BB: Human-Development Index is based on the real thing created by some people for the UN: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index
But there are changes for the book, of course. Every citizen of the Union of the New World Order (official name of the World Union) is considered an individual, a personal-trade entity (a corporation), and a country (a country with just one citizen). This new, improved, and updated HDI index takes into account the person's health, education, training, wealth, and the present value of prospective future earnings (based on health and other factors), as well as already accumulated wealth and credit rating. That's one reason everyone is a fitness freak. All in all, HDI equals the individual's ability to raise credit and capital (not necessarily the wealth they accumulated) at a given time. They are calculated quarterly just like in a company. Individuals can sell their own (ego) shares and buyers would have the same rights they would have in a company.
Minimum HDI to be a citizen of the World Union is 70. Any person in the world who possesses an HDI of 70 and higher automatically has a right to live in WU territories. I'm not sure if you are aware, but your own Canada already implements a similar index number for selecting immigrants. I'm thinking the U.S. also has a similar system for immigrants or visitors but they don't publicly declare it.
Phoenix's HDI is 73 and she is in the top 10 percentile (actually top 12.5 percentile). I didn't want to get into detail of such calculations in the book. HDI calculations categorize the population based on a logarithmic (binary logarithm with base 2) pyramid. There is only one person with the maximum HDI of 100, two with HDIs of 99, 4 with 98, and so on. The number of people at that level doubles as the HDI number drops by one. This brings the potential population of the World Union to be around 2 billion people. And the people with HDI of 70 is about 50% of the population. Disciples (citizens with HDIs 70-73) are the middle class in the World Union and they are about 90% of the population. The Devotees (HDIs 74-89) are the high society, and the Arrivees (HDIs 90-96) are the billionaires. Nobody is under the poverty line.
The seven Supreme Selfs have HDIs 100, 99, and 98. They control about 12% of the global wealth and that is enough for controlling it all. Some might argue that there are several of these ultra-rich out there already, controlling far more than what we see as the tip of an iceberg. I don't know...
RMT: 5) Would you agree that you have presented the indictment of greedy and power-hungry people, but also perhaps of the dangers of an extreme form of capitalism as it is practiced today, showing where this globalisation is leading humanity?
BB: The problem of today (and yester 2k years) is of hunger for power and control. It's not a problem of capitalism or communism. Those are just contemporary tools, whereas power plays are older than the beginning of history. The real issue is the never-ending lust of some people to control things. Beginning from Hunter-Gatherer times, in every form of system and government, this is the only constant. The need to control is boundless like the greed described in Culpa Innata. It's also deeply paranoid. The cycle begins with struggling to control a certain domain. Once the control over that domain is established, anything in the immediate periphery is considered a threat, and the cycle starts again... Until, the whole world, the whole universe is under control.
Now try to see globalization from this perspective. I'm not talking about a contemporary competition between capitalism and socialism. To me, that is an irrelevant smokescreen. And I don't have all the answers. But I feel like I'm asking the right questions.
RMT: 6) The world of Culpa Innata is essentially divided into the scientific and capitalist mighty World Union on one side and the chaotic Rogue States on the other. Would you describe those Rogue States like Russia, China, and India as representing socialism, and even maybe the failure of socialism and communism? Is Culpa Innata a critic of such systems?
BB: The World Union appears (and brags) as a pinnacle of capitalism, but is it really? The book characters believe it is. Yet there are many indicators that it isn't. First and foremost, there is 0% unemployment. Under such circumstances, the wages in a free market should skyrocket. But they don't. There can be just one explanation to this: Labor-price fixing at a global scale, something more appropriate for some form of socialism or communism.
Is the WU communist? The interest is outlawed, as it is called an unreasonable commitment on the borrower's side. Now, what can this have anything to do with a free market? If people are willing to borrow at a predetermined rate, who cares? The system cares, because you might be stepping on someone else's right to reach out for a fair credit. Now, doesn't this sound socialist? The Rogue States are in many ways as capitalist as the World Union, but their problem is marketing and PR.
The point here is this: I don't believe capitalism and communism are that far from each other, no matter how far we are told they are. Look at China today. Are they capitalist or communist? If you ask me, they are both. In its own way, so is the World Union.
RMT: 7) Culpa Innata depicts a world without governments, taxes, and banks as we used to know them, where each citizen is now considered a corporation that others can own by buying ego shares. Everything is being outsourced to self-regulating mega-corporations. The Global Peace and Security Network in charge of policing and the military is such an example. Do you foresee a future where everything and every domain of society have been outsourced to self-regulating corporations and where governments might no longer be required?
BB: I see it as one of our possible futures. In the last 2 millennia, every superpower ended up having a Roman complex. It's as if the curse of the ancient Rome shadows every single one, and they all strive to be like the Romans or claim the legacy of the same for some unknown reason. There are already scholarly discussions whether the U.S. is still a republic or a functioning empire. Even if the U.S. is still a republic, it's far from the Roman example with its giant bureaucracy, nearly as big as the Chinese. In ancient Roman Republic, powerful and rich aristocratic families were natural members of the senate and funded the army. The famous generals we read in history like Crassus (who crushed the Spartacus rebellion), Pompey, and Julius Caesar were all from super-rich families and they personally funded the s enate-sanctioned wars. In return, they were the prime recipients of the spoils. There were virtually no or very little income tax during the Republic for most of its existence. Public service was entirely voluntary with no salary, and important trials were held before the public, the decision was made based on the public jeering or hailing. Sound familiar?
I believe that there is a very good chance the next superpower will try to return to the original formula.
RMT: 8) You have not presented us with any real solution to such a dystopian future, even suggesting in the game at least that such a surveillance society or Big Brother state could even be perceived as a utopia by its well-conditioned inhabitants. Have you thought of solutions or ways to prevent such a state of affairs from becoming reality? What would it take?