Monday, 29 December 2014

Do Communists Dream of Electric Shepherds?

In spite of much sci-fi being inspired by leftist politics, the influence is not obviously mutual. The utopian visions of the future so common among 19th century socialists have been rolled back by successive generations of dour ‘scientific’ pragmatists who have accommodated the dreams for the future to the demands of the moment. Today, with the far left generally unable to influence the tenor of political life and a technologically driven ecological disaster beckoning, it is perhaps unsurprising that faith in the future and of human beings’ capacity to use technology for the benefit of all is at a low point.

Rallying against this state of affairs, and following on from the accelerationist manifesto, lefty ‘media platform’ Novara Media has begun to take seriously the question of what the future might look like. So far, the group’s weekly video slot, IMOBastani, has proffered two dystopian visions of how capital might reproduce itself in the future (clue: it’d be bad) and one socialistic alternative predicated on the use of automation to largely eliminate the need for alienated labour. This has inspired a self-consciously sci-fi response, reflecting on the post-capitalist universe depicted in Star Trek. As far as I can see, no critique of the Novara perspective from a curmudgeonly ultra-left yet loveably tweedy medievalist perspective has emerged in the month or so since these pieces were published, so here’s one from 1889. In sci-fi, socialism, as in life: nothing changes and nothing stays the same.

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