Paul Mason and postcapitalism: utopian or scientific?

Excellent takedown of Paul Mason’s much discussed piece on “post-capitalism” for The Guardian:

“If Mason is telling us that the development of the productive forces have now created the pre-conditions for a society of abundance and an end of class exploitation, then that is right but it is nothing new. It what Marx said 160 years ago.”

Michael Roberts Blog

Leftist journalist and broadcaster, Paul Mason, has a new book out at the end of this month. It’s called ‘Postcapitalism’.  I don’t have a copy but Mason has written a long article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, outlining his main arguments, http://gu.com/p/4ay9c

Mason has been a doughty publiciser of labour struggles in his journalism and also offered on occasions a more theoretical and strategic analysis of where capitalism and labour is going.  I think this book is an attempt to sum up his views.  As Mason has some influence among labour activists in Britain and internationally, it’s worth considering what he has to say.

Mason argues that capitalism is set to be replaced by ‘postcapitalism’ (not ‘socialism’, it seems). And this is for three reasons. First, there is an information revolution which is creating a society of abundance in information, making a virtually costless and labour saving economy. Second…

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Brief Note from St. Peter (Fryer, that is)

Defenders of and apologists for the capitalist system of society have as little right to speak of the freedom of the individual as they have to speak of any other freedom. Under capitalism human individuality ‘becomes at once a commercial article and the fabric in which money operates’. Capitalism ‘estranges man from nature, from himself, his own active functioning… It is the alienation of man from man.’ Capitalism stifles men’s creative spirit, condemning the majority to a life of monotony, drudgery and ugliness—to life in a cage. It puts out the eyes of the painter and cuts out the tongue from the poet who is within each one of us. It butchers human nature on the altar of the machine and calls that progress….

Peter Fryer, “Freedom of the Individual” 

Daily Roundup – “Legitimacy”

History_Charlemagne_historyofinformation“[T]he real power and authority in the kingdom lay in the hands of the chief officer of the court, the so-called Mayor of the Palace, and he was at the head of affairs. There was nothing left the King to do but to be content with his name of King, his flowing hair, and long beard, to sit on his throne and play the ruler, to give ear to the ambassadors that came from all quarters, and to dismiss them, as if on his own responsibility, in words that were, in fact, suggested to him, or even imposed upon him. He had nothing that he could call his own beyond this vain title of King and the precarious support allowed by the Mayor of the Palace in his discretion…” (Einhard: The Life of Charlemagne)

History_BoXilai_timeinc

“He relied on his populist appeal, his revolutionary bloodline, and an utter disregard for the law. He was undoubtedly corrupt, but in Chongqing, as in Dalian, he rolled out policies with something for everyone. Bo orchestrated a return to communist values, sending out mass text messages with his favorite Mao quotes. He promoted the the singing of ‘red songs’ and banned all prime-time advertising on Chongqing’s television station, encouraging its executives to run patriotic films instead. Bo’s ‘red culture’ campaign turned him into a figurehead for China’s New Left, a movement that lionizes Mao and looks to return to what adherents think of as a simpler, less corrupt era.” (“The Unraveling of Bo Xilai”)

Film_LuciferRising_fuckmiamore“[Aleister] Crowley believed the world was governed by a series of ages personified by different gods and goddesses. His own age, represented in the Western world by Jesus Christ or the Egyptian god Osiris, was coming to an end, according to Crowley. On the rise was the age of Horus, or Lucifer. Like the mythical Lucifer, angel of light, who rebelled against God and was cast down to hell, people in this new age would discover their true natures, turn against polite society, and throw the world into chaos and ugliness. After that, however, harmony would return, and Lucifer/Horus would be restored to his rightful place in heaven. There was only one rule for this new age, wrote Crowley: ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.’ That may be Crowley, but it also resembles Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming.'” (“Looking Back at Anger, or, We Always Have Paris”

Strike Report: Israel

Israeli workers have organized a walkout in what appears to be the largest strike action in half a decade. You can find a report from The New York Times here. As the article explains, this is centrally (and defensibly, though The Times would never say it, of course) a question of defending union jobs. The complexity of the situation, which involves the state using lower-paid contractual labor – including security guards (!) – as a union-busting measure on behalf of the bosses, demands that union workers raise two slogans to their defense: Organize the Unorganized & No Cops or Guards in the Union.

The central dispute is the growing use by government agencies of contract workers, especially cleaners and security guards, hired through employment agencies. Those workers earn substantially less than those represented by the Histadrut.

Strike Report: Greece

From The New York Times: Greek Workers Strike Against New Round of Austerity

With ever-increasing intensity, Greek workers are asked to pay more while earning less. Meanwhile, the bosses continue to use the threat of “a potentially catastrophic default” as their sword of Damocles against a workforce that already faces a staggering unemployment rate of 19%. The union rank and file know the score: they are presently living the catastrophe of austerity and refuse to take it on the chin any longer.