Thursday, July 04, 2013

Et in utopia ego

Iain Banks' voice will be much missed - a very Scottish voice: progressive, anti-tory, warm and passionate, a rational humane voice. As excellent and disturbing as his best "mainstream" novels are, for me the most philosophical impact had the Culture, an amazing creation which is the best description (including all of philosophy) of what, perhaps, is at best available for us, a realistic liberal utopia... It is interesting that some nevertheless insist seeing the Culture as a dystopia, and revealing: there is an emptiness there, a void which humans will never fill while remaining human. But that is not our concern: our concern is to remove the obvious barbarities, the horrors of history and power. The Culture is a utopia.

Technology, science, freedom from scarcity can conceivably enable us to construct an enlightened society where we would be able to control our panicky aggression, our predatory instincts for control and power and injustice. That is the best realistic, rational chance we have. Not even that much, in the end. But we are so desperately far from it: in the midst of the darkest of ages, only in the process of absurdly partially emerging into some remote semblance of civilization.

These were Iain Banks' concerns, the most serious concerns what we have.

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