for austerity, but then talks about UBI without connecting i ...more
Randal Samstag
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
Paul Mason’s 2015 book, Postcapitalism A Guide to Our Future, provides a striking visualization of a possible exit from the disasters of our current capitalist world system to something else: a more life-affirming, empathetic, creativity-fostering and fun world of cooperative progress. But before we get there, we need to manage a couple of problems that capitalism has created for us which present, as the title to Mason’s penultimate chapter suggests, a rational case for panic. And mind you, this ...more
Yevgeniy Brikman
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading this book made me keenly aware of one thing: I don't have a nearly good enough understanding of how the economy works. The author presents a lot of interesting arguments about how the economy got to be the way it is, how capitalism is likely to collapse, and a proposal for an alternative, and I realized I lack the tools and mental model to fully understand or debate these topics. The book is reasonably well-written, so I still got something out of it, but I think I'm going to have to do ...more
Veronica Dale
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
“It hooked me at the first page!” “Ripped from the headlines!” “I couldn’t put it down!”

Hey wait a minute. Isn’t this supposed to be a review of an economics book? It is, and for me all those exclamations are true. In spite of the fact that I usually think economics is opaque and boring, I found this book to be positively riveting.

Like a lot of people, I’m worried about what’s going on in today’s world. The Arab Spring never bloomed; Occupy Wall Street petered out; the upcoming US election see
Tobin Kelly
Dec 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
The central problem with this worthless book is that Paul Mason doesn't understand economics. He clusters concepts together with as much coherence as a toddler trying to build the Millenium Falcon from a random pile of Lego; much as you might expect from someone who graduated in music and politics, then climbed the greasy pole into television punditry.

Unsurprisingly, as a TV entertainer, what he does grasp well is how to inflame the muddle-headed. Almost every page of Postcapitalism drips bile
Mick Kelly
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
A must-read view of economic history and our economic future.

Though I have a lot of points of disagreement with the author, I still think this is an important book that will give any reader the impetus to question many of the assumptions that underlie the politics of the current model of economics - for economics is really just a branch of politics.

My background is in hard science. I did Astronomy for my first degree and Computing for my masters - so I find the 'hand-waving' pretend maths of e
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, economics
An alright book. One weird thing is despite the title, most of the book is actually about the history of capitalism (and a highly selective one) than about a blueprint for a new economic system. The blueprint part is probably just the last chapter, and even then it's just a series of prescriptions without solid justification. Sure there are parallels between the trends highlighted in the previous chapter and the prescriptions, but it's not very convincing to me. Plus, many of the prescriptions a ...more
Apr 16, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was utter drivel. The author has no understanding of Marxism and incredibly premises much of his theory on a notion of "long-term" economic cycles; a fit-the-regression approach that offers no insight to understanding the complex relationships embodied in economies. I'm surprised he didn't commence his cyclical approach with the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It's fascinating that bogus scholars such as Mr. Mason fit their own analyses to the brief data sets that they cite. Don't w ...more
"It is absurd that we are capable of witnessing a 40,000-year-old system of gender oppression begin to dissolve before our eyes and yet still seeing the abolition of a 200-year-old economic system as an unrealistic utopia."

I rather enjoyed Postcapitalism for the potted history of left-wing thought, the use of "bullshit jobs" as a technical term, and the thought that if someone can find the political will we could find ourselves basically living in Star Trek. Viva la revolución.
Vuk Trifkovic
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not bad, but eventually overreaching. Feels a bit rushed. The main problem is that it totally and utterly fails to explain the lynchpin on which his argument rests. You can't just say "Wikipedia" and be done with it...
Julian Worker
Wonderful book - there is so much I don't know...some wonderful ideas but will anyone have the courage to implement them? Probably the countries of Scandinavia.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, economics
Mason's intriguing book sniffs through the chaos of a world capitalism racked by a succession of crises which have so badly damaged the project of globalisation.

Plenty of others have done this but most have assumed that somewhere just down the line the system will stabilise and something like the thing intended when Reagan and Thatcher put together their plans for a neoliberal world back in the 1980s will re-emerge.

Mason has something else in mind. He sets out the features which mark the distr
Jeff Van Campen
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics, politics
I was fascinated by some of the economic models Paul Mason discusses, such as Kondratieff cycles and Marx's labour theory of value. Ultimately, though, I was unconvinced by his arguments.

