If you do take the view that there are economic epochs such as Feudalism and Capitalism,
might we be moving beyond Capitalism into something else.
Many in the Marxist, Socialist and Feminist tradtions believe we could
move into an alternative economic epoch.
There's also a wave of futurists and sociologists considering the effect of InformationTechnology and
Chris Caston says:
the Internet who see it leading to an epoch of Informationalism which is post capitalist.
I'm interested in both these fields. The asperations of the Marxists et al. And the
hypotheses of the Informationalists.
Quora Answer : What comes after capitalism?
One interesting theory that I'm quite taken with is the idea of Netocracy. Which is a world of hyper-networking in which who and what you know becomes far more important to your economic welfare than what you technically own.
In a sense, it's a kind of "crony capitalism" without the capitalism part. In this view, we are moving further and further away from the idealized version of capitalism, which is about free markets, decisions made through market processes, equal opportunity of access and meritocracy. And towards a world where birth, schooling and clever networking are the real road to both success and power.
Just as there were markets before "capitalism", there was networking before "netocracy". But as capitalism is the phase where markets move centre-stage to become the dominant principle. So, in netocracy, networking moves centre-stage to become the dominant principle of economic life. Money doesn't disappear or become worthless, just as land (feudal wealth) didn't disappear or become worthless in the capitalist age. But just as land and aristocratic titles began to be increasingly easily acquired by the owners of capital in capitalism, so money increasingly flows towards, and under the guidance of, the netocrat in netocracy.
Netocracy is a fairly philosophical book. But read it with Shadow Elite and The Age of Access to get a rounder picture of how things can play out. You can be relatively "poor" in measurable money and assets, but wield tremendous power and have access to wonderful resources via your connections.
There are many examples today of professions : from journalists to artists to salesmen to consultants in every field, who live in a "gig economy" where having the right contacts is the difference between having regular well-paid work and no-work at all. Their Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts are their most valuable "asset" (as opposed to traditional capitalist forms of wealth like ownership of a shop or shares in a factory).
The underclass are scrabbling to play similar games, on far inferior terms, courtesy of oDesk, Taskrabit and Fiverr.
Imagine this trend :
- declining social mobility (check),
- the end of any kind of fixed employment contract and total casualization of work in the gig economy, (check)
- the end of formal "recruiting" and increasing dependency on your social networks to get any kind of work, (starting to be a thing, the last permanent job I had, and the next gig I have both came from social connections)
- the increasing use and power of outsourced consultants by both government (for research and decision making) and private corporations
- the increasing virtualization of "stuff" (everything from companies that rent fabrication facilities as and when they need them, to "the cloud", to you hiring a city bike for trips around town rather than owning your own). Someone "owns" all the stuff, but the user / renter calls the shots. Ownership confers little power.
Take all these trends as far as they can go ... and I believe you have something genuinely different from the capitalism we expect. A world where all resources (human and physical) are primarily addresses in a network, and where the world belongs to those who know (or can find out) the addresses.