The worldwide social and ecological unravelling of the 21st century presents an unprecedented challenge for thinking and practising liveable economies. As life support systems are annihilated in view of the sustainable accumulation of capital, social and economic alternatives are rapidly emerging to shelter possibilities for life amidst the ruins. Postcapitalism has gained increasing attention as an invitation to amplify existing alternatives to systemic scale. The transformations required are the focus of social movements, political projects and academic research that demand the theorisation and organisation of alternatives to capitalist realism today. What has often received less attention is how such emancipatory alternatives are burdened with problematic legacies living on within, in the epistemic heritage enabling and organising societal transformation. The ‘post-’ prefix, and the break from capitalism that it announces, has largely been treated as a given. This study resists such temptations of the affirmative in order to ask how restrictive and counterproductive burdens are carried along in emancipatory thought and practice, and how their continuous negotiation might have to redefine postcapitalism itself. Taking the ‘post-’ seriously demands critical and theoretical skills capable of examining the complexity of our inherited troubles.

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Published: 2021-03-19