Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ illuminating and radical new book Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work is as ambitious and global as its title implies. It looks at the political left’s ‘emancipatory visions’ to date with the notion of technology as a liberating tool. It notes the changes brought about in democracy through the internet and social media giving voice to individuals around the world, but still maintains that this democracy is ‘in disrepair’.
The writers discuss the desire to ‘eliminate boring or demeaning work’ and provide an environmentally sustainable alternative. It outlines the current state of capitalism where poverty worsens whilst corporate profits rise, despite the economic crises. It is explained how radicality has been suppressed and forced into the arena of what they call ‘folk politics’. They criticise this as being satisfied with the tokenism of local successes and having a lack of clarity in terms of aims and intentions.
They argue the impossibility of personal politics having success, with its actions merely absorbed by global capitalism – OUCH! They admit that the left has become marginalised and ineffective with gains in feminist, anti-racist and queer issues not fully radical in terms of the original demands. The most interesting section for me was the description of the anarchist movement, the notion that we can ‘change the world without taking power’.
The authors have some great analysis of Kropotkin and Bakunin’s strategies used by the likes of the Occupy movement, a cypher for solidarity if ever there was one. But does the ‘small is beautiful’ still stand in the face of ‘global neoliberalism’? They even go on to name a chapter ‘Resistance is Futile’ though clearly that is not their actual position.
Where the book gets really tough-going to read, though still interesting, is its examination of the future and I’d recommend you do read through this though for me it was too technical and my economics theory failed me. Even better attend the talk on Friday and I’m sure some of this will be put more in layman’s terms.
‘Postcapitalism and a World Without Work – A talk with Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams and others’ is on Friday 13th at 1 in 12 Club, Bradford. See here for more info. The book is published by Verso at £12.99.