The flourishing of fascism depends upon a sense of inevitability; Peter Frase’s Four Futures: Life After Capitalism summons the will and concentration to imagine differently.
IS there any reason to expect that technological advances will address economic inequality? In an 1856 speech, Karl Marx raised this question by pointing out that “the newfangled sources of wealth, by some strange weird spell, are turned into sources of want.” He noted that though machines were “gifted with the wonderful power of shortening and fructifying human labor,” workers were nonetheless overworked and hungry. “All our invention and progress,” he argued, “seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life into a material force.” That is, technology tends to dignify machines at the expense of people’s dignity. Eleven years later, in the first volume of Capital, Marx would claim it “possible to write a whole history of the inventions made since 1830 for the sole purpose of providing capital with weapons against working-class revolt.”