Paul Mason: “PostCapitalism” | Talks at Google

Paul Mason: “PostCapitalism” | Talks at Google

let me first of all say thank you for inviting me. And I do feel honored
to be particularly in this part of
Google’s operations. I use your products
probably once a minute. When me and Peter
were working together, our success metrics were
things like something called BARB, which is a
sort of theoretical thing that tells you how many
people have watched you on TV. My success metrics, I
know how many people watch my YouTube videos. And that’s only in
the space of 10 years. So, yeah. Thank you. And I’ll just consult my
iPhone for the next bit of what I’m about to say. So in my book,
there’s a big critique of what we call
neoliberalism, free market economics, the current
model of capitalism. I’m going to cut to the
chase and skip that over, because I think what I
wanted to say to you is have a conversation with
you about the more core idea of the book, which is
the other bit of it, which is the idea that
we may be entering a transition beyond what
we know as capitalism. And that this transition is
primarily driven by technology. And I want to kind of sort of
explain what I mean by that and get your feedback
on it, and maybe have a discussion with Peter
and with yourselves about it. So there’s been lots of people
before me posing the question, can capitalism survive? Will it one day run out? Will it– are
there limits to it? Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill,
Karl Marx, David Ricardo, the great economists
of the 19th century all were obsessed
with the problem that capitalism–
Malthus as well, the population specialist,
obsessed with the idea that capitalism might
one day reach its limits. But the reason we
haven’t for 150 years tended to worry about that is
because whenever it has reached limits, whenever specific
societal business models have reached a limit or an impasse,
what has generally happened is that capitalism has adapted. And therefore, when I first–
when I went to university, the theory of complex
systems didn’t exist, OK? In the late 1970s, it
was in its infancy. But now I think we have
a really niche label to be able to talk
about capitalism as a 250-year-old
industrial system and it is a complex,
adaptive system. Which hopefully as
engineers, some of you have knowledge of that
concept, that systems can be complex and adapt. Now in other words,
I’m not saying, hey, capitalism’s doomed simply
because it has contradictions. I’m saying that capitalism
might be about to transition to something else because it
has lost its ability to adapt. And why might it have
lost its ability to adapt? The answer is to do with the
specific nature of information technology. Now before we go
into that, let’s just examine the ways in
which capitalism has adapted. OK, I’m told you’re
mainly engineers, so that may mean some of you
have not a massive groaning in social and economic history. But the sort of 101
version is this. About every 50 years, the
societal business model hits a buffer, hits a problem. And what we tend to observe
is a fairly rapid mutation of a system. New social institutions,
new mixture of industry, finance, services, consumption. The classic one is in the 1840s
where the railways arrived to take over from an initial
spurt of development that was fueled by the rise
of the factory system alongside canals. You get railways. And then in the
1890s, you get what we call the second Industrial
Revolution, this fusion of electrical engineering,
of material science, of big infrastructure. Iron is replaced by steel. The telegraph is
replaced by telephones, et cetera, et cetera. And then in World War II, we
get this other adaptation, this huge synthesis of
new– a new synthesis between technology,
consumption, et cetera. One of the things
we observe when we look at social historians,
at these moments of mutation and big change in capitalism,
is that there’s nearly always, when something goes wrong,
the knee-jerk reaction is nearly always for the
elite to try and solve it through pressure on wages,
pressure on consumption. Basically just cuts everybody’s
wages and carry on as normal. And usually, up to
now what’s happened is that that hasn’t worked
because workers resisted. The 1880s and ’90s are
a brilliant example of this from social history. But this time, it didn’t happen
because the specific solution that was adopted when the
old Keynesian economics of the 1970s and ’80s fell apart
was what we call neoliberalism. That is, a free market system
in which wages were more or less strategically suppressed. So any Americans
here may know that the median hourly male wage in
America was the same in 2008 as it was in 1973. So lower was much worse,
higher was much better. And this is a problem,
because it means– and this is the kind
of clue number one why we might be
facing strategic, big 200-year long kind
of epochal change– is that if you get a situation
where capitalism is in trouble and it adapts through
suppressing wages, then what it
eventually does is it finds another solution
to consumption, and that is credit. So since about the 1990s,
we have a situation where wages are suppressed
for the mass of people, and yet credit is very,
very much more available than it ever was. What happens there
is it’s almost like a law of physics, some of
your physicians in the room. That laws of physics,
but it’s economic, that if you’ve got static
incomes and ever-expanding credit, that at some point,
the kind of wine collections and the art collections and the
luxury apartments at Vauxhall Bridge cannot go on rising in
value, and they just snap back. We call that a boom-bust cycle. And we’ve lived through
three in 15 years. So this is a signal
that something might be wrong with
the economics that is not being actually
solved by the technology. It’s not being solved by the
creation of new, high value, high wage, high sort
of well being synthesis of the kind you got in the 10
to 15 years before World War I. OK. Now here’s my explanation,
drawn on the work of others, of why that might be happening. Because information technology
is different in the three following ways. First of all, it is corroding
the price mechanism. An economist call
Paul Romer in 1990 wrote a paper that has gone
down in history for its title, because a British
politician Ed [INAUDIBLE] once tried to quote
it in Parliament. It’s called “Endogenous
Technological Change.” But the 101 warm
version of it is that if you can– if the
reproduction cost of something is dictated by the actions
Command-C, Command-V, then economics tells you that
its price should fall to zero, or close to zero. Because you’re using zero
energy, or almost no energy, almost no labor, and
almost no materials. We’ll come to how much
material, energy, and labor you’re using in a minute. But if you can copy something
for free, then economics, mainstream, non-market,
Marxist economics tells you that
its price is going to be close to zero under
conditions of competition. This is what Romer says. Also about information
goods is they are what economists call non-rival. So if you smoke one
inch of a cigarette, I can’t smoke that one inch. I can smoke the next
inch, especially if it’s one of those
cigarettes that you share. But I can’t smoke
the same inch as you. It’s a rival good. Not true of an MP3 track. Not true of the database
that builds a Boeing 787. You can copy it and use it at
the exact same time for free. Now Romer said in this
situation, the only thing that keeps the price
mechanism– i.e., things cost more than zero–
is if you artificially create scarcity. Because information
is now abundant. It’s unlike all other goods. Obviously, there
are limits to it. The limits are
storage and bandwidth. But information is
essentially abundant, as far as most people are concerned. And so what you do to
maintain any kind of price is you create artificial
restrictions on it, using either a widget. You remember DVDs. You couldn’t copy
a DVD because there was a widget inside the
protected software that takes 13-year-olds about
10 seconds to break, but nevertheless, it’s there. Or you get a good
lawyer, and you arrest every person
in the car park at the supermarket going
around with fake DVDs, and you sue the pants off
everybody who tries to copy. You’d shut down
BitTorrent, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Now you can do that. But essentially, the good
itself is replicable for free. The next thing
information does– and you will be very,
very aware of this. Some of the audiences I
speak to are just, oh, wow. Is it? But information dealings
work from wages. Information blurs
the distinction between work and non-work,
or what we used to call life. And it de-links work
hours from wages. So my dad’s generation,
they turn up at a factory. If you’re not there
on the production line cranking the screw here, I
can’t tweak the nut here. So you and me have to
turn up at the same time, and the work is sequential. It goes past. Best to give us both
a little card, clock into a machine that
goes clunk, and pay is when we arrive, and stop
paying us when we leave. That’s work– that’s
capitalist work. Your work is different. I mean, when I tell people about
the white board and the yellow Post-it notes who are not
in the world you’re in, they don’t– they go, wow, really? Do people work like that? But you will know the modular
basis of most information work. You pick up the
bit of the project, you work with it for a bit,
you put the Post-it note back and you record your work. Somebody else can
take it, pick it up. Modular work allows very,
very easily distributed and networked forms
of organization. But it really challenges,
what are we being paid for? So my common experience
like some of you is you get on a
plane to Brussels, you try and keep your
elbows away from the person next to you, you try
and do a bit of work. If it was a factory,
it would be closed down on health and safety grounds,
the kind of morning flight to Brussels. But we are actually all working. Nobody asked us, what
time did you start work? Nobody really cares if
I flip to the latest episode of “Game
of Thrones” when I get sick of my spreadsheet. Because we work at a
target, not to time. And that in itself
is quite interesting, because it means at
the higher level, we’re all target-based
rather than time-based. And at the lower
level, we’re tending to create jobs in a
lot of societies that almost don’t need to exist. We could be automating a
lot of work a lot faster, but the societal
limits to it, our fear of creating– the Oxford Martin
Institute says 47% of all jobs are automatable within 30
years– our fear of doing it means we don’t do
it, and we instead create lots of
person-to-person jobs at very, very low value that
probably don’t need to exist. The first time I walked
into a McDonald’s where you could touch screen and undo
your order on a touch screen and then swipe your
