Mementos from a Better Future

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Some thoughts about the Present

Let us posit there are sufficient resources on Earth and technology will soon be advanced enough (provided one is willing to fund and experiment it) to turn our world into a Paradise for its seven thousand million citizens; if only certain habits, cognitive dissonance and the will to impose are transcended.

It may be the case songs about “No Future” (eg. The Sex Pistols) in the wake of 1970s disillusionment were, and are, self-fulfilling prophecies (cf. Merton). Believing tech & science are impotent – or evil -, believing in scarcity, believing in work and its associated competition(‘competitiveness’), living life as a zero-sum game, “do it to them before they do it to you”, one finds prophecies of disaster likely or even assured (eg. it’s highly likely the mantra “Multiculturalism fails” is what makes multiculturalism fail, by framing the attitude of participants). One thus become a likely host for the extreminist memes that will bring about dystopia. There Is No Alternative but that one believes in. (And one may add, such belief has been bought wholesale across the traditional political spectrum, one only needs to look at reiterated attitudes toward Employment as either a Right or a Moral Imperative, but nevertheless always unambiguously positive, always the ladder up Maslow’s hierarchy.)

The TINA Future we are moving toward is that premediated through earnest Young Adult dystopian fiction, sensationalist coverage of terrorism and horror, as well as cynical art-entertainment – gallows humour, a cackle in the face of an invading horde? It must be asked as to what point this siege is self-imposed, as to what point unbelief in Alternate Futures is what’s driving the descent into the enslavement of the permaprecariat and beyond, into the extermination of the unnecessariat through drug epidemics, through suicides private and public – individual or organized terror and psychosis.

Is a soft technological (not technocratic) utopian society possible? Some big disruptions may be needed, and not all of them may work, but at the very least they should redefine TINA, animating the belief There Is a Number of Alternatives: #basicincome #fusionenergy #vatgrownmeat #radicalnewkindsoffamilies #cappedproductionoftangibles #blockchaincooperatives

As utopian sci-fi (cf. Kim Stanley Robinson) experiences a resurgence it doesn’t stop being the minority report to the deluge of YA dystopia and despairing now-fi (cf. Gibson, Coupland). 2016 is undoubtedly the year of paranoid thriller geopolitics superimposed onto the Gibsonesque everyday, in which Augmented Reality offers Porto residents an escape from a city that has been turned into curated Junkspace (cf. Koolhaas), buried by layers of tangible but somewhat unreal Augmentation. (Is living in a now-fi spacetime not the very meaning of alienation?) Isn’t the very attraction of Augmented Reality a desire to experience a micro-utopia, even if a very fleeting and disappointing one? Utopian thought is hence how The Future becomes desirable.

Eduardo Morais