Whatever happened to flying cars? And moon bases, teleportation, anti-gravity shoes and servant robots? No one actually says, ‘Beam me up, Scotty!’ Or rather they do, but only ironically, in quotation marks, or in movies. The future, argues David Graeber, in this fizzing, fabulous firecracker of a book, has been lost somewhere in the past. Instead of manifest technological innovations all we are left with are barren images, postmodern simulacra of futurity. Instead of real creativity and originality, what we have is virtual art and virtual science. And the bad guys in this narrative, the Blue Meanies responsible for stomping on our latent imagination and inventiveness? Bureaucrats.
It’s a pity they don’t wear bowler hats and carry furled umbrellas any more. At least you could recognise them. They have morphed, multiplied and spread around the planet like a virus. Our contemporary bureaucrats are revealed, in fact, as none other than you and me, forever administering and marketing