card, I mentally cheered. Because it’s no fun
being one of those people behind the counter. It’s no fun standing
in the queues going, am I being served
or not being served? Is she serving me or not? The whole thing is automatable. Who knew? When I first got a
car, we used to put it in something called a car wash. It was a machine. You know, you put your coin
in and the thing came over you and washed your car. Who knew that eight
guys with rags could undercut that machine? They undercut it because
labor is so cheap. In other words, we’re
not forced to innovate. So that’s the second thing. Work and wages. And the third thing that
flows on from the modularity is that organizations and
hierarchies and ownerships are beginning to
fragment as well. So you know that many
people in your space, also in the open source
space, will literally be working in no managed–
no managed hierarchies. They’ll be working in
very flat hierarchies. They’ll be working
sometimes non-managed. And in some
organizations, the product is produced in a
non-managed way. Wikipedia is a great
example, because nobody tells some professor
sitting in Seattle or wherever to do a
page about Napoleon. They just do it. The organization facilitates
the voluntary creation of a product. But you can see,
those of you who use open source tools
will know that, in fact, that way of working,
it’s not like somebody sitting in the middle
of a committee. There is a committee
on TCP/IP isn’t there? There’s a committee
that looks after it. But that committee doesn’t
tell people how to improve it. It just improves itself
through interaction of people who use it and
make improvements to it. Ruby on Rails, et cetera. So these three things, the
price mechanism dissolving, the link between work
and wages dissolving, and then organizations and
hierarchies– organizations and hierarchies being
decentralized, falling apart, and the ownership of
things not being clear. So who owns Wikipedia? Well, you know, technically
probably Jimmy Wales probably owns it. But it is an open source
product with which every other
corporation on Earth, if you trace their IP addresses,
transacts every day, probably every minute. This is very new in the
history of capitalism. So the price fall thing is
the most important thing. Why? Because it doesn’t
just impact on– it doesn’t just impact
on information goods, on virtual things. I kind of rebel against the word
cyber, immaterial, and virtual. Because as the Oxford
professor of philosophy, Luciano Floridi tells us,
information is physical. Those of use who have
studied cybernetics know about Norbert Wiener, the
founder of cybernetics in 1948 writes, “information is
neither mass nor energy.” It is something
new, and materialism has to adjust for that. I disagree with that,
and Floridi does as well. I say information
has its own dynamic separate to mass and energy. Of course, funnily enough,
the laws of that dynamic are weirdly mappable onto
the laws of thermodynamics. But leave that aside. But it needs mass and
energy for representation. And therefore, it exists
in the physical world. And that’s what explains
any physical good that is heavily dependent on
an information content is also very susceptible to
this exponential price fall that is inherent in the idea of
information costs nothing to reproduce. So you will know that
if I add PowerPoint, the price of bandwidth,
processing power, and storage is all over a 15-year
period exponentially off a cliff like that. Deloitte, the
consultancy, believes– I don’t know whether
this is true– believes that that exponentially
will just carry on. They call them
exponential technologies. And it means that we’ve
never lived through. My dad’s generation, my
granddad’s generation, industrial workers in factories
never lived through a period when a technology fell off
a cliff in price terms. And how do we know
that it’s important? Because it’s also affecting
things like DNA sequencing. The exponential curve of
DNA sequencing price fall is faster than Moore’s law. It’s actually,
bang, off a cliff. If you thought your kids
would make a big living, a high value living sequencing
DNA, no, they won’t. What do we call it? Synthesizing DNA, yes,
because that’s a lot harder. But eventually, information
will– technology will develop to a point where
we can do that exponentially faster and cheaper as well. So what happens, what’s
capitalism doing? How is it changing to defend
itself against these problems? Well, you’re sitting in one
of the defense mechanisms. The evolution of the
large technology company, which exists one way
or another– I’ll put it simply like this–
to create a barrier around some information products
whereby that price does not fall to zero. Now your one is quite
an interesting one. We can talk about the
interesting way it has adapted. I’m a fan of it. But let me give
you a good example. 99p a track on iTunes. What determines that price? Supply? No. The supply is infinite. Demand? No. The demand might be
infinite, actually. We don’t care what
the demand is. Quality? No. The same track by some
bog standard group is the same as a classic–
rock classic, 99p. It’s determined by
the fact that Apple has a 95% share at
the time I start writing this book of
online digital music, that which is paid for. They can dictate the price. That’s the defense mechanism. Of course, then you
create technologies that you have to use. It’s easier to use
certain technologies that help you maintain that price. Now economics says
that the moment that is– the moment that
monopoly is subjected to effective competition,
price should fall. And there’s a website
called Information is Beautiful who have logged
the impact of competition. Because right now, to make
the minimum wage in the USA, a solo artist signed
to a record label will have to get 1,500 plays
on iTunes of a single track to make the minimum wage. On Spotify, it’s 1.1 million. So the price– the
impact of competition has collapsed– tell me what
power of 10 that is– it’s collapsed the price. Right. Now to cut to the
chase, there’s that. There’s the tech monopolies. There is the fact that
we’ve actually begun to, as well, as human beings, I
would argue, live and create value and create our own social
image much more outside work than my dad’s generation did. You all know that
workers for 200 years thought of themselves as kind
of communities and factories. Now through network
technology, we create several personalities,
and we live in networks. We live far more in networks. We are leaky in the terms
of our personalities, ourselves in a way that
previous generations didn’t do. And at the edges,
we are beginning to see new forms of
economic production. So all the open source stuff
is a new form of economic life. It doesn’t map onto the state,
the market, the public library. It’s different. And I argue that
we might therefore be in the beginning
of a long transition whereby the state which we know,
which provides maybe 30% to 40% of GDP through providing
essential services, the private sector, which has
provided the rest, and then this new non-market,
difficult to price, free stuff and voluntary
incorporation sector is growing up alongside it. What’s the problem? What’s the problem for me, if
you use Ruby on Rails or PHP or whatever, it’s not
a problem for you. Problem for me as an economist
is, how do I value it? There’s a brilliant
tool called CATIA, which is used to virtually
manufacture aircraft. If you look at the small
print in Dessau– Dessau systems owns this software. It’s about 25,000
a head, a desk. It’s a really top-end software. And then the small print of
their annual report it says, what’s the main risk
to this company? It says, the main
risk to this company is that somebody works
out how to copy and paste the program CATIA 3.0. Because if they can do that,
then the value of this company falls from there to there. So economics just
doesn’t know how to value or understand this
third post-capitalist sector. And the challenge for us is to
work out what to do about it, and whether or not
it’s a good thing. I did a debate about this
book a couple of weeks ago with one of Jeremy
Corbyn’s advisers. And a developer from
the open source world stood up– it was in
St. Paul’s Cathedral– and said, well, what should–
what should happen to me then? Should I be paid wages for
developing an open source product? And I said, no, because
that’s postcapitalism. The point is, I write
my Wikipedia page. I’m going to make a
documentary and put it out for free, crowdfunded on
Indiegogo because I believe in this. I go to an organic farm
because I believe in it. And I want part of my
life to be non-capitalist. And this Corbyn
adviser said, no, no. You should be paid wages. And in other words, they
wanted to drag him back into the wage sector
because they just couldn’t understand what
this new sector could become. I would like to expand that
new sector for this reason. I once interviewed Larry Page
and Sergey Brin before the IPO. And I said to them, what
is your remaining ambition? And like they said, I’d like
to design a machine that knows everything. At which point
there was this kind of massive jaw drop
among kind of all people who were sitting around,
because they all wanted to talk about computer stuff. I want to design a machine
that knows everything. Well, there’s an
economist called Ken Arrow who was once the
guru of economics in the 1960s. He was one of the
first people to think about intellectual property. We used to think
intellectual property was like a public library. We used to think information
was like a public library. It was a public good
like a water system. You turn on and off,
[INAUDIBLE] it’s just there. In the ’60s we realized
it wasn’t that, and we needed to economically
classify it and understand it. And Ken Arrow came up with one
of the neatest descriptions of what information property,
information– owned information does. He says this. In a free market and
with private ownership, if entrepreneurs
produced patents and intellectual property, then
the aim is for it to be scarce. Therefore, in a free market
with private property, an intellectual
information economy will lead to the under– the
systematic underutilization of information. Now I would like
to see a society where there is the
systematic full utilization of information. And therefore, what I
argue is that you probably can’t have private property in
a free market in information. And it’s the property bit
that I would like to attack. The market bit is good. It sorts out the information. It’s the property bit. In other words, some
of it should be free. It wants to be free. It should be free. And so what I would
say to Larry Page now– I wish I’d thought
of it then– but what I would say to him if I ever
met him again is you can’t have that machine that
knows everything, that even this thing
that you guys work on, which is a machine that is
trying to know a heck of a lot, it can’t know everything
