In his new book, Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being, Paul Mason, the former BBC journalist turned roving political commentator, presents a vision of humanity under siege. He identifies four distinct but related threats: the rapid advance of artificial intelligence, coupled with the vast, unaccountable tech monopolies that administer it; neoliberal economics and the adjoining “cult” of free-market competition; the rise of the authoritarian right, as embodied in the politics of Donald Trump and other populist strongmen; and academic post-modernism, which has steadily undermined public support for scientific inquiry and the legacy of the Enlightenment.
If you think this sounds like a lot to pack into 300 pages, you’d be right: it is. Mason shifts frenetically from one theme to the next, stringing together references from popular culture, political philosophy, tech science, and neurology, as well as drawing on his own experiences as a reporter in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. He has a habit of lunging into distracting tangents: an entire chapter on the worldview of Xi Jin Ping, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, for instance, could’ve been better summarised in a few short paragraphs. But for the most part, his bracing premise—that human freedom will either thrive as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or be obliterated by it—survives his anarchic writing style.
Last year, a poll by the research company Gallup revealed that 51 per cent of millennials in America had a “positive” view of socialism, while less than half—45 per cent, to be exact—viewed capitalism favourably. A slew of additional data suggests that American voters at large are ready to embrace far-reaching political change.
70 per cent support universal healthcare. 60 per cent back free college tuition. 46 per cent think the government should offer a job to unemployed citizens. And a majority want the minimum wage to be raised to at least $15 per hour.
Something strange and unexpected is happening in US politics.
“Under the guise of Medicare For All and a Green New Deal, Democrats are embracing the same economic theories that have stifled the liberties of millions over the past century,” GOP Vice President Mike Pence told a major gathering of the American right—the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—outside Washington D.C. last week. “That system,” he continued, “is socialism.”
A week ago, Jagmeet Singh’s leadership of the NDP was hanging in the balance.
If the 40-year old former Ontario legislator failed to win the Burnaby South by-election on 25 February, he faced being ignominiously sacked by his own federal caucus in Ottawa.
It’s early Friday evening, and Jagmeet Singh is standing under a blanket of BC rain, surrounded by a small team of activists and advisors, pitching for votes.
24 hours ago, CBC broke a nightmare story for the federal NDP leader: either he wins the upcoming by-election in Burnaby South—a diverse, suburban riding on the outskirts of East Vancouver—or his short tenure at the helm of Canada’s third largest party will be over.
In December 1969, the Amoco Corporation struck oil 130 miles east of the Aberdeenshire shoreline—and the axis of Scottish politics suddenly shifted.
In the years that followed, the claim that Scotland’s economy was too weak to support an independent state rapidly crumbled.
It’s a dark and drizzly January afternoon in Vancouver—an afternoon entirely typical of the British Columbian winter—and I’m sitting in a dimly-lit back-office with Eric, a regular user of methamphetamine.
Eric is 40 years old, articulate and unshaven, with a heaving mop of black and brown hair. A little over 12 months ago, his life fell apart. He had an apartment in the city and straddled two jobs, one in construction and another as a session musician. Things were going well.