RIP Iain Banks: a humanist with a vision of the future

“On Earth one of the things that a large proportion of the locals is most proud of is this wonderful economic system which, with a sureness and certainty so comprehensive one could almost imagine the process bears some relation to their limited and limiting notions of either thermodynamics or God, all food, comfort, energy, shelter, space, fuel and sustenance gravitates naturally and easily away from those who need it most and towards those who need it least. Indeed, those on the receiving end of such largesse are often harmed unto death by its arrival, though the effects may take years and generations to manifest themselves.” – Iain Banks

Not climate related, but a moment to remember a great novelist – Iain Banks.

Bank’s passed away from cancer at age 59. I’ve been reading Bank’s works since his first published novel The Wasp Factory.

Bank’s Culture novels are not merely Sci-Fi space operas, but meditations on what is to be human, the nature of artificial intelligence and the use (and misuse) of power. Ultimately, Bank’s was a humanist who used his fiction to explore politics, economics, violence and technology.

Bank’s history of the universe in three words:

“The History Of The Universe In Three Words





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49 thoughts on “RIP Iain Banks: a humanist with a vision of the future

  1. CA says:

    And indeed an inspiring author for political thinking:

  2. BBD says:

    Iain Banks had exactly no time for capitalist lackeys and climate change deniers, and frequently said so. He was humane and sane, and will be much missed except by capitalist lackeys and climate change deniers, of course.

    The damage is to some extent done, but Eric and Mark, can you keep your fucking tripe to another thread please? This is not the time, nor is it the place.

  3. Gregory T says:

    And how many have been killed from the Howard era empathetic policies of invasion of some of these same countries, forcing them take to boats and seek asylum ? 10,000, 100,000,hundreds of thousands? Where do you derive your moral authority from ?

    • john byatt says:

      effin well said gregory,

    • Mark says:

      The most recent deaths were Tamils. Still, I’m sure the self-righteous left have worked out how that civil war was also Howard’s fault.

      “Where do you derive your moral authority from ?”

      I don’t claim to have moral authority on this. There are no good solutions. But I do know that adopting policies so that you can feel the warm inner glow of your own righteousness leads to others dying.

      • john byatt says:

        depends on how we see the “problem”

        is the solution to stop the boats coming from indonesia?

        That is not a solution as you have many thousands living in despair for many years in dumps.

        They are not indonesians, so to declare that it is Indonesia’s problem just because of geography is to deny that these people’s intended destination was Australia.

        The first solution is to get them safely to Australia

        then we have housing and employment to take care of

        look at how the country pulled together during the wars of the 20th century

        This is an emergency that requires the same resolve.

      • john byatt says:

        Oh I see that you believe that the solution lies in stopping refugees from entering the country

      • Mark says:

        “Oh I see that you believe that the solution lies in stopping refugees from entering the country”

        I do? Where have I said that?

        We have a policy of taking 20000 refugees per year. I fully support that. I don’t support policies that encourage people to get in leaky boats, risking their lives and others, and subverting our right to decide on our immigration numbers.

      • john byatt says:

        by posting a graph showing the increase in arrivals since the labor government.
        if you are not whinning about stopping them then what purpose is your graph?

      • john byatt says:

        The leaky boats is a consequence of burning all arriving boats, they are running out of seaworthy craft,

        change the law immediately to all transport by modern seaworthy craft arriving in Australia will be allowed to return to Indonesia with crews.


      • john byatt says:

        Greens no date

        There are 8000 people waiting to be processed in Indonesian refugee
        camps and only two UN officers processing applications. This means
        only 70 people per year having their claims processed with the average
        wait time for processing at 76 years. No wonder people are getting on
        It is somewhat difficult to find a definite number of refugees in
        Indonesia. In a UNHCR publication distinction is made between
        “Residing in Indonesia” (4,239) and “Originating from Indonesia”
        (16,446). Another distinction is made between “Refugees” and
        “Asylum seekers”.

      • Mark says:

        “if you are not whinning about stopping them then what purpose is your graph?”

        To show Nick that his assertion that the increase was due to push factors is bunkum.

      • john byatt says:

        In the Mary valley we have hundreds of properties (houses and acreage} sitting empty , owned by the QLD government.

        you could get ten thousand people there by building housing and starting rural industries,

        small crops, tree plantations for emissions offsets etc

        WTF is the problem ?

      • john byatt says:

        To show Nick that his assertion that the increase was due to push factors is bunkum.

        how does it do that,

        the rate of refugees to Indonesia has seen a steady increase since 2008 (UNHCR) and they are told it may be 76 years before they are processed.

        did any of them come from Afgahnistan, or Iraq ?

        why did they leave those countries and when ?

        why not just get at least 8000 here this year if your only concern is the drownings.

        oh no then you said that we decide who will come in.

        so which is your greater concern?

      • Gregory T says:

        So what is it, 1000, 10,000 110,000? Answer the question, so that we all know what price of your righteousness is.

      • john byatt says:

        Preventing asylum seekers from dying at sea is a legitimate, indeed essential, policy objective. But instead of punishing those who make it here to send a message to those yet to come, we should be focussing on developing alternative, safer pathways to protection for those who need to seek it.

        Punishment and deterrence is the wrong paradigm for addressing the actions of desperate people who lack viable alternatives. A thoughtful regional solution is required, but our current policy achieves only regional complicity in an ineffective, harmful and potentially unlawful approach.

