Radical Left

Market Socialism

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Ken MacLeod has a plan.

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  1. A cunning plan?

  2. WTF? Is that NewSpeak for “now is the time for my Bolshevik brothers and sisters to rise”?

  3. The comment section of that article has already devolved to a discussion of “Emo”

    Also I have found Macleod’s scifi to be unreadable…

    His buddy Ian Banks last novel Matter is also not worth reading.

    1. Hello, I’m Jason Corning. I have a younger brother named Joshua. I was just surfing the web and found towns called Corning in Illinois, Iowa, New York, California, and Arkansas. I’ll let you know if I find anymore. Who the hell are we, the founders of American small towns?!!!!

  4. Hmmmm . . . I suspect this is what will happen.

    Click before it is to late you fools!!!

  5. Sorry about the link.

    Try it now

  6. Okay. I officially suck. Sorry.

  7. Is McLeod’s fiction as unreadable as his blog?

  8. All Will Be Revealed.

  9. Epi,

    Yes and no. He weaves passable prose with silly politics. And he seems to also be one of “but real communism has never been tried!” types. And the thinks everyone would be better off in a union. Blah.

    Earlier Banks is better Banks. Master of Games and Use of Weapons are more than worth the trouble of taking time out of your busy Episiarchy duties.

  10. You have read a lot, NutraSweet. Where do you find the time?

    Also, do you know exactly which book my namesake appears in?

  11. SugarFree – its “Player of Games,” and I second your opinion – both are excellent works and are out in new editions on Amazon.com

    As to your assessment of MacLeod’s writing: Bollocks! He’s a great SF writer; his Cassini Division is masterful. NOt many writers are good enough to make you root for a genocidal protagonist.

  12. And he seems to also be one of “but real communism has never been tried!” types.

    I don’t know if that is true…I remember reading something about how he had an epiphany and is now a libertarian. But yeah he is coming from the left into libertarianism…not the right or some centrist shmuk who one day woke up and said “Man the government sure sucks at everything it does”…but the deep deep black hole Marxist left.

  13. Naga: That episode of Sealab is funny. But MacLeod’s post is funnier.

  14. Acknowledged. I’ll stay on topic.

  15. I like Ken’s books. It’s important to read them all, or at least to finish the ones you start. He made the transition from far-left to libertarianism and so do many of his characters. He’s not necessarily the most entertaining writer, but for evisioning the many forms goverment could take, from planet-wide socialism to insurance company-dominated anarchy, he’s great.

  16. He’s not necessarily the most entertaining writer, but for evisioning the many forms goverment could take, from planet-wide socialism to insurance company-dominated anarchy, he’s great.

    Ian Banks has some good books and a few duds as well…

    How about you give us the name of a good one and why it is good. Other wise i am not giving this guy a second chance after the first 100 pages of crap in Cosmonaut Keep.

  17. Yes, Player… it actually relates to how I read so much… insomnia. Got up at 2am this morning. Before 6am I had read 150 pages of Thirteen by Richard Morgan, played an hour of Bioshock, and rewatched Real Genius since we got to talking about the other day. It helps that I speed read as well. It makes for a long day though.

    Startide Rising

    I’ve read all of McLeod. I’m not saying he’s a bad writer, I like his books, but his politics don’t agree with me, is all. If he’s a libertarian he’s one of those self-loathing types.

  18. stupid tag

    joshua corning,

    Banks didn’t write Cosmonaut Keep. Do you want good Banks books or good McLeod books?

  19. joshua-

    The Star Fraction is a good place to start. It stars communists living in a very small, very libertairan state in what used to be North London. The United States is just what McCain would have it be, conservative Christians have their own state, etc. A lot of what-if.
    And here’s an interesting thought you’ll find there: What form of government, other than anarcy or strong libertarian, would ever allow a commune to exist?

  20. MacLeod is the best author of libertarian fiction there is. Which says something bad about libertarian authors that a Scottish socialist has them beat. 🙂

  21. mattcid,

    Depends on how you define commune. Dozens exist in California and the Amish seem to be doing just fine.

  22. Banks didn’t write Cosmonaut Keep. Do you want good Banks books or good McLeod books?

    MacLeod…I read his Cosmonaut keep and hated it.

