This week, Crooked Timber launched a new seminar on Cory Doctorow’s latest book, Walkaway. The seminar features 12 authors (listed below) exploring different aspects of Doctorow’s new novel. Network member Henry Farrell’s contribution is titled “No Exit” and analyzes Walkaway in comparison to William Gibson’s The Peripheral, which “covers many of the same themes that Walkaway does. The rise of extreme inequality described by Piketty and others, as the super-rich become so different from everyone else as nearly to be a distinct species. Accelerating technological change so that there are no jobs, or only very bad ones, for most people. A post-industrial landscape, in which the wreckage of the industrial era provides valuable resources for those in the new era.”
“Walkaway is quite unashamedly a didactic book in the way that earlier books such as Homeland were didactic – he has a very clear message to get across. In conversations with Steve Berlin Johnson years ago, I came up with the term BoingBoing Socialism to refer to a specific set of ideas associated with Doctorow and the people around him – that free exchange of ideas unimpeded by intellectual property law and the like, together with transformative technologies of manufacture, could open up a path towards a radically egalitarian future. Unless I’m seriously mistaken (in which case I’m sure that Doctorow will tell me), Walkaway wants to do two things – to argue for why such a future might be attractive, and to suggest that something like this future could be feasible. Doctorow is very clearly picking up on a tradition of socialism present in Fourier, and (despite his animadversions against Fourier), Marx. The motivating notions of “maker culture” – that people find a profound satisfaction making things, and solving problems for their own sake, are not all that far from the young Marx’s arguments about labour and alienation.”
Full list of seminar contributors:
- Andrew Brown is the author of Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared, and a writer and editor at the Guardian. Chatter chatter bang bang.
- Henry Farrell blogs at Crooked Timber. No Exit.
- Maria Farrell blogs at Crooked Timber. Just Meat Following Rules.
- John Holbo blogs at Crooked Timber. The One Body Problem
- Neville Morley is professor of classics and ancient history at Exeter. Free Your Mind (And the Rest Will Follow?)
- Julia Powles is a prolific writer on privacy and technology, and a researcher at Cornell Tech. Walking Away from Hard Problems.
- Eric Rauchway blogs at Crooked Timber. From Scarcity to Abundance.
- Bruce Schneier is the author of Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World, and a cryptographer and public intellectual. The Quick vs the Strong: Commentary on Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway.
- Astra Taylor is author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, a documentary film-maker, and much else besides. Virality is a double-edged sword.
- Belle Waring blogs at Crooked Timber. The Rapture of the Pretty Hip People, Actually.
- Cory Doctorow is Cory Doctorow. Coase’s Spectre