  4. john byatt says:

    Reading comments from eric and mark it becomes obvious that both of them lack empathy,

    they do not care about others whether they be in Africa or those who’s lives are shortened by pollution,

    If they do not give a toss about the current generations then how can we expect them to care about future generations ?

    personality of those lacking empathy

    • Mark says:

      Oh no John, I have great sympathy for those 100s of millions of people who die each year from fossil fuel pollution ;)

      Actually the left takes great pride in preening itself on its wonderful empathy for others. They are, they assume, so much more compassionate about the down-trodden and poor of the world.

      We have a perfect example of this playing out right now. Oh how morally superior they thought themselves to be when they undid that heartless policy of the Howard era to place boat-people into camps and far away islands. Not for our compassionate and empathetic left, this cruel and heartless policy. They are so much more morally upright than that.

      Since then at least 1000 people have died at sea.

      • Nick says:

        Hello,easy Mark. Policies are essentially the same…it’s the numbers. Push factors and no resistance in transit,Scott and Tony won’t mention those….no, the conga-line of IPA/LtdNews/COALition suckholes is singing “luring them to their deaths” in corncrake harmony…and you’re mouthing along like a kid at the Carols in the Park.

      • john byatt says:

        How would I do the boat people thing?

        first off, I would allow proper seaworthy craft to be returned to Indonesia with there crews.. they are mostly pawns anyway
        when you burn all craft then of course they will use the oldest least seaworthy transport.

        secondly these people are in, no where land, they are fellow humans, so we could actually move vast numbers here, bring them over ourselves, process onshore within a week,

        Australia could house well over 80 million .

        that is the real left position, not shoving them on an island or towing their boats back

        these people are very brave they risk their live for a chance, we are failing them , both side of politics

        For these reason and climate change I have voted green at the last three elections

      • Would the Pacific Solution return under Abbott? Maybe. Separate but equal. Where have I heard that before?

      • Mark says:

        wow Nick,
        It sounds like you got a copy of Joel Fitzgibbon’s approved pronouncements running sheet.

        This is a graph of boat arrivals. A hockey stick not based on iffy data. :)

        See where the numbers start shooting up in 2008? That, by sheer coincidence I’m sure, was when the oh-so-compassionate Rudd/Gillard got rid of the Pacific Solution.

        No one – well no one with an ounce of self-respect – believes the two events aren’t linked.

  5. Watching the Deniers says:

    Keep it civil gentlemen is all I ask.

  6. Eric Worrall says:

    Sad to see a great writer passing – but I don’t think much of his philosophy. The only thing preventing largesse for all is the distressing tendency of leaders in poor people to steal anything not nailed down, and plenty which is – destroying the fragile economic structures which could have brought them wealth.

    Though I agree we have contributed to this madness.

    • john byatt says:

      That was a load of crap

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Yes, what would a world famous Kenyan economist know about Africa’s economic problems?

      • john byatt says:

        Jeffrey D. Sachs, a Columbia University professor who is a leading aid advocate, calls Shikwati’s criticisms of foreign assistance “shockingly misguided” and “amazingly wrong.” “This happens to be a matter of life and death for millions of people, so getting it wrong has huge consequences,” Sachs said.

        and 8 years after Gleneagles enormous progress has been made.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        The point you’re missing is that we have an example to compare.

        70 years ago Hong Kong wasn’t much more than fishing village, suffering economic devastation thanks to the aftermath of WW2 and Japanese occupation.

        In the time since then, the people of Hong Kong built an economy which delivers higher per GDP income than Australia, because the finance minister, arriving with a brief to work out how the British government could aid the recovery, realised the best way he could aid the recovery was to leave people alone – to get out of their way.

        So when you parade promises that aid dependence is falling, I think about what could have been – an Asian economic miracle in Africa. Your fellow travellers blighted Africa, with your ham fisted “aid” efforts, and now, what, you expect thanks?

        IMO you guys are no better than racists – thinking the “poor Africans” couldn’t have done as well as the Hong Kong Chinese, if only well meaning fools like you had gotten out of their way.

      • Nick says:

        Stupid ,bad faith accusation,Eric. Aid in Africa followed the ghastly colonial century and the cultivation and patronage of local despotism. A century of failed economic occupation.

        Months ago we went through Hong Kongs particular,unique ‘advantages’ and strenghs as a colonial toehold…attempting to extrapolate them to Africa is daft…as well as off-topic.

        You should be asking the colonialists why they failed to make Hong Kongs in Africa while they were raping the place.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        As opposed to what colonial powers did to China? You should read more history Nick.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        You should be asking the colonialists why they failed to make Hong Kongs in Africa while they were raping the place.

        Sadly there weren’t enough Cowperthwaites to go around. Hong Kong got lucky.

      • john byatt says:

        FFS start your own blog or take notice of moderation

      • Nick says:

        So it was a lack of Afro-Cowperthwaites and not ‘our fellow travellers’ fault at all…glad we’ve got that sorted!

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      This has nothing to do with the post.

      Second warning I’m afraid Eric, you’ve taken the discussion too far of course.

    • Nick says:

      Our own ‘leaders’ are thieving from us of course….British Virgin islands anyone? Do any corporations pay tax in the UK? NSW Labor’s numbers boys and insider trading?

      We are living in the decades of ransacking of the commonweal.

  7. john byatt says:

    love him

    “”she will do me the honour of becoming my widow”

  8. john byatt says:

    just my atheistic bent but prefer Vale to RIP

    As I have told the family ” I wont’ be effin resting”

    nearly went 35years ago
    nearly went 2 years ago

    third time lucky ?

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      I agree john, Vale – had not heard of that but will adopt it from this point forward.

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