Reconsidering Optimism: Cory Doctorow's 'Brief for Hope'

Reconsidering Optimism: Cory Doctorow's 'Brief for Hope'

In the past, I've considered myself an optimist despite the "enshittification of everything". However, a recent conversation between Cory Doctorow and Adam Conover made me re-evaluate my perspective. In this post, I want to explore my thoughts and share them with you.

Photo Meme, text over an image showing a grainy, dusty landscape. "You are the protagonist in a dystopian apocalyptic horror movie, so act like it."
You are the protagonist in a dystopian apocalyptic horror movie, so act like it.

I use the image above as my phone background to remind myself of the overwhelming nature of our world.

Reading dystopian and utopian fiction has prepared me for the reality of today's society. Cory Doctorow's work, especially, has had a significant impact on my thinking, and his discussion with Adam Conover about the themes in "Chokepoint Capitalism" is something I highly recommend.

Toward the end of the conversation, Adam asked Cory if he was optimistic about a better-regulated creative industry. Cory responded with his "Brief for Hope," which I've paraphrased below:

Capitalism Ruins Everything - The FACTUALLY podcast with Adam Conover & guest, Cory Doctorow

I hate the word optimism, because it's just fatalism.

Optimism is the idea that things get better, and pessimism is the idea that things get worse, but both of them presume that nothing we do matters...

...Instead, I brief for hope, because even if I don't know how to get from A to Z, all I need to do is materially improve my circumstances in some way, and after I do that, I might be able to see some other course of action that will allow me to materially improve my circumstances even further...

...We are better served by following a heuristic that goes toward the world we want...I just want us to be always moving towards that goal of a more pluralistic, more humane world that's sustainable, where artists get their fair share, where artists and audiences understand that they're class allies, where firms are tamed...

...the people who work for big entertainment companies, don't hate creators, they're in the same bind as us.

If you work in publishing, there's five companies that can give you a job, you don't think that suppresses wages and lowers working conditions? If you work in music there's three labels that can give you a job, if you work in mobile platforms there's two companies that can give you a job, if you work in ebooks there's one company...that acts on them too. We are class allies with those workers, not their bosses.

Although their discussion centered on the creator economy, the accelerating domination by a few influential players and the resulting inequities can be applied to any modern marketplace.

I believe that access to the internet is as much of a fundamental human right as healthcare, education, housing, gender, and racial equality.

In the USA, monopolistic operators dominate the 'last mile,' making it financially prohibitive for vast parts of society to acquire reliable internet access. This plays out everywhere, affecting folks who live in both rural and urban areas.

I've decided to use this "Brief for Hope" as a call to action and do what I can to help solve this "last mile" problem. All of us must become class allies in this struggle for a better world. I urge you to take the time to watch or listen to the whole conversation between Doctorow and Conover, as it provides valuable insights into the challenges we face today.

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