Paweł Frelik is Associate Professor and the Leader of Speculative Texts and Media Research Group at the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw. His teaching and research interests include science fiction, video games, fantastic visualities, digital media, and transmedia storytelling. He has published widely in these fields, serves on the boards of Science Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, and Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, and is the co-editor of the New Dimensions in Science Fiction book series at the University of Wales Press. In 2013-2014, he was President of the Science Fiction Research Association, the first in the organization’s history from outside North America. He is also Science Fiction Division Head of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts and the Chair of the Science Fiction and Technoscience Book Prize at the University of California, Riverside. In 2017, he was the first non-Anglophone recipient of the Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service presented for outstanding service activities: promotion of SF teaching and study, editing, reviewing, editorial writing, publishing, organizing meetings, mentoring, and leadership in SF/fantasy organizations.
Takeshi Was Here: Viral Revelations, Globalized Power, and Cyberpunk Myopia
This discussion has been copied from the Discord server, names have been reduced to first name, discussion threads have been grouped and edited for better readability.
Pawel: Just in case anyone prefers slides with the synced audio – click here.
John: Pawel, I loved your keynote. I am wondering to what extent the political failure you descibe extends beyond cyberpunk to sf or popular culture in general. You mentioned Hunger Games as an exception — any other notable ones you’d like to add?
Pawel: That’s a big topic, of course. I think cyberpunk is singularly myopic. So, yes, there is Hunger Games and I understand there are other YA novels that have quite a bit of this. Then, there is tons of politics in Robinson. And novels such as Palmer’s Too Like a Lightning.
And writers like Ken McLeod. In the Fall Revolution quartet. And then there’s China Mieville, I think there is quite a bit of reflection on this in sf at large – which makes cyberpunk stand out even more.
Lars: Wondering if something like N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth has more commentary on politics
Carmen: Yes, sometimes I think that “classic” cyberpunk with its insistence on “post-racial” worlds does ignore issues of race that are clearly present in Jemisin, for example. Paweł, I LOVED your talk. Will have to watch again, actually, so much in there
Josh: One of the clearest engagements with fascist/racist governance in the mode of “classic cyberpunk” I can think of is in the TRPG Shadowrun, which features a re-seceded Confederacy and racist “policlub.” But that racism is projected into human/nonhuman relations through the introduction of other sentient species.
Carmen: Oh yeah, Shadowrun. Wouldn’t have thought of that!
Katherine: Hi Pawel, good to “see” you and thanks for your fascinating take on politics—or often the lack thereof—in cyberpunk. I was really struck by the example you quoted of how Morgan evokes the powerful appeal of authoritarianism as emblematized by the Envoys. In a way, though, the appeal of using force directly is only part of how the current political moment seems to be working—it’s also about getting consent or identification from a public of sorts. How about moments in the trilogy that speak to how the civilian public is seduced (or perhaps, terrified?) into accepting these systems of governance? Do any spring to mind?
Pawel: Huh – this is a tough one. I think Woken Furies has passages that speak to this. The examples I remember are about the dynamics of revolutionary impulse, but I am pretty sure that some of the passages where Takeshi is talking about how New Revelation has taken hold on Harlan’s will address the mechanisms of that appeal.
Probably quite a bit of it in Broken Angels, too – about Kemp’s revolt.
Katherine: Thank you! This is super helpful
Josh: Hi Pawel, great talk! In the context of your discussion of Gibson’s annecdotal worldbuilding, what do you make of the prominant role that “Christian White and his Aryan Reggae Band” plays in “Johnny Mnemonic”? It seems like a more prominent indicator of active fascist politics than we see in the later Sprawl books
Pawel: Could be, although I can think of Gibson being particularly interested in the rise of right-wing politics. I may be forgetting stuff from other novels, though.
Eero: Thanks for the thought-provoking talk! Might I suggest Deus Ex as another cyberpunk work that specifically features with authoritarian governance? Although it is not that “realistic” in the sense that the ultimate power is held by an ancient conspiracy, it does include a very in-your-face world government (formed out of the UN, no less!) and its “anti-terrorist” forces keeping the populace in line.
Sherryl: I wonder if you have thoughts about social media specifically? The role of misinformation and the tiny echo chambers of extremist belief are something that most cyberpunk fails to think through. I agree with you that Morgan tries to do this better than others.
