(urth) Seventeen

Son of Witz Sonofwitz at butcherbaker.org
Tue Jun 7 15:21:25 PDT 2011

On May 26, 2011, at 5:39 PM, Gwern Branwen <gwern0 at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, May 26, 2011 at 7:51 PM, Nathan C. Tresch
> <nathanctresch at gmail.com> wrote:
>> He attributed his inspiration for the Ascians to the Turks of the Byzantine
>> period of history, and points out that they are north american in origin in
>> this interview:
>> http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/interviews/wolfe46interview.htm
> Not quite. He said they were 'my equivalents of the Turk' to the
> 'stagnant political entity' of the Commonwealth. That is,
> Byzantium:Turks :: Commonwealth:Ascians. This is *not* the same thing
> as 'the society of the the Ascians is a version of the Ottoman
> caliphate'.
> Personally, the very first time I read TBotNS, it was obvious to me
> that the Group of Seventeen's society was heavily modeled on communist
> China. The parallels are just too many.
> The style of the story is focused on an agriculture society on what
> may be a collectivized farm (China's usual mindset, and especially
> that of Mao who swam in the sea of peasants), the Group of Seventeen
> is appealed to like the peasants appealed to distant mandarins and
> Party officials for justice*, the Group of Seventeen is even named
> like various Chinese entities - Gang of Four, anyone? -The use of
> numbers is again characteristically Chinese, if you don't believe me,
> look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Chinese_numbered_policies
> or look at how many Chinese entries there are in
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Numeric_epithets (This
> impression is particularly reinforced if you read any substantial
> amount of ancient Chinese literature/philosophy/history.) The quoting
> is a clever mockery of communist quoting and especially quoting from
> the Little Red Book (an approved text if ever there was one). The
> sentiments are in line with communist theory.
> Hell, "correct thought" is literally a China term! Look through Google
> Books if you don't believe me, eg.
> http://books.google.com/books?id=ku5fABfvOGgC&pg=PA45&dq=%22correct+thought%22#v=onepage&q=%22correct%20thought%22&f=false
> So there are many many points in the story that reek of Chinese
> communism. And *not* of Islam or the Turks.
> * Not just my observation; see
> http://crookedtimber.org/2009/03/07/loyal-to-the-group-of-seventeen/
> -- 
> gwern
> http://www.gwern.net

Great stuff Gwern.
My feelings about all this were subtext read from the gut, but this really validates the idea that they are a communist metaphor, influenced by Chinese communism, though not necessarily Asian at all.

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