Book Review: Inventing the Future

Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ illuminating and radical new book Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work is as ambitious and global as its title implies. It looks at the political left’s ‘emancipatory visions’ to date with the notion of technology as a liberating tool. It notes the changes brought about in democracy through the internet and social media giving voice to individuals around the world, but still maintains that this democracy is ‘in disrepair’. ...


Is There Any Point to Protesting?

... In “Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work” (Verso), a book published in 2015, then updated and reissued this past year for reasons likely to be clear to anyone who has opened a newspaper, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams question the power of marches, protests, and other acts of what they call “folk politics.” These methods, they say, are more habit than solution. Protest is too fleeting. It ignores the structural nature of problems in a modern world. “The folk-political injunction is to reduce complexity down to a human scale,” they write. This impulse promotes authenticity-mongering, reasoning through individual stories (also a journalistic tic), and a general inability to think systemically about change. In the immediate sense, a movement such as Occupy wilted because police in riot gear chased protesters out of their spaces. But, really, the authors insist, its methods sank it from the start by channelling the righteous sentiments of those involved over the mechanisms of real progress....

the chaos of protests are a great distraction to murder people and get away with it

@dredmorbius I have refused to attend protests unless I see a clear and obvious link between my body being present and a change occurring.

I have absolutely disbelief in moral suasion by protest after watching the last 20 years' activists work be turned into nullity.

Strikes seem to be orders of magnitude more effective, as they actually grip the levers of power.

@dredmorbius "The difficulty, in their eyes, is that the left, despite its pride in being progressive, is mired in nostalgia. “Petitions, occupations, strikes, vanguard parties, affinity groups, trade unions: all arose out of particular historical conditions,” "

I'm glad Serious Writer People are making this observation.

protests in seattle are, in the worst way, virtue signaling so much.

They also generate reactionary results AFAICT. So. :shrug:

do the sweat get the work

@dredmorbius sweat is, in this case, seizing a lever of power and threatening to use it.

the only thing they've done lately is wind up gullible cops into smashing heads and the fallout from that.

probably should form a superpac and buy elections.

@dredmorbius sorry, it kicked a soap box of mine.

The repeated failure of left activism is all over the city of Seattle.

@pnathan Mass, general, and sympathy strikes are outlawed.

Public protest is not.

Do the math.

@dredmorbius Reflecting a little, I want to caveat a little.

When you protest by chanting in downtown, that does zip.

When you protest by showing up in front of the mayor, councilmember, or police chief's house, they can get very excited very fast.

Also when some council members joined the protest and got tear gassed, they got pissed and SPD is catching heat from that.

Protests can serve an energizing function/pool to draw from for organizing.

@dredmorbius I note that some of the Ferguson activists have survived and got involved in elections and seizing power. Speculatively, that's third order from the specific protest - getting funding and support to get to a place to do that.

So protests are not perfectly useless, but they tend, intensely, to be largely useless.

@pnathan Protest, like any other tactic, should be strategic and goal oriented, considered by its costs and benefits, where those costs are both direct and opportunity.

Effectiveness of the 1950s/1960s Civil Rights, and 1970s antiwar, anti-nuclear, and environmental movements, owed much to the difficulty of organising. One couldn't just throw out aa hashtag, there needed to be a ground game, one with real organisation.

Civil rights protest was a strong and credible signal of that organisation.

(Not my original idea BTW.)

Increased ability to protest has simultaneously muted effectiveness.

That said, OWS and BLM have changed the conversation in the US, as well as internationally. That's not nothing.

> there needed to be a ground game, one with real organisation.

Agreed. This is, IMO, an ideological position of the liberals left (hazily defined) - "leaderless orgs are morally better than ones with leaders". Anarchist praxis. :-S So you see a certain foot-shuffling to use power when elected, along with a built in distrust of leaders - the very qualities needed for long term effectiveness and answering the demands from the base.

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