Pawel: You are totally right! Very few writers have actually envisioned anything close to the nightmare of social media! One example I can think about it Yox from Bear’s Queen of Angels, which, I think, is presented as a sewage of sorts.
Hugh: It’s semi-related, but I think that Joanna Kavenna’s ZED deals with this in interesting ways; it’s less overtly political, but thinks through the way that the form of social media lends itself to constricting and reshaping speech/thought, etc. – a sort of inbuilt fascism
Sherryl: I was also thinking of the varous franchise communities in The Diamond Age which at least point toward this kind of fragmentation once people can self-select who might be in their community. Might be worth another look in the context of the dystopia we now live in
Pawel: I have to go back to TDA – been a while since I read it but, yes, when I think about it, it seems like a good direction.
Lars: Isn’t there something similar in Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out – where everyone chooses the communities they live in and the in-fighting is done via social media?
Eero: Malka Older’s Infomocracy and its sequels are to a large part about how to address this very problem!
Graham: And to build on Sherryl’s query: the role of social media in the United States in particular as Trump has repeatedly framed Twitter, Facebook, et. al. as hostile to conservatism so much so that Republicans are apparently “flocking” to Parler.
Pawel: Huh, but the irony is that they are actually not hostile to conservatism. Quite the opposite. The time it took Twitter to add that fact-check tag was so long and FB is, as we speak, getting flogged for tolerating hate speech.
Graham: True: just because Trump flagged the sites as hostile to conservatism doesn’t make it so.
Lars: I do remember hearing somewhere that the Arab Spring and its use of social media actually prompted a lot of facist/authoritarian regimes to rethink their use/restriction of social media and actually got stuff like Brexit campaining etc moving in this direction….
Sherryl: on the critique of facebook, etc. the central thing is that they want money: their reluctance to censor had everything to do with market share. And despite its flaws, I think Altered Carbon gets the money bit right
Pawel: True, but then there are those secret meetings Z had with Trump. But, in general, in terms of weaponizing social media, the conservatives/far right have been far more effective.
Adam: Hi Pawel, great keynote! I wondered about specifically the viral symbology you draw attention to in its digital, biological and memetic interpretations. It may be just my wired brain going from all the talks today so far, but have you thought about viral videos and the exposure and replication of them across the web as an intersection for Cyberpunk? Do you think thinking about ‘the viral’ is a promising feature of cyberpunk or a return to some of the failings you’d listed?
Pawel: Huh, this is a big one. I definitely sense there is a connection. I think Gibson talks about this in the Bigend trilogy, but that’s not strictly cyberpunk, of course. But then again, like Sherryl mentioned, the trope of viral transmission of cultural concepts, fads, and so on hasn’t been too big in cyberpunk.
Then again, a question would be if the viral metaphors in our culture owe much of their architecture to cyberpunk or medical discourses. Of course, the latter are where CP found them originally, but I think there’s enough of viral terminology floating around without CP: SARS, avian flu, etc.
hartescout: Wow, super interesting
thanks for that! I’m brand new to the “culture” of CyberPunk, and that helped me wrap my head around just what it is really encompassing/attempting to convey
Josh: Pawel, could you say a but more about the connection you see between Morgan’s fetishistic attention to the viscera of masculine violence and his representation of the authoritarian machismo of fascism? Does one sensitize him to the other?
Sherryl: I’d like to hear more about this too, in part because I read Morgan as more critical of the violence; there is a lot of PTSD in these novels; but I’m also filtering this view through Black Man
Josh: I personally read Morgan as in a Fight-Club-esque loop of being unable to disentangle himself from a set of perspectives and pleasures he is intellectually invested in critiquing
Steven: Pawel, great talk that raises a lot of issues. One thing I thought of: the way you mention that Morgan’s work is always bathed in the excesses of toxic masculinity, even though that is part of what he is criticizing. A friend of mine once suggested to me that maybe Morgan gets a bit too invested in his determination to force us to wallow in the most horrific and violent aspects of capitalism + state repressive power….
I see that Josh already beat me to my question…
It seems to me also that Morgan often gets perilously close to evolutionary psychology type explanations even though he ultimately frames them as parts of the oppressive system he is critiquing
when I say evolutionary psychology, I am especially thinking of all the genetic stuf f in Black Man/Thirteen. It is complicated how the protagonist both accepts and yet works to reprogram his genetic programming
Aiden: That’s interesting – you seen any work done on that kind of character development in the Takeshi series?