for this reason. You can ask it any
question you want, but I can’t ask it all
the questions I want, and therefore you don’t
know what my questions are. I can only ask it
the dumb questions that I ask via the interface,
whereas if it was open source, we could all ask
it every question. And then your machine would
know everything far quicker than it’s going to
at the current rate. I don’t know what that means
for the commercial model, but it means that if we all
open sourced more stuff, then the leading edge of that which
is not ownable, not– rather, that is ownable, that has
ultra value, that is innovative would be far more identifiable. And we’d all have a far
more equitable relationship with that which
should be shared, which I think is far more than
is currently being shared. That’s it. Great. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] MALE SPEAKER: Just a few
things to pick up on there. Eric Schmidt, he famously
said, Google is a [INAUDIBLE] decapitalistic company. So what does
postcapitalism selflishly mean for Google, and
what do you think it should mean for Google? PAUL MASON: OK, look. I think there was a phase
in Google’s history, and we recovered it. I watched it go from
a good idea to one of the most important
corporations in the world where you had to say, look. We have to decide that
which is capitalist and that which is
not capitalist. You could rationalize
the 80:20 principle, and completely capitalistically,
you probably do know. But there are
non-capitalist ways of even rationalizing that. However, for future-proofing
a giant tech monopoly, I think what you
have to understand is that this process of the
price mechanism dissolving is probably happening. It’s like Wile E. Coyote. It’s happening
beneath your feet, even if you’re running
along horizontally. The price of stuff,
of information stuff, is going to fall more rapidly
than I think people understand. So future– easy to
say, future-proof iTunes by becoming Spotify, because
you’re just not going carry on being able to charge
99p, bom, bom, bom, bom. Future-proof HBO by
becoming Netflix. It’s kind of, move to
a quasi-sharing thing, even if you’re still charging. But I don’t think even
that’s going to last. Clay Christensen,
who’s the guy who invented the idea of
disruptive technology, always points out that
BlackBerry just could not last. Despite having a cast iron
infotech and defensible IP monopoly, it just disappeared. So you’ve always got to
be asking yourself, not, how do we stop ourselves–
how do we keep BlackBerry being the only smartphone? You can’t. It’s not going to be. So you just have
to ask yourself, what does the corporation
do as one monopoly after another kind of
falls away from us? And I think you are. That’s, I mean, that’s what’s
behind– clearly, to me, behind– MALE SPEAKER: Popular
rather than monopoly. But– PAUL MASON: I know you
don’t like monopoly. MALE SPEAKER: So get ready
for questions in the room. There’s just one question I
want to ask you before that, which is about Karl Marx. And there’s a
fascinating passage where you pick up on a
sort of lost document that Karl Marx
wrote in 1850 where he kind of predicted this. And there’s a quote, which
I’ve picked out, which is, “capital collapses because it
cannot exist alongside shared knowledge.” PAUL MASON: Yeah. So it’s an amazing
document, “The Fragment–” it’s called “The
Fragment on Machines.” And it wasn’t discovered by me. It was actually
really popularized by a guy called Antonio
Negri who is now well known for his work on the “Multitude”
and kind of far left of Italian– he was
even more far left then. But Negri and the Italian
autonomous Marxists discovered this text. And what they
recognized is there’s a completely other
collapsed story in there than there is in the normal
Marxism of “Das Kapital,” which is all about the clash between
private ownership and equitable distribution, effectively. So in “The Fragment” he
basically says, look. What we’re getting is
a kind of technology where all its effectiveness and
productivity derives from what he called social knowledge. That is, he’d
observe telegraphers. Telegraphers don’t just work
with a kind of a switch. The machine is all
the telegraphers. In other words, it’s
an early network. You could probably look
at early railway networks and identify some early
features of network rather than simply
hierarchy in them. But Marx is saying, what
this is going to lead to is when all the innovative
power of society is concentrated at
the level of ideas, then the private
property side of things is going to fall apart. And in an amazing leap– he
calls it the general intellect. When there is a
general intellect, you can’t have private property. But in an amazing leap, he then
does this thought experiment. He says, right. What would the ideal
machine be for capitalism? And he says, it would be a
machine that costs nothing to make and lasts forever. Because he says then,
then everything it does is beneficial. And everything it does draws
down to social knowledge. And it costs nothing to do. I mean, in other words, I think
software is a machine that costs nothing to reproduce
and would last forever if you wanted it to. It only becomes
obsolete– it could last– I’m sure that there’s
a version of Windows 3 sitting on a crappy old
laptop in my loft somewhere. If I fired it up– I’ve got
a Mac that I can fire up and it’s still got– from 1984. It still works. So it’s kind of–
it’s the idea– and the problem is because he
wrote it at 4:00 AM in 1858, and then he never published it. And therefore, everybody
forget about it. But it’s a fascinating
sort of insight into some of the
problems we are facing. MALE SPEAKER: Right. Your questions. And please wait for the
microphone to come to you. AUDIENCE: Hi. I got the impression
that you think that interpersonal
bandwidth has increased because of distributed networks
and distributed communication. But isn’t it much more true
that it’s massively decreased? Because now we are communicating
through distributed networks based on text and video
very asynchronously rather than face
to face as we’re doing now with our
massive bandwidth of all of the [INAUDIBLE] ability
to read each other. And so effective
social media is not to increase important
information distribution. It’s to decrease the ability
of the workers to organize. PAUL MASON: Well, I think
there’s loads of concepts there, and my brain’s struggling
to unpack some of them. But let me– I think it was
the novelist Thomas Pynchon who in 1967 in the novel
“Gravity’s Rainbow” actually said bandwidth
increases in inverse proportion to density. About people. In other words– let me tell
you what that means to me. As a result of the
information revolution, I feel a denser person
and a more– I mean, denser and a richer person,
and a more connected person. And I feel that I’m able to
bring– to upload knowledge, use it, and download
knowledge in a way that I couldn’t before
the information age. Literally, my brain is a
product of this transition. And things that I
would have had to spend years analogally learning to
remember, I now don’t have to. So I think that makes
me a more richer person. But I do buy the idea that
we now have weak ties. We have what the
sociologist Richard Sennett has called weak ties. But the weak– in a
network, the weak ties can provide collective strength. AUDIENCE: OK. I would say that personally,
I am a much less dense person in that sense because each day
I get on a train for an hour and I stand in a metal tube
with 100 strangers, none of whom I talk to, and
everyone is on their phone, getting a much lower
bandwidth connection to the people around them. May I ask another question. PAUL MASON: Fine by me. AUDIENCE: Do you think
there is no analogy at all between open source software
and pre-enclosure [INAUDIBLE]. PAUL MASON: Yep. I do think there is. So I don’t use the word
commons, because I think– because the commons is an
overused thing in the world that I’m talking about, in
the sense that I want to try and– the commons were
part of feudalism. This is what people
don’t understand. That a common was a forest. And the point– the free stuff
you got from it was firewood. Which if you think about
being a peasant, that’s quite important. Otherwise you don’t eat, right? It then said, you can’t
chop the king’s trees down, which everywhere else except
the commons, that was true. You starve. So the commons is a
key part of feudalism. Then Shakespeare,
where do people go when they want to
dream and be free? They always go to a forest. In other words, it has that
mythic and almost functional role in feudalism. The commons in
capitalism can’t exist. It’s inimical to them. In postcapitalism, you have to
promote that which is common. But what I’m wary
of is the obsession with specific forms of
peer-to-peer, quite low level stuff. I think that we’ll have
different ranges of stuff, things we produce,
some of which will be common like
common, some of which will be kind of a
negotiated sharing. Creative Commons license isn’t
really a common in that sense. I’ve published
Creative Commons stuff, and I’m rigorously sticking
those little extra bits on it so that my rivals can’t copy it. And I mean, Creative Commons is
a negotiated common rather than a flat freedom. But we could talk a
lot more about this. Do you want– AUDIENCE: I have a
question over here. PAUL MASON: Yeah. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. Right. So you may feel this is a
fad, but you come across as quite Marxist, really. And the best thing about
Marx is always the analysis in the peak of capitalism. But he also talks about power
structures and the dynamics and the society trying
to better [INAUDIBLE]. So my question to
you is, do you think that the pressures on
price you describe, which were analogous to some
things which were happening in the 19th century
with mass production, are going to result in the
world evolving nationally to postcapitalism? In other words, do
you basically think that market mechanism works,
and Spotify will conquer Apple, and then whatever comes
next will conquer Spotify? Or do you think there’s an
issue about how we get there? And if there is an issue
about how we get there, how do you resolve that? PAUL MASON: I’d certainly think
there is an issue about how we get there. I certainly think
that– that there are– that there are both
political and economic mechanisms. Because your own company–
and it’s not alone in the tech sphere–
will spend a lot of money going to Brussels
and to Washington, DC to lobby for less regulation
on a specific sector, OK? Now I would like
to regulate some of the tech monopolies not
so much out of existence, but to be non-monopolies. So you know, I would be
quite happy to have a big six insurge or a big
six in friendship provision of social media,
or big six messaging apps. I mean, there’s only–
there’s two or three. I think that regulation doing
