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[Read] ➳ Inventing the Future By Nick Srnicek – Cravenjobs.co.uk

10 thoughts on “Inventing the Future

  1. says:

    This book is particularly useful for its comprehensive history of neoliberalism and especially how it went from an ideology that at one time was very much on the fringe and understood as belonging only to the loony right to becoming central to our society and virtually common sense The authors here say the left needs to similarly have a long term plan to change the paradigm our society takes for granted and therefore to change what is considered to be common sense Given the abject failures of neoliberal policies, you might think this would be a relatively easy task but that isn t now common sense works The authors idea is to change the way we think about fundamental problems and to therefore reinvent the future.Part of the argument here is that too much of what has passed for left progressive action in the past has been grossly ineffectual The Occupy Movement, the anti war movement prior to the Iraq War none of these came close to achieving their objectives One of the proposals is to shift the debate, shift common sense by getting the left to stop calling for full employment, but to rather call for full unemployment That is, the expectation underlying this book is that automation is about to destroy most jobs anyway so that rather than focusing on how to find ways to keep people employed, we should be looking for how best to manage a world without work One of the ways to achieve this is what I m going to spend the rest of this review thinking about a Universal Basic Income UBI I m not going to pretend that I know the answer to whether this would be a good or a bad thing Rather, I m going to point out some of the pros and cons.Last year my eldest daughter and I went to a discussion on a UBI organised by my University it was mostly in favour and most of the people speaking were left ish One was an American academic who sounded to me a bit like John Denver Anyway, rather than filling up my senses, he said some really interesting things about how a UBI would make the world a better place One of the things it would do would be to make almost all jobs better His argument being that at present capitalist have incentives to make jobs as boring and as awful as possible This is because most of us are wage slaves, you know, a week or so away from financial ruin so, he said we have no option but to accept jobs as they come But if we had a UBI we would only accept jobs that were basically human read Dan Pink s Drive for the things that make jobs basically human It s not as if we don t know what would make jobs worth doing what would increase workers intrinsic motivations it is rather that the current economic incentives in society don t allow for jobs to be made interesting or worthwhile Finding ways to change those incentives doesn t seem like a terrible idea to me.Another benefit of a UBI would be that people who have been displaced by the increasingly rapid disruptions technological change has brought about would be able to support themselves and might even be able to pay to acquire the new skills would need if they are ever to get back into the job market Currently, in Australia, our New Start allowance essentially an unemployment insurance is the second lowest in the OECD and has the most stringent requirements of any in the industrialised world It is also set at a rate that is significantly below the official poverty line the current government argues this is a good thing as it provides incentives for people to get back into the work force you call it incentive, I call it starvation let s call the whole thing off New Start has not been increased for 25 years by either side of politics, not even the Australian Labor Party labour only in name, neoliberal in all other ways It is so self evidently impossible to live on this allowance, that even businesses are calling on it to be increased We only get away with this because this allowance is for the poor and any services for the poor inevitably becomes a poor services a universal rule is confirmed yet again But because everyone would receive a UBI there is motivation for the whole of society to ensure it is set at a reasonable rate.It isn t at all clear how the next few decades are going to pan out in the world of employment the assumption by the authors here is that most jobs are about to go I m not totally convinced this is necessarily the case although, if it proves to be so I won t be totally surprised, it is just that I don t really know which of the two arguments about the future of work that technological change always produces jobs than it destroys or that for some reason this time is different and all hell is about to break loose is going to play out One thing is utterly clear we are in for major disruptions and the new jobs are likely to require significantly different skills to those most people currently hold So, some form of ongoing learning is going to prove necessary, even if the best of all possible scenarios plays out and jobs suddenly become plentiful again As such, a UBI would seem to help alleviate this problem.The other blindingly obvious fact of the world over the last few decades has been growing inequality Inequality is accelerating and it really does need to be addressed An article I saw today said that over half a million people in the US are literally homeless No society should accept this it is an obscenity A UBI would go some way to redistribute wealth towards those who need it.I m not as interested in the arguments against a UBI from the right particularly about how it kills the work ethic Personally, I believe people prefer to be useful to society, and so will work if given the option, particularly if the work is meaningful If you are going to argue with me on this point, do try to remember that I write these reviews purely out of the love of writing them, that is, for no remuneration at all I don t know how useful people find them, but I do write them to be useful Even if only in helping people decide the books they would rather not read My point being, don t tell me people don t do things if there is not financial reward, because I think I know better than that.However, I do think there might be problems with a UBI not so much that it will crush the Protestant Work Ethic god forbid but that it is likely to be used by the right as a way to kill off social security, public services and so on That is, give everyone a basic income and then tell them that they have to use it to pay for all the things the state currently provides public education, health care, child care You know, so the impact is that the poor spend all of the money they receive in this UBI on the things they currently receive anyway.I think if we did have universal unemployment, that people will need some sort of training in a life without work, or without the necessity to work Given the first question we are normally asked when we meet other people is and what do you do and that there is a clear social stigma associated with being unemployed, if work is going to be done by machines and by only a very few or, as this book predicts, eventually no one at all, then society s idea of how people acquire self worth will also need to change.It is not at all clear to me what is going to happen next If the doomsayers are right, or even just a little bit right, about what is our immediate future on jobs, then we either fix this somehow now or it isn t clear to me how social harmony and cohesion are going to be maintained A boot to the face for all eternity is highly effective over the short term, but I don t know if it is really sustainable long term Having the majority of the population living like dogs amongst endless opulence just doesn t seem like an ideal society to me.This was quite an interesting book in a lot of ways like I said, I m not sure a UBI is the panacea many people make it out to be, and I don t see how we will be allowed to tax the rich to the extent that would be necessary to bring it about, but even proposing options to the monolith that is current neoliberal group think feels like a revolutionary act.

