Seeking Post-Capitalism in the UK

Brief Summary:

  • I’m hoping to crowdfund a modest budget to seek out, experience and document postcapitalism in the UK.
  • I plan to blog and vlog, filming and writing about my expedition(s), while broadcasting regular livestreams.
  • I plan to produce either a one-off documentary, or possibly a short series depending on the results.

I will be accompanied by Ree Melody of Love Activists Brighton who will be co-presenting with me. I have previously documented the Love Activists’ popular street kitchen in Brighton. Love Activism is arguably another example of post-capitalism in action in the UK.

Background: What is postcapitalism?

“According to some Classical Marxist and some social evolutionary theories, post-capitalist society may come about as a result of spontaneous evolution as capitalism becomes obsolete. Others propose models to intentionally replace capitalism”. – Wikipedia

Prominent British economics journalist, Paul Mason believes that organisations like wikipedia symbolise a world on the verge (or in the middle) of a revolution. Many economists agree that the economic system has become desperately dysfunctional: inequality is growing, climate change is accelerating and virtually everybody is righteously angry as hell about it.

In his book, PostCapitalism, A Guide to our Future, Mason argues that as we harness some of the revolutionary ideas Wikipedia represents, we are effectively overturning the capitalist system. He cites dozens of examples of what he calls ‘postcapitalist structures’, emerging from the ashes of capitalism in Greece; sharing, or gift economies, timebanks, credit unions, housing co-ops and so on.

postcapitalism

As capitalism fails them, people are innovating voluntary co-operative structures which reject the failed ‘greed is good’ mantra. These new forms generally function without traditional capital, and are focused on meeting people’s needs, rather than their wants. Mason suggests that these structures are the greenshoots of a new system which will eventually replace the current one.

The idea of a brave new postcapitalist world is engaging hearts and minds from all corners of the sociopolitical spectrum. I haven’t been able to afford a copy of the book, but I’ve read excerpts and listened to many of Paul Mason’s interviews, lectures and Q&A forums online.

In recent years, I’ve read and listened to many others talking about the same sorts of ideas from a variety of perspectives; Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Yanis Varoufakis, Thomas Pikkety, Caroline Lucas, David Graeber, Arundhati Roy and Jeremy Rifkin to namedrop just a few.

I’ve also read criticism of Paul Mason’s work. That his examination of climate change is thin and that many will find his often critical remarks about Marx, especially his ideas about class, problematic.

Even his critics are taking his core concept seriously though, (I paraphrase): The pressures of pursuing infinite growth on a finite planet are forcing capitalism to evolve – this evolution will be either the life, or the death of us. 

It’s simple enough for even me to understand.

The concepts being discussed and the way they are being discussed represent hope for a saner, fairer, more sustainable and more compassionate global society, so I’m in!

The plan:

I am interested in seeking out the greenshoots of postcapitalism in the UK.

I want to  explore alternative, sustainable and equitable ways of living – to investigate, experience and document them.

My objective is to learn and to share what I learn.

I feel the most important metrics to gather are;

  • sustainability, practicality and scalability
  • fairness (ratio of individual labour to return on said labour)
  • net happiness

In theory, I won’t need to raise much capital to undertake this venture – just the cost of travel, internet access and some emergency funds in case I don’t find any postcapitalism…

Part One: WWOOFING

Initially, I’m intrigued to explore the UK’s longstanding WWOOFING network. WWOOF is an acronym: Willing Workers On Organic Farms. WWOOF originally stood for “Working Weekends On Organic Farms” and began in the UK in 1971.

I’ve never been WWOOFING before, but it sounds like it might fit the postcapitalist bill.

I will trawl the WOOFING directories of Diggers and Dreamers and WWOOF UK, contact a bunch of them and plan a route to visit and join these communities.

And then?

I am also interested in exploring; time banking, food banks, street kitchens, credit unions, housing co-ops, gift economies and many other forms of what might be postcapitalism in the UK. I’m hoping that on the WWOOFING trail, I will generate more leads and gather tips on other forms of postcapitalism to investigate.

Eventually, I would also like to travel to countries like Greece and Spain, to compare the viability of postcapitalist structures emerging elsewhere with those emerging here. Obviously, this will depend on how much funding I’m able to acquire.

Budgeting

 

Research:

One copy of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Pikkety

One copy of Postcapitalism, a Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason – £16.99

One copy of The Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin

Travel:

TBC, depending on route

Internet cafes/power:

TBC depending on route

Emergency Fund:

TBC depending on duration of expedition


 

I’ll update this post with more details as the plan develops.

If you’re able to help sponsor this project, or if you have any helpful suggestions, please get in touch, cheers.


SchemesAndDreamspostcapitalism


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