But perhaps a little more of a good role model…
I’ll admit it if you do. Ayn Rand made sense or at least was very comforting to read right as I was going into college. I was a bit of an outlier in my home town with a small group of friends that understood each other and the majority of my classmates representing the masses. Those that in the future who would be living off of my brilliance and exceptionality. And then life happened.
I still don’t have anything significantly in common with the majority of the folks that I grew up with, but for the most part everyone does what they can to get through life. I wouldn’t say that I’m anywhere near being really as successful as I thought I could be, but looking back through the years, there have been a lot of very good adventures. Who knows, things may still end up that way, but I think my measure of success has shifted as well.
Looking back at the Ayn Rand characters, she chose to make all very much part of an us or them group, with us being superior and them depending on us to survive and us being noble to a fault. Very comforting thoughts when you have just finished going through the most alienating experience of your life, but in hindsight, it was a bit much, eh?
Cory Doctorow's first adult novel in eight years: an epic tale of revolution, love, post-scarcity, and the end of death…
A week ago, Cory Doctorow released his latest novel Walkaway. Set in the near, but not too near future where food and other things are fabbed from feedstock created from almost anything, this is another story of the us vs. them, but in this case the us is significantly more inclusive and accepting. Given the state of the world, with international leaders blatantly using lies to prop up a state of ignorance. At least before when the leaders lied, they did it well and you liked them for it. But, with recent events like the financial industry shenanigans which materially hurt many people that are in the worst situation to cope with it but left those responsible with barely a slap on the wrist, something will have to give. Walkaway is a story about what that potentially could look like.
In this world, there are brilliant people on both sides, but there end up being three sides: default, walkaway, and zotta. Default is what you get when you just go along with the status quo. There are many brilliant people there, but the world around them has been engineered to where the only hope is to tread water. The zottas, uber rich whose ultimate obsession with power and money (to keep score with) is a polar opposite of those who walked away and chose to not participate in default society. The walkaways are from all walks of life, but they share the common desire to simply live life. Given the accessibility of technology and large swaths of infrastructure standing unused after it is unprofitable to use, default is told that the walkaways are the ultimate squatters with intent to bring down civilization by procuring these resources that belong to zottas in name. It is like a child who grows tired of many of their toys but has no interest in sharing what is theirs.
The core argument is based around inequality hitting a critical point. Most of default can just get by, but over the course of the narrative, that becomes more and more of a struggle while the zottas eat the proverbial cake.
I’ve read plenty of dystopia and utopia stories, but I would say this one helps to humanize everyone involved. Instead of it being us versus them, it helps you to see them as being people too, even if you can’t agree with their motives and incentives. I plan to give Walkaway a re-read in the nearish future and see how it hangs together. If you are considering reading Atlas Shrugged for answers to life, perhaps give Walkaway a try instead. It won’t make you feel quite so superior, but you might actually learn something useful.