  2. says:

    The first half is a convincing and much needed critique of left wing localism horizontalism, holding up the left s inadequacy in contrast to the success of the neoliberal project I enjoyed the macroeconomic approach, looking at the bigger picture from pre industrialism into the future, and found that the concept of surplus in the labour market provided a very simple and useful way to explain the dire need to move beyond the industrial work ethic, into a new kind of common sense In taking this bigger picture macro view, the authors manage to avoid any really thorny issues The call for a long term counter hegemonic project is totally valid, but by nature is a rather fluffy concept that might leave some seeking short term concrete suggestions beyond campaigning for UBI and increased automation A much serious flaw is the lack of any discussion about the environment It seems a little ridiculous to be discussing a long term manifesto for the future with climate change and other issues such as the finite supply of rare metals that are necessary for technological progress looming like several stupendous elephants in the room It s clear that the authors knowledge is substantial regarding political economy and organisation, but seems very weak on ecology agriculture For instance they are quite dismissive of food localism and organic farming, blithely assuming that industrialised agriculture is efficient and intensive, which is untrue Yes, there are some instances where it requires less carbon to grow food in New Zealand and ship it to the UK, rather than growing it here in energy intensive greenhouses, but the latter is a straw man Clearly it would be much better to eat only seasonal produce that grows within the locality I would hope that localised food production would be one of the huge areas of growth in a post work world where people have lots of time tinker about on the allotment The authors concede that their argument is limited to only deal with the Western situation, but in narrowing down their parameters for the sake of practicality, they have also created the book s biggest contradiction They claim that we are faced by incredibly complex issues on a global level, and that rather than reducing the scale complexity of the problem which is impossible , we need to scale up and complexify our solutions, and to universalise our ideas However they seem to be offering a solution which is only partial, applying to a particular set of first world societies and pretending that environmental collapse is not an immanent threat They seem to be setting up the general principle, and leaving it to others to worry about the particulars This is frustrating, but understandable, and when the general principle is so invigorating and agreeable it s easy to forgive them the book is merely the starting point for a much larger conversation that needs to be taken onward and diversified according to other circumstances around the world Hopefully in the near future these ideas will be incorporated into a larger, complex and satisfying manifesto that results in a post work world for everyone the image of a few progressive first world societies moving into fully automated luxury while the rest of the world slaves and burns away is horrific I can t help being left with the feeling that this has simply come too late It seems logical to ape the prior success of our neoliberal rivals, however their project took about 40 years to reach fruition and took place against a very different backdrop Will the left accelerationist agenda even be possible in another 40 years time given the degree of social and political change that will take place in reaction to climate crises, mass migrations etc But maybe thats just my own pessimism I really applaud the authors for taking a constructive, positive position when all around them are crippled by worry and despair.

  3. says:

    Universal Basic Income, full automation and the end of work presented as a leftist technological utopia Interesting the critics of folk politics of occupy movements and the narrative of the actual neoliberalism supremacy Clever approximation to the feasibility of power in ecosystems of diverse movements than in monolithic parties.Not complete, perhaps sometimes naive but a good initial sketch of action for a new left.

