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Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  935 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
A major new manifesto for a high-tech future free from work

Neoliberalism isn’t working. Austerity is forcing millions into poverty and many more into precarious work, while the left remains trapped in stagnant political practices that offer no respite.

Inventing the Future is a bold new manifesto for life after capitalism. Against the confused understanding of our high-tec
Paperback, 245 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Verso
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Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is particularly useful for its comprehensive history of neoliberalism and especially how it went from an ideology that at one time was very much on the fringe and understood as belonging only to the loony right to becoming central to our society and virtually ‘common-sense’. The authors here say the left needs to similarly have a long term plan to change the paradigm our society takes for granted and therefore to change what is considered to be common sense. Given the abject failures o ...more
Michael Chance
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
The first half is a convincing and much-needed critique of left wing localism/horizontalism, holding up the left's inadequacy in contrast to the success of the neoliberal project.
I enjoyed the macroeconomic approach, looking at the bigger picture from pre-industrialism into the future, and found that the concept of surplus in the labour market provided a very simple and useful way to explain the dire need to move beyond the industrial work ethic, into a new kind of common sense.
In taking this
Angel Pradel
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Universal Basic Income, full automation and the end of work presented as a leftist technological utopia. Interesting the critics of "folk" politics of occupy movements and the narrative of the actual neoliberalism supremacy. Clever approximation to the feasibility of power more in ecosystems of diverse movements than in monolithic parties.
Not complete, perhaps sometimes naive but a good initial sketch of action for a new left.
Alex Sarll
When did 'modernisation' become a euphemism for life getting worse in the interests of the rich? Why do 'Conservatives' now advocate change, while the left is too often reduced to mere resistance or a desire to turn the clock back? What happened to bold visions of a better future for everyone?

This is a brave and necessary book, which makes a powerful case for a serious rethink. Disdaining the current trend for 'folk politics', though sympathetic to the urges behind it, they sensibly note that "
John Levi
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theory
> sums up my own thoughts on what they call 'folk political' tendencies in the current popularity of anarchist and anarchist-like radical formations like The Invisible COmmitte and Tiqqun, the popularity of locally-produced goods, etc. However, it focused on its limitations while not looking at its potentials for organizing and establishing counter-hegemony

>demand automation? demand more free time? the book's insistence to go beyond the 'old' demands of labor to accommodate new realities i
Wendy Liu
So I'm someone with a technology background who recently got into leftist politics, and I feel like this book was written for me. It's a short book (less than 200 pages before endnotes) and so it's obviously not meant to be a comprehensive guide to how to get to a post-work world, but rather an outline of what we'd need to consider in order to make one (a marathon not a sprint, etc). I found it very inspiring and I think it would resonate even with those who haven't read any other Verso books be ...more
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf2016
The gist is: rather than embracing 'folk politics' like crunchy Occupy make-no-demands bullshit, the left should be embracing a modern vision of the future: work should not be mandatory to survive and most human labor should be automated. Capitalism is absolutely not going to get us there so we need a post-capitalism system in place in order to progress to the next mode of being human.

Worth reading if you work in tech.
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
i liked the critique of folk politics

i didnt like the critique of actually existing socialism which seems historically ignorant

verdict: pretty fly for a trot guy
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Това трябва да ни е манифестът.
Малката достъпна книжка, която да пробутаме на всичките си нецинични познати и да видим съгласни ли сме с предложенията ѝ и да се обединим около тях.
Въпреки че започва с много елементарните неща, които почти те отказват да четеш, преди да мине през депресиращо точна критика на окюпай и всички асамблеи, в които някога си участвала, за да стигне до това какво правим занапред.
И да обедини идеите, за които все си говорим и четем – автоматизация, преразпределение, безус
Peter Harrison
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
This is a superb book, precisely the sort of analysis that the left is lacking at the moment.

