Four Futures: Life After Capitalism by Peter Frase ***

23 May 2020 | , ,

Reading Dates: 29 April-21 May 2020

This was my choice of reading for our Dialectical Materialist book group. We need to think about our future, middle to long term, now that we are settled in this crisis. What are the variables, the axis? Frase, writing in 2016, considered they were full automation and climate change. I am not sure about full automation (it will always be too expensive compared to labour, automation is capitalist), but I am certain about climate change. Frase’s book is very readable, very interesting, even though he does not go into the four futures (see below) nearly enough or explores the science fiction angle in as much depth as he should do to yield something apprehensible; it remains anecdotal. His introduction and conclusion are the best bits. In the conclusion, he writes something very much worth considering in the current situation: the futures are entangled and to actually get to one we may need to go through others: to get to communism, we may need to go through exterminism. It is a frightful thought, but it rings true.

I think we are currently in a mixture between rentism (consuming without owning) and exterminism (which does not only mean killing, but also making disappear), which is even more frightful. But how to change a whole society to lead towards communism or socialism? Equality of any kind seems to the perennial issue. Look at the diagram: hierarchy, more than scarcity, is the problem. If we were kind and generous to each other, we would be able to overcome most problems. It confirms we are our worst enemy, and that class struggle is the biggest struggle we face.

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