Here is an exchange from the Moot with one "Summerspeaker":
I wrote: "'The Future' is a scam, its prophets are parasites draining the life out of the open futurity inhering in the diversity of peers acting in the present."
"Summerspeaker" replied: Again, I cannot but consider this stance fundamentally anti-revolutionary.
To my way of thinking my point is radically democratic, and the farthest thing from counter-revolutionary. The openness I am talking about, the futurity inhering in the present, in the presented diversity of peers to peers, is the space of possible freedom itself in my view.
"The Future" which we encounter in flat-footed science fiction, in breathless pop futurism, in suave corporate-militarist scenario-building, in manic promotional discourse and advertising, in self-actualization guru spiels, in hyperbolic pharmaceutical and biotech and media-gizmo press releases is always just an amplification of anxieties, fears, desires TODAY masquerading as a conjuration of TOMORROW.
For more, Roland Barthes Mythologies is indispensable reading in my view -- especially his very short essays on Jules Verne, "The Nautilus and the Drunken Boat," and on "Plastic."
My understanding of revolutionary politics is informed by what I take to be a real transformation of revolutionary praxis through the nonviolence of Gandhi and King (and many more) as well as the resigned violence of Fanon, and especially by the account of politics scattered among the books of Hannah Arendt (more here). I believe the classic Revolutionaries, the professional Revolutionaries have tended opportunistically to glom onto insurrectionary eruptions and then seek to dominate, domesticate, and typically altogether kill the democratizing energies they unleashed in the service of a parochial ideologically-correct vision of revolution with which they happen to identify (usually the result of swallowing some pseudo-economic sophisms). The professional revolutionary is always a self-appointed avant-gardist, and right there is the authoritarian kernel that has throttled back every Revolution but America's (the key to which, I believe, is the genius not of the Declaration, but of the Constitution, that unsettling settlement that set us on the path of interminable democratizing reformism and experimentalism) -- which is not to say that I have forgotten or disagree with Lenin's critique of the fantasy of spontaneism.
"The Future," so-called, is the functional closure of futurity, it is the political price the futurologist inevitably pays for his alliance with incumbent interests (the "utopian" amplification of whose terms he designates as "The Future" in the first place), that is to say, for his parochial post-human dis-identification with the diversity of actual and wanted and flourishing human lifeways in the present world whose collaboration and contestation open the futurity always inhering in the present, peer-to-peer.
It is an interesting exercise, by the way, to substitute for the word "futurologist" in that sentence the word "economist": to do so is to go a long way toward understanding the havoc wreaked by the circumvention and even attempted dis-invention of Keynesian macroeconomics by the devastating ascendancy of the crypto-feudalist pseudo-economic sophisms of Hayek and Friedman (Mises, Hazlitt, and even La Rand also have places at this ignominious table). In a book like the flabbergastingly false and fantastically facile The Long Boom by Peter Schwartz and a few other exemplary mainstream neoliberal futurologists the inextricability of reactionary politics (incumbency as meritocracy, eg), spontaneist figuration (self-regulating markets as spontaneous order, eg), and the futurological form (technofixes to infinity and beyond, eg) compels attention to how thoroughly not only the argumentative framework for our present distress depends on interdependent market justifications and futurological promises, but how the style of our epoch attests as well to this interdependence: the immaterialism of neoliberal financialization and logo-ization of the economy finds its consummation in the digital utopianism of futurological discourse, the hyperbole and fraud that suffuses the marketing and promotional discursive motor of the corporate-militarist order finds its consummation in the literally techno-transcendentalizing aspirations of superlative futurology.
Do futurist visions differ so completely from traditional leftist dreams a better society?
Oh, my heavens, yes. Every commercial on television roars with the infantile demand for MORE! Futurologists handwaving about how awesome superintelligence, superlongevity, and superabundance would be, will be, must be are little more than greedy consumer appetites writ large, squalling ids clothing their infantilism in the techno-whizbang they sell themselves and seek to sell others as science (to the cost of real science and sensible policy).
Me, me, me, mine, mine, mine, munch, munch, munch! Can you really not discern the difference between such squalid tantrums and the democratizing work to implement ever greater equity in diversity, ever more informed and ever less duressed consent, to enable ever more people with ever more of a say in the decisions that affect them?
