You want to change the world? Save humanity from self-destruction?
Whether or not you like Yanis Varoufakis, he does seem to have a big heart and possibly a bigger brain than most of us. Just his impressively imagined other banking system is stacked with app-to-date-details hard to keep up with.
Don’t be distracted by political egos or literary formats. This realist high tech utopian tract is slow food for thought. It takes the post-covid re-think seriously beyond the bromide main frame protestations.
A definite must read, if only to compare and contrast your vision with Varoufakis’ daringly original attempt at spelling out how a more free and fair post capitalism-as-we-know-it might look like.
“Another Now” scroll down to pick from intros, reviews , interviews, debates and articles
youtube interview 4/2021 by Giuseppe Iannaccone – A conversation with Yanis Varoufakis on his vision for an alternative world, beyond the present version of capitalism – that he calls technofeudalism – presented in his new book, Another Now. … Another Now is a fascinating book. It is a science fiction novel, in which he uses as a literary device the “many-world” theory to describe another world in which his vision of a market economy without capitalism has come to existence, following an alternative history that departed from our world in 2008, during the financial crisis. This device gives him the possibility to describe the details of the organization of this “Another Now”. Personally, I could identify with Kosta, the technologist, one of the novel’s protagonists.
Anjan Basu‘s interesting and detailed WIRE book review concludes: “The great merit of Another Now lies in the courage of its conviction that a decent, humane future for all of us is not only possible, but it also may really not be very far from us even as we go through our quotidian lives today. By reimagining the future as an altered present — however radically altered it may be in some ways — the book imparts a sense of immediacy to the old but enduring dream of a just society. Written in a crisp, lively idiom, Another Now is not only a marvellously good read — it is a notable addition to the literature of social change.”
“While technically a sci-fi book, to review this as such would be missing the point. Varoufakis unashamedly appropriates the tropes of science fiction (technology which borders on magic, plus parallel universes) to legitimise and flesh out his thought experiment, which can be summarised as “What could a post-captialist society look like?”.
It’s an interesting choice for him to discuss this through the language of fiction when all of his previous books have been firmly non-fiction, though occasionally written in a more conversational tone (see “Talking to my daughter about the economy” for an example of this). Somewhat surprisingly, his writing style lends itself well to this kind of fiction – there’s a focus on clarity over extravagance, while not being dry.
The real meat of the book is in the economic ideas presented, so your enjoyment of the book very strongly hinges on both your interest in economics and whether you agree with some of the opinions that Varoufakis presents through his characters. Speaking of, his 3 main characters are clearly designed to cover a range of political and economic perspectives rather than be fully fleshed out people. They’re exaggerated but they could plausibly exist, and that’s certainly enough for suspension of disbelief.
I have some hesitation in recommending this to everyone which is why it lost a star, but I personally found it an enlightening and perspective-widening read. I’d previously considered capitalism to be irreplaceable but this has made me questioning and optimistic for a better system.
TLDR: If you’re familiar with economics, you should read this book even just for the thought experiment. I’d wager you’d find it food for thought regardless of whether you agree with some of the suggestions.
If you’re a complete economics novice, I’d recommend some of Varoufakis’ previous writing (specifically “Talking to my daughter about the economy”), and if after that you’re curious about alternative systems then you should read this book.
Amazon Deborah H. Maccoby (5/5*) 20 9 2020 A Worthy Successor to Plato’s Dialogues
Varoufakis imagines a wormhole in the space-time continuum through which his three main characters – Costa, Eva and Iris – communicate with their other selves in an alternative reality created by a fork in the road in 2008, after the financial crash. In the Other Now, markets have been democratised, so that they operate without capitalism, and technology has been used by radical “people power” to smash the power of the big corporations and create a society that is far more free and equal than ours. Varoufakis uses the novel form brilliantly to explain complex economic concepts to non-economists such as myself.