  4. says:

    When did modernisation become a euphemism for life getting worse in the interests of the rich Why do Conservatives now advocate change, while the left is too often reduced to mere resistance or a desire to turn the clock back What happened to bold visions of a better future for everyone This is a brave and necessary book, which makes a powerful case for a serious rethink Disdaining the current trend for folk politics , though sympathetic to the urges behind it, they sensibly note that The reality of complex, globalised capitalism is that small interventions consisting of relatively non scalable actions are highly unlikely to ever be able to reorganise our socioeconomic system Examining the birth of neoliberalism, once itself a counter hegemonic strategy, and its long term redefinition of the possible , Srnicek and Williams suggest a similar and opposite strategy is now needed from the left Even the first goal they suggest the end of work seems utopian at present, but they have the chutzpah to see it as but a first step on the road to redefining human civilisation Something which, as they observe, has been done plenty of times before, often from even worse starting points than ours They re also keenly aware of the range of interests sometimes overlooked by the traditional left, and talk usefully about ways of building common cause with intersecting but historically non identical struggles from environmentalism to feminism and beyond.It s a very smart book, and a visionary one too, but I m not sure it ll ever be a bestseller They re very good about avoiding jargon for jargon s sake, and in its ambitious field it s definitely an easier read than eg Vaneigem, but it s still unavoidably technical I think the authors would be the first to agree that what would be brilliant now is for some new Wilde to read this and sublime it into a new Soul of Man under Socialism This is a first manifesto, a pointer in the right direction, a theoretical grounding Whilst knowing that little here is likely to appear in undiluted form any time soon, I certainly hope that a slow filtering through might begin, not least if people in the Corbyn and Sanders teams get hold of copies I got mine from Netgalley this may have changed now, but it was up with no gatekeeping, so that anyone who joined the site could download a copy Lots of publishers do that as a standard promotional tactic, of course, but Verso being Verso, I can t help wondering if in this particular case there was also an element of deliberate evangelism Though for me one of the book s flaws is the way they skip over feudalism in suggesting a fairly seamless transition from individual subsistence agriculture to urban labour Yes, in the developing world now, many people are being driven off the land and into the slums but in mediaeval Europe, the cities were beacons of freedom for the rural poor, a lure despite shocking death rates and the like Indeed, for others of the global poor, that s still the case today.

  5. says:

    sums up my own thoughts on what they call folk political tendencies in the current popularity of anarchist and anarchist like radical formations like The Invisible COmmitte and Tiqqun, the popularity of locally produced goods, etc However, it focused on its limitations while not looking at its potentials for organizing and establishing counter hegemonydemand automation demand free time the book s insistence to go beyond the old demands of labor to accommodate new realities is fine, but proposes nothing on how these demands can possibly be fought for in actual political strugglerefuses to call socialism and uses post work society instead, reeks to much of anarchist against work shibboleth and overestimates the role of machines in the production of goodsrefuses to call capitalism capitalism, calls neoliberalism as the dominant systemvery vague, too many prescriptions we must do this, do that some of which are spot on while many are obviously just rationalizations of academic disappointments with the left

  6. says:

    So I m someone with a technology background who recently got into leftist politics, and I feel like this book was written for me It s a short book less than 200 pages before endnotes and so it s obviously not meant to be a comprehensive guide to how to get to a post work world, but rather an outline of what we d need to consider in order to make one a marathon not a sprint, etc I found it very inspiring and I think it would resonate even with those who haven t read any other Verso books before Going to try to get all my tech friends to read it.

  7. says:

    In order to regain our ground as Leftists, we must recognize the limitation of folk politics Folk politics politics of immediacy fetishizes activism for activism s sake without regards for long terms strategy and goals and is insufficient to challenge neoliberal capitalism s global hegemony Hegemony necessarily requires long term, strategic planning across the board, traversing not only institutions both inside and outside the state but also infrastructure as well With the aim of constructing a new counter hegemony to neoliberal consensus, Nick and Alex calls for the creation of a broad based popular coaliation constituency to wage a POLITICAL struggle for Universal Basic Income, reduced working days, repurposing existing and emergent technologies and means of production for non capitalist ends, and full automation full employment.For instance, the UBI scheme that the authors have in mind is nonreformist because it will not be a substitute for welfare but function as an additional safety net.In their view, these non reformist reformist proposals will land us squarely in a post work future, albeit not yet a non capitalist future as there would still be commodity production exchange and the profit motive At this point it s only a fair question to ask if these proposals taken as a whole isn t just one massive reformist package dressed up in the language of lukewarm class struggle What about the abolition of value For their part, the authors also reject the viability of traditional class struggle and of the traditional revolutionary proletariat, considering the decaying boundary between work and precarity.Nonetheless, this book is an essential read for anyone interested in how projected trends in technology will transform work and wageslavery, for better or worse.An excellent review of the book can be found herehttp www.leftcom.org en articles 20