Srnicek and Williams start with a critique of the modern left. After the collapse of communism and the manifest failure of social democracy in the face of the neoliberal assault of the last 30-40 years Srnicek and Williams show how the left has retreated into defensive tactics that lack any sense of overarching strategy. The term they use for this approach is "folk politics", meaning a defensive withdraw
Jordan Peacock
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
While it's not perfect by any stretch, it gets more than enough right to be an excellent primer on why we need a politics reconfigured around work. More importantly, it structures its demands to be mutually reinforcing. And their insistence upon developing an organizational ecology (akin to that built by the neoliberals after the 50s) is spot on. It's an easy read suitable for a general audience, and the assumed familiarity with leftist tropes is kept to a minimum.
Bryan Alexander
Inventing the Future offers a vision for a new radical politics. It begins with a critique of current left-wing thought and practice, then launches into a call for new thinking that accounts for likely future developments, especially automation.

I should really begin this review with some throat-clearing. I came to Inventing the Future with an uneven background. In some ways, I'm well prepared; in one, I'm not.

Since 1980 or so I've read widely and, occasionally, deeply in the left wing political
Kevin Bryden McDonagh
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, politics
My heart felt thanks to the books authors for stretching to such enormous lengths of research and giving me enough reading material for the next few years! I expect they felt that such in-depth citations were required before being so refreshingly optimistic and utopian.

This is an engrossing dissection of modern politics offering a rarely readable academic clarity on Neoliberalism’s rise post WWII and an incredibly illuminating view on the role of the Mont Pelerin Society(MPS) https://www.montpe
Kevin Bryden McDonagh
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
My heart felt thanks to the books authors for stretching to such enormous lengths of research and giving me enough reading material for the next few years! I expect they felt that such in-depth citations were required before being so refreshingly optimistic and utopian.

This is an engrossing dissection of modern politics offering a rarely readable academic clarity on Neoliberalism’s rise post WWII and an incredibly illuminating view on the role of the Mont Pelerin Society(MPS) https://www.montpe
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: political
I really enjoyed "Inventing the Future" as it provided an insightful look at the potentials for the left to transform from a "folk" political structure into the hegemonic entity that would be necessary to overcome neoliberal practice which, up until recently, has dominated Western political discourse. They argue that neoliberalism will not last forever, and the left must use its creative abilities to determine what will come next. Given the rise of right wing populism (culminating in the electio ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Es un libro revelador y desolador. Si no cambiamos nuestro esquema de pensamiento, si no comenzamos a soñar valientemente que este mundo puede cambiar, ninguna postura política hará por nosotros el camino.

Tendremos, las mentes liberales y libertarias comenzar a desarrollar escenarios futuros para un mundo post-capitalista: con automatización de labores deprimentes para cualquier humano, una jornada laboral que busque la eficiencia y la libertad de un trabajo digno, un ingreso universal y la pos
Eric Dirnbach
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A really interesting book that tries to lay out a strategy for a post-capitalist future. It criticizes the current state of much of the Left as practicing what they call "folk politics" which is kind of a wishful thinking mix of Occupy style encampments, direct action protests, horizontalism, and small scale prefigurative projects. Basically they don't like the Anarchist approach as a full strategy though they think these things are useful as part of a broader movement. They list some broad aspi ...more
Kari Barclay
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book essentially told me that most of my community organizing work is misguided. And I think it's right. Srnicek laments the tendency toward "folk politics," a kind of localized, short-term organizing that only advocates resistance to global capitalism. Srnicek's solution of organizing for a post-work future is inspiring, and the book presents a compelling case of how the present has the seeds for such a move.
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
this book contains both an extremely important critique of the left and the framework for a post-capitalist world. inventing the future argues that the left today must abandon the fetishization of folk politics and immediate, small scale results; must reclaim modernity and create a long-term counter-hegemonic movement in order to challenge neoliberal capitalism. essential reading for leftists.
Clare Siobhan
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not entirely perfect, but brilliant and still worthy of 5 stars.

