Monday, November 26, 2018

A Political History of the Future: State Tectonics by Malka Older, at Lawyers, Guns & Money

My latest Political History of the Future column is up at Lawyers, Guns & Money, discussing State Tectonics, the concluding volume of Malka Older's Centennal Cycle.  As I wrote in my review of the first volume in the sequences, Infomocracy, these are not terribly exciting books in terms of plot, but they make up for that with the breadth and richness of their worldbuilding, and more than that, by their willingness to imagine a geopolitical future that is not simply post-democratic.  Older tries to envision how a future democracy that is different, but still suffers from many of the same problems, as ours might look like, and the result is fascinating and thought-provoking.
The point of the Centennal Cycle books, as I see it, is not to offer a plausible alternative to our current democratic system, but to encourage us to ask questions about how that system is organized, and whether we could make different choices that could lead to better outcomes. The idea of a non-contiguous political entity, for example, one that is united by shared policy preferences rather than ethnic or national identity, is an intriguing one. So is the notion of expanding the concept of political parties past national lines (though on a darker note, it also has its echoes in discussions we've had on this site about the trans-national nature of many far-right, supremacist movements). It's not so much that you'd want to pursue any of these ideas in the real world, as that they provide an interesting thought experiment with which to expand your understanding of what government is and can be.

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