By Kirsten Bussière
This academic article explores the theme of revolutionary post-scarcity techno-utopianism in Cory Doctorow’s 2017 novel Walkaway. Building on the longstanding tradition of social science fiction, Walkaway examines the extension of the digital community beyond the realms of cyberspace and into the physical world. It brings vividly to life a symbiotic post-digital relationship between humans and machines, in which the communal nature of producing digitally rendered objects in the non-digital world begins to trace the outlines of a radically different post-capitalist future.
- Review: This article underwent editorial review by two editors.
- License: Copyright Kirsten Bussière, all rights reserved.
- Citation: Bussière, K. 2018. Digital Humanity: Collaborative Capital Resistance in Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway. Vector #288. https://vector-bsfa.com/2018/11/29/digital-humanity-collaborative-capital-resistance-in-cory-doctorows-walkaway/
- Keywords: Cory Doctorow, gamification, post-capitalism, post-scarcity, reputation economy, revolution
Since the 2008 global financial crisis, social movements which once pursued scattered causes are increasingly united against a common enemy: capitalism. In his recent article “The New Combinations: Revolt of the Global Value-Subjects,” Nick Dyer-Witherford recounts how the “landscapes of globalized capital” are riven by scenes of political unrest. We have witnessed a decade crossed with an “ascending arc of struggles”: demonstrations across different cities “mark the convergence of a range of campaigns and activisms,” while coalitions of political groups “often exceed single issues and specific identities,” and find means to converge on shared anti-capitalist perspectives – pushing back against a society built on purposeful scarcity, a society that predicates the wealth of the few on the poverty of the many (Dyer-Witherford 156-158).
Capitalism, in spreading wealth at an unequal rate, “can set all its subjects in competition with each other.” This separation of the population ensures that the masses will not rise up against their oppressors. That’s why the mobilization of different political activism groups as one anti-capitalist multitude is particularly dangerous to the existing hierarchy. So what has changed? There are many factors, but one which stands out. Modern day demonstrations and protests take place not only in the streets, but also in the realm of cyberspace. Information technology allows resistance groups to communicate and co-ordinate as never before, and what starts as a hashtag can quickly sprout into a powerful movement for change. Plenty of cyberactivism isn’t even that overtly political, but nevertheless strikes a blow against capitalism by de-commodifying capitalist products through “piracy; open source and free software initiatives; peer-to-peer production; and gift economy practices” (Dyer-Witherford 175-180).
Building on the longstanding tradition of social science fiction, the 2017 novel Walkaway by Cory Doctorow explores the extension of the digital community beyond the realms of cyberspace and into the physical world. It imagines a symbiotic post-digital relationship between humans and machines. The communal nature of producing digitally rendered objects in the non-digital world provides a technotopian solution to the anti-utopian capitalist regime – unyielding in its commitment that there is no better world possible.Continue reading “Digital Humanity: Collaborative Capital Resistance in Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway“