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<nettime> plot line for the world revolution
Keith Hart on Tue, 4 May 2004 19:57:26 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> plot line for the world revolution


It is good to be reminded by Brian's last two posts that the flame of
revolution is still burning somewhere. I have never thought of myself as a
political activist, preferring to influence how people think by what I
teach and write. But I would like to share with the nettime list a plot
line I dreamed up this morning while pushing my daughter to her
childminder. I am bringing myself to the point of working seriously on my
novel, Futures: the death and life of Don Quick. The line in question
concerns how and when the world revolution might take place, but first a
brief summary of the book as a whole.

The novel is a pastiche, like Cervantes', a science fiction murder mystery
about the world revolution of the early 21st century in which power shifts
decisively away from the white men in suits to where all the people are,
notably Asia. It starts with the apparent murder of a discredited tycoon
in Geneva in 2015. The story than recapitulates his career, first as a
billionaire hedge fund entrepreneur, then as a latterday Don Quixote
crusading against the ills of capitalism, but at the wrong time, the
height of the dot com boom. He retires to a Swiss sanatorium where he
combines psychotherapy with a mysterious presence on the internet. His
death is investigated by a 24th century Indian art historian whose main
interest was originally in DQ's Sancho Panza during the crusade period, a
young black woman film-maker from South London called Sandra Payne. She is
later seen to have been one of the great artists of the world revolution,
especially for her remake of Fitzgerald's unfinished novel, The Last
Tycoon, a roman a clef featuring DQ. 300 years or so after his death, DQ
is the chief object of a religious cult, the Virtual Saints, which
threatens the Chinese and Indian authorities who dominate world
government. The story is told through the medium of a court-room drama in
the Day of Judgement studios, where Quick's case is reviewed by a
supernatural figure calling himself Michael Servant. Faust, Don Quixote
and Jesus are different aspects of the one man and the ghost of Gibbon
looms large. What will become of him and of the Indo-Chinese imperial
phase of world history? And was he really murdered?

Meanwhile, here is how the world revolution takes place. The big American
corporations get such a lock on internal communications and foreign
(military) policy through control of the government that creative use of
the internet is driven elsewhere and the Middle East is transformed into a
permanent war zone with energy as its focus. China keeps barreling along
as cheap manufacturer to the world, target for inward investment and
stimulus to the Asian economies. India begins to take off as the leading
centre of the anglophone internet services economy. Latin America, Russia
and Africa are out of it and Europe cannot reverse its obsession with
fragmented nationalisms. The Hindu fascists are voted out and a new more
progressive coalition expands the rapproachement with Pakistan and puts
out feelers to China and Japan. These four countries, using Pakistan as a
diplomatic bridgehead begin to assert their weight against American and
Israeli militarism in the Middle East, bringing in the Saudi billions and
triggering a run on the dollar in favour of the gold dinar, the yuan and
to some extent the euro.

US neoliberalism turns into the hot war it always presaged and the Iraq
conflict is generalised in the region, with the Palestinians as the symbol
of resistance to western imperialism. The Asian alliance is drawn into the
hot war, perhaps even seeks it as a way of speeding up the transfer of
economic power eastwards and wresting the oil and gas out of western
hands. Their slogans invoke the Third World as a whole and are echoed by
insurrections of various kinds in Latin America, Central Asia and Africa.
Some American, European and Japanese corporations switch sides. The last
American helicopter leaves Baghdad in 2015 as Israel is forced to
surrender to the new Asian military occupation and a Palestinian state is
created. The USA becomes an increasingly introverted and repressive
society without adequate energy supplies and Europe is caught trying to be
everything to all sides as usual. And that is the world revolution of
2015. India and China can never reconcile their competition entirely and
sit in uneasy dyarchy at the core of world government. But India,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal are reunited and the Islamic world enjoys a
long delayed resurgence.

So that is why, even if the white men in suits are terminally displaced
from world power in favour of the poor, young, darker masses, the phase of
capitalist imperialism is continued in Asian hands. Enter Decline and Fall
of the Empire 300 years later with Don Quick's followers as a latterday
Christian sect, drawing mainly on the beaten populations of the West and
the excluded Southern periphery. Muni Subrahmanya, our Mumbai historian of
the 24th century will be the narrator of this aspect of the story as
context to his investigation into Sandra Payne's friend, itself a world
bestseller called Who killed Don Quick? This book and other documents are
introduced as evidence by Michael Servant in the Day of Judgement case.
Who or what he is will be revealed at the end of the novel.

Well, I need to flesh it out a bit. But I think it is important to have a
concrete scenario for the revolution. Any suggestions welcome.

Keith Hart



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