  8. says:

    This is a superb book, precisely the sort of analysis that the left is lacking at the moment.Srnicek and Williams start with a critique of the modern left After the collapse of communism and the manifest failure of social democracy in the face of the neoliberal assault of the last 30 40 years Srnicek and Williams show how the left has retreated into defensive tactics that lack any sense of overarching strategy The term they use for this approach is folk politics , meaning a defensive withdrawal into resistance characterised by horizontalism and localism Small scale local protest is valued over large scale challenge to the overall system Organisation is horizontal exemplified by the Occupy movement based on direct democracy and consensus decision making The emphasis is on defending gains made over the last century from the drive of neoliberalism rather than seeking new gains Meanwhile the defeat of social democracy has been built on a long term neoliberal project pursued over decades by the opponents of the then dominant Keynsian consensus In contrast to the modern left, this project used multiple channels think tanks, academic work, journalism and to establish an alternative set of policy solutions which, when systemic crisis arrived in the 1970s, was able to establish itself as the only possible response there is no alternative.Srnicek and Williams use the language of Gramsci to define this as establishing neoliberal hegemony and use the remainder of the book to think through what an attempt to build a new left progressive movement to counter this hegemony might look like.They stress that a modern left project should be built around three key pillars Reclaiming the commitment to progress as such a commitment to a universal programme of change and a belief in and commitment to synthetic freedom, specifically that this is only true freedom if it comes with the capability to realise it In short the left needs to be less tactical and defensive and instead become strategic and lead the drive into the future.They move on to establish the direction of travel for modern Capitalism, which is increasingly towards reducing the amount of work required and increasing the surplus population leading to the misery of not being exploited In particular they stress the influence that automation is predicted to have in the coming decades.This leads into a number of key demands which could be used to shape this new left project Prominent here is the for a basic income coupled with maximising automation as a means of reducing the requirement to work rather than to increase capitalist profits This will create the opportunity for revolutionary change The left should reclaim a transformational view of the future to which people can aspire.To achieve this, Srnicek and Williams believe the left needs to create a much broader counter hegemonic movement, learning from the approach of the neoliberals over the last 70 years The initial goal of this project should be to expand the Overton Window the breadth of what it is possible to discuss as part of normal political discourse While protest movements such as Occupy will form part of this, the movement should they believe be eclectic with a range of elements within the overall drive for change Again the emphasis is on a Gramscian approach to building hegemony as a key requirement to any realistic move into power.If there is a weaker part to the book, it is this section on organisation where it does not feel that what the authors are laying out is a convincing way forward for the left However as a critique of the shortsighted and defensive nature of the modern left it is insightful, and as a manifesto for the future rejuvenation of the left built around the opportunities to move beyond capitalism that are beginning to present themselves, this book is inspiring.

  9. says:

    I approached it eagerly because it belongs to a broader genre postcapitalism, postscarcity, cyberutopianism, autonomism, etc that s the main focus of my current research It was well worth reading for their positive agenda, but required some suppression of the gag reflex for all the disingenuous strawmanning of horizontalism and prefigurative politics To the extent this is the showcase manifesto of left accelerationism, it definitely illustrates some problems with that milieu.

  10. says:

    The gist is rather than embracing folk politics like crunchy Occupy make no demands bullshit, the left should be embracing a modern vision of the future work should not be mandatory to survive and most human labor should be automated Capitalism is absolutely not going to get us there so we need a post capitalism system in place in order to progress to the next mode of being human.Worth reading if you work in tech.

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download Inventing the Future , read online Inventing the Future , kindle ebook Inventing the Future , Inventing the Future b33d8137d43c A Major New Manifesto For A High Tech Future Free From WorkNeoliberalism Isn T Working Austerity Is Forcing Millions Into Poverty And Many Into Precarious Work, While The Left Remains Trapped In Stagnant Political Practices That Offer No RespiteInventing The Future Is A Bold New Manifesto For Life After Capitalism Against The Confused Understanding Of Our High Tech World By Both The Right And The Left, This Book Claims That The Emancipatory And Future Oriented Possibilities Of Our Society Can Be Reclaimed Instead Of Running From A Complex Future, Nick Srnicek And Alex Williams Demand A Postcapitaiist Economy Capable Of Advancing Standards, Liberating Humanity From Work And Developing Technologies That Expand Our Freedoms