Mason’s basic thesis is that the rise of information technology over the past 25 years has created three main forces towards what he dubs the “post-capitalist” society. First, it has reduced the need for humans to work; second, abundant and free information is dismantling the bedrock of scarcity that capitalism stands upon; and third, technology has created the means for non-market driven collaborative goods, services, and organizations to emerge.
This idea that we are on the edge of something new is something that many of my generation have felt acutely, especially in the somewhat “hippie” circles in which I travel. Whereas our parents might think that a proper life path involves a stable job and a mortgage, most of my friends are abandoning high paying careers en masse to pursue travel, find jobs that are more meaningful for far less money, become organic farmers, or start ecovillages. To many of the scarcity mindset, making such decisions is seen as naive and irresponsible, but in this age of incredible overabundance (at least in developed countries) it seems to increasingly more people the much wiser path.
Whereas our parents might think that a proper life path involves a stable job and a mortgage, most of my friends are abandoning high paying careers en masse to pursue travel, find jobs that are more meaningful for far less money, become organic farmers, or start ecovillages.
Right out of college, I landed a well-paid job at a top agency in Los Angeles. The job and the lifestyle were quite cushy: a fridge always stocked with beer and wine, flexible hours, swimming pool, gym, raging company parties. Despite the fun environment and all the perks, I still felt like a cog in a machine, helping to sell more crap to people that really don’t need more crap. Because of capitalism’s dependence on exponential growth, and the environmental and social disasters that growth clearly continues to cause, the kind of bleak attitude I felt towards my work was virtually unavoidable when I stopped to think about what I was doing. Not only did my work not have any meaning to me personally, but the planet and humanity would actually be better off if I, and indeed most of us, did something else with our time.
The term Senior-itis is used to describe the decrease in motivation towards school often experienced by students who are about to graduate. What I was suffering from at my job, and what I think many of my generation are suffering from, is something I’ll call ‘Capitalism-itis’. ‘Capitalism-itis’ is a collective sense that the world as we know it is about to change, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to invest ourselves in the status quo. We don’t know what’s next, but we know that it has to be substantially different from the world today if we are going to survive as a species. This feeling can cause us to be unmotivated and discouraged, even paralyzed.
‘Capitalism-itis’ is a collective sense that the world as we know it is about to change, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to invest ourselves in the status quo. We don’t know what’s next, but we know that it has to be substantially different from the world today if we are going to survive as a species.
But don’t worry, there are many good remedies for ‘Capitalism-itis’! It is possible to turn that melancholy into motivation once we realize that opportunities abound for ushering in what’s next and starting to form the new world. This is being made increasingly possible through the same forces that Mason suggests are undermining capitalism to begin with: the free sharing of information and creation of collaborative co-creative platforms via the internet. Websites like thepoosh.org, simbi.com, ecobasa.org, movingworlds.org, tribewanted.com, and numundo.org are creating ways for people to trade skills, learn about regenerative living, and support worthy organizations and ecovillage projects through moneyless transactions.
Websites like thepoosh.org, simbi.com, ecobasa.org, movingworlds.org, tribewanted.com, and numundo.org are creating ways for people to trade skills, learn about regenerative living, and support worthy organizations and ecovillage projects through moneyless transactions.
Six years ago, when I did finally sell all my things and go travel, none of these options existed. Luckily, I serendipitously stumbled upon a developing ecovillage called InanItah in Nicaragua, where I discovered a passion for natural building and community living. I ended up staying for three years, playing a pivotal role in day-to-day operations through marketing, event organizing, administrative management and conflict mediation. I made next to no money for doing those things, but I was the happiest I’d ever been. At InanItah I met many other people who had done similar things, who had also left seemingly great jobs to travel and live more simply. I started to feel like I wasn’t crazy, like the choices that I had made, though scary and difficult and entirely contrary to society’s definition of success, were perhaps good choices after all.
That is the same feeling that I got from reading “The end of capitalism has begun”, and how I often feel from reading Charles Eisenstein’s books or learning about things like Integral Theory– that how I feel and what drives me individually is a reflection of many external and collective forces that can makes sense when you take time to zoom out and put the pieces together. That if my plans for retirement don’t involve a comfortable pension, but rather, buying land in a place with clean water and growing my own food, that maybe on the macro level as well as the micro level that makes a lot of sense, and might even be the wisest thing I could do.
