Cory Doctorow’s Hopeful Vision: Let’s Imagine Better Things

In my last post I promised I would write pieces about what is making me hopeful in a time that does not always seem hopeful. This does not mean turning away from the realities of the climate crisis or how too many people seem to be drawn to authoritarian leaders or how hard it is to reduce one’s carbon emissions. No. I will continue to gaze at the world in all its ugliness and imperfections, including my own. But I will make every effort not to be paralyzed by the difficulties of being part of a hopeful future.

The perfect place to start my hopeful postings is with the activist and science fiction author Cory Doctorow, who is perhaps best known for his novel  Little Brother. Recently for Canada’s Globe and Mail, Doctorow wrote an opinion piece entitled Science Fiction and the Unforeseeable Future: In the 2020s, let’s imagine better things.

On his website Doctorow posits that “science fiction can’t predict the future, but might inspire it” and “how the dystopian malaise of science fiction can be turned into an inspiring tale of ‘adversity met and overcome – hard work and commitment wrenching a limping victory from the jaws of defeat.'”

Here an excerpt from Science Fiction and the Unforeseeable Future: In the 2020s, let’s imagine better things:

Considered in the grand sweep of human achievements, resolving the climate crisis is a big job, but it’s not the biggest thing we’ve ever done. We have built great cities, international aviation systems, an internet that wires together the planet like a vast digital nervous system. We can do this.”

Then Doctorow goes on to imagine a Canadian Dream, which could be a dream for all of us:

Full employment is guaranteed to anyone who will work on the energy transition – building wind, tide and solar facilities; power storage systems; electrified transit systems; high-speed rail; and retrofits to existing housing stock for an order-of-magnitude increase in energy and thermal efficiency. All of these are entirely precedented – retrofitting the housing stock is not so different from the job we undertook to purge our homes of lead paint and asbestos, and the cause every bit as urgent.

Canada goes on a war footing: Full employment is guaranteed to anyone who will work on the energy transition – building wind, tide and solar facilities; power storage systems; electrified transit systems; high-speed rail; and retrofits to existing housing stock for an order-of-magnitude increase in energy and thermal efficiency. All of these are entirely precedented – retrofitting the housing stock is not so different from the job we undertook to purge our homes of lead paint and asbestos, and the cause every bit as urgent.

How will we pay for it? The same way we paid for the Second World War: spending the money into existence (much easier now that we can do so with a keyboard rather than a printing press), then running a massive campaign to sequester all that money in war bonds so it doesn’t cause inflation.

The justification for taking such extreme measures is obvious: a 1000 Year Reich is a horror too ghastly to countenance, but rendering our planet incapable of sustaining human life is even worse.

Doctorow makes a compelling argument for hope, and I would encourage readers to read the whole Globe and Mail piece, which can be accessed through the above link I have provided to Doctorow’s website.

24 thoughts on “Cory Doctorow’s Hopeful Vision: Let’s Imagine Better Things”

  1. What great ideas .. full employment and working towards the good of everyone..sounds so positive ….my daughter with a young family will be interested in his ideas.

  2. Paralysis is real, and one of the worst forms used to be called ‘analysis paralysis.’ Maybe it still is. There’s a whole lot of analyzing going on these days; even the smallest action sometimes be enough to break the paralysis.

  3. The *Washington Post* has a book review called
    “Let’s Talk About How Science Fiction Has Dealt with Environmental Change: It’s Not All Depressing,” but I can’t read it as I don’t subscribe!

  4. Finding positives can be so hard at the moment, so it’s good to make a concerted effort and also to interact with others who are looking for positive ways forward. Please do keep sharing this sort of thing – it helps.

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