|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Thursday, May 27, 2010
In my novel The Sky Road the heroine, Myra, sees the skyscrapers of New York as housing 'the apparat of capital'. I've just found again the passage that inspired this:
Take the word bureaucracy literally, it refers to those working in bureaus or offices. The observable fact about the socialist economies is that they employed far fewer people in bureaus or offices than capitalist economies at a comparable stage of development. Capitalist cities are high-rise, their skylines dominated by office tower blocks. Socialist cites were low rise, dominated by the long sheds of industry. Material production not information processing dominated their economies. In fact it is capitalist economies that are dominated by, choked by a constantly rising overhead of unproductive bureacratic work, for what else is the banking, insurance, sales and marketing that fills the tower blocks?Discuss.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
It's a bit like reading a novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, Neal Stephenson, or Ursula Le Guin - or maybe a mashup of all them; full of arguments between passionate and intelligent people, diverting (in both senses) infodumps, and all about something that actually happened - and, more significantly, about something that didn't happen, and why it didn't.
Computer scientist Paul Cockshott, a prominent advocate of cybernetic socialist planning, has written a comprehensive and enthusiastic review:
This is a marvelous and unusual book. It sits in a remarkable way in between science popularisation, social history and fiction. The author describes it variously as a novel whose hero is an idea and a fairytale. The hero idea is that of optimal planning. The idea of running a planned economy in just such a way as to ensure that resources are optimally used in order to deliver the ’red plenty’ of the title.
Friday, May 21, 2010
And hey, I'm chuffed, and grateful to Andrew Brown for asking me to write it. He phoned me about 4 o'clock yesterday, sent me the article announcing the breakthrough, and I worked on my piece that evening and this morning. It was the first time I've seen embargoed news - it broke at 7 p.m. UK time yesterday - and I can well see how being in the loop like that can become addictive.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
The man of blood and son of perdition is, in this instance, right. Stand by the son of the manse (pictured left). Vote strategically, not tactically: vote Labour. The Lib Dems will cheerfully bank any tactical votes from Labour supporters as votes for them, and use the resulting diminished Labour vote as an argument for coalition with the Tories. So it makes sense to maximise the Labour vote, even where (as in the constituency I live in) the Labour candidate has no chance, and even in Lib Dem/Tory marginals where a Labour vote might let the Tory in. (Yes, I am that tribal - about the Lib Dems. It's an old North Islington Labour Party thing.) I have lots of reasons to detest New Labour (and Old Labour, come to that) but Labour is still the only party that the British working class has come up with, so there you go.
And hey, Captain Picard!