Pawel: Huh! Definitely. He devotes so much time to both. There were times when I was actually wondering how ironically or unironically he deploys these passages. Narratively, this is justified by the fact that Kovacs was part of the machine, but there are indeed many passages where I sense this raw fascination with power.
Like the on one of the slides, but also Kovacs’s musings about Shalai Gap in Altered Carbon and the likes.
Sherryl: Josh makes a fair point (and Steve too) about Morgan both critiquing and yet indulging this stuff. Perhaps I’m just overly fond of his work. But still I think he does take on the question of how bias circulates to create the monster it purports to describe
Steven: Like Sherryl, I am mostly very positive about Morgan’s work. But the question is still there whether this is in spite of or actually because of his excessive interest in authoritarian machismo?
Pawel: He has enough passages that seem to balance that interest, so at least it’s impossible to take them at face value.
And Woken Furies devotes too much space to revolutionary thinking that somehow these testosterone passages get buried under the more progressive reflections.
Steven: I also think a lot about how Woken Furies actually contemplates the prospects of socialist revolution , which nearly no other cyberpunk writing I can think of does. I have long been obsessed with those characters on Harlan’s World who Takeshi joins up with, the people who have been basically living as surfers and bank robbers while they wait for another opportunity for revolution to arise
Pawel: And I do agree that the line between indulging fantasies and critiquing them is very thin in his books.
Jaak: I have a feeling it is sometimes the same with Gibson.
Pawel: Well, Gibson still likes to say that he doesn’t take sides, so yes, most def.
Sherryl: I’m not sure I agree that Gibson and Morgan are similar in this way. I see Gibson as more “neutral” in that in most of his works he just describes tendencies he sees, rather than so overtly critiquing them. That has changed with The Peripheral, though, where he more openly critiques capitalism. And Agency is moving into social media territory …
Aiden: Interesting contrast between the crash bang wallop Envoy model versus Lowbeer and the Aunties quietly imposing order and crushing all dissent to the established structure…
Steven: re Gibson, I was a bit displeased with Agency, which seemed to me to be saying, in effect, that Hillary Clinton plus Elon Musk might be able to save us
Joseph: they would have saved us from a particularly awful stub, but each stub is fraught with its own kind of peril
Pawel: yes, they are definitely not the same. For all the ambiguous stuff, Morgan is (or was) firmly rooted in the entire British tradition of leftism, which is also distinctly different from the American tradition (as present in sf), which is more intellectual.
Sherryl: yes precisely … and @Steven: I also didn’t like Agency very much. but I did really like The Peripheral, although its style was weaker than in earlier books
Hugh: Highly agree – it was clumsy and oddly celebratory of surveillance tech in ways that were embarrassingly uncritical
Pawel: yes, I get that, too – Gibson still loves the gadgets and gadget thinking – and so much of this in Agency!
Josh: Neoliberalism likes to present itself as the only alternative to populism, right or left
Pawel: And, sometimes, it feels like Morgan can be locked into that dualistic thinking, too. There are the Meths and there is that potential Quellist revolution. After all, we never see too many alternatives. For instance, Takeshi mentions the Sharya Campaign a few times – the name indicating some religious planet (?), but we never ever learn a bit more.
Josh: Yes, this is another place I had a hard time reading Morgan’s intent. Is this a blockage in Takeshi’s political horizons, or Morgans?
Adam: Particularly when in the Altered Carbon adaptation, we see Quell recontextualised about stacks, and Joshua Kemp’s rebellion essentially being squashed into the same alternative to meths. Ostensibly
Pawel: Absolutely! Yes, the adaptation does interesting – but also very predictable – things with the agenda. I mean Quelll becomes more or a philosophical Luddite than a political/social revolutionary.
Pawel: Well, Morgan can imagine more, for sure – his fantasy (although I really read them as sf, too) novels seem to more open to other models. So, we could charitably assume that this is Kovacs’ corridor vision
Josh: I would love to hear you write about how the switch to the fantasy genre gives Morgan different affordances for the axes he likes to grind.
Pawel: Well, to begin with the I read the Land trilogy as sf – question is whether it’s a virtual construct or a far away planet within the Protectorate.
Dwenda (that’s the name, right?) are so much like Envoys and pretty much every instance of magic can be read as advanced tech confronted with a primitive society. But he definitely does more things with sexuality in the fantasy trilogy than he does in sf, but this comes at a price of simplifying politics down to the medieval-type brutality.
