Gwyneth on Politics

I’ll have more to say about Spirit by Gwyneth Jones when I have finished reading it. However, I would like to share a small section of it with you now.

The book is set in the same universe as the Aleutian Trilogy, but many years later after the Aleutians have left Earth. Our planet is now ruled by the Chinese, who still have an obsession with bureaucracy and correctness of thought. The heroine, Bibi, is being interviewed by her boss, Verity, on Bibi’s first day at work as a Social Practice Officer in Baykonur.

“I have a question for you, Bibi,” said Verity, level-eyed. “You should know the answer. What is the difference between a rebel and a Reformer?”

“Rebels are just attention-seekers,” answered Bibi. “Their aim is self-aggrandisement through destructive tactics; they are parasites on the system, offering no genuine opposition. Reformers are sincere. They believe they can change the world, for the good of others, and will always work to that end, even at great cost to themselves.”

Her supervisor didn’t smile but she nodded, looking mollified. “You may go. Think about getting a soc’. It would be a great help to you.”

Bibi sped away full of energy, scorning the elevator tubes, flying down the abyssal, plunging stairwells: mentally completing her response to Verity Tan’s test question, adding the conclusion she had tactfully withheld.

And therefore rebels, who can easily be paid off, are harmless or even useful to the State: although sometimes they have to be destroyed, as you’d rid a dog of fleas. Whereas Reformers are truly dangerous fanatics, high minded enemies of order, reason and humanity —

It occurs to me that this is very relevant to the way in which political discussion is generally conducted on the Internet.

By the way, a “soc'” is an eye implant for your computer system. Bibi was tactful about her answer because Verity is a supporter of the Reform movement, and also because Bibi’s family were rebels whom the State found it necessary to destroy.