My Manifesto for a Post-carbon Future

by Paul Mason

The left that’s emerged since 2008 is, in reality, an alliance of two projects: a rearguard action by the old working class of the carbon era, against austerity, atomisation and a falling wage share; and an offensive by the diverse, educated workforce of the information era to advance individual rights and social liberalisation. One project is about setting right the injustices of the carbon era; the other is about moving beyond both work and carbon.

That is why all current Green New Deal proposals contain a promise to the existing industrial workforce that, whatever the scale of change, there will be enough decent high-paid jobs created. The same assurance underpins the US Democrat proposal to replace diesel and petrol cars with electric vehicles.

Yet the future-oriented left knows, both theoretically and in its heart, that the recreation of the Keynesian-era workforce is impossible, and that perpetuating a system based on family-owned automobiles by adopting electric vehicles is pointless. From the energy grid to the factory to the road network, capitalism looks like it does because, for 250 years, burning carbon and exploiting human labour were its twin sources of dynamism. An honest left would have to tell people that neither of these things can continue.


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