John: I am wondering if this dancing on the edge between critique and exploitation of testosterone fantasies makes Morgan significantly similar to someone like Quentin Tarrantino–that is, if it’s an example of what Zizek calls cynicism, critiquing an ideology while simultaneously exploiting it for pleasure or profit
Steven: I think you are on the right track here, but I also think that Morgan is much smarter about such stuff than Tarantino is
Pawel: Huh, this is a good one! There is definitely an aesthetic similarity: the sublimation of violence, the fascination with slow-mo (verbal equivalent of it in Morgan, of course) . . .
Sherryl: I am much less generous in my reading of Tarantino and see him as fully in the celebration side. But Adilifu Nama has a good book on his films that offers a reading of how Tarantino uses irony/satire to engage race in what Adilifu sees as a productive mode
Steven: The Morgan novel I wrote about, Market Forces, is very much on that razor’s edge; its critique of financial/imperialist capitalism is savage, but it ultimately resolves into the macho hero defeating his opposition and walking away with the prize
Pawel: Yes, that was his earlier one but the whole Clockwork Orange vibe made it hard to read it for me.
Josh: Agree. I think that masculinity almost functions as an “eruption of the real” for Morgan in Market Forces, serving as a kind of enduring material truth against which the immaterial violence of finance can be highlighted
One thing to reinforcePawel’s point that cyberpunk was under a kind of myopia is that venerable historians were under a similar myopia the past 3 decades. I was at a Q&A in 2005 with Tony Judt, for example, after his tome Postwar came out, and there was a question about “Is there still a problem with resurgent right-wing nationalism in Europe?” to which he responded: “Only to the Europeans.” That is, that their collective memories of Holocaust and postwar privation would continue to fuel a guilt culture within their respective democracies. The inability to connect corporate power with fascism (as the Frankfurt School and others did) hobbled our dystopian vision somewhat… with authors such as Octavia Butler being the exception.
Joseph: part of the nightmare of 2020 is that the past futures got it wrong, we’re more threatened by viruses now, we haven’t mastered our environments–we’ve actively destroyed them. but perhaps cyberpunk has returned because there’s a new discussion in the merging of high-tech with low-living. our advancements aren’t giving us better lives. in many ways they are accelerating our decline.
Pawel: This is super interesting – I have to think about this!
Joseph: would you say that cyberpunk vacillates on a scale between the dystopic to the utopic, skewing mainly toward authoritarianism and dystopia?
Hugh: rather than dystopian, I often find of cyberpunk to be anti-utopian (as in Gibson’s answer to the problem of Hard Neoliberalism in Agency is the ‘soft’ neoliberalism of Clinton/Democrats)
Pawel: not sure I see much of the utopic impulse in most CP texts – and if so, most utopian visions are really neoliberal/libertarian fantasies.
Joseph: I sometimes wonder if the vision of cyberspace is a neo-utopia
Sherryl: I’m more with Hugh on this. I see little that is utopian in cyberpunk, more a sense of the inevitability of dystopia, and so it can be critical of the world but it partakes of the ‘no alternative’ discourse
Graham: Certainly the 1980s stuff. Tom Moylan’s Scraps of the Untainted Sky (a portion of which is also the article Sherryl and I reproduced in Beyond Cyberpunk: New Critical Perspectives) has a whole section of the 1980s socio-cultural climate that was decidedly dystopian but, at the same time, witnesssing a resurgence of anti-utopian sentiments (which are not the same as dystopian). It would therefore make a lot of sense to find cyberpunk saturated by the tensions informing dystopian and anti-utopian.
Pawel: Yes, right there with Sherryl and Hugh.
Joseph: stephenson’s Snow Crash comes to mind, a space that allows for autonomy, generation of identity unmolested by outside forces
Graham: To quote Mike Pondsmith: ““Cyberpunk was a warning, not an aspiration.”
Josh: I think that cyberpunk does, sometimes, point to strategies for resistance or even survivance (I’m thinking of the Lowteks here) but not for systemic change
Pawel: I think this is a good intuition.
But this would, again, make it myopic – it can imagine cult-like and gang-like enclaves and pockets of resistance but is incapable of taking it one level up.
