Postcapitalism? Five Orientations from the Perspective of Social Reproduction

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Where austerity, recession and ‘regressive recovery’[1] occur, the experience of economic crisis is as a crisis of social reproduction, a crisis in the reproduction of livelihood.[2] This crisis is both gendered and racialised in just who picks up the tab for cuts to social services or a rise in unemployment.[3] Given the contradiction between capital’s reliance on the reproduction of labour power on the one hand, and its propensity to externalise the cost of this reproduction on the other, any particular social organisation of reproduction is shaped by struggle. Who bears the cost of social reproduction and how it is organised are political questions circumscribed by the ways in which reproductive labour moves between households, communities, state institutions and business organisations, and where individual reproductive activities are located along a paid and unpaid continuum. Feminism has challenged the gendered and racialised social division of this labour and demanded that the unpaid work of social reproduction be acknowledged.[4] Continue reading

On Realising Postcapitalism

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Wither postcapitalism? Across Europe, there are signals today of an evolution or mutation of neoliberal forms of governance, towards a more rapacious and authoritarian genus. But there are also signs of fragility and increasingly metastasising risks. There are rising political populisms in both leftist and right-wing variants that threaten the continued predominance of existing elites.[1] The fragility of austerity as an economic programme which has suppressed growth while failing to restore state finances to pre-crisis levels points towards future, and even more unmanageable, economic and fiscal crises.[2] The current refugee situation across Europe indicate potential lines of tension for existing structures at the EU level.[3] Continue reading

Postcapitalism?

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The World Economic Forum knows it, the Pope knows it, and sociologists know it: this world can no longer accommodate growth capitalism. The planet has become too small for a social formation whose operating system requires the continuous profit-driven occupation of ‘noncapitalist strata’ (Rosa Luxemburg). Indeed, although the capitalist economy may still have grown at an average of 1.78 percent of GDP during the decades of neoliberalism (1973-1998), this growth came at a high price. When measured against pre-industrial levels, we have already crossed a ‘red line’ of planetary tolerance as far as climate change, biodiversity and the nitrogen cycle are concerned. At the same time, the fruits of what little growth remains are distributed increasingly unequally. While the gap in per capita income between the poorest and the richest regions was at 13:1 during the Golden Age, it rose to 19:1 during the neoliberal era (Angus Maddison). Continue reading