BB: Phoenix is a product of the Great Meltdown and the Eastern Bloodbath. She has such horrific memories of the incidents carved into her three-year-old mind, no drug or no treatment can erase it, but only suppress it. When she moves to her birthplace, the lid shatters under pressure and her subconscious resurfaces at full strength. Her instincts suddenly emerge and begin working seamlessly with her mind; on the other hand nightmares bring her to the brink of insanity. Only then, she begins to question her place in the system. We all complain and gripe about the world or system we live and put up with, but very few of us try to fit in as hard as she does. And she just cannot. She is a system reject. Then she realizes that her only option is to do things her way.
In Culpa, I took contemporary issues and tried to push the boundaries of them in order to see where they would lead. Regardless of its doctrines, this new world order is completely pragmatic and tries to fix everything, no matter how radical the outcome is. Post-apocalyptic moments in time are the best times to introduce and spread radical ideas and policies. Just think of how much societies change after every major war. The Great Meltdown is worse than anything the world has ever seen, simply because people turn against each other en masse. The enemy is within. And if someone promises peace, food, and tranquility, they accept any measure no matter how insane it may sound, such as the end of altruism and tribal-family structure.
The common aim of every civilization to have ever faced the earth has been to eradicate the tribal-family structure of the hunter-gatherer collectives. Every society/system aims for its members' full loyalty and the biggest obstacle is always biological. The founders of the World Union manage to make the ultimate stroke here, by declaring any form of altruism as a destabilizing factor. Take note that this isn't just economical. Even a foetus has rights to mature in a neurosis-free environment. But the backbone of this stroke is the Universal Suffrage of Women, ensuring a pregnancy- (and menstruation-) free life in the name of equal rights and better competing with men. You completely alienate the individuals from each other and create members who can only rely on the system.
How far are we from all this post-modern utopia/dystopia? Not very far, if you ask me, considering the progress each civilization contributed in curbing the primal instincts of humanity. So, taking the last 10,000 years into consideration, since the first settled communities, this relentless assault on human psyche and nature escalated after every invasion, every war, every revolution, erasing and eradicating those who don't fit (whatever happened to those Celts), making us today, in my humble opinion, just a whisker away from it from a historical perspective. In other words, one major catastrophe away from it.
RMT: 4) In the book every citizen of Adrianopolis has received a Human-Development Index. Depending on this credit score if you wish, they are categorised lower class, middle class, or high society, and have access or not to certain society perks. Over 90% of the population are disciples with a low HDI and are therefore nearly at the bottom of the economic pyramid. To what would you compare this HDI exactly and how accurately do you think this reflects reality?
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?