Review of Postcapitalism

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Review

As you read British commentator Paul Mason’s prescription for a post-crash economy, you may find yourself thinking that it’s intriguing but idealistic and completely unrealistic. His goal is worthwhile: to create a system that would avoid the volatility that rocked global markets in the financial collapse of 2008. Mason promotes ideas that will be familiar to those vested in left-of-center economic thinking: a universal basic income, the return of privatized monopolies to the public sector and the breakup of big banks. getAbstract recommends his provocative take on these issues.

About the Author

Journalist Paul Mason, the former economics editor at Channel 4 News, also wrote Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed and Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions.

 

Mason is a facile writer who wraps a variety of complex economic concepts in a clear, compelling package. However, his suggestions may seem improbable in a world where American and British voters just lurched decidedly to the right. And, his arguments, published just after the 2016 elections, may not persuade anyone who isn’t already predisposed to embracing more government regulation and less corporate power. Imagine the firestorm of lobbying that would greet Mason’s calls to take away the branch networks of major banks or the patent protections enjoyed by Big Pharma.

Mason is not alone in identifying the weaknesses that led to the 2008 crash. Analysts on both sides of the political aisle condemned easy money, cheap debt and global trade imbalances. Mason’s call to action comes down squarely on the side of left-wing activists such as the Occupy Wall Street protesters and politicians such as Bernie Sanders – whom he doesn’t mention by name because the book pre-dates the 2016 election. Mason explains, “When you realize that capitalism once did not exist – either as an economy or a value system – a more shocking thought arises: It might not last forever.” What might replace it? Mason envisions a utopian scheme of “postcapitalism,” a system that pays workers a living wage, strictly regulates polluters and pursues tax cheats across borders.

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