Farmlab Public Salon
Chris Carlsson
Friday, February 6, 2009 @ Noon
Free Admission

Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today

About the Salon

Outlaw bicycling, urban permaculture, biofuels, free software, even the Burning Man festival, are windows into a scarcely visible social transformation that challenges politics as we know it. As capitalism continues its inexorable push to corral every square inch of the globe into its logic of money and markets, new practices are emerging that are redefining politics. In myriad ways, people are taking back their time and technological know-how from the market and in small under-the-radar ways, are making life better right now. In doing so, they also set the foundation—technically AND socially—for a genuine movement of liberation from market life. The social networks thus created, and the practical experience of cooperating outside of economic regulation, become a breeding ground for new strategies and tactics to confront the everyday commodification to which capitalism reduces us all.

Nowtopia uncovers resistance and rebellion amidst fractions of a slowly recomposing working class in America. Rarely self-identifying as mere 'workers,' people from all walks of life are doing incredible amounts of work in their "free" "non-work" time. This unpaid work is creating immediate practical improvements in daily life. More interesting still, these myriad initiatives constitute a more thorough-going refusal of politics and economics as usual.

Building on the investigative methodology developed by autonomist Marxists in Europe and the U.S.A., Carlsson recontextualizes the so-called "middle class" as an example of working class recomposition. The practical rebellions outlined in this book embody a deeper challenge to the basic epistemological underpinnings of modern life, as a new ecologically-driven politics emerges from below to reshape our assumptions about science, technology and human behavior.

The semi-conscious war between these life-affirming, self-emancipating behaviors and the coercive domination of money, property, and survival amidst contrived scarcity is the core investigation of this book.

Chris Carlsson is a San Francisco author, Nowtopian, outlaw bicyclist and wannabe vacant-lot gardener. He has edited four collections of political and historical essays. His most recent book is After The Deluge, a utopian novel of post-economic San Francisco. He was one of the original founders and long-time editor of Processed World magazine. He also helped to start the Critical Mass bicycling movement in San Francisco (and the world!!! Bwahahahaha!).

About the Salon Presenter

Chris Carlsson, executive director of the multimedia history project Shaping San Francisco, is a writer, publisher, editor, and community organizer. For the last twenty-five years his activities have focused on the underlying themes of horizontal communications, organic communities and public space. He was one of the founders, editors and frequent contributors to the ground-breaking San Francisco magazine Processed World. He also helped launch the monthly bike-ins known as Critical Mass that have spread to five continents and over 300 cities. He has edited four books, "Bad Attitude: The Processed World Anthology" (Verso: 1990), "Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture" (City Lights: 1998, co-edited with James Brook and Nancy J. Peters), "Critical Mass: Bicycling's Defiant Celebration" (AK Press: 2002), "The Political Edge" (City Lights Foundation: 2004). He published his first novel, "After The Deluge," in 2004, a story of post-economic San Francisco in the year 2157 (Full Enjoyment Books: 2004).

Carlsson makes his living as a book designer, editor, and typesetter. He is a member of Media Workers Union Local 100 in San Francisco. He is past board president of CounterPULSE, a San Francisco-based arts organization, where he has been producing a series of public Talks since January 2006, and conducting award-winning bicycle history tours. Check his website for updates on this and links to his blog and other activities:, or email him directly at

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