Money’s Place: Science Fiction, Realism & MMT in The Ministry for the Future

Money on the Left: History, Theory, Practice
Vol. 1, No. 1 (2023)

ISSN 2833-051X

Money’s Place: Science Fiction, Realism & Modern Monetary Theory in Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future By Maxximilian Seijo


Kim Stanley Robinson’s speculative near-future novel Ministry for the Future (2020) centers the heterodox political economy of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to forge a new path for ecosocialist politics. This money-positive path diverges radically from critical traditions in political and literary thought that reject money as the ultimate source of environmental exploitation and climate catastrophe. In this essay, I argue that Ministry’s centering of money challenges and displaces the generic conventions of science fiction and realism, each of which has historically related to money in opposing ways. Whereas science fiction prioritizes escape to an enclave “outside” of money’s mediation of social relations, and realism laments the immanent dynamics of money’s mediating force, Ministry estranges both genres from their relationship to money by redefining money as an inextricable expression of social relation and interdependence. As opposed to dominant Marxian modes, Robinson’s redefinition draws attention to money’s radical place within the speculative imagination, disclosing new political economic and ecological capacity to remake global reproduction. 

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