    I was just using Banks as an example…what if the first book i read of Banks was Feersum Endjinn rather then Use of Weapons? Perhaps Cosmonaut Keep was MacLeod’s Feersum Endjinn…

  23. What form of government, other than anarcy or strong libertarian, would ever allow a commune to exist?

    Whatever you want to call the form of government the US has.

  24. Banks rocks. He can be a little uneven, but when he’s on, he’s hard to beat.

    I actually enjoyed the MacLeod that I’ve read. I wouldn’t call him a libertarian writer by any stretch, but he is smart enough to keep it interesting when he posits libertarian, anarchist, or communal societies.

  25. anarcy = ararchy, sorry.

    joshua-
    Cosmonaut Keep is part of a much larger series, stick with it and you’ll find a planet whose laws would fit on a book of matches. When different species intermingle, you need to keep things simple.

    SugarFree-
    I meant a group of people who can live and make money as a unit, while existing among other such groups and other free individuals. I’m assuming that the Californians and Amish achieve what freedom they have through isolation, and the various goverments poke their noses in when they interact outside the group.

  26. Ok i will bite…

    Aside from the “hilarious” irony that socialists use capitalist means to raise funds what the hell is that Macleods article about?

  27. joshua corning,

    Newton’s Wake is probably McLeod’s best one off work for my taste, but it doesn’t do anything that I think Charles Stross does better in Singularity Sky or Iron Sunrise.

    And Stross’ The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue are my favorite books of the decade, and there are only two years left.

  28. and the various goverments poke their noses in when they interact outside the group

    That definition only leaves anarchy. Even the purest libertarian state would have some sort of nose-poking in any interaction that involved harm to person or property.

  29. SugarFree-
    OK, I’m cool with anarchy. 😉

    joshua-
    I agree with you man, Big Socialism sucks, and it’s screwing up our country. And I’d never join one of MacLeod’s commune-ish unions or any other union. It’s just some fun political what-if.

  30. Also, do you know exactly which book my namesake appears in?

    Sorry about the half-answer.

    They appear as characters in Startide Rising and their patron race, the Tendu, are mentioned here and there in all four books remaining books in the sextology (or double trilogy) IIRC. They really don’t do much, even in SR.

    Startide Rising and The Uplift War are the ones really worth reading on a tight literary time-budget. The first book is fairly unremarkable, and the final trilogy starts good, but eventually just disappears up its own ass by going cosmic/metaphysical. (And it totally confuses daguerreotypes with tintypes during a major plot point, and that personally bugs the fuck out of me.)

  31. Startide Rising and The Uplift War are the ones really worth reading on a tight literary time-budget.

    Very true. Brin has pretty much fallen off of my authors-to-follow list.

    Speaking of nutbar crypto-commies who can write, though, I’ve really enjoyed China Mieville’s books.

  32. China Mieville’s books

    I don’t really want to like them, but they pull me in. (Mostly not because of the commie-ism, but his flirtations with science fantasy. Hate science fantasy.)

    Actually, I think American SF is in one of it’s waning periods right now. It’s not to say there is nothing good being written, but British authors are kicking our ass.

    They are even doing literary SF better, Stone by Adam Roberts is amazing, simultaneously a savage critique of Banks’ Culture universe and a loving homage. Salt by Roberts also has a fascinating look at a war over resources between an anarchist artist commune and a repressive religious state on a planet that is a desert made of salt. Wow, it’s good.

  33. Ken McLeod is an ex-Trotskyist who has become a libertarian, but still has fond memories of his association with the Trotskyist movement.

    This is not unlike libertarians who were previously involved in right-wing groups who still speak fondly of Barry Goldwater or the John Birch Society.

    The relevant part of McLeod’s essay concerns the profit potential of the Communist Party of China in reprinting Marxist classics. I have a friend who worked at China Books, US distributor of books from China, and he told me all that old Marxist crap was unsellable in the American market, although I remember seeing books by Mao at many little bookstores in the 1970s.

  34. There’s a great story in Bobby Seale’s Seize the Time about the Black Panthers raising money by buying Mao’s Little Red Book for 50 cents each and selling it on campus for a dollar apiece. At this point they hadn’t read a page of Mao themselves — they just recognized an entrepreneurial opportunity when they saw one.

  35. They are even doing literary SF better,

    The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

    Nothing like that will ever come out of Brittan.

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