~ "God that thing is ugly," Huyler said when they first saw it, riding across from the wreck of the Winter Storm in the tiny shuttle with the ship’s black-skinned, gray-suited avatar. "And these people are supposed to be decadent aesthetes?"
~ "There is a theory that they are ashamed of their weaponry. As long as it looks inelegant, rough and disproportionate they can pretend that it is not really theirs, or not really a part of their civilization, or only temporarily so, because everything else they make is so subtly refined."
Look to Windward is (chronologically) the second novel of Iain M. Banks' Culture series. In his mythology, the Culture is a post-scarcity society, facilitated by artificial intelligences and near-perfect manufacturing technologies. The human lifespan averages four centuries, and the people want for nothing. The political structure is a benign anarchy, with policy decisions made largely through direct (and instantaneous) democracy.
In short, the Culture is a liberal utopia.