Boner pill press releases and annual declarations that a space hotel and a conscious computer are in the works (in just twenty years at most!) aren't the same thing as radical manifestos for heaven's sake. Every fast-talking grifter with some granny's scarcely ever driven used car and every priest peddling a pastel-hued hereafter is an avatar of the Revolutionary Spirit if the cybernetic-totalists, comicbook-eugenicists, techno-immortalists, and nano-cornucopiasts of the Robot Cult are to be so garlanded.
The eerily static Drexlerian and Vingean tableaux Robot Cultists have been handwaving about for generations now are unspeakably shabby impoverished straightjacketed things compared to the open futurity inhering in the present, peer to peer, the collaboratory and contestatory making and re-making of the shared public world every today of which already viscerally aspires toward such tomorrows as have any reality at all.
Every futurism is a retro-futurism, every futurological prospect is shaped by the nostalgia and anxieties and brutalizing greed of some parochial and defensive or aggressive inhabitation of the present. "The Future" is always some parochial present amplified and expanded into the openness of presence, its futurity, closing it off for itself, filling it up with itself. In one especially poignant example, notice that what the Robot Cultists like to peddle as the "acceleration of accelerating change" is little but the abject precarity of neoliberal financialization of the economy in a neoconservative hail of bullets, as described from the vantage of the relative beneficiaries of that horror or those who shabbily and selfishly with those beneficiaries.
There is nothing remotely revolutionary or even progressive in the circus barkery of the superlative futurologists and their Robot Cult (indeed, there is little that is progressive in many progressivisms, to the extent that they function as naturalizing apologiae for the self-indulgent elitism of the self-appointed elites).
There is no question that the technoscientific address of shared human problems is indispensable. But when the Robot Cultists confuse science fiction with either science proper or science policy, as well as when they champion at once reductive and triumphalist scientism, they indulge in distortions and derangements and debaucheries of science quite as dreadful as the Know Nothings of fundamentalist religiosity and the frauds and corruption of incumbent interests. Only a consensus science confined to its proper precinct in a secular multiculture, directed by democratically deliberative technodevelopment to ensure its costs, risks, and benefits are distributed equitably to the diversity of its stakeholders can properly be said to be emancipatory.
I would argue that we have already long since arrived at a technoscientific level such that we could technically emancipate all living human beings by way of a universal basic income guarantee, universal health care and life-long access to reliable knowledge and education. I agree with Walter Benjamin that we have diverted our technique into the war machine lest that available emancipation obliterate the hierarchies cherished by those who benefit from them, just as I agree with Guy Debord (and, later, Naomi Klein) that we have diverted likewise our technique into a war against the living earth to render that emancipation unavailable in spite of ourselves, while diverting our attentions to the pseudo-needs of phony lifestyle-individuation lest that still-available emancipation from the actual needs of life we all share obliterate the hierarchies cherished by those few who reside at their summits.
I want to live in a society in which people have a real say in the public decisions that affect them (my definition of democracy), in which people can consent in an informed and nonduressed way (which requires access to education and reliable knowledge and certified professions as well as equal recourse to the law and freedom from the fear of violence, penury, and undue harm) as to the cultural-prosthetic terms of their self-determination. I want to live in a working secular sustainable social democracy with public welfare and education and healthcare, funded through the progressive taxation of income, including investment income, and property. I want the institutions of global governance that already exist to be democratized and health education and welfare to be planetary entitlements. I think the planetary perspective of globe-girdling network formations and the global character of environmental, weapons proliferation, and poverty politics are already enabling such transformations.
Action as presence always reverberates with historicity and aspires as an openness onto elsewhere and otherwise. Everything emancipatory attributed to "The Future" has been stolen from the openness and potential inhering in the futurity in presence: stolen the better to be substituted with some crassly amplified incumbent parochialism peddled as "The Future."
The social struggle for greater democracy over authoritarian incumbency, the implementation of a scene of ever more informed, ever less duressed consent, the provision of equity in the face of the ongoing reconciliation of the diverse aspiration of our peers, the assertive judgments and expressivities offered up to the judgments of our fellows all together delineate the promise and problems of freedom as it presents itself in the present, peer to peer, provide the substance of open futurity in the living public world.