Thursday, November 17, 2005

Futuristic politics

one of my favorite trilogies is the mars series by kim stanley robinson. and one recurring theme in all of the three books is politics. martian politics to be exact. imagine shipping out to the red planet a hundred (actually, a hundred and one) brains on gaia, with all their scientific, technical and political biases. and then consider the fact that mars is around 220 to 240 million kilometers from us. that would be around 7 to 8 months of space travel. mainly, because of such distance, any future human colony on mars would have this tendency to think of itself as a completely separate socio-political unit. they would be practically on their own out there, with their own little world to govern. and robinson has added utopia-building -- this desire to re-establish human civilization from scratch -- as a motivating force among the future martians.

so you get all these interesting political animals. in blue mars, the first hundred pioneers and thousands of others who came after them have just gone through a successful global revolution that freed the entire planet from earth's control. a worldwide convention was called to draft the first-ever martian constitution. in one of the memorable debates, this popular russian scientist who was part of the first hundred (and whose opinion therefore carried much weight) was arguing for an economic democracy where working people would be assured of the right to own shares in any enterprise and would have the prerogative to either manage the firm directly or hire professional managers to do the job for them. of course, other constitutional delegates questioned his scheme as "socialistic" or "communistic". but the russian guy simply brushed off these terms as mere labels and reiterated the scientific soundness of the proposal, citing historical precedents that have nothing to do with the known socialist or communist states. this won the day for him.

a bigger political fault line separates the martian greens or those who believe in transforming the red planet's natural cold, arid environment into something more suitable for human habitation (terraforming), and the martian reds or those who believe in preserving the planet's natural barren environment before human colonization. all other interesting political colors fall somewhere between these two poles. in the early novels, there were the esoteric spiritual cultists who hid themselves in colonies under the martian polar ice caps and who believed in organically growing a unique martian viewpoint. maybe a reddish green, or a greenish red political color. or even a genuine mix like brown. fans of robinson have set up this site that features a forum for relevant topics and themes tackled in the three books. one interesting discussion chain asks about the readers' political stance. the forum is called "demimonde", a term which referred to settlements in robinson's futuristic mars that existed outside the network of colonies controlled by gaians.

1 comment:

Cecile said...

Dear Randee,

I am here in a world so far from yours...so far from my own home in California as well...sad to say that I just read your blog regarding remembering the dead...I lost my dad in October 1991...and recently, I just lost my grandmama...October 2005...and...

I have been through what you experienced with losing your son...I lost two in my lifetime...two sons...they are buried in the New York cemetery...close to my family's generation graveyard...

Sometimes we take life forgranted...yet, in those little hands I held, I saw the life of my sons in its full form...maybe this is one of the reasons I never really wanted to commit so easily...I opted for a longer engagement...but, I do love Joel very much...and we both share the sadness of losing two beautiful sons...

Take care and keep writing...thanks for including me in your blog list...

Love...Cecile