Sunday, November 13, 2005


Richard K. Morgan dedicates his sci-fi thriller Market Forces to “all those, globally, whose lives have been wrecked or snuffed out by the Great Neoliberal Dream and Slash-and-Burn Globalization.” An appendix to the novel lists book titles by well-known "anti-capitalists" Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore. So all libertarians of a Randian “big business is a victim” bent, including most Libertarian Partyarchs, should probably steer clear of Morgan's novel. But all Libertarian Leftists — whether agorist, georgist, mutualist, or other — should thoroughly enjoy this brutal and extraordinarily well-written page-turner.

I read Market Forces on the recommendation of Bob Wallace, who warned that Morgan uses the term “free market” interchangeably with what’s really corporate-state capitalism — i.e., “mercantilism and managed trade for the benefit of worldwide, globalized corporations against the average citizen. Where it will lead in real life is a minority of super-rich, almost no middle-class, and a large mass of the poor, hopeless and violent.”

Let me quote briefly from the book’s back cover:

“A coup in Cambodia. Guns in Guatemala. For the men and women of Shorn Associates, opportunity is calling. In the superheated global village of the near future, big money is made by finding the right little war and backing one side against the other — in exchange for a share of the spoils. To succeed, Shorn uses a new breed of corporate gladiator: sharp-suited, hard-driving gunslingers who operate armored vehicles and follow a Samurai code. And Chris Faulkner is just the man Shorn needs.

“He fought his way out of London’s zone of poverty. And his kills are making him famous. But Faulkner has a side that outsiders cannot see: the side his wife is trying to salvage, that another woman — a porn star turned TV news reporter — is trying to exploit. Steeped in blood, eyed by common criminals looking for a shot at fame, Faulkner is living on borrowed time. Until he’s given one last shot at getting out alive...”

Market Forces is a terrific high-velocity science fiction novel. Its characters are never predictable. You’d imagine the author wants us to detest the story’s corporate suits, but they are usually both charismatic and sympathetic. Morgan’s more “politically correct” anti-globalists and socialists are all big talkers but quislings at heart. The book is full of surprises, a unique mix of Road Warrior and Wall Street. I recommend it highly.

On the Agorist Ratings scale*, I give Market Forces a solid 4.


* Agorist Ratings: -1 = statist; 0 = non-libertarian; 1 = mixed at best; 2 = mostly partyarch (political) but redeeming features; 3 = mostly libertarian; 4 = counter-economic and/or hardcore libertarian; 5 = pure agorist.

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At 8:26 PM, Blogger iceberg said...

You're right about us anarcho-capitalists -- the book felt all wrong to me, and when I read through the extensive list of thinkers he was inspired by, I was not suprised to see those names.

In the future I think I'll stick with Ken Macleod's extropolations of intricate polical/economic/social ideologies in future governance (The Fall Revolution series, etc.)

At the end of the day though, I did enjoy the book, but not as much as his three other Takeshi Kovacs novels.

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Sounds like a good read. Have you ever read Steven King's "The Running Man," the novella the shitty movie was originally based on? If not, I can't recommend it strongly enough.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

Kevin, wasn't The Running Man one of those books written by King under the Bachman pseudonym? Saw the film, which left me cold, but never read the book. I'm sure it's readily available, and I'll have to pick it up.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger freeman said...

Yep, it's one of the books written under the Bachmann pseudonym. It was one of the books I never got around to reading during my Steven King phase. I'll have to put it back on my "to read" list, along with Market Forces.

At 8:00 AM, Blogger jomama said...

... uses the term “free market” interchangeably with what’s really corporate-state capitalism...

I doubt 1 in 1,000 knows the difference or if he does he doesn't care.

I expect the resultant landscape on the planet to look pretty bleak soon because of that.

Then there are the pols who love to confuse the issue even more by calling Amurika a "free market".

I'm quite sure you've seen this but if not, you'll love it:

And Then There Were None

The first chapter there is the one that really blows my skirt up. A classic.


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