I’m grateful to see this post-capitalism conversation happening here. One thing’s for sure, we need to bring more attention to it and discuss it to be able to consciously navigate the “mess” we are dealing with.
Personally, I’ve been deeply involved in the permaculture / nature connection / culture repair world for the past 10 years and have explored different ways of working with alternative economics.
There is A LOT I could say about this exploration, but one thing that stands out for me is:
I have found it extremely difficult to thrive without an abundance of financial income. I end up putting tons of energy into simply surviving and seem to have much less choice and influence in the world than when I am actually making “good” money.
I’ve seen this at the organizational level as well. Incredible permaculture and nature connection projects completely struggling because they don’t have the financial model in place to exist as an institution within our current capitalist society.
For this reason, my personal commitment is to empower visionary leaders build their online platform and find creative ways to make plenty of money doing it.
Luckily, I have found ONE SIMPLE ANSWER to all this. (Well, the idea is simple, but the implementation can be complex and challenging, but ultimately fulfilling.)
Are you ready for it? It’s so simple that it might be overlooked…
Simply apply the Ethics of Permaculture to ALL business ventures moving forward:
1. Earth Care
2. People Care
3. Fair Share
When we do this, we get the best of both worlds:
To have money to thrive in our current capitalist society AND make a difference / create the future we all want to live in.
Then, simultaneously, we can invest surplus time and energy (IE “Fair Share” Permaculture Ethic) in alternative economies as well – building a bridge to a new holistic, healthy, regenerative economy. (Which is essentially what you are suggesting in this article, yes?)
Any thoughts on that?
Again, congrats on forwarding this conversation and giving us all an opportunity to think outside the box!
PS I’ve recently created a (free) Facebook Group for those who are clear they want to leverage the power of the internet to make money while making a difference – and connect with others who are doing the same. Please come join us there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/consciouswebpreneur/
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I totally agree that coming into right relationship with money is a very healthy thing; it definitely doesn’t need to be an all or nothing approach. I find myself happiest when I can do the things that are important to me (self development workshops, travel) while still having time to contribute to projects that I’m inspired by. Working a 9-5 gives you money to do the former, but not the time. I think it just comes down to balance, balance, balance, and continuously checking in with myself.
I love the idea of applying permaculture ethics to business! It’s a nice approach because of its simplicity. I also love the 8 Forms of Capital approach laid out by Ethan Roland and Gregory Landua: http://www.appleseedpermaculture.com/8-forms-of-capital/. You might want to check that out if you haven’t seen it already.
I’ve joined your fb group! Looking forward to being part of the community.
Awesome! This post-capitalism inspires me to write another about how I see things forming up. It doesn’t hurt to imagine a better world and a different way of interacting. An institute system that I designed could be a help: http://freeworlder.org/projects/item/74-institutes-and-humanity and if you’re not able to move to Detroit where we’re doing a, trial, hope you’re inspired to watch via http://www.moneylesssociety.com/ page as well.
Thanks for sharing these links! I really enjoyed the article about free education on moneylesssociety. Let me know if you’d ever like to write something for us, or let us repost one of your articles on this blog, it’s great stuff.
I believe this article is excellent. I share the ideology and feel deeply part of this generation of change, but, sometimes i ask to my self if this is not another clever tools of the capitalism that is all the time reinventing himself in order to keep the power as always. Sometimes i’m not sure if this is a real change, an illusion, or is just a new way that capitalism has created to keep all inside the same system. I think i got that doubt sometimes after see what’s happening with such a cool concepts as sustainability, when, it’s obvious that society in general is demanding to reduce over consumption and many injustices around the world, but when i see that predators companies, such as big mining industries, or even monsanto, takes the phrase and the concept of sustainability on their marketing campaign makes me think about this.
just a reflective thought
I think it’s important to question and to meet any ideas with a certain degree of skepticism. I agree that there is a lot of “greenwashing” out there, and that’s not really the change that is needed. But the fact that greenwashing is even happening, that companies like Monsanto care about trying to look “green” (when they are clearly not), is to me an indicator that more and more people care, and that reflects a shift in collective consciousness that gives me hope.
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I am happy to read this Erika!
I only discovered it now, but it gives me hope that we, you, me, ecobasa.org and numundo can join forces to build a post-capitalistic new world in harmony with nature and each other!
Love and many good moneyless experiences to you!
Thanks Arne! Yes, we love what ecobasa is doing and would love to figure out ways to more deeply collaborate. Thanks for the comment! <3