top of page

Four Futures: Life After Capitalism

Peter Frase

Top 10 Best Quotes

“… nature doesn’t care about us; it neither has interests nor desires, it simply exists.”

“the path that leads to utopia is not necessarily itself utopian”

“In a common lesson about electromagnetic forces, students are given an exercise in which a bar magnet is placed on a table surrounded by scattered iron filings. The invisible field surrounding the magnet will draw the filings into alignment with it, until the swirling starburst shape of the field becomes visible. The capital relation is a kind of social magnet, with capital at one end and labor at the other, that tends to align all other social hierarchies with the master hierarchy based on money. Hence the hierarchy of athletic ability is translated into a hierarchy of payment for performing professionally. And yet the magnetism of capital is not so strong that it can perfectly align all the systems. Fame, for example, may in general be translatable into money (as when Kim Kardashian releases a smartphone game that becomes wildly successful), but the conversion is not an exact or uniform one.”

“Both [social science & science fiction] attempt to understand empirical facts and lived experience as something that is shaped by abstract - and not directly perceptible - structural forces.”

“Whuffie recaptured the true essence of money: in the old days, if you were broke but respected, you wouldn’t starve; contrariwise, if you were rich and hated, no sum could buy you security and peace. By measuring the thing that money really represented—your personal capital with your friends and neighbors—you more accurately gauged your success.”

“Undesirable work is fully automated, as employers feel increasing pressure to automate because labor is no longer too cheap. The reasoning here is that, as I argued in the last chapter, one of the things holding back full automation of the economy isn’t that the technical solutions are lacking, it’s that wages are so low that it’s cheaper to hire humans than to buy machines.”

“Things in our world may not play out with such literal deceptions, but we can already see how our political and economic elites manage to justify ever-higher levels of misery and death while remaining convinced that they are great humanitarians.”

“The great danger posed by the automation of production, in the context of a world of hierarchy and scarce resources, is that it makes the great mass of people superfluous from the standpoint of the ruling elite. This is in contrast to capitalism, where the antagonism between capital and labor was characterized by both a clash of interests and a relationship of mutual dependence: the workers depend on capitalists as long as they don’t control the means of production themselves, while the capitalists need workers to run their factories and shops.”

“That is the other important point of this book. We can’t go back to the past, and we can’t even hold on to what we have now. Something new is coming—and indeed, in some way, all four futures are already here, “unevenly distributed,” in William Gibson’s phrase. It’s up to us to build the collective power to fight for the futures we want.”

“Mainstream economists have for generations made the same argument about the supposed danger that automation poses to labor. If some jobs are automated, they argue, labor is freed up for other, new, and perhaps better kinds of work. They point to agriculture, which once occupied most of the workforce but now occupies only about 2 percent of it in a country like the United States.”

Except where otherwise noted, all rights reserved to the author(s) of this book (mentioned above). The content of this page serves as promotional material only. If you enjoyed these quotes, you can support the author(s) by acquiring the full book from Amazon.

Book Keywords:

imperceptible, future, utopian, science-fiction, social-science, abstraction, utopia, nature, experience

bottom of page