What’s Left? Contingency vs. orthodoxy in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars (1993)

Rowcroft, Andrew (2015) What’s Left? Contingency vs. orthodoxy in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars (1993). In: Action Writing: The Politics of US Literature 1960s to Present, 3rd July 2015, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


In Beyond Capitalism (2013), Luke Cooper and Simon Hardy seek to reclaim some good from the recent banking scandal by arguing it has created a new terrain for radical-left schematization. Contending that the recent crisis has acted to productively expose left-wing weakness – by revealing a core fracture between different forms of socialist struggle – the authors call for the creation of some third way which can unite the discontinuities between the overly bureaucratic left with new social protest movements.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars (1993) offers a powerful response to these debates. This paper situates the novel as a conceptual staring point to consider possible alternatives to the standard confrontation between orthodox-contingent dualisms. Contending that Robinson’s fiction encodes many of these complex theoretical debates into profitable narrative exposures, the text champions a number of conceptual tools for revolutionary praxis. Articulating a series of provocative challenges aimed at the explanatory concepts of Marxism, Robinson’s fiction responds to the current crisis of the left by reinvigorating the blueprint for socialist action. The paper ends by proposing that through recourse to fictional treatments of the future, anti-capitalist movements can begin to consider viable political strategies that resituate protest movements within a Marxist tradition.

Keywords:Marxism, post-Marxism, Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars, Science-fiction
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V340 Intellectual History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:17681
Deposited On:18 Jun 2015 08:48

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