“Yanis Varoufakis’s dispatches from an alternative present must be read, reviews and precis will not do. It’s a tough read, not so much a novel, as a meditation on the technical and social impasse we appear to have arrived at. The potential for instituting real change provided by the pandemic is being squandered; investors are making a killing on the markets, while the real economy is disintegrating. It’s enough to send anyone down a rabbit hole. This is precisely what Varoufakis has done, eschewing the sunlit uplands of our old socialist utopias, and the guilty pleasures of dystopian nightmares, he has opted for an extremely difficult struggle with our options, our fundamental desires, and our potential. …
To be sure, the cyber revolutionaries of Another Now have vanquished capitalism and the capitalist class. They’ve succeeded in corralling us within a new world of benign exchanges. It turns out that this is not good enough for both Iris-Siris, because her deepest aspirations for emancipation have been sequestered, if not entirely crushed. Iris continues to hanker after the communism of Jean-Luc Picard and the starship Enterprise, and when offered the chance to slip through the portal to Another Now she says: “I prefer to stay in Our horrid Now rather than live in a much better version of it that only makes the prospect of a Star Trek communism further away.” …. read whole review here
sealionpress.co.uk review: Another Now By Alexander Wallace
“A lot of the solutions that Varoufakis proposes start with the notion that the financial sector is parasitical upon the rest of society taking in its money to create more money that is endlessly shuffled around between hedge funds and corporations. He mentions that bankers say that one should never loan money to somebody who actually needs it, furthering its portrayal as a vampiric Mammon that is worshipped as a capricious god, damn the little people. To take them down, Varoufakis argues, everyone else needs to agree to stop pumping money into this monstrosity via things like rent strikes and loan strikes and hostile takeovers by guerrilla investors. He deserves credit for having a real faith in the masses and a belief in the goodness of human nature.
But that optimism is undone by the novel’s fatal flaw. For all the talk of the suffering of the working class, the four characters are conspicuously wealthy, albeit not one percent. There’s a Silicon Valley programmer, a former banker, her teenage son, and a feminist radical-turned-professor. None of these people, in this imperfect world, are faced with destitution or homelessness or even the lingering sword of Damocles of those concepts. In that, this novel has some serious undertones of the sort of middle-class socialism that George Orwell decried in The Road to Wigan Pier. This book talks a lot about markets and philosophies and theories of justice, but not nearly as much about the nitty-gritty details of the provision of food or water or other essentials (housing gets its due), assuming that the discussion of universal incomes are enough. This omission becomes most glaring at the end, where the characters are faced with a certain choice. I can see how the well-off would dither about what to do in the way these four do, but it strikes me that someone in real dire straits would have a very obvious preference. Varoufakis does discuss some solutions with interesting detail. …
Ultimately, Another Now is a deeply flawed yet interesting novel that is clearly an attempt to dramatize a political tract. This is a book that reminds me strongly of Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 in that they’re both speculative fiction takes on anti-capitalist economics involving short-circuiting the financial sector. Robinson, in my opinion, did it far better because his characters aren’t paper cut-outs as they are here. … It’s a premise badly in need of a novel, and Varoufakis didn’t quite deliver that.” read whole review here
weiterzugehen.net “I bought the book without reading the cover. Fortunately. Readers know that fiction – and particularly science fiction -are not my thing. Varoufakis demonstrates that they are not his either, but he has a fair shot at it – and certainly his main points about the nature of change – and critically the process of change – are well made. Probably better in this format than a straight monograph, of which there are many. I come away with some ideas of my own. But also with a dilemma. Not only should I go to Another Now if I had the chance; but seeing as though I don’t have that option, should I try to create Another Now? Now. The answer…I am not into tapestry.” read whole review here
interviews + debates
aljazeera.com 19/2/2021 Yanis Varoufakis: Capitalism has become ‘techno-feudalism’ (video)
The world-renowned economist explains how tech companies and the pandemic have made the rich richer and poor poorer. A recent Oxfam study found that since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s richest 10 billionaires have seen a wealth increase of half a trillion dollars – enough to pay for every person on the planet to get a vaccine. In this UpFront special, Marc Lamont Hill discusses with economist and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis what is driving the staggering wealth inequalities and how governments are offering socialism for the rich, and austerity for the rest.
