Reimagining Capitalism: Applying Negative Dialectics for a Better Future
by David M. Atkinson (York St John University)
David has written an exhilarating, imaginative and deliberately provocative invitation to reimagine capitalism. It is necessary and essential. Drawing deeply from his own journey, he presents a method to engage in future story-telling to confront our accepted wisdoms. If you believe that we cannot go on as we are, or as Bob Dylan once sang, ‘There must be some way out of here,’ then David’s carefully argued route is to work with his Critical Counterfactual Futures Method to apply negative dialectics to allow imaginations to emerge. We can then talk about our futures together. We need to do this and quickly – as Dylan also sang, ‘...The hour is getting late.’
Prof. Jeffrey Gold
Organisation Learning at Leeds Business School
Leeds Beckett University
The quality of scholarship demonstrated by "Reimagining Capitalism: Applying Negative Dialectics for a Better Future" is impeccable, yet balanced to provide a curious reader with a wide breadth of material and concomitant incentives to investigate beyond the noetic and referential range of this book. The ‘originality’ of the work is its ‘raison d'être,’ in the sense that, as a unique contribution to social philosophy rooted in a dynamic application of negative dialectics, the author posits a generative methodology of applied negative dialectics within enterprise studies. As such, the work will also appeal to various scholarly and novice audiences of philosophy, futures studies, and theoretical political science. The likely impact is intrinsic to the sentiment upheld in the title of the book: “…for a better future.” As stated by the author, the book’s “sole aim is a provocation—suggesting a transitionary path from neoliberal capitalism, purposive work and autopoietic enterprise, to an emergent postcapitalism via a Design Capitalism, purposeful work, and aesthetically poietic enterprise”. The social objectives of the book are vast and diachronic, yet the central message of the book is directed to the individual - like a whisper resonating within and between the text – to find strength of purpose where perhaps none was seen before, and to direct that strength to rhythmically engage ‘the other’ to build a more positive and purposeful society. The book provides multiple interdisciplinary pathways for other scholars and thinkers to build upon its concepts and tease out additional implications for society and those who willingly ‘dance’ to its future.
Dr Marcel Lamoureux
The Covid-19 pandemic reinforced the perception that capitalism is in crisis, that the future is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, and that, increasingly, our thinking about it and ability to manage and organize ourselves within it, are challenges we are ill-equipped for. Despite the efforts of many writers, and a surfeit of manuscripts concerning the need to rethink capitalism, questions concerning the struggle for social and economic justice remain unanswered.
While some suggest that with corrective action, businesses can save the world, there is an acceptance that they cannot do so alone. However, while governments might strengthen their institutions, enacting more effective policies, the challenge is simply laid bare at the feet of industry and commerce. Is the challenge to confront the establishment just too big to face?
Government institutions and the barons of industry and commerce are but interrelated, interconnected, interplaying components in one socio-economic system. This book offers readers a progressive, radical and academic provocation of that system; it also proposes a field of Applied Negative Dialectics.
In 'Reimagining Capitalism', Atkinson confronts the need to rethink capitalism and presents an integrated range of thinking through a lens of applied negative dialectics, questioning how and why things might have occurred, and where and how we might begin to improve them.
Chapter 1 An Inspector calls: An introduction, reflecting on the absurd and irrational in dialectic thinking
PART I – ON MOTIVATIONS addresses the book’s motivation and methodology of inquiry
Chapter 2 In defense of the absurd: Provides a movement through social presence into negative dialectics
Chapter 3 The contrary entrepreneur: Comments on motivation’s individuality and its nomothetic promise
PART II – ON MEANS addresses a need for creative methods of negative dialectic thought
Chapter 4 Entrepreneurship and unicorns: On science fiction and narratives of emergent entrepreneurship
Chapter 5 Work: Experts and story tellers: Presents the negative dialectics of technology and institutions
Chapter 6 Horsemen in the land of Oz: Power, technology & identity in post-Covid international business
Chapter 7 Ghosts of democracy: Marx, Schumpeter and King: on post-Covid critical futures perspectives
PART III – ON OPPORTUNITY addresses a need to unlock potential reconciliations
Chapter 8 The invisible hand, emergent: On Design Capitalism, its problematic and its potential
Chapter 9 Emergence and the non-hero: (Re)Situating entrepreneurs in the ‘social’ design of work
Chapter 10 On experts and wizards: Higher education and management learning in a post-Covid society
Chapter 11 Dancing the VUCA: Emergence: On bringing it all together
Chapter 12 An emergent conclusion: Concluding provocations
David Atkinson is the author of 'Thinking the Art of Management' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), based on his multi-award-winning PhD research in critical management studies. David is presently a part-time lecturer in management and organisation at York St John University and a founding member of the university’s Futures and Foresight Research Group. As a lecturer at postgraduate and undergraduate level, his subjects have most recently covered Business, Creativity and Opportunism, Industrial Economics, Labour Economics, Entrepreneurship and Society and Mastering Strategic Consulting. David is openly autistic and is currently the founder of a technology start-up for the neurodiverse community. In his largely self-funded, independent academic writing, he uses critical management thinking to develop provocations grounded in the philosophy of immanent critique. Also qualified as a Chartered Engineer and European Engineer, David combines his academic insight with over 40 years of enterprising socio-economic practice, from public sector behemoths to small, award-winning start-ups in various market sectors. It is the wide range of personal experiences that David can draw on that provides a rich seem of (auto)ethnographic inspiration for his (often) reflective style of writing. This is coupled with an openly autistic mindset to explore and provoke critique from unexpected angles, while maintaining a necessary academic rigour.
Dialectics, Adorno, aesthetics, enterprise, future of work
Political Science and International Relations