“The Doctorow will see you now, comrade…”

Cory Doctorow has a muddled new article “Against optimism”.

He opens with the idea that optimism is a kind of prediction about what is “foreordained” to happen to us. It therefore denies human agency, and makes us just as apathetic as pessimism does.

That may be somewhat true of a certain sort of caricatured shorthand ‘jet-packs’ sci-fi optimism for the future, but it’s definitely not about the Matt Ridley type of rational optimism.

And the article’s first paragraph is about it for Doctorow’s serious argument. We then get an extended and scatter-gun riff on evil megacorps using globalised technology to repress and suppress the poverty-stricken masses, and the need for solidarity, comrade. Having vaguely described his tattered and antique political worldview, even Doctorow has to admit that he finds it…

“hard to be optimistic in th[is] Thomas Piketty Singularity.”

And finally he falls back on a standard crutch from the political play-book, saying that what progressives now need is “hope” that will allow them to lead a wider…

“argument about the society we want to build”.

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