Imagining the end of capitalism

TINA, TAPAS, and Ministry for the Future.

Cory Doctorow
4 min readNov 8, 2021


An altered version of Henry Fuseli’s ‘The Nightmare,’ an oil painting depicting an evil demon crouched on the chest of a sleeping woman. The demon’s face has been replaced by Margaret Thatcher’s face.

My latest column for Locus Magazine is “The Unimaginable,” about the relationship of science fiction plays to the future. Sf is a literature of inspiration and warning, not prediction.

I mean, thank goodness. If the future was predictable, there’d be no point in getting out of bed, because the future would arrive irrespective of our actions. Sfnal tales that posit a predictable future (like Asimov’s “Foundation” or Heinlein’s “Jonathan Hoag”) are pure fatalism.

Instead of predicting a future, sf imagines lots of futures. This is an intrinsically political act, because it rejects the political claim that the world is the way it is because it could not possibly be different. This claim is often implicit in ideology, but Margaret Thatcher made it explicit, claiming “there is no alternative” to free-for-all capitalism. This idea — shortened to “TINA” — is the cornerstone of capitalist realism, whose goal is to foster a mindset where “It is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism.”

Now, this is obviously untrue. It’s super-easy to imagine a world without capitalism. My own books — Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Walkaway and more — have…