Theories on the crisis of capitalism have swamped social, political and economic analyses in recent years, with all interpretations, although hugely relevant, generally lacking a proposal for the future. Paul Mason, however, has formulated a theory about the transition to an alternative and impending system — a guide to postcapitalism.
Across three activities framed inside the series Six Contradictions and the End of the Present — a lecture, workshop and screening of the film Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere, followed by a talk — Mason will explain the nuts and bolts of this postcapitalist model and how to put it into operation. It is no accident that the three activities, conceived as a laboratory for simulating this future time, halfway between political theory and science fiction, take place in a museum, in an institution devoted to thinking about and experimenting with these other possible futures.
Mason believes that capitalism works in 50-year cycles of upswing-downswing, and we are currently at the beginning of the last wave, which will end in 2050, whereby climate change, an ageing population, mass migration, unrestrained debt and the rise of information technologies will paint a wayward landscape of chaos and inequality. Yet these same elements also contain the seed of another possible system: information technologies, hitherto market dependent, contain another decentralised, sustainable and virtuous model of society, which could, according to Mason, be developed if it manages to free technology from digital monopolies and value production to reach its full potential. Far from the theory of de-growth or the return to nature as the solution, Mason argues that total automation will allow us to imagine a completely fresh scenario: freed from wage dependency, freed from work, and with free access to basic services.
Paul Masonis a broadcaster, radio commentator, film-maker and theatre producer who has forged a career as an independent journalist for Channel 4 News and the BBC. As a political activist, Mason’s books analyse the contours of crisis and the new forms of political action that have emerged over the past decade. His numerous publications include PostCapitalism. A Guide to Our Future (Allen Lane, 2015); Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions (Verso Books, 2012); Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed (Verso Books, 2009); Live Working or Die Fighting: How the Working Class Went Global (Vintage, 2008); and the novel Rare Earth (Oldcastle Books, 2012). As a film-maker he has made Astoria (2016), #ThisIsACoup and Northern Soul: Keeping the Faith (both 2013) and is currently working on other film projects with upcoming releases, for instance Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being and K is for Karl – Some Films About Marx.
Tuesday, 27 November – 7pm / Sabatini Building, Auditorium
This lecture sees Mason put forward ‘Project Zero’, his term for this form of large-scale postcapitalist transition based on three principles: zero carbon emissions, total automation and zero labour, and free access to basic services.
Wednesday, 28 November – 10pm / Nouvel Building, Protocol Room
Research workshop. From Resistance to Postcapitalist Politics
What will the postcapitalist economy look like in 50 years? With a dynamic and interdisciplinary approach, this workshop sets out to spark debate around this issue by considering the following objectives: understanding the relationships between technology, social change, climate and activism in civil society in the transition to postcapitalism; encouraging participants to be led more by their imagination than by rational objections; transmitting the recording of a collective act of imagination through images, notes, a whiteboard, videos; making participants see a small area of their city in a new way, translating abstract economic concepts into proposed physical changes; and, finally, offering a model that other cities, countries, and eras can emulate and improve.
Wednesday, 28 November – 7pm / Sabatini Building, Auditorium
Screening and talk with Paul Mason
Paul Mason and David Lan, Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere
2017, 58’, original version with Spanish subtitles
The story of a networked generation that went from the optimism of the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement to Trump and a disjointed present. Joined by David Lan, artistic director of the Young Vic theatre, Mason has devised a performance that swings between a theatre device and a repeat broadcast of the revolution. Performed by Khalid Abdalla, Lara Sawalha, Sirine Saba and Mason, Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere is a filmed version of this representation.