Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

Interesting quotes from Red Mars:

p60-61 (Arkady)
"Our work will be more than making wages -- it will be our art, our whole life. We will give it to each other, we will not buy it. Also there should be no signs of hierarchy."

p87.3 (Arkady)
"In Antarctica, no one can own land. No one country or organization can exploit the continent's natural resources without the consent of every other country. No one can claim to own those resources, or take them and sell them to other people, so that some profit from them while others pay for their use. Don't you see how radically different that is from the way the rest of the world is run? And this is the last area of Earth to be organized, to be given a set of laws. It represents what all governments working together feel instinctively is fair, revealed on land free from claims of sovereignty, or really from any history at all. It is, to say it plainly, Earth's best attempt to create just property laws! Do you see? This is the way the entire world should be run, if only we could free it from the straitjacket of history!"

p167 (Arkady)
"Half a year. And for all that time we have had no leaders, really. Those nightly meetings when everyone has their say, and the group decides what needs doing most; that's how it should be. And no one is wasting time buying or selling, because there is no market. Everything here belongs to all equally. And yet none of us can exploit anything that we own, for there's no one outside us to sell it to. It's been a very communal society, a democratic group. All for one and one for all."

p256.6 (John meets the Swiss)

p297-299 (John)
"...he would ask the Acheron people both individually and severally what they thought the eventual Martian society should be like, and how it should be run. At Acheron this usually led directly to considerations of ecology, and its deformed offshoot economics; these to them were much more critical than politics, or what Marina called 'the supposed decision-making apparatus.' Marina and Vlad were particularly interesting on this topic, as they had worked out a system of equations for what they called 'eco-economics,' which always sounded to John like 'echo economics.' He liked listening to them explain the equations, and he asked them a lot of questions, learning about concepts like carrying capacity, coexistence, counteradaptation, legitimacy mechanisms, and ecologic efficiency. 'That's the only real measure of our contribution to the system,' Vlad would say. 'If you burn our bodies in a microbomb calorimeter you'll find we contain about six or seven kilocalories per gram of weight, and of course we take in a lot of calories to sustain that through our lives. Our output is harder to measure, because it's not a matter of predators feeding on us, as in the classic efficiency equations -- it's more a matter of how many calories we create by our efforts, or send on to future generations, something like that. And most of that is very indirect, naturally, and it involves a lot of speculation and subjective judgement. If you don't go ahead and assing values to a number of non-physical things, then electricians and plumbers and reactor builders and other infrastructural workers would always rate as the most productive members of society, while artists and the like would be seen as contributing nothing at all.' 'Sounds about right to me, ' John joked, but Vlad and Marina ignored him. 'Anyway that's a large part of what economics is -- people arbitrarily, or as a matter of taste, assigning numerical values to non-numerical things. And then pretending that they haven't just made the numbers up, which they have. Economics is like astrology in that sense, except that economics serves to justify the current power structure, and so it has a lot of fervent believers among the powerful.' 'Better just to concentrate on what we're doing here,' Marina put in. 'The basic equation is simple, efficiency merely equals the calories you put out, divded by the calories you take in, times one hundred to put it in the form of a percentage. In the classic sense of passing along calories to one's predator, ten percent was average, and twenty percent doing really well. Most predators at the tops of food chains did more like five percent.' 'That is why tigers have ranges of hundreds of square kilometers,' Vlad said. 'Robber barons are not really very efficient.' 'So tigers don't have predators not because they're so tough, but because it's not worth the effort,' John said. 'Exactly!' 'The problem is in calculating the values,' Marina said. 'We have had to simply assign certain calorie-equivalent numerical values to all kinds of activities, and then go on from there.' 'But we were talking about economics?' John said. 'But this is economics, don't you see, this is our eco-economics! Everyone should make their living, so to speak, based on a calculation of their real contribution to human ecology. Everyone can increase their ecological efficiency by efforts to reduce how many kilocalories they use -- this is the old Southern argument against the energy consumption of the Northern industrial nations. There was a real ecologic basis to that objection, because no matter how much the industrial nations produced, in the larger equation they could not be as efficient as the South.' 'They were predators on the South,' John said. 'Yes, and they will become predators on us too, if we let them. And like all predators their efficiency is low. But here, you see -- in this theoretical state of independence that you speak of --' she grinned at John's look of consternation -- 'you do, you have to admit that that is ultimately what you talk about all the time, John -- well, there it should be the law that people are rewarded in proportion to their contribution to the system.'
'How is this different from the economics that already exists?' They all scoffed at once, Marina most persistently: '...there's all kinds of phantom work! Unreal values assigned to most of the jobs on Earth! The entire transnational executive class does nothing a computer couldn't do, and there are whole categories of parasitical jobs that add nothing to the system by an ecological accounting. Advertising, stock brokerage, the whole apparatus for making money only from the manipulation of money -- that is not only wasteful but corrupting, as all meaningful money values get distorted in such manipulation.' She waved a hand in disgust. 'Well,' Vlad said, 'we can say that their efficiency is very low, and that they predate on the system without having any predators, so that they are either the top of the chain or parasitical, depending on how you define it. Advertising, money brokering, some types of manipulation of the law, some politics...' 'But all of these are subjective judgments!' John exclaimed. 'How have you actually assigned caloric values to such a variety of activities?' 'Well, we have done our best to calculate what they contribute back to the system in terms of well-being measured as a physical thing. What does the activity equal in terms of food, or water, or shelter, or clothing, or medical aid, or education, or free time? We've talked it over, and usually everyone at Acheron has offered a number, and we have taken the mean' ..."

p474.9 (Arkady)
"The park reminds me of what Orwell said about Barcelona in the hands of the anarchists -- it is the euphoria of a new social contract, of a return to that child's dream of fairness we all began with--"

Related Pages:
Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars
Robinsonian Co-operative Corporation (RCC)