Notes on ‘The Coming Revolution’

Today marks the release of my book, The Coming Revolution: Capitalism in the 21st Century.  In it, I advance a simple thesis: within the 21st century, capitalism will collapse of its internal and external contradictions. My reasoning is simple. First, capitalism is founded on the exploitation of labor, but its development through automation makes labor increasingly obsolete. Second, capitalism requires the capitalist class to have a monopoly on the means of production, but new forms of production erode that monopoly. Finally, capitalism requires infinite growth to survive, but we live on a finite planet rapidly approaching ecological disaster.

I wrote the book because I wanted to shed light on the deeper structural processes driving the injustices that we have all been struggling against for years. It’s one thing to be against gentrification; it’s another thing entirely to understand that speculative real estate development is being propelled by capitalism’s inability to find profitable outlets for productive investment. Simply put: we cannot strategize about how to defeat our enemy if we do not know why our enemy does what it does. And we cannot build a genuine alternative to capitalism until we understand why this system is hurtling toward its demise.

When I started working on the book in earnest at the end of 2014, some of the ideas in it were a bit more controversial than they are now. The idea that automation could pose a long-term threat to employment was only just beginning to be accepted again within some corners of economics. Anti-capitalist ideas were taking root in the aftermath of the Great Recession, but they did not yet enjoy the popularity that they now do in the Anglophone world. These shifts are a positive sign, even if the book’s warnings about the rise of fascism and the enduring instability of the capitalist system are being gradually confirmed.

That said, there are points in the printed text that could use correction. While performing my research, I was a bit taken in by prevalent narratives about the rise of wages and living standards in the developing world. As John Smith demonstrates in his exceptional book Imperialism in the 21st Century (article here), wages and living standards have not been significantly improving for the vast majority of developing countries with the exception of China. Alongside other reasons, this suggests we should revisit the arguments of dependency theorists and adapt their profound insights to today’s conditions. It should also give us some clues about the role China may play as a new center of capitalism capable of establishing its own peripheral zones.

I hope that you’ll read the book, no matter how you manage to get your hands on it. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you, and I thank you for taking the time to read my work.

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