Joseph: yeah, I see a simultaneous ending and beginning in Cyberpunk
Josh: I often think of Jack Halberstam’s diagnosis of individualized rebellion as ultimately supportive of the status quo, but that “where and when rebellion ceases to be white middle class male rebellion (individualized and localized within the lone male or the boy gang) and becomes class rebellion or race rebellion, a different threat [to the status quo] emerges” In classic cyberpunk, we often see individual or gang rebellion. In Indigenous cyberpunk, Afrocyberpunk, or Border futurism like Sleep Dealer, we see that “different threat”
mlex: Gary King did a massive study about how Chinese government only acts if people gather into opposition, the individual is left alone (thus preserving the illusion that one can voice opposition)
Graham: I agree (at least while I’m typing and frantically thinking). Cyberpunk doesn’t often have a “change the world” kinda motivation behind it, although one can think of some notable exceptions (I’m thinking of Scott’s Trouble and Her Friends, for example). There is a certain “survivability” approach to a lot of these fictions, not a systemic transformation. But…by the time I hit “send” on this message I’ll likely be saying “yes, but…”
Hugh: my kneejerk reaction is similar: the progressive politics so often trip over into capitalist-tech-bro disruption
Lars: depends on the level of cyberpunk … post-cyberpunk …post-post-cyberpunk and feminist or queer cyberpunk etc…
Graham: Yes…exactly. I think the default when we say “cyberpunk” is to the 1980s stuff (I’m guilty of it myself) but as we’ve argued it’s a “cultural formation” so I’m wondering if more utopian, systemic changes, etc. are noticeable in the past two decades.
Pawel: 1980s but the spirit of that phase is still alive and kicking.
Hugh: perhaps something like Midnight Robber
Graham: Yep. We’re back into sci-fiberpunk territory that Shiner lamented back in the 1990s or Walker-Emig was describing a couple years ago in his Guardian article that is in your presentation: Cyberpunk must evolve or die (although I have serious reservations with this statement … but that’s for tomorrow’s Zoom).
Pawel: And yet it refuses to die – or this form refuses to die. And sadly, as I said, CP 2077 game is sadly going to give it a huge lease of life.
Josh: Interest in CP2077 has allowed me to send many students down the rabbit hole into more complex texts, though!
Lars: it might be interesting to take a look not just at time difference and inclusion of politics but also media … is comic more open? or video games? My assumption would be that video games especially are pretty reactionary.
Josh: There are some pretty interesting critiques of corporate governance and housing production in the Shadowrun: Hong Kong game
Sherryl: In terms of cyberpunk’s capacity for more colective kinds of politics, what about going back to Womack’s Dryco novels. They were contemporary with cyberpunk and while they weren’t so much about virtual spaces, they were definitely set in cyberpunk-style corporate goverance futures. I think his work deserves a lot more analysis than it gets, and was especially strong on the neoliberalism stuff
Pawel: Sure, yes – and there is – but only now – so much indigenous and alternative cyberpunk.
Myka: There is quite a lot of Indigenous cyberpunk out there–I’d rec Brian Hudson’s Manifesto on native cyberpunk for one–so it does seem to be a useful genre for people thinking in terms of survivance rather than large scale systemic overhaul
Pawel: Well, the most brutal reading of cyberpunk would be that it can’t because it is really driven by a safety-valve appropriation of rebellion. And it’s been done – Nicola Nixon’s article from back in what, 1992? is one example.
Graham: Yes..which explains why Scott’s Trouble and Her Friends is the first exception that immediately came to mind as she is …how did you put it in your keynote… “comes from a completely different context of political awareness.’
Joseph: Cyberpunk (not to be confused with cybersleaze) is usually more invested with a change the inner world mentality. I think you, Graham, and I are probably thinking in terms of post-cyberpunk where you do see a blend of utopia with dystopia
Graham: Probably, although I bristle at the “post-cyberpunk” label or designation for a number of reasons … it’s an undercurrent (maybe not so subtle) in the “Cyberpunk and Post-Cyberpunk” chapter I wrote for Gerry Canavan’s Cambridge History of Science Fiction. But that’s a discussion for elsewhere.
