+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Some thoughts on Banks notions about free speech and corporate capitalism

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    mid-central US
    Posts
    960

    Default Some thoughts on Banks notions about free speech and corporate capitalism

    SPOILERS GALORE, you've been warned

    If you've been following the recent shenanigans over in the Chat area, you'll probably realize why I have decided to post this here (if you haven't, check it out first). This is a legitimate discussion of ideas Iain pursued throughout his career in both the nonM and M books. If the powers that be step in to disappear or otherwise control the thoughts expressed in this thread, we'll know the whole forum is a shame. A place to discuss the number of orbitals in the Cultureverse, but not the ideas and precepts that were Banks real legacy.

    If there can be said to be a single idea throughout all of Iain's work, it was his scorn and criticism for the controlling dominant social paradigm of our time, the technocratic corporate capitalism and its adjunct government allies whose grasping, greedy tentacles stretch endlessly to control most of the world as we approach 2014. It presides over where most of us work and live, what most of us eat, how most of us think. It has made profit, control, and the pursuit of an endless, mindless mass consumerism the rationale for life itself. In his SF Banks great idea, the Culture, showed there was a different way, a way that didn't depend on control of resources for profit or control of individuals for power. It is such a compelling vision many of us wish we could live there. In his nonM work his protagonists tend to denigrate the "system" at every opportunity. In Complicity, he even devises a serial killer who only kills those who use the system for their own aggrandizement, a justifiable reason for serial-killing, or not.

    Banks commitment to free speech is also a main theme in all his works. In Dead Air, his shock jock radio host constantly makes outrageous, but rational, remarks. I've always enjoyed his 'only criminals should be allowed to own guns' rant. Funny stuff. In Complicity, his main character, a reporter, gets into serious trouble when he posts a hate list of capitalists and right-wing politicians, and someone starts killing them off. The Minds are free speech take to an 'N'th degree. Each Mind is a demigod, with abilities and powers far beyond anyone who has ever lived. Yet despite their godlike nature, they do not seek power for its own sake, they do not demand control of lesser beings, they are even approachable, and some might be considered friendly. They seek to do good works. Something Iain might be said to be doing as he constantly spoke against the powers that be, and particularly enjoyed criticizing what he considered the idiotic nature, the aggrandizing self-righteous, and ultimately the vicious ruthlessness of those who make up our ruling elite.

    For me Banks views are a breath of fresh air in what will likely be considered by future humans (if there are any once we get done) some sort of strange dark age of meaningless self-indulgence and vacuous foolishness. An age when humans fought huge world wars and numerous small ones and nuclear weapons lurked in the background, promising mega/giga death. An age where humans despoiled air, water, and land, the planet they live on, to the point of precarious, undetermined climate change and insatiable resource depletion. An age where the human population spiraled out of control, growing like some metastasizing cancer on the body Earth. An age where women were still considered second-class citizens, even chattel, by far to many, even in the supposed enlightened, developed societies. An age when all these problems and predicaments were widely publicized and recognized, yet little, if nothing, was really done to resolve anything, because it might interfere with economic growth and the privileges of the ruling elite.

    I've only scratched the surface of Banks ideas. So tell me what have Banks' major themes done to your thinking, your life?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Mexico City, MX
    Posts
    505

    Default

    Well , IMB has made me dream of a time when machines will do all the hard jobs which we have to perform right now. An age where death is not compulsory.
    I believe that time might come someday ... maybe in a century or so.
    What else? Well, his Culture novels have been an eye opener for gender and sex preference rights.
    Excentric - Torturer Class - Right Winger's Nightmare

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    372

    Default

    I would say I am now liviing in as close to a Banks like environment as it is possible, I am taking a pick and mix degree, for practically free, with free healthcare which is efficient fast and good. (perhaps this should be in the going cultured thread). The joyous anarchy of Finland is such a break from the do as we say world of government employment. So I suppose the freedoms as expressed by CM touch upon my iew, but I feel I am living the dream now.
    Phaze
    on the "Back in Ireland for a fortnight after 16 hours of travel due to an extra long layover" ID

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    mid-central US
    Posts
    960

    Default

    So phazed, I'm not that familiar with conditions in Finland (right now I'm hunkering down here in the US as right-wing, fundamentalist bozos try to flip everything to their fascist views and label it freedom). Tell us some of what makes Finland so enjoyable.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    372

    Default

    I get to pursue a masters degree where (within reason) I can study pretty much any subjet which is taught and choose whether or not to include it in my thesis. Healthcare as a student is almost entirely free with a generic low fee for dental work. For example, in my home country blood tests can take a week to ten days to come back, here i was rung by the dr just over 24 hours later after a walk in withouth an appointment test. In Ireland a masters would cost 10k-15k a year, here as an EU citizen I get it for the 110 euro student fee. My apartment, though small costs 300 euro a month which includes water, heating(very important here) electricity and 30mbit bidirectional internet. In short, I am happy.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    mid-central US
    Posts
    960

    Default

    phazed, I hear where you're coming from about the expense of a college degree and living accommodations. Back in the 70s and 80s, when I was pursuing undergrad and grad degrees, prices (educational and residential) here in the US were on the scale you talk about (maybe a tad more). I even had access to a student health service that provided good, virtually-free, health care. Thirty/forty years down the road and an undergrad degree from podunk U runs $10/15,000 a year, grad degrees even more. Residential costs are comparably inflated. I have a niece who's an undergrad at an elite, prestigious east coast U, whose costs run about $75,000 a year ($300,000 for an undergrad degree, totally insane). Costs of an undergrad/grad degree now usually entail student debts of $50/100,000 or more. And this kind of lunacy shows no end in sight as right-wing bozos (mentioned above) with corporate encouragement keep cutting government support for supposed state institutions of higher learning. This leads to them becoming more dependent on quid pro quo corporate contributions and exponentially increasing student fees (doubled, and in some cases tripled, in the last 10 years).

    So enjoy it while you can, you'll soon enough be facing the cold, hard, expensive face of the real world where things aren't quite as rosy. Hope you get a job of your liking. At least you won't be using a significant amount of your future salary paying off student-indenture loans.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    372

    Default

    but CM I had a job for 22 years, I intent remaining in academia if I can, no real world jobs for phaze

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    mid-central US
    Posts
    960

    Default

    phazed, so no stranger to the real world. Remaining in academia was my intention too. Then as I watched my tenured advisor (a full professor) become marginalized within his department over the course of 6 plus years, I came to realize that while academia seemed a great profession, it was riddled with nepotism, vicious departmental politicking and backstabbing, and long internships of itinerant vagrancy for most entering the field. None of which I found appealing. Goodbye academia. But good luck to you. Nice work if you can get a good position in it.

+ Reply to Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts