Viewing posts tagged cultural marxism

Cultural Marxism 6: Inversions

I've set the Patreon thresholds for reviewing Doctor Who S10 - $300 (currently $9 a week away) for reviews, and $320 for podcasts. So if you're not backing Eruditorum Press on Patreon, now's a great time to change that.

Inversions continues the basic trend that began with The State of the Art whereby Banks writes Culture stories whose premises amount to attempts to break the Culture. Having essentially exhausted the two extremes of premises with the form “what if the Culture met X,” however, Banks moves in a different direction by asking, essentially, “what if you took the Culture out?” This is, obviously, quite the feat, and there are aspects of Inversions that clearly don’t quite work outside of the original publication context. When Excession was first published, it very clearly declared itself a Culture novel on the cover. Inversions, on the other hand, was published with no such description. There were significant clues, including a “note on the text” omitted from subsequent editions that contained a conspicuously capitalized reference to one of the characters being “from a different Culture,” but broadly speaking, other than the fact that it was an Iain M. Banks novel ...

Cultural Marxism 2: The Player of Games

With The Player of Games, Banks’s series immediately becomes the legend of science fiction that it is. Simply put, it’s one of the most compelling premises in science fiction, on par with A Canticle for Leibowitz or The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: a post-scarcity utopia that conducts warfare via a board game.

Central to the idea of the Culture, and indeed to any self-respecting utopia is an abundance of leisure time. Or, put more succinctly, it’s inherently about play. The game, meanwhile, is naturally about war - a model of combat. The first time we looked at the Culture it was from the unusual perspective of them at war in the traditional sense. Now, in a novel explicitly set centuries after that, we get a novel in which they overthrow the Empire of Azad, which is bad for more or less the exact same reasons the Idirans were, except they do it playfully, on their own terms.

The key element in making this work is the protagonist, Jernau Gergeh, the eponymous gameplayer afflicted by that most beautiful of character motivations, boredom. He has played all the good games there are and mastered them all; only ...

Cultural Marxism 1: Consider Phlebas

Consider Phlebas is not generally considered to be the best way to start the Culture series, and in fairness it’s not how I did, having previously read Use of Weapons and The Player of Games. And by almost all standards these are better books, and surely more likely to hook new readers. But Consider Phlebas has one significant thing over both of them: it is by far the best introduction to the Culture, which is to say to the specific idea of Iain M. Banks’s peculiar society.

It is not quite a Marxist society, although this is mostly because the notion of labor within the Culture has been so thoroughly upended that large swaths of Marx simply fail to apply. But it is blatantly a society a Marxist would love, along with numerous other stripes of western leftism. And inasmuch as “Marxist” is the standard epithet for “further left than we want to admit to the Overton window,” whatever that might be for a given speaker (and note, of course, that “cultural Marxism” is a phrase designed specifically to tar feminism and anti-racism with that brush), a post-scarcity liberal utopia that indulges near limitless sexual perversities and where ...

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