Socialist Worker

Splinterlands—we need to fight to write a new ending

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2537

Splinterlands alternate


by John Feffer
Haymarket Books

Anyone looking for hope of a better future won’t find it in Splinterlands.

Foreign policy analyst John Feffer’s dystopian novel is a believable but pessimistic view of the kind of future the global situation could produce.

It’s 2050. There are no global empires left. Europe is racked by war, with the European Union (EU) a distant memory. US capital Washington DC was destroyed by an “extreme weather event” in 2022. Brazil, Russia, India, and China have all splintered.

Protagonist Julian West contemplates the world he predicted in his decades- old seminal academic text, which shares the book’s title.

He is writing an updated report commissioned, or so he thinks, by shadowy corporation CRESPR International.

Capitalism’s inequalities have only been amplified in the Splinterlands of 2050 by decades of crisis.

The roots of this “market authoritarianism” are traced to a “nationalist international”, the early warnings of which were the elections of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and others.

Utilising virtual reality technology, West’s “avatar” reconnects with his estranged family who are now scattered across the world.

One of West’s sons has grown obscenely rich off “disaster economics”.

Feffer argues it could have been different. “If several EU countries hadn’t set up internal borders against refugees, migrant workers and perceived terrorists.

“If the US hadn’t made one last effort to preserve its global military ‘footprint,’ if the world community hadn’t paid mere lip service to its previous commitments to curb carbon emissions, the story might have turned out differently.”

We have to fight for a different, better, ending.

This House

Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Garrick Theatre, Covent Garden, London WC2H 0HH.
Tickets from £12
Until 25 February

Is a political revolution coming? Will the Labour Party collapse?

Can the United Kingdom stay united?

The year is 1974, not 2017. The House is dramatic and satirical at how the Labour government of 1974-79 tried to hang onto office as it sold out its working class supporters and compromised with the establishment.

Set in the House of Commons, the play focuses on the world of the Whips.

They go to often farcical lengths to influence a divided set of bitterly MPs from left and right.

While limited by its focus on parliamentary manoeuvres, it remains a thrilling take on politics.

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Article information

Tue 17 Jan 2017, 15:44 GMT
Issue No. 2537
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