Re: The Culture-List (Iain M. Banks)

The Low Golden Willow (
Fri, 26 Sep 1997 16:36:50 -0700 (PDT)

On Sep 26, 1:42pm, "Bobby Whalen" wrote:

} souls who share some of our extropian values. I was wrong. The list is
} dominated by statists of all kinds, who IMHO, have a an amazing 'trust'
} in authority to lead them. I found this disheartening as I think 'The

I'm not terribly surprised. There's an alt.books.iain-banks which is
about as noisy as alt.extropians; this list may explain why. But
there's been activity occasionally, and I was underwhelmed by, say, the
basic economic knowledge of the participants, or at least the louder
ones. On the other hand, if they're actually statist, that's kind of
sad, considering that Banks, or at least the Culture, is rather
anarchist. Anarchist without a specified economy, yes, but anarchist.

Well, anarchy of socialisms. Banks feels that governing a collection of
mostly self-sufficient spaceships and mobile habitats is pretty
difficult, if not impossible. We'd agree, but Banks also feels that the
closeness and smallness of a ship or habitat would require a _sort of_
socialism within the ship. (Trick question: in an anarcho-capitalist
O'Neill cylinder, how do you decide where the can goes?) But that's
what the Culture evolved from (all detailed in "A Few Notes on the
Culture"): a bunch of ships and habitats running away from the
nation-states on their home planets.

} Culture' is an amazing vision of the future. Does anybody think that
} 'The Culture' and extropiansm are compatible or incompatible, and why?

Obviously I think the Culture is extropian... more or less. It depends
on what you think of, though. Dynamically optimistic? Yep. Boundless
expansion? Sort of; they do think it's gauche to terraform or break up
planets. Intelligent technology? Gods, yes. Self-transformation? Ok.
Spontaneous Order/Self-ownership... pretty much, but the Culture doesn't
have property. How does that work? I don't know.

It'd be hard to have a productive argument without specifying various
details, however. As they aren't specified in the books, they'd have to
be assumed explicitly at the begining of an argument. Otherwise you'd
be throwing, say, European left-anarchist values at American
right-anarchist values, and making a mess.

The Culture books are not hard SF, and don't try to be. Weak economics;
FTL (2 or 3 kinde); lots of humanoid races (which Banks acknowledges as
odd, at least.) However, I find that unlike Brin's Uplift Universe the
whole thing is scalable into plausible imaginings: a bunch of ships and
habitats careening around the solar system, with friendly AI, lots of
automation, lots of power from solar panels, and a flattish generous
distribution of wealth among the humans.

} Then and only then will the 'Culture' become attainable - not through
} some state ordained process, but by the individual enlightenment of all
} its members.

See my second paragraph.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

Adrenaline man, adrenaline man,
Doing the things adrenaline can.
Is he awake? It's not important.