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Inventing the Future

Postcapitalism and a World Without Work

By Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams
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  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Inventing the Future by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams

Inventing the Future (2015) is a radical manifesto for the political left. These blinks describe why the current political tactics of the left are failing, explain how neoliberalism has become today’s dominant global ideology and propose a future based on full automation and a universal basic income.

Key idea 1 of 7

The majority of current leftist politics is limited in both scope and impact.

What do street protests, shopping at local stores and teach-ins all have in common?

Well, every one of these standard leftist political actions is an example of folk politics, a term that refers to ideas and attitudes that emphasize local, direct-action and small-scale approaches to politics.

Good examples of folk politics are movements like Occupy Wall Street, ethical consumption or any of the many student occupations throughout history. While each of these examples might have received its moment in the media spotlight and a burst of temporary momentum, they often fail to make structural change in the long run. These tactics are no longer sufficient in the contemporary political climate and, if applied now, would fail to produce structural change.

How come?

Because at its core, folk-politics is about everyday manifestations and not structural problems. For instance, it promotes personal action like sign-making and the occasional protest over systematic thinking like making changes to legal structures or running candidates for office. In other words, it puts feelings – like anger, frustration and outrage – above critical thinking and strategy.

But the issue here isn’t that folk politics is morally bad or incorrect. Rather, the problem is that it has no sustainable long-term strategy or vision. Instead of guiding the course of history, folk politics simply reacts to the actions initiated by corporations and governments.

Not only that, but by bringing people together around single issues, it loses sight of the bigger picture. A classic example is the organization Live Aid. In 1985, this group raised loads of money to provide famine relief in Ethiopia. To do so, they hosted tear-jerking, celebrity-led events.

The problem was that their approach solely appealed to people’s emotions, rather than their rational minds. Beyond that, a lot of the money raised ended up in the hands of rebel militias, thereby extending the civil war and worsening the famine.

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