independent.ie ‘The Irish corporate tax system is a form of free riding’ – A new novel by Yanis Varoufakis mixes science fiction, political pamphleteering and Platonic philosophy. He talks to JP O’Malley about Another Now
Should liberal capitalism be saved? Martin Wolf & Yanis Varoufakis debating live “Is capitalism past its due date? Can we even imagine a world without it? … Hosted on November 14, 2019 by the Financial Times to celebrate the Wincott Foundation’s 50th Anniversary, this special live event took the place of the usual annual Harold Wincott Memorial Lecture. watch or read here
“Is Global Stability A Pipe Dream?” Watch Yanis Varoufakis debate John Bolton 08/12/2020 at the Ηolberg 2020 Debate English PROGRESSIVE INTERNATIONAL The Global Minotaur : A Theory Of The Global Crisis
While the catastrophic pandemic is pushing hundreds of millions into economic destitution, our world is being subjected to an escalating climate emergency and a New Cold War between the West and China, not to mention ominous tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Caucasus, Libya etc. In the midst of all this instability, is Global Stability a pipe dream?
John Bolton … says ‘yes’ and thinks that the only remedy is a United States ready and willing to take on China and other states he deems a threat to the West.
Yanis Varoufakis … thinks that this very Western interventionism is part of the problem (citing the catastrophic invasion of Iraq), not the solution – and that Global Stability requires a New Bretton Woods type- agreement involving primarily the United States, the European Union and China.
The debate was moderated by Oslo University’s Scott Gates.
OxfordPoliticalReview Editor-in-Chief Brian Wong and Managing Editor Nicholas Leah speak with Professor Yanis Varoufakis – a former Minister of Finance in the Greek Government, a leading economist and philosopher, Member of Parliament in Greece, and the author of several high-acclaimed books. They discuss COVID-19, Brexit, the Eurozone, Austerity, Greek/European politics and Professor Varoufakis’s new book. The interview was originally live streamed on the OPR’s Facebook page.
ineteconomics.org 06/2020 Europe’s Dereliction of Duty Minister Yanis Varoufakis and artist Danae Stratou talk to Rob Johnson about Europe’s failures for working people, both before and during the pandemic. podcast or transcript here
inference-review. Greek to a Greek Wolfgang Streeck reviews Adults in the Room: My Battle with Europe’s Deep Establishment by Yanis Varoufakis 03/2019
WHAT A STRANGE book—strange but indispensable. … Indispensable … for whom? For the journalists who helped the masters of Europe get rid of Varoufakis; for the armies of European functionaries, les ronds-de-cuir; and, one might hope, for teachers and students of the policy sciences. Varoufakis’s book provides an honest account of how our world is governed. It will be plausible to anyone who has tried to make sense of political life without falling victim to the charm of political power. … Whatever the accidents Varoufakis suffered on his journey through the European bureaucracy, he never lost his faith in the European project, a project that he assumed involved debt relief for Greece. In many ways, this recalls those functionaries of the Comintern, who refused to recognize the monster they were serving even as it had begun devouring them. At every turn, Varoufakis protested that he was a deeply devoted Europhile; his one and only desire was to keep Greece in the European Union.2 With his devotions affirmed, Varoufakis ceased to frighten men like Schäuble, Dijsselbloem, or Draghi. If he meant what he said, he would not rock the boat, if only because he was on it. How in the world could Varoufakis, an accomplished academic game theorist, have hoped to extract concessions from the European Union by assuring it of his everlasting allegiance? … The high point of Varoufakis’s story—one of several reasons why reading it is a must—is his final conversations with Schäuble, when the two suddenly became something like coconspirators against their superiors, Merkel and Tsipras.” read whole review here
irishtimes.com 11/2017 Paschal Donohoe reviews Yanis Varoufakis Talking to My Daughter About the Economy “… the book is uneven, let down by threadbare conclusions. But the balance of this slim volume, penned to his teenaged daughter, is a stimulating and elegant perspective on market economies. It is accessible but not simplistic. … A superb chapter on banking uses the metaphor of time travel to explain the role and dangers of banking in supporting entrepreneurship and economic growth. … I found the section on public debt somewhat poetic. … My utter disagreement … is to be expected. What might be less expected is my recommendation of this book. It is provocative and stylish.” read whole review here