What happens next and who decides?

Middle-aged man in corduroy jacket sits with arms folded on a stage with a black backdrop
Photo by Chris Boland / www.chrisboland.com

If you read the Guardian you probably won’t have been able to miss the fact that Paul Mason (from Channel Four News) has a new book out. It’s called PostCapitalism.

You should read it.

It’s a good book, well argued and interesting. And, you know, book-length. I mention this because the temptation is to try and explain in a blog post what Paul Mason has taken chapters to explain. I’ll try to resist this temptation.

Broadly he explains how the information revolution is threatening market-based capitalism. Then he suggests a way we could organise our economy better and proposes some ways to get there (my resistance didn’t last long).

Not everyone is going to agree with his vision for a future economy (he’s a bit of a lefty) but his arguments about how the information revolution are challenging market capitalism are interesting and fairly urgent.

One of his arguments is that the action of free markets will tend to reduce the price of information goods to close to zero. This is bad for people trying to make money out of information goods. The strong temptation for these people might therefore be to reduce the freedom of markets (like demanding more protection for intellectual property). Or to go bust.

This seems like a pressing problem for people trying to make money out of information goods (which is most businesses) and for society as a whole.

Paul Mason’s solution may not be the only or even the best solution but we do really need a solution.

Or we’ll sleep-walk into a very different future decided by people who do not have our best interests at heart.

Anyway I strongly recommend you read and argue about this book with immediate effect.

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