'Postcapitalism': the collaborative economy as a model

 the collaborative economy as a model

Growth in the West will be weak in the next 50 years. Inequality will increase by 40%. And the dynamism of the developing countries will end around 2060. They are not forecasts of any enemy of the system, but of the OECD itself, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Even if they do not express it that way, says Paul Mason , economic editor of Channel 4, the golden age of capitalism in the developed world has come to an end.

And the most obvious outlets are either a scenario in which the elites cling to privilege and impose the cost of the crisis on the workers for decades, making growth impossible, or the radical left and right come to power because the people refuses to pay for austerity. The states struggle among themselves to bear the costs of the crisis and globalization collapses as in 1930. To the cake must be added climate change and the aging of the population. For Mason, there is still another way out: he has just published Postcapitalismo ( Paidós), where he affirms that the current crisis not only announces the end of neoliberalism but that new information technologies are no longer compatible with current capitalism because “in conditions of competitiveness and free market, the price of something that costs nothing to reproduce should be close to zero. ” It is no longer a utopia to think about replacing capitalism, he says, and sees basic forms of a post-capitalist economy in the current system, such as the great boom of collaborative production.

Wikipedia – which deprives advertising companies of $ 3 billion in annual revenue – parallel currencies, time banks, cooperatives and self-managed spaces have proliferated after the crisis of 2008. But they will not be, he says, a Mere survival mechanism, but a new way of life. A cooperative, collaborative, shared model with new forms of ownership, loans and legal contracts that States must promote. The main contradiction at the moment, he stresses, is that which confronts the possibility of free and abundant goods and information with a system of monopolies, banks and governments committed to maintaining the private, scarce and commercial nature of things. It is the struggle between the network and the hierarchy and the State, he says, “must activate, enable networks”.

Because the situation is bad. “When interest rates approach zero or are below zero, capitalism is working the other way around. Neoliberalism has a beginning and an end. And the end is with us. We have been in survival strategy for eight years, “he says. And the signals do not improve. “If the potential of the technological sector allowed in a few years a capitalism of high welfare, growth and wages,” he assumes, the market failures would last little. “But we have continuous relapses revived by monetary policy. The system shows that the future does not have enough value to justify the price of many shares. Even Google’s capitalization may not be sustainable because of the real value produced by an information economy. “

Today, he recalls, “large numbers of jobs are susceptible to being automated, not by robotization but by artificial intelligence. Digital systems will reproduce physicists and we can not create enough jobs to replace them. Oxford suggests 47% of automated US jobs in 30 years. It will not happen because we are afraid of the consequences and we create millions of useless jobs, garbage, and many of those who make them know that they are. The revolution of automation must happen but a big change is needed. A basic income for all is essential “.

Because infocapitalism, the capitalism of existing information

Because infocapitalism, the capitalism of existing information

does not work. “We would need new technologies that create high-value work, high wages and consumption and demand for expensive things, but information technology can not achieve this, what it gets, abandoned to its fate, is a small wage earner, a great precarious and the microcommerce of human services, like Uber. It is not the third industrial revolution, it is regressive capitalism and it will not respond to the fiscal crisis of the State: it creates a labor force that barely generates taxes. Anyway it is curious that just as there is a demand for precarious microtrages there is also an offer, many of them are doing well, a sign that work is no longer at the center of their lives “.

In fact, in the new society there will be little work and information will seek to be free. And the information soaks everything, not only what is on the internet. “Now we can automate not only the production, but the design. Produce more skillful machines than us. Tell them that I need such a tool for that and that the computer designs it. That invasion of information into physical things means that the effect of zero marginal cost can overwhelm large parts of physical production. In the end we will be left with an economy of energy and raw materials. And energy can easily be brought to zero cost with renewables. If that happens we will rethink how we use raw materials. Not in an extensive, wasteful way, but producing products as durable as possible. And 100% recyclable. And that will mean abundance. “

There will be, says, a long period where state, market and non-market will interact. “Today the post-capitalist sector is often parasitic on the market. To write Wikipedia pages you need free time and a salary. But a point of inflection will come, the emergence of activities of the post-capitalist type, with psychological well-being, pleasure, the feeling of being in a team, will outweigh the monetary incentives. Many theater actors already do it. They roll an ad to pay the rent and then they do a lot of work for free or almost, collaborative, with people they like. Many people are already prepared for this life in a society where they say ‘have an MBA, a job, work like crazy, run, run’. Not everyone has bought it. “

