So, I read Cory Doctorow’s Makers, and I decided that, if he is not the muse of the zeitgeist, he is a muse of a zeitgesit. This novel captures an ethos unique to our time, in which a kind of labor constitutes a kind of person, with its own virtues and its own aspirations. In a classical sense, in fact, it offers a new kind of heroism.
In the old days, the ethos embodied here was called “hacking,” but the popular media utterly annihilated that meaning for “hacking.” So, Doctorow rightly coins another label: makers. The ironies here are immense for an American (e.g., such as myself), since we just had an election in which one of the parties offered an Ayn-Randian vision of the makers and the takers — a vision which is mostly (though not entirely) antithetical to that of Doctorow’s makers. For this reason, I think Doctorow’s novel is an important alternative vision to that hoisted upon us by an inanely unreflective media.
And it’s a very human novel, one without easy answers. Even if you don’t like it, you’ll find it generates in you an empathy for a certain vision of the world, of our economy, and of our possibilities. And what could be better than that? I recommend it.