It is set in a world in the future (or non-future). It could well even be a parallel reality. This is left unclear.
The human body and the human mind are seen as means to an end, not as ends in themselves. Men objectify the female body and women objectify the male body. The body is just used for procreation and for sexual gratification. The mind is used to propagate ideas about natural science, philosophy, maths, general theorising, moralising and creative endeavours. The mind is used, generally, for ‘pure’ ideas. Even creative endeavours are generally seen as a systematic endeavour, not as ‘expression’. Novels, for example, aim to approach problems - societal, theoretical, philosophical, moral, etc. - and solve them.
The intellect and sex, once seen as polar opposites, are seen as integral in this society. Sex is often referred to as ‘dialectic copulation.’ Argument is seen as the interchange and debate of ideas. Sex, meanwhile, is seen as an interchange of energy.
Concepts like ‘love,’ ‘empathy,’ and ‘affection’ are seen as hokey and outmoded. There are no relationships, or even friendships. The nuclear family does not exist. New-born infants, who are invariably created by accident, are reared in blocs. They are given basic training in language and arithmetic. After they hit a certain age, they shown certain books and told to pursue their main interests.
The economy works in different ways. There is a total end to commodity fetishisation. The love of objects is, again, seen as ‘hokey’ and ‘outmoded.’ Books and music albums are completely stripped of any kind of marketing appeal. They have no covers. This means that the person purchasing albums and books engage with the ideas on a ‘pure’ level. They don’t fetishise the packaging. The kind of cultural posturing associated with global capitalism - i.e. behaving and dressing in certain ways because you have certain cultural tastes - is put to an end. One simply listens to music or reads certain books because one has an interest in the ideas that they propagate. All cars look the same. All computers look the same. Clothes largely look the same. Etc. Most sectors of the economy - and all unskilled labour - are completed by robots. The society is a mixed economy, though private enterprise is heavily regulated. This does not stress anyone, as there is hardly any entrepreneurial incentive anywhere. There is no real ‘competition’ anywhere. Selling one’s body for sex is seen as a healthy and noble practice, not as something illicit. Sexual promiscuity, and the financial transaction of sexual promiscuity, is encouraged.
Parliamentary politics, meanwhile, is much closer to the Athenian model. There are no ‘politicians’ as such. People go in and out of parliament and determine policy. The discussion is more theoretical than practical. There is no partisanship. Parliament is more like a giant seminar room.
The society is founded on the assumption that human beings can overcome any supposed limitations. Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan’ is taught and is seen as being wrong on every front. As this is not a demagogic or fascistic society, Hobbes is not ridiculed or bedevilled. He is simply seen as a great thinker who did not get things right. Humans are autonomous agents. Although the society is collective, it is also very libertarian. Humans have a great deal of freedom. There is no ‘social contract.’ Although people are, to a degree, limited and flawed, they are constantly pushing themselves to achieve new goals. Meanwhile, society is also collective in the sense that wealth is distributed equally, there is no competition and people constantly meet each other and engage in seminar discussions.
The novel sees all this as utopian, not dystopian.