Myka: Yes! calling all of the indigenous/afro/border/queer cyberpunk “post” ignores the people writing cyberpunk concurrently with the “canon” folks (like Misha’s Red Spider White Web), and it implies a derivative relationship–as if they were all inspired by gibson and co. (Joking) Petition to rename it “proto-cyberpunk” and “cyberpunk”
Graham: The “post” is also very imperialistic that situates, overtly and covertly, the white, male, straight, masculinist stuff at the centre of empire and then everything else floating in orbit around it. This is one of the things I liked about many of the contributions to The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture .. they were able to draw forth texts that were excluded from the original cyberpunk label (or club) that show just how much it was (as many critics rightly argue) both a deliberate strategy and marketing endeavour to help sell books by a ‘new’ generation of writers.
Josh: I call the original cyberclub “classical cyberpunk,” which I feel has the correct overtones of cannonicity and veneration, but also ossification
Esko: You call out cyberpunk for failing at “realism” but could “naturalism” be a more precise term? Christophe den Tandt has a 2013(?) article arguing that cyberpunk is naturalistic in the same sense classic naturalism was – it attempts to concentrate not only on representing social fabric but also on its unraveling and is invested in naturalistic description, among other things. I believe he also finds the political promise of such a promise as failing, where cyberpunk goes for sensationalism.
Pawel: Hmm, I guess much hinges on the understanding of “naturalism,” right?
The way the term was used in the U.S. in early 20th century – not sure I would use that term.
Although there seems to be something fatalistically spencerian in Morgan’s sense of near inevitability of the unholy marriage of corporatism and fascism.
Eero: It’s also interesting that Gibson has specifically stated he considers the “dystopian” elements in his works to be examples of naturalism.
Pawel: Sure but Gibson is very different from Morgan in many ways, especially when it comes to the social vision.
Sherryl: well, based on how things are doing, I’m inclined to read them the same way myself, but naturalism in its 19th century variant also has that sense of evolutionary inevitability, and perhaps Gibson thinks that way, but I don’t think cyberpunk has to as a subgenre
Eero: Oh, yes! I didn’t mean to suggest that cyberpunk necessarily has to follow that kind of a Gibsonian mold (just as I don’t think it necessarily has to be “dystopian” in the “resistance is futile” sense).
Graham: Frankly, I would like if more cyberpunk DIDN’T follow the Gibsonian mold (or mould) as Gibson has been both a boon and an anchor on cyberpunk.
Eero: I don’t disagree, and I think authors like Malka Older and Annalee Newitz are doing great stuff on that front!
Emily: Hi Pawel – loved your keynote. Regarding what you were saying about political relevance, it seems to me most mainstream science fiction from the last 20-30 years has revolved around a suspicion of corporate power – the corporation is inevitably always the source of evil. I agree that its is remarkable that state power should be so routinely ignored and minimalised in terms of authority – the notion is that the corporation runs America now and this seems to me to be a persistent fiction that serves the state very well (despite it being a rather unamerican sort of anti-business message). My question is, why do you think the state as source of terror has been ignored for so long? And, if cyberpunk heroes are meant to be naïve representations of American optimism, why the persistent suspicion of corporate power and privatisation?
Pawel: I think so – the latter. Classic cyberpunk is, in many ways, yet another version of a western story. I mean the analogies between the frontier and cyberspace are almost trite.
Graham: Which is why I keep plugging Scott’s Trouble and Her Friends as she rewrites in a deliberate fashion many of the classic western motifs from an explicitly feminist queer angle and does it so brilliantly. The book should be better known, imho.
Esko: Can’t resist self-promoting my own article where I analyze the Bigend Trilogy in terms of the western.
Pawel: Absolutely agree!
Hugh: agreed: it strongly pushes against what Josh rightly notes as classical cyberpunk’s ossification… and which Pawel reminds us, this ossification is going to be doubled down on by CP2077
Pawel: Sadly but from the perspective we’re talking about here, this game is going to be a disaster.
Emily: So the Firefly-esq suspicion of the state would make more sense, right? How does this suspicion of the private enterprise fit in with the classic message of freedom and liberation? For so long the narrative of fearing the corporation was considered the progressive attitude both in narratives and academia, in a manner that in many ways ignored authoritarian state power.
Pawel: That’s a good question – I’d say there are several classic conceptions of freedom. CP is steeped in the American one.
Zuza: Please give some hints to other conceptions of freedoms interestingly conceptualised in sf-cpunk games/novels
Pawel: I don’t think we see them in cyberpunk, but there are certainly conceptions of freedom that take the social into account much more. There are some titles of novels that are far more aware of governance and limits of freedom mentioned closer to the beginning of the thread.