Few authors are able to write cogently in both the scientific and the economic spheres. Even fewer possess the intellectual scope needed to address science and economics at a macro as well as a micro level. But Paul Cockshott, using the dual lenses of Marxist economics and technological advance, has managed to pull off a stunningly acute critical perspective of human history, from pre-agricultural societies to the present. In How the World Works, Cockshott connects scientific, economic, and societal strands to produce a sweeping and detailed work of historical analysis. This book will astound readers of all backgrounds and ages; it will also engage scholars of history, science, and economics for years to come.
Paul Cockshott, one of the most distinguished contemporary Marxist scientists, advances towards the construction of a new paradigm of 21st Century Socialism, which he calls ‘21st Century Digital Communism.’ His outstanding contributions to the renovation and evolution of Marx and Engels’s scientific paradigm of post-capitalist society give him a special place in the hagiography of contemporary revolutionary intellectuals.
This is historical materialism with a strong technological emphasis. A hugely informative account of the capitalist and non-capitalist modes of production—a term Cockshott takes seriously, almost literally. You may well disagree with some of his views, but you will learn a great deal from this highly readable book. Strongly recommended.
Ranging from pre-class to slave economy, from peasant economy to capitalism, this analytical book provides illuminating insight into the functionality of economic systems. A must-read for those striving to bring down fossil capitalism.
Paul Cockshott’s How the World Works is an important contribution to historical materialism, complementing Marx and Engels’s classic analyses of labour and wealth with a systematic account of how economies and societies are shaped by energy sources and technologies. With a strong focus on transitions from early societies to contemporary capitalism, Cockshott’s dispassionate appraisal of “actually existing socialism” and sober exploration of plausible communist futures offer promising new directions for progressive politics.