Jacobin - October 22, 2020

"The Left needs to be much more aggressive, and say the problem is not globalization per se; the problem is bad globalization, which is capitalism."

he Ministry for the Future is Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest attempt to fill in a major gap in the utopian fiction tradition. Rarely dealing with the transitional phase toward a better and different society, speculative fiction of this type instead explores the final stages of a utopian experiment. The Ministry is an exception to this tendency.

A speculative history of the next few decades, the novel revolves around an international ministry assembled to help implement the Paris climate agreement. The novel’s action spans the globe, featuring popular uprisings, ecoterrorism, asymmetrical warfare, student debt strikes, and geoengineering. Green New Deal–style programs in a number of the world’s biggest economies feature prominently — with a post-BJP India leading the way — and the commandeering of many of the world’s key central banks to finance the work toward a just transition off fossil fuels is explored.

This is the meat and potatoes of the long transition — that which has dismissively been called “a cookshop of the future.” But while it may not service as a political blueprint, it is undeniably fertile ground for a novel. And genre disregard for the subject matter has been to Robinson’s gain.

Looking backward from the mid-twenty-first century, The Ministry helps open our minds to a world in transition away from capitalism. Imagining is a necessary precondition for solving the ecological crisis of our times. It provides the pivot for leveraging the horizon of the possible. By envisioning possible routes forward, Robinson has done us an invaluable service.

Jacobin’s Derrick O’Keefe, a Vancouver-based organizer and writer, caught up with KSR to talk about politics, economics, climate change, sci-fi, and the journey from now to the future. 

Read full interview at Jacobin