its job in the kind of Theodore Rooseveltian sense,
pre-1914, should be promoting a lot more competition. And don’t buy the idea that we
need a big one in each sector to achieve scale and
to achieve efficiency. So I would do that. And I would also then look at
the– the problem we have is that’s a second order problem. The first order problem
we have is we’ve got an elite in the world that’s
addicted to low wage, low value creation. You don’t work in a low
wage, low value world. But I’ll tell you that
basically, a lot of– there’s a huge incentive to create
low value businesses and not innovate. You can innovate in the world
of coffee shop logo design. Yeah? That’s the maximum innovation. Or how to get the
nicest high vis jackets for your semi-slave
construction workers. That’s where innovation
is taking place. And I want innovation
to take place that wipes those jobs
out and replaces them with a more equitable
distribution of work and money, not through the wages system. But, yeah. There’s a massive
obstacle to it. And what I’ve tried
to do in the book is to provide the
economic framework for having the
argument, and leave it to everybody from social
democrats in Norway or Sweden right through to anarchists
who are kind of blockading COP 21 right now to have the debate
about what you do about it. Because I think
that the it that you want to do something
about, the transition, is not well understood. So I’ve stepped back from that
debate to try and actually have the debate across
parties, you know, and across kind
of social milieu. MALE SPEAKER: Next question. AUDIENCE: Hi. One of the things that
I wanted to throw out was that the crisis
that’s happening is a crisis of profitability. It’s not so much of [INAUDIBLE]. And the way we solved
the last crisis, which is the one
that predicated this, and it follows that
the one way that we’ll solve this [INAUDIBLE]. And the one that we
create at the moment is that there’s
one of no interest. There’s absolutely no savings. And a lack of– and
the public sector is being absolutely
removed, which will create more space for
private sector [INAUDIBLE]. We create by
destroying, and that’s the way it’s happened since the
end of the second world war. And I think that that’s
where the focus is. I’m not sure
[INAUDIBLE] technologies where the cutting edge of
where the next crisis will be or what [INAUDIBLE] will be. If there was a place where
we could go in order to work, it would be bombed. So wherever there
is the prospect of a bubble inside capitalism
that is non-capitalist, it will be closed. It will be popped. Because you said,
it’s [INAUDIBLE]. It existing is a contradiction
we cannot contest and cannot [INAUDIBLE]. PAUL MASON: Well, I think–
I see what you mean. And I think that’s
quite pessimistic. Or let’s talk about one
of the things you talked, the stagnation. The stagnation problem
is a real problem. You’re in starting your careers,
your early stage career, most of the people in this room. You’re where zero
interest rates are normal. This is bizarre. You know, that’s not capitalism. Capital is money that
makes more money. You can’t have a capitalism
where– to hold money in the bank costs you money. That’s an abnormal capitalism. The reason we have
it is because we haven’t sorted out
the debt overhang of the post-2000 situation. That’s a kind of
short order problem. I know what the
answer to that is. Write off some debts. Make some people–
make some people who have savings poorer,
unfortunately, and inflate your way out of it. That’s what you do. We can’t do it. And the Greeks tried to
just do one bit of it. And bang, like you say,
they were quite clearly heavily pressured. But I think– I’ve got
this great favorite passage from Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”
where you remember, those you who’ve seen it, where Mark
Rylance, the kind of Thomas Cromwell figure, he gets this
hapless aristocrat called Harry Percy. And he’s basically [INAUDIBLE]. And he says, look. You think– you think– this is
in 1515, whatever– you think the world is based on jousting
and castles and chivalry and feasts. I know the world is
based on banking. And I can switch– I
know this because I can switch your world off tomorrow. I don’t like you. I can take you out. You can’t take me out. Postcapitalism is about
saying, look– to capitalists– you think the world
is based on banking. You think the world is
based on private property and large monopolies, tech IP. We can switch it off. But I don’t want to do it
in a kind of aggressive way. I want to persuade people that
we should switch part of it off. And yes, exactly
to create a bubble. And some of these bubbles are
not– they’re not smashable. A lot of the anarchist networks
in Athens have this slogan. You can’t default on a squat. You can’t default
on unoccupied space. I don’t necessarily
think occupied spaces are the same as Wikipedia
or Ruby on Rails, whatever, open source projects. They’re different parts of
what the world used to make, this synthetic, new
part of the economy. And we haven’t done it yet. So I don’t know. The transition is a challenge. AUDIENCE: How do you reconcile
that with [INAUDIBLE]? Because they can close
down the [INAUDIBLE]. PAUL MASON: Yeah, they can–
as a monopoly on violence everywhere. But I’ve seen it in my
professional career. Large masses of people use
technology to overcome that. Even now, the people
who are the most expert in the
Egyptian revolution will tell you that
it’s not over. That even now when
you think it’s over, over, over, it’s not. The networks are alive. The ideas– this is what the
great thing about infotech is, that in the
information world– you’ll know this
from your work– no active imagination is
wasted because you can always record it and use it later. In the world of analog, then
kind of it’s about spontaneity and the moment’s gone. And so I think a lot of people
react to state crackdowns– like Syria. You could imagine, we
should be creating now a virtual Syrian university. In fact, you guys could do it
with your corporate weight, your Facebook, et cetera. Virtual Syrian university
that when it’s over, just basically move
from the digital space to the analog space,
lands like a spaceship, and it can start
working immediately. We couldn’t do things
like that 20 years ago. AUDIENCE: I was wondering
what your thoughts are on GMI, or basic income. PAUL MASON: Yeah. Well, I’m in favor of it. Universal basic
income, or the state as the employer
of last resort is the quick and dirty
or slow and dirty, but still nevertheless short
term answer to this problem of, how do we rapidly automate? I see it as a one-off subsidy
for rapidly automating the world. But of course, who pays? It’s the taxpayer. I’ve done a back-of-the-envelope
calculation, that to pay everybody the
same as the state pension here as of right, no means
testing whatsoever, you get it whether
you’re at work or not, six grand would double
the welfare bill. But some of the right wing
proponents of the basic income have kind of grasped some
of the economies of scale that you could do via that. That is, actually
for example, you’re going to means test people. But lots of diseases
are to do with poverty. Lots of disease. And you could basically say, OK. Well, what do we save
from that for the taxpayer by managing diseases of poverty
and mental illness, type 2 diabetes, et cetera. Stress, hypertension in
oppressed communities is very high. So if you could just take some
of the stress away from them by making them not have to worry
about where their money comes from, you could probably
save some of what it costs society that way. But look. You know, it’s not– everybody
knows about the basic income proposal, and there’s a
right wing and left wing version of it. What is amazing is no
serious politicians are prepared to [INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE: I have a
question on [INAUDIBLE]. So you talked a lot about
the copying being free, which it is. But the first copy’s
always really expensive. And you haven’t really
said, how do you motivate excellent creation. PAUL MASON: Exactly. And I think the–
so my answer to that is that those of us who create
intellectual products only have to be really– have to
really get it into our heads why we’re doing it. So I’ve written this book. It goes out as an
analog copy like this. And I’m absolutely certain
there’s a PDF of it somewhere on BitTorrent. But why do I want to do that? Because ultimately, I want to
make a statement to the world– and most authors will tell
you that hours versus income is minimum wage across lots
of branches of writing. But I know that as an
intellectual product, as an ebook, it is either
copyable or very easily– so what do I do? What do I do? Where does somebody like
me make higher value work? They make it in corporate
speaking engagements. They make it in
advice, in consultancy. That’s what’s normal. Let me put it this way. Certain key artists
don’t really care about– [LAUGHTER] –about whether their
work is pirated. Because Glastonbury
sells out in three hours. And in other words,
you move to the analog. So as creators of
intellectual property, we have to really
ask ourselves, where is the reward going to be? Now Hollywood has an answer
to this called lawyers. They would like the copyright
on James Bond’s “Diamonds are Forever” to be still in
existence when the world is atomized and become dust. It matters to them. Their contracts say all time
and forever in the universe is the copyright. So what you can do is you can
record quicker and spikier the creation. I don’t think The Beatles
wrote their music so it could be still in copyright in 2050. I think they wrote it to
meet attractive members of the opposite
sex and smoke dope. [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]
this makes sense. But if you think about
the classic examples which are always brought up in
the intellectual property field which are
lifesaving drugs, and software is the other
one, creating a new drug costs billions. And a lot of that work it
hard work and not particularly exciting and not fulfilling. The reason you’re
doing it is clear. You want to save lives
in a perfect setting. But it’s still
expensive, and you still have to reward that somehow. PAUL MASON: You do. And I would simply create a
copyright mentality that is shorter– shorter and steeper. And I think that’s doable. If you look at the different
copyrights and patent laws for IP, it goes from–
because you know the example of the generic drugs. So the HIV drugs. The Indian government basically
busted the world’s pharma companies and said, no. You’re not going
to do, no matter how talented your guys were,
no matter how long they spent in a lab and how boring it was,
this has to be deployed now. So we’re going to
produce it generically. And the pharma industry has
had to react to that, probably not in a very– in some sense,
not in a very virtuous way. Because what
