“Back in the 1980s, before movies and video games reduced the genre to a mass of unimaginative violence and body modification tropes, cyberpunk was the literary movement that was busy projecting our fears about rampant capitalism, media oversaturation, and emerging computer networks into fictional futures,” writes Infinite Detailauthor and journalist Tim Maughan.
The 2020s are, in a real, tangible sense, the conclusion of The Long 1980s. Writing in the 1980s, foundational cyberpunk authors were watching as leaders on both sides of the Atlantic pursued a set of political reforms collectively known as neoliberalism. Prioritizing competition in the market above all else, these reforms were fundamentally a political project, aimed at shrinking the public sphere and undoing many of the commitments to social welfare that had been made in the wake of the chaos, upheaval, and deprivation of the first half of the 20th century. The neoliberal turn was a project of unmaking the state for individuals and communities and remaking it for capital.
The election is coming. Remember you only get to vote for the Cypherpunk farmer once every 4 years, and you get to vote with your money, every day, with every transaction you make. Maybe it’s time to reconsider basic income or start playing the long game.