There are three reasons for this. His sometimes mystifying logical leaps of faith, his oversimplification of technology and his reliance on state-based solutions.

Over and over again in this book, Mason would build an interesting argument only to make a leap to a conclusion that isn't entirely supported by his ar
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
The principles of organizing a society along capitalist lines may have outlived their usefulness. Digital technology could be an economic transition that makes capitalism nonviable. The author concludes like Marx that Capitalism ever evolving system would eventually bring forth a new system. However unlike Marx postcapitalism would not necessarily be proletarians seizing the means of production. The author thought Marx's critique about capitalisms eventual demise to be true but not Marx's vision ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
A very interesting read! And my first non-fiction book of the year. I do think that this was kind of hard to get through at times (especially when it became very history-heavy) but it brought up so many interesting ideas. I know I'll be thinking about this for a while.
Paul Mason presents strong arguments for the coming slow demise of capitalism, and some good suggestions of what will happen next. I'm not sure of his suggested transition plan, but the face that we need a transition to lessen the harms make sense.

The Good: I found his summary of historic economic theory to be coherent and clear - showing connections among authors and books I had not previously seen, but make a lot of sense. The book was worth reading/listening to for that even if you don't agr
Rafael Merino
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The lost causes are exactly those which might have saved the world" –Chesterton said. But there is always the possibility that not even the lost causes could have saved us from the horrors of industrial warfare, mass deportations, labor camps, genocide and other centrally orchestrated disasters.

In this book, the author goes into great detail to vindicate this or that piece of Marxist economics, some well known (the Labor Value Theory, Kondratiev's wave), some obscure (the Fragment on Machines,
John Rausch
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this and planned to give it 5 stars, but the last chapter fell flat. Mason spends the first 90% of the book providing historical context for the ideas he is advocating...only to quickly sprint through the ideas themselves in the last 20-30 pages. I would have loved more detail and justification of why they would resolve the problems he describes and how they could be implemented. Despite this, I would still absolutely recommend the book, especially to people such as myse ...more
Kirk Houghton
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Left-wing politics has lost all credibility in economic science since the victory of Free-Market Capitalism post-1989. Turning their attention to environmentalism, human rights, social justice and anti-austerity, socialists of today do not question the basic premise that private property and a market system for the distribution of goods are indispensable to economic growth; the only question is to what extent the state should temper its excesses. But in the last year distinguished economists hav ...more
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This ranks up there among the “must read” books that help to explain exactly where we stand in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. This was a brilliant snap-shot of economic history by a thoroughly knowledgeable leader in this field. To even suggest that we can charge full speed ahead with the same neo-liberalism strategy of unregulated markets and unchecked free trade is completely insane. I’m not sure that capitalism has a finite lifespan as he suggests but I certainly enjoyed reading hi ...more
John Waymont
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I bought this from Bookmarks after some thugs smashed up the store. As a non-socialist I wanted to read something which wasn't a regurgitation of thinking from the 19th/20th century- in that, this book delivered.

The historical context was very useful, providing a good grounding in the ideas and critiques used later in the book. The central 'project zero' idea was interesting- I can agree with most but dispute the need for such centralisation, the route to implementing it being clearly rooted in
Anna Barbarella
Apr 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
It’s much easier for today’s left to signal their discontent by demanding the impossible or blatantly undesirable (a return to socialisms of the past) than it is for them to grapple with the question of socialism’s role in a capitalist system not quite disastrous enough to actually revolt against.

Paul Mason acknowledges this and attempts to answer that question – with all the profundity of damp sawdust. These are three hundred pages that state the obvious. He simply unifies some of the most vis
Antonio De la rosa
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a remarkable book. It has been a long and sometimes arduous read. For my efforts I have learned much about the history of capitalism (approached by the author from many different angles and voices).

My understanding of the current state of affairs economical, political and social, was fragmented and emotional. After reading this book it stays emotional but I have a coherent story about how we got where we are.

The author furthermore names and places rightly all the major blocks of our puzz
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Note: Paul^^Mason

Paul Mason is an English journalist and broadcaster. He is economics editor of the BBC's Newsnight television programme and the author of several books.

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