they’ve had to do is pursue that form of intellectual
property, which is niche. So often, you get
pharmaceutical giants now looking for a
pipeline of products that is so niche that
you’re sometimes wondering whether or not it’s
simply designed to avoid the generic drug thing. AUDIENCE: No, I
think the way they avoid it is they go, [INAUDIBLE]
HIV drugs, they’re going, we’re not going to
research HIV drugs. We’re going to research
anti-depressants because we can sell those in the
US where it’s still protected. MALE SPEAKER: Right. It’s a niche. AUDIENCE: Yeah. And so you end up
losing a net benefit. PAUL MASON: So society
has to take that on board. And more important to
you– to your world, I think you have to take
it on board at a level a of pure information property. And I think this is what
we’re grappling with. I’d be quite happy to
see copyright– quite happy– Penguin
wouldn’t, but I’d be quite happy to see
copyright shortened for intellectual, pure
intellectual products like that. Because in the real
world, it is– I’m sorry. I don’t know how good I am. But basically, if I don’t see
that in some kind of Oxfam shop in the next year or so,
I’ll be very surprised. That’s the analog version
of the long but narrow tail of information products. So, yeah. Shorter but spikier
rewards, and recognizing that there are tactical
things that you can do, which is move to the
world of analog space. And sometimes it’s nice. Actually, the
bandwidth at a concert is high, whereas the
bandwidth with a white wire is not as high. MALE SPEAKER: Yeah,
I mean, you talked about– actually, people
laughed when you said what we need to know is life. But then we see books about
chopping wood and living in cabins, and responding
to your concern about not talking to
people on the tube. I mean, these things are sort of
bound up together, aren’t they? PAUL MASON: Well, you know,
and also about– there’s a story that isn’t mine of
a kind of famous iconic case today of a guy who
made axes in Sweden. And basically, he had a
mass production ax company, and it wasn’t going anywhere. So he went away and rethought
for a year and said, right. Well, we’ve got an ax museum,
so we’ll look at 700 axes. Because you need axes
in the Nordic country to chop your wood. It’s not just a
kind of status item. And so they designed what
they thought was a perfect ax. And so they produced it as
a kind of craft product. And that lasted two years
until a Chinese version of it turned up in their
equivalent of being cute. And so they went,
well, what can we do? So they simply, as
well as all the kind of extra bit of nice
packaging and paper and you get your individual
ax, they just said, it’s got a lifetime guarantee. When it runs out, when
it actually breaks, just bring it back. You can have one for free. And in other words,
that was a rethinking of a very physical product
in a kind of open source way, or as certainly a
quasi-open source way. And I think it’s just
a good example to me about– so you were talking
about lifestyle, life and work. It’s about thinking
about– thinking beyond the short-term
remuneration issue of work. I mean, the 80-20
thing, you know, is a good example of doing it. But I bet there are
other corporations that do it in an even
more interesting way that we haven’t heard about yet. Yeah? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. Going back to your
universal income question. How do you handle
that against a type [INAUDIBLE] primarily sort
of housing here where it’s a competitive bidding war. There’s a limited
amount of housing. So if you just increase
everyone’s income by a factor of 10, or what
happens is by next year, house prices have gone
up by five or 10– PAUL MASON: I wouldn’t
increase anybody’s income by a factor of 10. At least by a factor
of 0.1 is more like. But yeah. You know, weirdly,
even– it is weird, especially for maybe people from
beyond the British Isles, born outside the British
Isles, or young. You know, when my grandma–
she lived in a slum for the first 30
years of her life. And just before World War II,
something quite remarkable happened. The state gave her a house. They gave it to her. She didn’t buy it. That rent was minimal. And she could have it for life. Basically social housing
could be cheap or free. And actually, we know how
many people there are. We know what the
population projections are. We know what the demand
side is going to be. You could easily meet the
demand with supply and tank the market if you wanted. I don’t see that
as a big problem. I see the problem you describe
as what if everybody’s income is kind of reliable? Does it suppress competition? Because it would. You could actually–
if somebody paid me X grand a year not to
work, I’d probably work less. And the reason I
want us to think about doing that is
because don’t think there’s going to be
enough work to go around of a satisfying nature. And what’s going
to happen– there’s a lot of angst around
gender balance and ethnicity balance in work forces. And I’m glad to see
you guys have clearly put a lot of thought
into how to do that. But 20 or 30 years
down the line, you’re going to
have male be female, black be white, et cetera,
et cetera, competition over a very, very scarce
number of high value jobs. And I think we need to kind of
address that really to avoid it all being the Oxbridge
graduates who get everything. We just have to kind of think
around the problem societally. AUDIENCE: OK. So assuming before universal
income could be a thing, you would have to vastly
increase the supply of houses. Otherwise, someone’s
getting 6k a year but then basically the
rent is paying the level of [INAUDIBLE]. Your rent can be– you
can just live on, say, 500 pounds for your groceries. So I’m going to
set rent at 5,500. And increase the universal to
10 [INAUDIBLE] of the rent’s going to go up to 9,500, which
is everything you’ve got other than you need to survive. PAUL MASON: I mean, I
would just– I mean, what I’m talking
about here is not a series of short-term measures. I’m trying to design a
kind of holistic framework for how to act. And alongside it, to take the
exact specific example you use, you just do what New
York did in the ’50s. Rent control. I mean, that would– yeah, no. It would tank the
buy-to-let market. But these are short-term issues. They don’t solve the long-term
issues I’m talking about. Do we have time for– MALE SPEAKER: Time
for last questions? Yeah, one more. One more. [INAUDIBLE] Two more. Two more. PAUL MASON: You know
what, do it together. AUDIENCE: So how do you think
that the current structure of the state and the taxation
system that the state uses to fund itself need to change? Especially now when we have
people who are very highly trained who [INAUDIBLE] training
who make something at one time cost that then distributes
it everywhere for nothing. Do you need to tax them on the
redistribution of something? Or is that an impossible
thing, because the company is making no money on it? MALE SPEAKER: In the
two minutes remaining. PAUL MASON: [INAUDIBLE]. OK. I say in the book that
a basic income is only a transitional measure. Because if you– my ultimate
aim is to make as much stuff as possible abundant. And so basically,
to dissolve– it’s like taking the
complexities of the economy, drawing them on blotting paper,
and then dipping it in water. Basically, the complexities
disappear when stuff is free. You know, it’s like if I take
your ball pen off your desk, you don’t come running down to
reception saying, give it back. In a sense, once
stuff is abundant, you tend to stop
thinking about it. So that is the solution to that. But in the process, if
you’ve got a state, a market, and a non-market sector, then of
course– think of it like this. The taxes from the market
sector pays for the state. But what comes from
the non-market sector? You know, the OECD
is very clear. This non-market sector
is big physically, but we just can’t
value it economically, nor can we tax it. So you know, the
capitalist solution is to turn Wikipedia
into a corporation, make 27,000 people
micro employees, and get it to pay tax. That will be the solution. My solution will be to say
to understand that actually, what a product like
Wikipedia– or we could use other examples– is
actually creating a non-market value
through both the market sector and the state. It is like– it’s the
bit that you’ve already dipped in the water. We can’t measure
it economically, so what we have to do is
to these other two bits, to really focus on them,
the state and the market and say, hold on a minute. They’re going to be under
a long-term, strategic, century-long pressure
from this new sector, because it’s going to– it
looks like it’s sucking value. I mean, the example I give as
well is the internet of things. There’s a lot of hype
around internet of things. It’s been described as a
$9 trillion opportunity. Yeah, it is, to take $9 trillion
of value out of the economy. Because all it will do
is make things cheaper. I can’t– yes, Cisco and whoever
makes switches will make a lot of money. Whoever installs all the
smart meters in people’s homes make a lot of money. You guys have got
this app thing. I mean, you’ve got
this house thing. House energy thing. I can’t remember
what it’s called. MALE SPEAKER: Nest. PAUL MASON: Nest, yeah. I don’t use it because
my house is analog. But, yeah, you’ll make
money out of that. But ultimately,
what ILT will do is it will basically– it will
basically make things cheaper, because it’s going to
utilization of energy capacity, utilization of transport
capacity very, very efficient. So you have to ask the question,
how do we manage the transition to where this is a bigger
sector and a more virtuous relationship between what the
open source and free sector provides to the other
two sectors for free is utilized in an
efficient way, rather than being seen as
what I described it as, sucking value from it? Which is how economists would
try and– they’d say, look. People now will say, you
know, Wikipedia’s a $3 billion hole in the ad market. That’s how people look at it. Well, no. To me, it’s a great future
opportunity and virtuous thing. And I want to make
it better and more protected while controlling
the– controlling the deflation of the
other two sectors. And for the left wingers
here, the traditional left, it’s actually [INAUDIBLE]
as well, but deflation of the state sector as
well as the deflation of the market sector. But on that note– and
the caveat that everything I say as a kind of, look, as
a kind of think challenger. That’s what I’m doing here. I’m not handing down a
kind of peer reviewed, engineering certified thing. I’m offering a series
of challenging ideas. And I’m absolutely certain
that your generation of economic engineering
software, business process specialists will come
up with the solutions. I don’t have the solutions. MALE SPEAKER: Paul,
thank you very much. PAUL MASON: My pleasure. [APPLAUSE]

