Shamefully, I have yet to read Saturn's Children, Halting State, and I'm only one book into the Merchant Princes series - all books the victim of a moratorium on book-purchases until I manage to cut down on my book hoarding.
Nevertheless I still read Stross' excellent weblog (it passes the nolinkvisit rule of worthwhile Internet stuff) and I've always been struck by his yen for taking ideas that I find difficult to articulate in the most basic terms and expressing them concisely and wittily.
And so, in the Wildean sense that most people's opinions are actually the opinions of others, this is what I've been struggling to articulate to myself about the current state of politics in the EU:
Old certainties have been eroding: family, religion, gender roles, race, the hopelessly compromised multinational news media, politicians mired in the megaphone era and trying to grapple with ubiquitous information overload at the same time that they’ve been systematically stripped of actual power by the trade treaties of Empire. And so the existing establishment figures shout louder to drown out the noise, and foment moral panics and pass increasingly draconian laws just to be seen to be Doing Something. And something is done: anti-terrorism laws are applied to fly-tippers, bugging facilities are used to see that parents aren’t conspiring against the interests of the state by sending their children to the wrong school, and the unforseen complications of the disconnect between authority and real power multiply exponentially.
[from this article at Crooked Timber]