I wrote a divisive novel about climate change 10 years ago and it might be even more controversial — and necessary — today

by James Kaelan

Just over a decade ago, I published my first book: We’re Getting On. The logline I used to describe the story back then went something like:

A tyrant leads a group of twenty-somethings into the desert where they attempt to regress through human evolution. Things do not go well.

As much as any independently-released debut can be, We’re Getting On was a very minor big deal. The first edition had a cover made of seed paper; if you planted it in the ground, it would grow into a tree. To promote the book, my friend Miles Kittredge…


Believe it our not, your ancestors were pretty chill

Two Hadza hunters | Photo by Nick Hall | Redux by Escape Pod

“We need to stop telling ourselves that we exist to dominate the planet’s resources,” I wrote a while back in “Is your work truly essential?” Like every other organism on the planet, I continued, we need to “live within the life cycle of the ecosystems we occupy. Just because we can hack down every tree and extract every thimble of oil doesn’t mean we should.”

And in order to tell that new story, I proposed, “I’ve come to believe that we need to simulate fully post-consumerist, post-labor living” — not because that’s definitively our goal, but because it because “it…


Thoughts about the future on the morning of the election

by James Kaelan

It’s election day, 6:43am. I returned to Los Angeles last night after a week in the woods just west of Seattle. Our one-room cottage stood adjacent to a horse barn and a three-bay carport full of diesel trucks. The key we used to unlock our door was decorated with an American flag and a screaming eagle. “You don’t have to wear your mask here,” our host told us one morning astraddle an idling four-wheeler, a white cockatoo perched on her shoulder. “I’m not too worried about the Wu flu.”

On 98.9 The Bull, a SeaTac country station…


A working theory of “De-Capitalism”

by James Kaelan

California: Burning

The hyperobject of capitalism — comprised of the buildings that tower above us; the smoke in the air; the bombs that fall from the sky; the plastic in our digestive tracts; the chemicals that cause our cancers and the drugs that treat them — is so ever-present, microscopic and macroscopic simultaneously, so knotted, that disentangling ourselves from it can seem futile.

But don’t abandon hope just yet!

At Escape Pod, I’ve spent this year laying out a blueprint for how a small number of people could eject from capitalism. But my proposal — a community, living off…


Do consumers have the power to sabotage capitalism?

by James Kaelan

Illustration by Scott Holloway | Redux by James Kaelan

“When are you going to tackle the ethics of the stock market?” Emily Best, my good friend and former boss, recently asked by text. “How do we get from here to there without untangling that beast?”

By “here,” I knew Emily meant the virus-ravaged, income-disparate, police-brutalized, ice-melting present. By “there” she meant, ostensibly, some version of the future more pleasant than the hell we’re headed for.

“Um never lol,” I wrote back without giving the question much thought. “No facet of stock ownership is ethical, because no facet of stock ownership is disconnected from growth.”

“But there…


How to test an egalitarian, post-work future, today

by James Kaelan

A homeless encampment in Orange County, CA | Redux by James Kaelan

Four months into lockdown, with stimulus checks spent and gilded unemployment payments set to expire, as many as 28 million American families could face eviction.

Where our huddled masses go, how they organize, and what new rights they demand could permanently shift economic power in this country.

Just before dawn on Wednesday, July 1, riot cops gathered at the perimeter of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or C.H.O.P.— the six-block region of Seattle that activists had been occupying for the better part of a month — and moved in to forcibly evict the demonstrators.

The Guardian reported that the Seattle Police Department (who hadn’t set foot in the zone since June 8, when marchers overwhelmed the East Precinct and re-designated the station a community center) entered C.H.O.P. wearing helmets and body armor and began razing tents. Some brandished batons. Others carried M4 rifles.

As…


America’s longest-serving political prisoner has spent 44 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit

by James Kaelan
with Rory-Owen Delaney & Andrew Fuller

Native American activist Leonard Peltier has spent more than 16,000 days in prison for a crime he didn’t commit

Tune in to the new podcast LEONARD: Political Prisoner — and help join the movement to #freeleonardpeltier!

On June 26, 1975, two plainclothes F.B.I. agents assigned to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, were tailing a red pickup on Highway 18. When the truck pulled off the road and onto Harry and Cecilia Jumping Bull’s ranch, Coler and Williams followed.

What happened next is a matter of intense dispute.

Either the passengers in the lead vehicle jumped out brandishing rifles and began firing at the agents. Or…


Could UBI be the key to economic, racial, and climate equality?

by James Kaelan

A hand-painted sign welcomes visitors to Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone

In Hudson, NY, a radical experiment is underway. Twenty people, over the next five years, will receive $500 per month — with no stipulations on how they spend it.

“We’re excited to partner with a team of independent researchers,” wrote Andrew Yang, the ex-Presidential candidate and universal basic income advocate, in a recent Humanity Forward newsletter about the foundation’s partnership with HudsonUP on their groundbreaking pilot. “[H]opefully,” he continued, the program will “yield meaningful data and stories that demonstrate the power a basic income can have to change lives and transform communities.”

Recent research from an ongoing…


When keeping your job is worse than losing it

by James Kaelan

A solitary logger surveys a clearcut in British Columbia | Redux by Escape Pod

When I got the delivery notification text, I rushed to the mail room and began sifting through my neighbor’s holiday packages until I found the envelope with my name on it — and the Verso Books address in the top left corner.

I tore it open.

“DEMAND FULL AUTOMATION / DEMAND UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME / DEMAND THE FUTURE,” screamed the black block letters on the flame-red background. …


How the inmates of San Quentin find meaning in the post-work world

by James Kaelan

“The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch

“Most jobs that exist today might disappear within decades,” writes Yuval Noah Harari in a 2017 essay for The Guardian. “Consequently, by 2050 a new class of people might emerge — the useless class. People who are not just unemployed, but unemployable.”

“The same technology that renders humans useless,” he continues, referring to the machines that will replace living workers, “might also make it feasible to feed and support [them]… The real problem will then be to keep the masses occupied and content. People must engage in purposeful activities, or they go crazy.

“So what will the…

Escape Pod

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