Post-Capitalism is something that I am sure there has been a lot written about, including by Integral thinkers like Ken Wilber. Without having read much about it, I have recently been thinking about the idea quite a lot, especially with regards to the influence that technology is having on this change.
What Post-Capitalism Would Not Be
Important note: If you are not familiar with the idea of “post” capitalism, you should know that this does not mean a reversion to something like communism or socialism. When we talk about post-capitalism, it necessarily means that you recognize the value of capitalism and its superiority over previous economic systems, and yet you also see a more efficient system that in no way loses the value brought about by capitalism. Since capitalism brings individuality and economic efficiency, post-capitalism would need to include these benefits.
What Post-Capitalism Could Be
The music industry has taken a huge economic fall due to the uprising of online pirating, media uploading sites that allow users to listen to music without purchasing anything, as well as digital sharing among friends. However, it seems that music is being produced more fiercely than ever before. If N’sync was the last band to release an album that would not be pirated on a grand scale, then it doesn’t seem like the quality of music produced has been affected much either. Modern research into creative work shows that artists will happily continue to produce high quality art regardless of pay once their basic needs have been met. An example of this includes programmers who work on open source software, utilizing technical skills and creativity – they do this after hours, and without pay (for more information on this, read the book Drive, by Daniel Pink). So it seems that if they’re financially secure already, people in creative fields will continue to do what they do, providing the value to society that they do, just because they enjoy it. There is evidence that this actually increases productivity and creativity, too, since there is less pressure on the artists themselves. The question is, then, how can we get more people to this point more quickly?
Tertiary-level education institutions like universities and colleges in the United States often give out financial aid to students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford education at these places. The best institutions aim to be “need-blind”, meaning that they will allow any student, regardless of their financial means, to study there as long as they make the admissions cut. This allows students to focus on completing their studies and research without financial pressure. What value does such a college get back in order to sustain this? Well, they get the value of the student’s intellect in their classrooms, which challenges fellow students. In some cases, they get the student’s athletic skill, which draws attention to the college. In most cases, the idea of exchanging the student’s presence on campus for tuition fees, room and board, health care, etc., seems to work out for these institutions, and the students themselves are happy too. In certain countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, and even the United States to a certain extent, where studies are heavily subsidized, students often opt to take this opportunity right up to the doctoral level. Effectively, these students are paying their tuition simply by being present and contributing to the college, and therefore we have a flirtation with a post-capitalist system.
What Would Happen?
What would happen if more mini-institutions took this mindset, and began to exchange residency fees, etc., for presence? At the GooglePlex, Google’s Headquarters, employees are given many benefits aside from their salaries. At what point would it make sense for employees to stay at the company at no pay? If they had “on campus” housing, with buffet food, education, entertainment and transport? Since they have already qualified for the job there, Google already knows what these employees are worth, and the data shows that most of them are doing what they love to do, and what they would be doing in any case, for fun (for the challenge of problem solving, etc.). If more companies took on the ideas of universities and colleges, as explained above in this article, I believe that we really would be seeing the emergence of a post-capitalistic economic system. Would such a system be good or bad? Could all services in an institution be paid for by other services, without requiring the exchange of currency? Is this really post-capitalism? What do you think about this?