Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Paul Mason's Postcapitalism – A Detailed Critique - Introduction

As Paul kindly listed me, in the acknowledgements for his book, alongside luminaries such as Steve Keen, for having influenced his thinking, I feel that it has been somewhat remiss of me only to have responded, so far, in scattered posts. But, given the importance and scope of the topics covered in the book, which have also employed my mind over the years, and given the extent to which my own views have obviously influenced some of the contents of the book, I felt, indeed as I feel with all such tasks, that if it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing well. Pressure of other work in the last couple of years, and some health problems during that period have also limited my ability to respond in the way I felt was required. I hope to remedy that deficiency in a series of posts, now reviewing the book, and the important subjects it contains. 

I have been interested with many of these issues for the last ten years. Not long after I began writing my blog, Paul contacted me, and noted our shared interest in political economy, and Northern Soul. Back in 2008, after I had predicted the financial crisis was about to erupt, just a few weeks before it did, I conversed with Paul by e-mail, on a range of these topics from the crisis, the long wave, the role of technology and of co-operatives. 

In responding to the reviews and comments of others on the book, I have noted that whenever someone like Paul brings forward some new idea that is seen as challenging some established doctrine of left-wing thought, there is a tendency to treat the work as heresy, and the author as a heretic or traitor. It is an indication of the extent to which what passes for Marxism has, in fact, degenerated into a series of ossified sects, each jealously protecting their own sacred texts and dogmas, which they repeat as mantras, and carry before them as talismen. I have no intention of following that path, although, as will be seen, I have a lot of disagreement with Paul's arguments and conclusions. Marxism is a science, and science depends upon new thinking, and new ideas constantly challenging the existing theories. Of course, those that challenge the existing theories themselves have a responsibility to meticulously make their case. It's in that spirit that this critique if undertaken. 

In order to deal with the importance and scope of the book, whilst keeping to my usual practice of keeping individual posts to readable lengths, I will deal with each chapter separately, and in parts where required, before setting out an overall critique and additional comments by way of a conclusion.

Forward To Chapter 1 - Neoliberalism is Broken

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