I will admit, shipmates, that I have often struggled to embrace the concept of the Culture, as presented in several of Iain M. Banks’ novels.
As you may already know, I am heavily influenced by my socio-political belief system, which brings together mysticism and libertarianism (at last), and in which self-reliance and strong clan-ties play a central role. Without digressing further, I am basically a survivalist magickian.
Therefore, the concept of a galactic civilisation in which the welfare state has become total fills me with horror.
In the post-scarcity society that is the Culture, nobody works, because civilisation has passed far beyond the stage of competition for resources, and people are provided for out of the infinite coffers of the State.
Therefore, everybody in the Culture is on the Dole.
Furthermore, Dole payments in the Culture are completely through the roof, because people’s every need is provided for! A new house, a new tract of land on an Orbital, a new drone – all of this is supplied with no questions asked. In the parasticial Culture, complete indolence is rewarded completely.
Additionally, in the liberal wet-dream that is the Culture, the NHS, instead of being asset-stripped and dismantled (as we all know it must be), runs rampant. Free of charge to those it serves, it has eradicated all disease, illness and discomfort, handing out massive dongs to anyone who wants one.
For deviance is the norm in Banks’ hedonistic civilisation. People are equipped with enormous, souped-up sex organs, and engage in marathon humping sessions. Citizens of the Culture change gender without a second thought. Now some of you may think this would be a bit if a laugh, but would you really want live on some debauched General Systems Vehicle surrounded by louche lady-boys and sweating trannies?
The mad Commies in charge of the Culture have also passed the government into the hands of computers! The thought of it fills me with horror. I am no Luddite – my obvious love of sci-fi should confirm that fact – but to put the administration of a galaxy-spanning advanced civilisation into the care of artificial “Minds” is reckless in the extreme. Leadership can only be effective if it is iron-shod, emanating from a strong individual with excellent warrior prowess; not from a few IBMs wired together. I wouldn’t even trust the running of Carrickfergus Borough Council to such Minds.
But now I am horrified to confirm that we are one step closer to living in this pinko dystopia.
The BBC has today reported on the reluctance of elderly Japanese to welcome helper robots into their homes:
Apparently robot helpers are prevalent in Japanese society. It does not take a massive stretch of the imagination or a particularly agile mind to see such robots as slightly less advanced versions of the Culture’s drones, and much earlier iterations of its Minds.
Fight the good fight, you valiant old Japanese people. Say no to the galactic welfare state!