'Wageless Life: A future beyond Capitalism

Abstract: In this talk, I discuss a persistent violence of capitalism: the production of what Karl Marx called “surplus populations” or what Zygmunt Bauman terms a “disposable humanity.” These are those populations who are tossed outside mainstream political and economic systems. We live in a world sculpted by money but populated by the moneyless—and this has long been the case. Yet the condition of “wageless life” now befalls millions, even billions of lives in the global South and the global North, with financialisaton and automation putting incredible pressure on waged labour. If capitalism is indeed reaching a “tipping point”—how can we imagine a more dignified future beyond what Mark Fisher terms capitalist realism? Why is it still easier to imagine the end of the world than capitalism? I thus explore various exit strategies beyond capital, centered on the Right to the World. The right to the world is a right to live a dignified and above all autonomous existence—and that right is never complete, but always an ongoing struggle for geographic justice.

Ian Shaw is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of Predator Empire: Drone Warfare and Full Spectrum Dominance(2016) and Wageless Life: A Manifesto for a Future beyond Capitalism (2019), both with the University of Minnesota Press. He researches state violence, economic justice, war, and post-capitalist politics.