I have looked at Doctorow’s review of KSR’s book. He writes ““It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” variously attributed to Frederic Jameson and Slavoj Žižek.” I find this perspective problematic. I accept capitalism, not because it is the best system, but because it is so deeply embedded in humans that to root it out has so far required that we effectively lobotomize humanity. This is especially a shame because the project of ending capitalism has somehow so occupied the minds of so many creative and forward-thinking people for the last century and a half that we cannot somehow get those people to think, creatively, but realistically, of how to actually solve the actual problems of humanity in ways that do not make things much much worse – in reality, not in the imagination.
And so, by accepting people, as they are, I get told effectively, and often nicely, that I am backward-looking, in favor of an evil ideology, etc. If so, then what I sincerely believe such people are saying, in effect, is that they find human beings so irredeemably evil that they cannot bear to consider ways to envision a path forward for human beings - and so they must fantasize some other species to replace us. I am Jewish on my mother’s side – I am VERY aware of the right wing’s use of the term “replace us” – I am using it deliberately in order to point out that even the reprehensibles will stay. They are part of us. We are they. I think that only if we can find a human situation in which even the conservatives, even the reprehensibles can find a place to live, we will not have accomplished our goal of creating a society better than our own, with a place for the humans who live in our world.
This does not at all mean that we should not modify the structure of current capitalism. There is a perspective among some in the United States and Austria and other places that the best approach is unrestrained capitalism – this is an ideology, and as such is not helpful. Ideology generally is a way to try to force humans to fit into the boxes into which humans do not fit well – none of us fits easily into any box. Modifications to existing structures would do well to take this into account. “Nudge economics” or Behavioral Economics is a good beginning to explore ways to remedy this.
That said: “nudges” don’t easily make for great scifi drama…