88 thoughts on “Paul Mason: “PostCapitalism” | Talks at Google

  1. We don´t have problem with capitalism or free markets, it has always worked better than anything else. But we do have a problem with growing government interventionism and corporativism.

    If you think zero or even negative interest rates are normal think again. Yet this is what we have today, causing huge imbalances all over the world as dollar is still the reserve currency, all starts with the FED. Overlook this fact and any other theory falls apart.

    Also it is becoming worrying that more and more academics lean into some "techno-socialist" vision of the future. Socialism will not work and technology will also not be able to solve all injustices. It is an illusion and a false direction.

  2. most drug companies spend more money on buying off congress and on advertising than research and development. The future is in stem cell and self individualized customized medicine. Big pharma also doesn't cure anything. No drug is allowed to use the word cure, other than antibiotics.

  3. if you gave everybody basic income and money, it will result in many people leaving expensive cities and go toward cheaper smaller towns. They no longer have to stay in places just for jobs. There won't be an increase in housing prices.

  4. unironically called his book "a guide to our future…"
    But the real question is: if one gets same minimal wage for being either a cashier or for getting a phd in genetics, how many people will put in the work for the second? (Not to mention tht phd guys get routinely overworked – as more "able" – under communism, and occasionally purged – as bourgeois.)
    Also, idk about song mp3s, but inventions like new processes, are basically information too; research is cost and effort dense, but to just copy it – costs nothing. If you don't own your work, how many will innovate or put in any real effort?

  5. He's right half the jobs that exist exist only for the purpose of having jobs. We produce waste only so people have a job which they dislike. Such a fucking stupid system and all because some stupid economists think that economics as we live it is a natural law.

  6. This excellent talk emphasises the intensifying collusion between big business and big government. Both pretend to offer a brighter future in return for our votes and money. The reality is we need to take back control of our own lives and spend more of our time on things we love doing, with people we like, rather than buying pointless stuff or paying tax which is subsequently wasted. Love life and find your purpose, happiness will follow.

  7. Basically he's against IP…

    Fair enough. So am I.

    So are a lot of people, including some avid free marketeers such as Bryan Caplan, David Friedman, Michael Huemer & Stephan Kinsella.

  8. There are people less privileged that know this stuff but don't get heard because they're not privileged. We're always going to hear from those who already have the attention. We need those people to RAISE the unheard so they get to share what they've experienced and know. We live in this constant dysfunctional "family" where the vulnerable never get raised and the "parent" is in "power" indefinitely. We just need to function the way nature does, which is in Direct Opposition to Crapitalism. "Profit" is an Oxymoron term. Profit really means extraction, which is unhealthy and inefficient and against nature.

  9. The whole point is for the new people being born to Replace those in "power",, Not stay in a place of arrested development their entire lives while the, so called "elite," stay in power forever. This goes against Natural Law. The people should be challenging "power" and removing them,, if society was healthy.

  10. We need to focus more on HEALTH and nature,, it's All there is,, all this "economics" terminology is double speak.

  11. Horizontal growth happens in a corporate structure to produce more volume, but past a certain point it becomes socialistic in nature,. when this is applied to the internet and information sharing it limits the effect of that network, because of the concept of gathered intelligence,
    The question really is how do we retain the growth in the networks capability while creating value, that is the point of human effort after all. The point in capitalism is to asses the value of something in the market, so say a Product like YouTube red or Spotify sets a paywall (value) limiting access (creating scarcity) and stifling growth in the network, but one could argue that access was not valued to that part of the network, and thus created efficiency as less effort was wasted,
    the advertising side however creates value in new information in the adds themselves (theoretically) and allows access freely,
    however if it was not for the restrictions placed on information by intellectual property rights creating scarcity in the first place, and a legal rubric increasing the barrier to entry the internet would be far more diversified and success would be determined by the market,
    Using the current highly regulated structure as an example of the push towards a post capitalist world shows a lack of scope.
    In the future as the power of computing grows centralized networks will disappear and p2p systems will rise making these questions irrelevant,
    Post capitalism is not really a quantitative dynamic, for exactly the reason that intellectual property rights become necessary, if everything so plentiful that it became worthless than people would cease control and reintroduce scarcity, focusing on efficiency and diversifying methods of value through innovation are going to have the most lasting effect as systems always change but innovation is time limited, and capitalism is the most innovative system that humanity has come up with yet,
    necessity is the mother of all invention.

  12. A lot of the "adaptation" in any economic system is going to be cost externalization, including the value of meaningful human existence.

  13. hi paul this is ian stacey Dj from nuneaton .tommy hunt live at nunny in april come & join us this is an open invitation as a residential dj for mark love to see you there its our 10 anniversary . 1600 tickets sold out gonna be a special night you should come old freind . ianjohnstacey @ G mail .com or utube ian stacey or g+ A True wigan niter .

  14. the [INAUDIBLE] tag in the English subtitles at 30:56 is "unconscious", in case the speech recognition system cares

  15. I cannot listen to any more of this guy's ramblings. He sounds like he needs to get out more, like he's living in the ideas inside his head from books. I have no idea what he's even trying to say. Whew….

  16. an interesting recent essay on this issue: The Discreet Charm of Economic Growth (

  17. We need new ideas a different way to run our society.Paul knows it is like a vicous cicle.Boom bust wars and then we start again.

  18. just finished reading PostCapitalism. well worth the time to gain other perspectives on how we live and how we could live. Nonetheless, I was disappointed he didn’t include animal exploitation and environmental damage caused by it. He correctly identifies many of the dangers facing humanity and writes it’s absurd that we can change from a 40,000 year old system of gender oppression, but not see the utopia of a revised economic system. Yet he doesn’t see beyond carbon damage to the bred animal pollution. Worse, he writes of automating society to free humans from work, but includes “meat-packing” machines. Should slaughter be by machine too? I like much of what he writes, but he should consider detrimental aspects of the energy and economics of animals as food… meatless eating is a solution addressing many of the issues raised in his book. Good book nonetheless.

  19. This guy is talking in riddles and never pins himself down. "Major things happen every 40 years" – that is his theory.

  20. The first questioner reacts to Mason's "..being richer and denser", by saying how can that be the case when he stands on a platform with 100 strangers all on their cell phones commuting to work.. Obviously the information age has brought with it alienation in the way migration from the country to the city did much the same, but… Mason is talking about engagement with ideas. The ideas he is engaged in appear richer and deeper, he uploads and downloads these ideas transmitting them across the network. His engagement with humans is not the same, but the engagement is just transplanted to another site: The Screen.

  21. For all you Socialists… Stop blaming the "boogey man capitalist" for your failure in life. Become a strong individualist, self improve and be a success. Sucking on the Government Tit and eating their free cheese will never improve your life. Stop being weak crying out for someone to take care of you. Grow up and be adults.

  22. Wonder what happens to economics if we just grow up and abandon the Monetary System and agree it makes sense to share. Evolution of thought ? Are we ready ?

  23. I don't understand what his point about the dramatic disparity between the number of plays a solo artist must get on a single track on iTunes and Spotify has to do with the argument that effective competition will necessarily serve to reduce prices.

  24. If by what you say about Post-capitalism is correct, can we see an adaption of the Wizard of Oz in terms of this epochal change be written some time in the future?

  25. I work an organic garden. We give food away to the local soup kitchen. The land we are using was abandoned and a notorious local fly tipping zone. I'm on benefits and I don't want to be bullied into doing something else. The only reason I even need the benefits is to pay the capitalist landlord and the community tax. I'm not gonna work to make the Barclays or Phillip Green nor any other person wealthier, especially when there are more and more people around me who aren't doing well.
    We are just gonna bypass this corporatism. It's already starting. Food is free.

