Paul Mason's Postcapitalism: A Guide To Our Future is not a book about communications or PR, but it's worth reading (and recommending) for at least three reasons:
- Big questions. Could we be in a transition from capitalism to something else? And what would that something else look like?
- Turns of phrase. This one alone was worth the purchase price: "...the main fault line in the modern world is between networks and hierarchies."
- Perspective. Much of Mason's economic theory is beyond my undergrad macro lessons, but the idea that capitalism itself is not the status quo - that it replaced an earlier feudalistic system - was both obvious and surprising to me.
His proscription is a little less clear and, for me, less compelling than the questions he raises.
Whether we are seeing the green shoots of a wholly new sharing economy with Uber or Airbnb, or system-transformational threats in climate change or demographics, it's clear we are moving into uncharted territory.
And the political, economic and social narratives we use to describe this transition really aren't up to the task.
Hey, maybe there's a connection to what we do after all.
New technology has given capitalists the ability to adapt without innovating, by providing them with the tools to seek out new forms of value. At the same time, it has given the rest of us the ability to innovate without adapting, by allowing us to explore new lifestyles without having to think about the political implications. Something has got to give. Mason builds a wholly plausible case that the present situation is unsustainable. But what will give, and how, is not something he can tell us.