The Horrors of Space Capitalism Force Waypoint to Spoil 'Citizen Sleeper'

This week, Patrick has a Very Dad Deekend, Ren tries out sucking blood in V Rising, and we have an extended discussion around free to play monetization around Diablo Immortal. Then after the break, Patrick, Ren, and Cado go full spoiler mode to talk about Citizen Sleeper, a tabletop RPG-inspired narrative game that got it's hooks in all of us. The game’s unique depiction of surviving with a disabled body under capitalism, and the ways community can be built in places you might not expect them to flourish, really grabbed us.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qjkdj7/the-horrors-of-space-capitalism-force-waypoint-to-spoil-citizen-sleeper
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Great episode, and a wonderful discussion of Citizen Sleeper. While I appreciate the game’s hopefulness of community filling in the gaps of capitalism’s collapse, I do think the crew takes a naïve view of what small scale altruistic communities can accomplish. Like, the example they bring up on the pod is the stabilizer and how the Eye’s community finds a way to get the Sleeper their medicine. But like, initially you get the stabilizer from a black market connection where some of it “fell off the truck”, thereby skimming from the broader capitalist system. And later, the more self-sustaining option is essentially magical mushrooms just making it for you. It felt like such a fanciful solution to a serious problem, and in no way can be likened to going outside the medical system in the real world.

Like, I totally get it. Modern medical systems with a profit motive are awful and need a complete rethink. But having people create and use homemade estrogen or insulin is such a dangerous way of going about things. The FDA and related agencies are crucially important to ensure that what medicines we take are actually safe to use. And large-scale mass production is the only way to ensure strict quality control so people don’t die from over the counter medication like they did in the 1800s. I certainly don’t think this sort of production needs to be run through a capitalist system, but mass production should not be excluded from a socialist restructuring of society.

It’s also not just medicine, but basic infrastructure like water management, energy production, and building standards do need to have some component of centralization to maintain existing living standards. I’ve heard from a bunch from leftists over the years about the benefits communal living, and certainly, community is important to ensure that all of us are taken care of. But it’s not the be all and end all, and at its extreme it sounds an awful lot like Libertarians saying that churches and other altruistic groups will fill the gaps of government services that they want to get rid of. Nice in theory, but it simply does not hold up to scrutiny in my opinion.

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I am intrigued, if admittedly a bit wary, by the currently accessible DIY medications, though that is of course more out of necessity under capitalism than the desired outcome under communism (or anarchism, even).

But I do think there are safe ways to potentially manage it within a community. There are hospitals in the Netherlands that started synthesising in-house a drug that was prohibitively expensive, to reduce the cost. I don’t know if that would work for all medications, so I don’t disagree with you that some centralization (or something similar to it that doesn’t exist under capitalism) could be necessary in a post-capiltalist society. But I like to consider these ideas, as thought experiments and as dreams.

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I’m definitely not saying that boutique medicine production can’t be done safely, and the Netherlands example is intriguing. But I’d be willing to bet that the hospital also has a veritable army of physicians, chemists, and administrators to ensure that the process is safe and up to pharmaceutical standards. And that does not even get into the world class laboratory supplies and infrastructure to even allow for the process in the first place. It’s simply not something that could be replicated in any reasonable way with your average socialist commune, even if they are making something more “basic” like insulin.

And those DIY guys in the article seem like good people making the best of a vampiric pharmaceutical industry, there is simply no way in hell I would take their medicine. I am fortunate in having the option not to, and if folks are helped by them, then that’s better than dying in the streets. But it’s certainly not a future I want to strive towards.