  26. paul mason still trying to solve the problems the world whilst still trying to retain the use of money……got to get rid of money…

  27. Hmmm Paul applauds Google for addressing diversity, yet all questions and interaction from white males, except a female hands out the microphone.

  28. Glastonbury may sell out in three hours, but one cannot live on that income alone. And there's no saying you'd be accepted into it every year. What a stressful and exhausting way to make a living.

  29. For all it's sophistication and master minds Google is about annoying people by stereotyping who they are through algorithms and selling junk made in China to people. I don't think it has a "vision" beyond making money through advertising revenue. It's A.I. obsessions are I think the religion of the cult who run it.

  30. 46:00 shows perfectly how he has no real answers for them and is just wasting their time. Left believes that creation itself is a goal, but we all know that it is being best that matters. To create BEST product you need billions to reward everyone working at it. Same with his six different communicators, we don't need this many, otherwise we would have them. Only real answers he gave are those already written decades ago. Waste of time.

  31. what I gathered from him is if you build a computer that knows everything and charge for the information, then only a few people will be able to utilize it and soon society would become basically "stupid", and under elite mind control. We are and have been in that state for a very long time already however. Google has their annoying "answer your questions before you ask", which is virtually impossible for anyone but Jesus to do, frankly I find it somewhat annoying and burdensome, especially when I have little time and low battery and I'm trying to make a point to someone on the other end of the talk channel. Then another thing is, spell check is great but when I spell a word right and google constantly changes the word because someone or something there, thinks it knows we hat I am about to say, trying to read my mind, which is virtually impossible, this is very annoying. To top it all off, google allows criminals within their company to abuse information, stealing photoes and documents, holding them hostage. Taping into your phone. Cyber spying. Hiding clintons emails and stealing mine. She is a national security threat and I am not one, yet google snoops into my emails, rearranges them changing words like names in documents, etc… and sending the email back to me blocking and intercepting my emails that I send to someone, someone at google is trying to steal banking information. This company is trying to prevent me from having any and all outside communication. They pretend to be working with the FBI, but I am NOT a criminals and am hiding nothing. They ARE using crooked FBI agents for their own criminal activity. Its without a doubt because I am a Christian for real and not an occult member.Very aggravating on a daily basis.

  32. Interesting talk but there are massive assumptions and misunderstandings about economic theory and practise. I think it probably dangerous to write a book which is largely based in economics and not have an economics background so that you can delve into and understand the material you purport to analyse.

  33. OK, I don't see how automation can possibly lead to post-capitalism economy. Automated factories take much more capital to install as robots need to be paid for upfront, as opposed to labour which is an operating cost. Is anyone proposing that a socialist government can do the engineering to make an automated factory?! If not then it's up to private companies to own the means of production. As they do, . Automation leads to a post-labour economy, and an growth of capitalism.

  34. One of the questions makes sense. How do you motivate people to innovate when they know that their work can be easily copy-pasted. Not talking about authors, artists or singers. Hardcore innovations like Pharmaceuticals, Softwares, and Scientific Research more or less needs millions of manhours and billions of dollars. Nobody would be motivated to do that for free!

  35. Wait, so Wikipedia is like the commons. All of nature really should be commons too, one day when all humans can live without impacting the environment.

  36. Desglobalization, we can produce anything anywhere, there aren't seasons in closed inside building gardening, and food it's our principal motivation. Just look how hydroponics foods are growing.
    Also, service jobs are disappearing and they suck.  Working in a bank sucks, in a restaurant, serving to others sucks.
    Producing works are way better. Bitcoin will crash banks, uber self-driving cars taxis, IA call support and so on.
    Also modern lifestyle and working its horrible, hours in traffic, breathing polluted air, eating fake food, to service to someone else and not having time for yourself.

    The future looks cool.

  37. Rush Limbaugh stated just the other day that "the purpose of Capitalism is not to create jobs, but to create wealth". Jobs are 'created' in order for the Capitalist, aka the person already with wealth, to build more wealth. Workers produce 10s if not 100s times more wealth than they are paid. This has to stop. Hoarding wealth will be ended either by choice, or by violent reconciliation. History doesn't lie.

  38. there's absolutely nothing wrong with capitalism. but there's a big problem with neoliberalism corruption and lobbying. neoliberal economics uses outdated incorrect over-simplified economic models which don't reflect the real world. America could adopt MMT sound finance and job guarantee and it would be infinitely better off.

  39. the best economic system is not pure capitalism or pure communism but a mixture of both. the trick is to get the mixture right.

  40. All this Google folk are so privileged, so full of their youth so they can not see that they will not be yang for ever. That world has Hundred millions may be even better trained and educated people who are not needed. Corporation believes they can get more from youth and there not enough creative jobs. Actually AI now killing jobs that were created in past. So, if you ever fall off ladder even temporary, because of crisis, for example, you are off it for ever.

  41. funny to see that all these red leftist dumbasses do not even bother to think about PRODUCTION side… as true socialist parasites they start like dark age religious or communist mugs, that stuff is there, fixed, and the only problem is how to distribute the wealth… yeah, everything is free… stupiders… fortunately, once superintelligence pops up, humanimals become IRRELEVANT, since our sole purpose in the Grand Theatre of Evolution of Intelligence is to create our (first nonbio) successor

  42. Richard Woolf gives great presentations on Marx and critique of capitalism and the effects on democracy. He and Chris Hedges make great backstop for Chomsky.

  43. Once it is abundant no one thinks about…………..That was the gem in this discussion that should spark thought worthy of exploration and acknowledge the two edged sword and counter logic that cam play into the reason of mind set.

  44. The only scarce resource that exists in this universe is intelligence. (AFAIK)

    Sure energy and materials do set the prices atm but that has more to do with the lack of minds that could easily procure them.

    Unless you restrict AI or near AI tech in regards to the wider populace; I don't see how any trace of today's capitalism could survive.

  45. That sounds like bad reasoning. If I produce something at no cost that has value to someone it just allows me to improve my cost basis and improve the lives of everyone.

    Non profits are not new. They aren't ancient, but are far from new. People do all kinds of free work for public benefit. It has just become more efficient.

    Effeciencies will always improve results and drive prices down. His whole problem goes away if you consider IP as property that is a limited guaranteed Monopoly and you believe in value not cost based economics.

    His whole argument is a moral argument against IP being property for the greater good.

  46. Great talk. Just wanted to address a crucial point made at 17:03 "How is it [capitalism] changing to defend itself against these problems? Well, you're [Google] sitting in one of the defense mechanisms."
    I'd go further and say that capitalism defends itself just like slavery or feudalism used to, but much, much more efficiently: by turning masses of people into capitalists.
    And this is true for the IT industry as well. And it kills knowledge and hope for change. Very few people in the tech companies I've worked for in the last 13 years can engage in a constructive talk like this, even huge banks' IT employees creating software for heavy financial products don't understand what Free Market, neoliberalism, money, debt, profit, socialism, anarchy, power system, democracy, politics, labor market, labor unions etc are. I mean, I'm being engaged in these very trivial conversations around the need for everyone to participate in elections and political processes even to the least possible extent on a daily basis at work… What are we talking about.. State-capitalist propaganda is so overarching; education and dialog is what everything lies in.
    Bottom line: I don't see how tech alone can transform capitalism into postcapitalism. But there was a great line in the book that a new type of human beings should emerge for the change to take place, with different values and more knowledge than today. That I second and to that I applaud.

  47. Leftwing cultural Marxist wet dreams about the fall of capitalism. He is missing out a crucial piece of the equation and my best guess is he will never see it coming.

  48. giving everyone a basic income will only create inflation. money is just a medium of exchange for exchanging value. it is not an end in and of itself. we need to start teaching economics again in schools. i can't believe people are falling for this nonsense.

  49. What if we intentionally left parts of the world underdeveloped in terms of technology so that we could sell the developed parts of the benefited technologies to the underdeveloped parts of the world? Would that be unethical, to deny creative aspects of tecnologies to them?

  50. As humanity became somewhat civilized we were able to agree to use money as away of organization. When we truly become civilized then we can use more sophisticated ways of organization that unlike money don't rely on punishment or reward or fear and excitement as means of motivation.

  51. It started so very promising and ending so hopeless… I mean Paul seems to fail to answer the most critical question of where the motivation for long efforts is going to come from in the world of income equality. The answer he provided sounds very esoteric and wishful to me, which means Adam Smith still wins and that is sad. We need a new method of "harnessing the beast" and not another wishful type of politics.

  52. Paul Mason, the man who called in to LBC radio last week to say they should not be discussing the problem of Momentum radicals within the UK Labour party which could be running the country quite soon:
    A counter narrative with explanation regarding the James O'brien 3 hour show actually discussed Carillion- the subject Mason wanted LBC to focus on:

  53. Work is slavery but in a resource based economy everyone contributes and technology is used to do the things we don't need to do. More like self sustaining communities networked together sharing resources. Everyone should be able to live abundantly. Great minds can create this system.