I particularly enjoyed the analysis of the left's failures over recent decades and the tendency to folk politics. Spot on.

Looking forward to reading more from these authors.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A world without work is a nice thought but i doubt the Left as it is can rally to abolish capitalism and the culture of neoliberalism without shedding a lot blood. But one can dream. Reading this book helps in that dreaming department. Hah.
Adrian Hon
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
It's a nice idea for the left to rally around a hopeful vision of the future without work, but this book was too light on specific recommendations. And despite the fact they decry impenetrable academic language, I suspect this too will be needlessly inaccessible for many readers.
Adam  McPhee
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
We need to think big. The natural habitat of the left has always been the future, and this terrain must be reclaimed.

Argues the Left needs to go beyond shortsighted 'folk politics' and start thinking big again. Instead of full employment, the Left needs to start thinking about automation and full unemployment. The author's prescription:
A twenty-first-century left must seek to combat the centrality of work to contemporary life. In the end, our choice is between glorifying work and the working cl
Erik Carter
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some good ideas and analysis on our current crises. The language used a little too many assumed definitionS for my taste, caused me to put it down for a month.
Derek Caelin
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The premise is that the neoliberal status quo fails on a number of levels and that the work of the left is to regain mantle of "common sense" - that we can can eliminate poverty, improve healthcare and education, and remove suffering in work. The book lays out why this is needed, the benefits of a postcapitalist society powered by automation, and some suggestions for how ideas can change over time. The book is dense but very interesting - would highly recommend.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A post-work proposal that must be read by anyone. Reading Inventing the Future reminds me to have a dream. Like how Nikolai Fedorov dreamed his proposal of 'Common Task'—a total reconstruction of social relations, economy and politics for a single goal of achieving immortality for humankind—Inventing the Future aims to develop a total society where post-work is plausible by deconstructing social relations, economy and politics of our neoliberal driven world. Half of this book is an engaging crit ...more
Kevin A.
I approached it eagerly because it belongs to a broader genre -- postcapitalism, postscarcity, cyberutopianism, autonomism, etc -- that's the main focus of my current research. It was well worth reading for their positive agenda, but required some suppression of the gag reflex for all the disingenuous strawmanning of horizontalism and prefigurative politics. To the extent this is the showcase manifesto of left-accelerationism, it definitely illustrates some problems with that milieu.
Brian Doering
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Srnicek & Williams accurately, though not exhaustively, explain why neoliberal capitalism was/is "successful" and why it continues to survive so easily. Mind you, it is not because it's the best or only option. To the contrary, it's hardly even a good option.

They lay out demands for our future. Demands that cannot be met until neoliberalism hegemony is countered and the sheer concepts of left wing thought can be liberated from the straitjacket of what was preconceived as possible or realisti
Apr 10, 2016 rated it liked it
A disappointing read both on the side of its analysis and what it proposes.

In terms of the authors' political worldview the emphasis was insufficiently on the global, financialised capitalist processes that flow through and undergird the neoliberal hegemony they take to task. There was not enough discussion of border control or its guaranteed erosion of popular left politics on a transnational basis.

In terms of its ideas about building a new left politics, the sections about the radical and ut
Kevin Merlini
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book as it attempted to answer questions that I had personally been stuck on for a while. Beyond that, I learned quite a bit about the history of how free market ideologies came to the position they hold today, along with mechanisms for social change. The author does a convincing job analyzing the flaws in left’s approach toward driving change. While the ideas discussed in the book would likely seem radical to many, the crises that they seek to address would seem fairly ine ...more
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Nick Srnicek is an American writer and academic. He is currently a lecturer in Digital Economy at King's College London.

Born in 1982, Srnicek took a double major in Psychology and Philosophy before completing an MA at the University of Western Ontario in 2007. He proceeded to a PhD at the London School of Economics, completing his thesis in 2013 on "Representing complexity: the material construct
More about Nick Srnicek
“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.” 2 likes
“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.” 2 likes
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