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Inventing the Future

by Nick Srnicek on April 20, 2017
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The highly successful book Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams is being adapted into a documentary called Inventing the Future.

At the helm is Director Isiah Medina, whose debut feature 88:88 was hailed as a “masterpiece” and an “avant-garde sensation” after it played Locarno, TIFF, and NYFF (among others). Original authors Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams are co-crafting the script.

The project is currently in the process of being crowdfunded, and you can find details on how to support it here.

Inventing the Future sparked widespread conversations about the future of society. By challenging the Left to rethink what politics could be, they levelled a charge that was met with praise and controversy. An imaginative polemic, Inventing the Future was never meant to be a final word – it was meant to be a launchpad.

As Nick and Alex expressed in a recent interview with Roar:

There are two key arguments to the book. The first is an analysis and critique of some of the dominant ideas that have shaped leftist political action in recent years. What we call ‘folk politics’ is a set of ideas about the appropriate ways to act in the world – a set of ideas which came to dominate much (though not all) of Occupy Wall Street in particular. In its place, we argue for a counter-hegemonic project for the left – one which is explicitly aimed at scaling up, building our capacity to act, and transforming the social structures of our world.

A second set of arguments surrounds changes in the economy and changes in the goals of the left. Examining the nature of contemporary capitalism, we argue that capitalism is increasingly generating surplus populations who struggle to find wage-labour and are simply left to survive at the margins of the economy. On top of this, we have a new set of technologies which pose immense challenges for employment in the near-term future. Given capitalism’s inability to generate sufficient numbers of jobs, let alone good jobs, we argue that the left must turn towards a post-work future. We must use the liberating potential of these economic changes and new technologies in order to build a world that is increasingly weaned off of the coercive force of wage-labour. This, we think, will position the left in a much stronger position from which to build a new world.

Isiah Medina is a young and ambitious filmmaker. His debut feature, 88:88, irrupted through the festival circuit. After premiering at Locarno International Film Festival, 88:88 went on to play the New York Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, among others, and was met with stellar reviews by film critics, philosophers, cinophiles, activists, and dreamers alike. 88:88 is an experimental film about poverty, youth, media culture, philosophy, and the very medium of film itself.

Together they are creating a cinematic experience that will look to the future with unwavering optimism about what humans and technology can do, about how politics can create, and about what Life can become. With the rise of what Mark Blyth has called “Global Trumpism,” the historical moment beckons for answers that are novel and transformative. In light of this, elaborating on ideas established in the book, this film will be a unique glimpse into a post-work world. Not merely a talking-heads piece, ItF will also be an expression of life after capitalism and its discontents. The future is already but not yet. This film will palpate the surface of art, culture, and politics, releasing the flows of imaginative creation to provoke thought and action towards possible futures that are not yet realised.

Automation. Universal Basic Income. Post-Work. Collective Subjectivity. Human Flourishing.

These are concepts that Inventing the Future will express and explore.

Nick Srnicek

Nick Srnicek is a lecturer at City University. He is the author of Platform Capitalism (Polity), Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (Verso, with Alex Williams), and the forthcoming After Work: What’s Left and Who Cares? (Verso, with Helen Hester).

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