  54. there are about 1.5 to 3 billion people who don't even have electricity and even more who survive on little to nothing … All you post-capitalists can start living by example as you give "everything" you take for granted to these poor masses. Maybe let the homeless live in your homes to get a feel for this FREE utopia. Wonder how much Paul was paid for that appearance at Google.

  55. Paul Mason seems to shy a way from Universal basic income by giving people the bare minimal, then on the other hand; he says there is not enough jobs in the future because of l automation. Or should i say there will be jobs of but of a satisfying nature. I am confused, what he should be arguing is there is going to be no jobs in the future which most people can do, due to robots and automation. So what are they going to do, if they have no work? how are they going to live? Of course society could create crap jobs, educated people to their maximum and give it to them. It is no good doing that IE giving a highly educated person a crap job (I am talking degree level here) ad infinitum with massive debts. However lets take a step back, people today excluding graduates are highly educated from 4 -16/18. People with minimalist education are far better off in the West than, the rest of the world where there is no education provision. So of course you can continue with the same model and get more nastier version of trump, more right wing extreme politicians or think out side the box and give people enough money to live on so they can buy the products, the machines are making. People seem to think it will cost too much money, in that there will not be enough of it to go round. This ignoring the fact jobs are being replaced by automation for one reason, it is cheaper and more efficient for the employer to do so. IT IS ALSO FAR MORE PRODUCTIVE IN MAKING "GOODS AND PROFIT. What i mean is the profit will be so huge it cannot be understate or over stated. Case in point, banks are getting rid of cashiers, why because most people get their money from ATM's or just pay electronically via online banking. Case in point two, go to your local supermarket and see how many self serving machines there are. They are growing exponentially all the time, remember each machine replaces a person, then go to your local library if its open and see the self serving machines there. Just one or two machines replaces two / four librarians. Remember to be a Librarian one needs to study for a qualification (from pre graduate to post graduate). These machines does away with the librarian but also the qualifications in the future. All this has happened in the last 20 years. I remember in the early 90s if i wanted to speak to someone in the US or any where in the world. I had to do three things: One get on a plane and visit them, write a letter to them or use the telephone. All three are expensive by today's standards. Mason seems to be wedded to the world of work on the one hand ,then not on the other. Taxes do not pay for the state services the state does.

  56. To describe the existing economic system "capitalism" is inaccurate. Despite all of the changes in methods of production and the sharing of knowledge, the underlying system of socio-political arrangements and institutions is centuries old. Once our ancestors settled in one place and began to organize villages, villages that became towns, and towns that became cities, it was Ricardo's "the law of rent" (as expanded on by Henry George and others) that operated under privilege-based law to cause an always escalating concentration of income and wealth. When the world's frontiers were closed and land extensively privatized, the domination of all societies by rentier elites occurred.

    We began with historical journey when hierarchies replaced communitarian societal structures. The first phase was agrarian landlordism. Eventually came the raising of cattle and sheep and the trade of surplus production. Added to agrarian landlordism was commerical landlordism. This stage was followed by natural resource extraction and manufacturing, and the FIRE sector (i.e., finance, insurance and real estate). Thus, the system we live with today is not "capitalism" but "agrarian-commercial-industrial-and-financial-landlordism."

    The solution free up resources so that every person is able to achieve his or her individual potential? Collect the rents from all sources to pay for public goods and services. Eliminate all taxation of production and commerce.

  57. The true vision of capitalism in this video, is summed up by the man in grey, , the Google middle manager, who helps organize questions at the end of Paul Mason's speech and censors the talk of Google’s "monopoly", changing it to "popularity" at 27:25, as if Google's anti-trust rulings in EU courts never happened. Despite Paul Mason's love of the cooperative, self-managed, non-hierarchical teams in IT, the role of this IT manager is to censor, demote, demean and get rid of any employee who threatens corporate interests by doing or saying things that threaten the dominant corporate culture. This is the way contemporary life works – a non-relating emotionless corporate force demands self-inhibition by those with the intellectual capacity to see through the system in return for being left alone with a fat pay cheque and no intellectual self-respect. It was the same emotional dynamic in the nineteenth century, from that perspective nothing has changed, people are still paid-off to conform, and nothing that Paul Mason presented here will change that.

  58. I came across Paul Mason from his clear, cogent and beautifully idealistic argument for a socialist vision within the EU, here He has spend his life as an idealist living in close proximity to the capitalist elites – he knows how the elites behave and how damaging their habits of life and business are to themselves, the poor and disenfranchised, and society as a whole. He is trying hard, in a hand-wavy sort of way, to start a visionary movement of a workable way forward, based on less hierarchical behaviours that are emerging in the workplace and social media,

    Paul makes a good point about open-source non-hierarchical communities producing the greatest quality products, that adapt magnificently and evolve rapidly. As a worker, and as a manager, I found that encouraging people to question and challenge anyone, irrespective of corporate title, produced work that was genuinely excellent, compared to the mediocre fare produced by teams whose main concern was making their manager look good. However Mason’s condescending dismissal of the point made by the questioner regarding the state, and capitalism’s, monopoly on violence, highlights the lack of intellectual depth in his proposition of “Postcapitalism”. It has never been necessary for capitalism to be the most efficient of all possible systems, only that it can use violence to suppress the better, more peaceful system, using stupidity and violence. Open-source and social media are allowed for the the same reason we have a free press, because it doesn’t threaten the core of the system.

    In his talk, however, Paul Mason makes it clear that he makes his money from corporate speeches and consultancy. He basically is paid to lend a legitimacy to an oppressive capitalist system. If he could touch people emotionally , like Trump, Thatcher, Martin Luther King or Lenin, with ideas that really could make a difference, then he wouldn't be paid (off) by capitalists like Google, but arrested, condemned and marginalised. Paul is a Marxist clown, gurning at the court of the capitalist King.

    So, this largely incoherent waffle which is backed up, in true Oxbridge style, by copious amounts of academic quotes, liberally sprinkled with name dropping, makes this sort of rubbish appealing to rich liberal type who care about those things. Mason has assembled a patchwork of ideas without spending the time to think in depth about any one of them, but no worry, if you quote vast quantities of research no one can accuse you of being thick. It's basically a student's guide on how to get paid as a bluffer in the intellectual market-place.

  59. Why do we never hear about a "Resource-based economy system", for example, on the TV/radio and the news..?
    Our "BS jobs" is making our quality lives a lot shorter! – most of us work, basically, only for money – and while doing that we actually just throwing our lives away! Isn't that sick?

  60. Imho, Broken Capitalism ends with lot of human damage. New system needed. The new american dream is a Opioid OD ! This guy rambles, I don't get it. I hung it up some years back, silly valley technology engineer 30 yrs or metals technology since 16 & 6 years college. Go getter 60/70 hours/stress a week till 56, lots of life on planes/cars/trains. Analog & Digital guy. Now I'm Fricken broken/non-repairable item, can't work, no focus. This is what technology does to everyone who's not super-human. Superman eventually meets kryptonite 7/10 times. Totally quit sleeping after 08/09 crash. lost job,sold house,wife, and kinda of a bad country/western song… Thank god for SSDI or I'd be homeless/crazy/maybe in jail.
    Recent 50 hr gig offered, no can do, might last 4 days, no sleep = never work again.
    Sitting here in Sr. Center daily @ 60, Should be teaching at my old college across the street teaching tech, history, economics & life.

    Lots of my silly tech buddies all breaking down with similar problems. I Gave up on Dr's, last one said seems like "enviro-mental" problem. Local MD or nuero refuses to even see you even with medicare/insurance after he heard my horror stories. Problems due to metals/chem/ toxics, & way too many hours in front of computer's/video monitors/cel phones, also grew up born downwind from Nuke Tests & brain cancer cluster(got both parents). Even with a 125 IQ Tech will eat you for breakfast, then throw you away when +50. State will not take care of you.

    I'm very blessed, so save your dough/move to the country soon/change your outlook. Just a warning to you lefties out there. Being a keyboard warrior such a waste of time. Anyway I still have good days & today the sun is shinning bright. makes you a believer in God. peace out.

  61. This guy repeated the same nonsense over and over with no explanation of, cool you can copy and paste the idea or data but who/what will build it?…… what incentive

  62. Capitalism produced communism! Capitalism produced communism!
    Produced means to bring into existence; cause; to give birth to.
    People will be happier to work 20 or 10 hours a week. They can't now because of low wages.

  63. Capitalism and it's apologists will surely be reserved a special place in hell. These godless souls in their intellectual hubris scorned God and humanity in servitude of mammon and shall be eviscerated of all their worldly possessions and be laid bare in the after-life with NOTHING but their GREED, LIES and consequent SIN to be reviled by the almighty Creator. May God have mercy on their souls.

    ''And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.''

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *