No Happy Nonsense

Inventing the Future

By: Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams
Published: 2016
Genre: Politics, Economic Theory, THE FUTURE
Finished Reading: August 15th, 2022

This book tackles the major problem that "the left" has faced for a long time, but most noticeably since the turn of the millennium, that is the tendency towards what the authors call "folk politicals." This is the small scale, "local", "organic" type of movement that rejects hegemonic structure as either unnecessary or inherently flawed. The authors argue that hegemony is very much a tool that needs to be utilized by "the left" in order for lasting, full-scale changes in the world to occur.

What are those changes? Why, the future of course.

Srnicek and Williams argue that we should demand the future we were promised; automation replacing mindless drone work that keeps the lights on and the bowls full. Universal basic income replacing the need for humans to work unless they choose to do so. Governmental regulations to bash the fuck out of the corporatist hellworld we find ourselves trapped within. Rejection of fossil fuels in favor of renewable resources. Equity for all.

Many times while reading this book and coming across some sort of systemic action that the left should engage in to meaningfully work towards creating a better future, I'd think to myself, "yeah but I'd never do that type of work." And, really I think that's the point. Our slacktivism (or clicktivism) is easy. It's frictionless. It's meaningless. Protests have largely been sanctioned and controlled by the state to a point where it's little more than a group of people corralled into a holding area off to the side, shouting slogans at passerbys who couldn't care less. You don't achieve anything through this, you need to genuinely disrupt the system. You need to disrupt people's lives. You need to grab them by the shoulders and shake them violently until they vomit the grande soy latte from starbucks they just drank and fall over on the sidewalk.

But again, I'd never do that type of work. All the same, the book opened up my eyes to how meaningless a lot of our virtual signaling and I.D. political shit is, and how to make change you really have to make a structure, make a system. The left tends to view this as the antithesis to what they want to achieve, which seems to be some sort of unspoken shared perfect utopian existence where everyone somehow mentally connects perfectly together and there are no demands or rules or structures in place to control it all. That simply won't happen, online lefty. We need to make it happen by force and dedication. We need to invent it ourselves.