What comes after capitalism?

I am not asking this question in a political sense, as capitalism vs. socialism or whatever. I am asking, what is the next material (not political) basis on which production and consumption of goods and services in human society will be organized?

So far we have had, basically, the following (with some intermediate stages):

Hunting and gathering: Humans take what they need from what they find, wild plants and animals.

Agriculture: Humans domesticate plants and animals and farm them. This is not necessarily feudalism. China was an agrarian society at all periods of its history until the late 20th Century, but was a feudalist society only at some few periods. It is generally characterized, however, by a not very mobile labor market, regardless of political organization. Most people work in direct production of agricultural goods, food and the raw material for clothing (wool, cotton, etc.), for their own consumption, with some limited market consumption based on local socioeconomic conditions.

Merchant capitalism: Early capitalism. Agriculture still produces most wealth, but other modes of production begin to emerge. Goods mainly produced by cottage industries or small shops.

Industrial capitalism: Production is mostly by industrial organizations based on wage labor. Most people have to go out and find jobs and work to earn money. Technology informed by science = progress, in the sense of new things constantly being invented, modes of production as well as consumer goods.

So, after industrial capitalism, what will be the Next Stage?

I’m not sure why you think there should be, or will be, another stage. What if capitalism is the best system we have? What if it leads to the theoretically pareto-optimum result when implemented properly?

Given human nature, what I expect will happen is a set of cycles where capitalism will be partially abandoned in favor of the top-down control scheme of current fashion - followed by economic decline, a crisis, and the re-establishment of capitalist principles to save a wrecked economy.

Economist Joseph Schumpeter beleives that as productivity and education levels increase, it will become increasingly difficult for those educated people to find meaningful work. This will usher in a growing class of “intellectuals”. People informed enough to critique matters of which they are not a part of and speak for less fortunate sub groups of the population, disatisfied by their academic skills no longer being rewarded in the job market. The result would be increased social pressures for policies that are what we would consider more “socialist” in nature, creating a welfare state.

Well, if you believe Francis Fukuyama, that’s it. Capitalism and democracy are the end of history.

Post scarcity (i.e. Msmith’s welfare state, with the welfare “paid for” by automated production). I don’t think it’s a particularly likely outcome, though.

It is, certainly, entirely possible there will never be a future stage so fundamentally different from what we have now that we can no longer call it “capitalism.” I’m merely calling for speculation otherwise.

Again, I’m not looking at political systems. America and Cuba and North Korea are all “capitalist” in the sense I’m using the term here, just as feudal Europe and Jefferson’s vision of an America of independent yeoman farmers are both equally agrarian.

As automation becomes more and more prevalent, physical goods will become less and less scarce. Since capitalism is based upon scarcity, it probably wouldn’t be the most efficient system to deal with plentiful goods, though I’m not sure exactly what would work better.

Something AI driven? Industrial capitalism emerged from the industrial revolution. Maybe the next logical step is something born from the computer revolution. As production is automated and more and more transaction information is available, markets can be modeled and controlled to reduce local inefficiencies and maximize overall output/utility. You’d maybe need some sort of singularity event where a computer intellect(s) is sentient enough to strive for the best possible distribution of resources, has enough real-time data and influence to actually manage that much commerce, and has no vested self-interest in the result.

Corporate socialism comes after capitalism, Q.E.D.

Roddenberryism, the system in which everybody proudly declares they have evolved past money,then never bothers to explain how society works, and then uses money anyway.

This- but I don’t think we’ll get to a point to where even a majority of goods are no longer scarce for at least another millennium.

You are strictly talking about resource consumption. Would you also have plentiful labor, and how would you pay for that?

Entirely possible. Economies of scale would naturally cause companies to merge and consolidate within industry segments. Those large companies would then become too big to fail, requiring government protection.


Just so: really, this would dramatically improve the wealth and production available for consumption. It would probably also make many more resources available for service-related tasks, but it wouldn’t in and of itself change capitalism or free markets.

You possibly would have gotten a lot of agreement in the early part of the 20th century. This was a popular idea in various forms. It also was a significant aspect of the rise of Fascism. (Standard Fascism Disclaimer: This ntoe included for informative purposes only. No, I am not calling you Hitler unless you do, in fact, aim to exterminate all Jews and Conquer Europe at the head of your Panzer-legions, ushering in an age of German tyranny o’er the world.)

