Franco Berardi’s After Future is both depressing and cathartic. Maybe I’m not alone in being depressed by sad and stupefying stories that dominate the news everyday. And according to Berardi, things have been going to hell for the last 36 years. That’s a bummer. I just hope he’s wrong.
Berardi lays out a slew of possibilities for the future of humanity, and he asserts that if humans don’t change their ways, life on this planet will be dark or impossible. Is there anything we can do, other than kill ourselves, to change the course of things, even in a minor way? Although Berardi says suicide is our only form of resistance, it seems difficult to agree with him. Perhaps there are other, smaller measures we can take to make a difference.
He is certainly right that we work too much and have been working too much for centuries, and that workers are being increasingly exploited. (This is evident in the increasing income gap between the middle class and the upper class. The middle class seems to be vanishing.) Are there any other alternatives to the return of communism, which Berardi forecasts? Is there a way we can get the people at the top to stop being greedy, stop cheating, and stop exploiting? From an optimistic viewpoint, Berardi has to be overlooking something. Could he be overlooking the morals of the people at the top? Are there really as many exploiters as he implies? Could it be that a minority is making the majority look bad? This is a question that may be better answered by news and current events. However, it seems that Berardi may dream of the scenario from the introduction to Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, in which a band of crusty accountants start a revolution, violently overthrowing other offices, before accidentally sailing off the edge of the earth.
What’s interesting is to try to apply this to science fiction storytelling following 1977, which Berardi says is the year that everything changes. Perhaps one of the most interesting changes that takes place around this time is the introduction of science fiction horror. Is there any connection between the changing views of the future in 1977 and the introduction of science fiction horror? This is a difficult question to answer that, per the previous post, may be a topic for exploration in the final project for the course. However, things haven’t been all bad since 1977, as depicted by our narratives. Berardi says the phrase “no future” is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but some have subverted the idea. Terminator 2 boasts the phrase “no fate,” referring to the phrase “no fate but what we make for ourselves.” While Terminator 2 is incredibly dark, it holds a much more hopeful message than the punk movement. It implies that if we as a people work together, we can change the future, no matter how daunting. But can we overcome human nature to change the future? As Terminator 2 — in its semi-philosophical manner — points out, it is in our nature to destroy ourselves. It’s sad but true.