Interviewed by Real Utopia

I was interviewed by Mark Evans of Real Utopia for the May 2023 issue of the monthly newsletter ‘RU Participating’. The full newsletter PDF is below, and under that is the interview text.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your name?
Where were you born? Where do you live now?
What kind of work do you do? What are your
interests? What is your all time favourite book,
film or piece of music? Anything that you feel
comfortable sharing.

Well, thank you for the opportunity. My name is Ferdia
O’Brien, I was born and grew up in Dublin, Ireland,
where I live today.

I trained as an electrical engineer but these days I’m a
social cybernetician focused on investigating solutions to
humanity’s great problems. That work involves research,
policy, and communications, organised as Bright Age
Beyond (, formerly After The

I’m particularly interested in developing detailed models
of postcapitalism. Anders Sandström and I are writing
a book extending and revising Parecon. We also just
submitted a journal article called ‘Postcapitalist Retail
and Accounting: Personal Consumption Planning in the
Participatory Economy’. I have lots of projects up my
sleeve, but that’s enough for now.

As a proud generalist, my interests are very broad.
Apart from social science, I’m particularly interested
in pragmatist philosophy, philosophies for life (e.g.
secular buddhism), complexity science, cybernetics, and
technology. I’ve also been vegan for 10 years.

I’m adamantly pluralist and open-minded. Dogmatism is
the norm, including among radicals. Identifying your self
with an ideology is the death of thought. It’s a constant
struggle to keep my mind open but I try. My pragmatist
philosophy helps.

Regarding postcapitalism, that means I read everything
serious and I try to evaluate every proposal on its merits. I think parecon is very promising but it has
its own gaps and flaws.

I’ve also been making music, writing poems, etc, for many
years. That is a huge part of me but I don’t advertise that.
I’m also a big fan of rugby.

Did you have any significant events in your life that ignited your interest in politics and social justice?