And yet, if anything, we see this increasingly moving the other way. Ther are many alrge and growing companies, but increasingly economies of scale are more and more often trivial aspects of the business. You take advanatge of them when you can, but they are only one of many, many forms of competitive advantage. They simply don’t compare to the ability to deliver quickly, to deliver what the customer wants, and the ability to otherwise provide better service.

This appears to be a strong outgrowth of increased wealth, and is likely to continue idefinitely if nto inevitably. Industrialization provided a mechanism for reducing the price of basic goods and increasing the productivity of everyday people, and amongst other things began a substantial and long rise of the average and median wealth per capita. Over more and more time, this increasing wealth meant that workers could and did begin to spend it in various ways. At first, they wanted to buy into an urban existence with its numerous advantages. Then, they wanted a more middle-class life, and the middle and lower classes started to merge. Both groups (or perhaps the one group) spent more and more on education, housing, vacations, and other high-end goods.

What we see today is that this process has continued into the phase of more and more personal goods on a more and more inexpensive level than housing and vacations. This has radically increased the complexity of the supply chain. While large compabnies exist to be sure, and are quite strong and profitable, small and medium-size firms are experiencing strong growth whenever they can bear the weight of government regulation.

And then government simply steps in and takes them over. :slight_smile:

Well, any definition of “capitalism” that includes the economic system of North Korea or Cuba is a definition that doesn’t make any sense.

There’s already a term that describes what I think you’re getting at, which is “Industrialism”. That is, communist Soviet Union, fascist Germany and Italy, democratic United States, Britain and France, and imperial Japan were all industrial powers, despite having very different economic and political organization.

Capitalism is defined as a system with private ownership of capital goods. If the state owns all capital goods, you don’t have capitalism, you have socialism.

So a postcapitalist economy would be one without private ownership of capital goods. And it seems to me that if capital goods become so cheap that pretty much anyone can have pretty much anything manufactured pretty much any time, there’s no benefit to accumulating capital goods. There aren’t any factory owners if there are no factories any more.

There will always be some types of goods and services that will be scarce–they aren’t making any more land, for instance. But note that while land in downtown Manhattan is incredibly scarce, there are millions and millions of acres in northern Canada, or the western United States. If you just want “land”, you can buy a couple of acres in the middle of nowhere for very little.

But if fabrication and manufacturing become dirt cheap (ie, you shovel dirt in one end of the fabricator, and finished goods come out the other), then that breaks the need for humans to be crammed together into cities. If a typical person can live a middle class lifestyle isolated in the middle of Baffin Island, and they produce everything they need from their personal fabricators (including more fabricators as needed), then we’re talking about a radically different sort of economy.

There’s going to be some sort of need for exchange of goods and services, but on a completely different scale than we are used to here in the 21st century. I look around my house and it’s crammed full of manufactured goods produced in factories from all over the world, all purchased with money I made by working to produce goods and services for other people. There are a few goods that were created by me personally, or by family members, but that’s a tiny fraction of the total goods in my house.

Now imagine a different scenario. If I want a chair today, I go down to the furniture store and I buy one made in a factory. Or I could collect some wood and make one myself, but it would take me only a few hours of labor at my regular job to accumulate enough money to purchase a really nice chair, while it would take many more hours to produce that nice chair on my own. In many cases it costs more to purchase the raw materials for a product than it does to purchase the finished product. So while I always have the ability to opt out of the industrial economic system, I almost never do because it’s almost always cheaper and easier for me to opt in.

In a post capitalist or post industrial economy that wouldn’t be the case. Personal manufacture will be cheaper and easier and more convenient than to exchange my personal labor for goods created by someone else.

A post-scarcity society. As theoretically depicted in Star Trek.

You are welcome to come sit over by me, and we’ll make fun of the big brains behind their backs. :smiley:

How about Globalism? We’re seeing the seeds already, with concerns about global warming and how some countries control emissions and others don’t, and what are we going to do about it as a species?

Well, there’s the definition of ‘capitalism’ as it is practised in the USA i.e. as a religion or ideology, and there’s ‘capitalism’ as a tool to generate wealth, as practiced elsewhere.

It looks like the next stage for the USA is developing quite fast, that is the privatisation of the military - corporate armies working with government effectively owned by corporations - and that’ll be interesting.

I don’t know where this ends for the USA.