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Old October 5 2012, 02:30 AM   #106
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Re: TP: Brinkmanship by Una McCormack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Sci wrote: View Post
[H]owever shabbily the Akaar and Bacco treated the Venettans, the fact remains that they chose to turn their backs on the UFP and to allow a hostile power to place technology that could be used as a bioweapon on the UFP border. The Venettans truly did start it, and while we may admire their extreme openness, their utter refusal to accept the common realities of espionage and manipulation in international relations stands out as a form of ethnocentrism to me (especially when they condemn the Federation for espionage and refuse to acknowledge the possibility that the Tzenkethi do the same or worse). They did take threatening action towards the Federation, and there's no way around that.
Last night I was chatting with a friend about science-fiction novels and universes. We got around to talking about Banks' Culture (you know there's a new one out) and the peculiar social mechanics of societies with post-scarcity economies and non-hierarchical polities. In the case of the Culture, the combination of near-infinite plenty, an effective lack of agencies capable of coercing Culture citizens, and a disinterest in doing so, sees bits of the Culture splinter off whenever something momentous happens. A faction split off from the Culture when the majority chose to fight the war with the Idirans, for instance.

The Venette Convention seems to be a civilization roughly on the same level as the Federation, i.e. an emergent post-scarcity society. The Venette Convention is definitely a non-hierarchical society. How, then, is the Venette Convention able to function as a coherent state-like entity without different subpopulations fragmenting off? There's cultural power, pressures towards conformity in an apparently very old and stable culture, but can that last indefinitely?
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