It is not a utopia, although a futurologist who spends the day advising governments to prepare their countries for the transitions that lie ahead. And Jeremy Rifkin announced in 2014 in his book The society of marginal marginal cost that capitalism will begin its decline in the coming decades and will be largely replaced by another paradigm: the collaborative pro-commons. An economy where social capital will be much more important than financial, sharing more important than competing, markets will lose ground before the networks to which billions of people and things are connected and consumers will become manufacturers of their energy and goods, in prosumers.

The boom of low-cost renewable energy that every citizen can have on their roof will facilitate the internet of things, which will be connected with sensors all objects and energy that occurs, optimizing their distribution and use. Achieving enormous productivity increases that will make many areas of the economy have marginal costs -which costs to produce one more unit of product- close to zero, as is already happening in the entertainment and communication industry. Capitalism will be a complement in the areas in which the marginal costs continue to be notable. Society will be less materialistic and the idea that the value of a human being is measured by its level of production of goods will be primitive.

The father of the term liquid modernity – a society in which the solid values ​​of the first modernity, religion, family, a couple or a life-long job, have disintegrated – has just published the book State of crisis (Paidós ) and to participate in the documentary In the same boat (In the same boat), by Rudy Gnutti, next release. And it is clear that the world of employment has changed and that is why we have to separate employment from survival. “30 or 40 years ago in the so-called developed countries, total employment was promised. The word ‘unemployed’ stressed that this was outside the norm. Today in the Anglo-Saxon countries the word redundant, redundant is used. It is a verdict in the labor market. They are useless people, a problem of law and order rather than social. “

Not only are jobs relocated to the Third World. Add to that the computerization of everything. “If it has not spread more, it is because there are poor countries where work is even cheaper. When it is more expensive, it will be completed. Also that of intellectual work. So we are on the verge of a new world and the only possibility we have left in it is to cut the connection between employment and means of subsistence. That the income of the society be divided so that all are kept alive. The robotization of hard work is a blessing. But something must be done with the current mechanisms of society to make it livable. “




In the race against the machine (Antoni Bosch editor) MIT researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew Mcafee (pictured) stated that employment prospects are bad for many people because men and institutions do not run far enough in the face of a digital revolution accelerated Increase productivity, but workers whose skills have been incorporated into computers have little to offer and see how their salaries are reduced. It is necessary to change structures and institutions so that people do not fall behind in the race.

In the most recent The second machine age (The second era of the machine) they have retaken the subject. In the first machine age productivity, employment and average income grew together, they say. Now productivity is detached from jobs and income. Kodak had 145,000 workers. Instagram 4,600. It is in the nature of the digital economy, they say, that goods and services are provided at the same time to an infinite number of buyers at a price close to zero. They are optimistic because they believe that we are on the verge of an explosion of wealth creation by the digital revolution, but they know that the profits will be for the consumers and for those who create and finance the machines. Workers should be given the skills to work not against but next to the new intelligent machines.




Is the middle class, the base of democracy and consumer societies of the twentieth century over? Does globalization, digital technologies and ideology lead to a world like that of the British series of masters and servants but with smart computers everywhere? For Professor of Economics Tyler Cowen, author of The middle class is over, yes. There will be a growing gap. The increasing productivity of intelligent machines creates strong imbalances between sectors -now an iPhone is more powerful than any computer of 1985, but the planes remain the same- and make that if your knowledge complements the computer, your salary prospects are good; If not, better correct the lag. The benefits of intelligent machines go to what is lacking: resource owners, giants like Apple and talented workers. And the executives who hire them. The man-machine teams will revolutionize the economy, medicine and science. Companies will be able to evaluate the economic performance of each worker with oppressive precision: there will be hypermeritocracy. And a great growth of employment in personal services: servants, drivers, gardeners. And people who offer experiences to the rich, who will be between 10% and 15% of the citizenship. Much of the rest will have stagnant or shrinking salaries, although with more opportunities for cheap entertainment and education.

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