Friday, 8 February 2013

The Second Interstellar War II

"We disavow imperialism, we admit its absurdity on an interstellar scale..." (Poul Anderson, Fire Time, London, 1977, p. 97)

That sounds sensible but tell it to the Terrans and Merseians in Anderson's History of Technic Civilization! As ever, Anderson gives the impression of considering every possible answer to a question, then deducing the logical implications of each alternative answer.

With FTL (faster than light) travel, is interstellar imperialism possible? If yes, then Manuel Argos might lead a slave revolt and found the Terran Empire for defence against barbarian incursions and the Merseians, seeking galactic hegemony, might later consider it their destiny to destroy that Empire.

But, if not, then it remains possible that human colonists on Tsheyakka/Mundomar will be imperialistic towards Naqsan colonists and that the home planets will go to war against each other in order to support their respective species on the colony planet.

"...humans overrun the continent of G'yaaru, expel nonhumans, and fortify it." (p. 97)

That sounds imperialistic to me.

"The land mass of Sigurdssonia is vital to our security, therefore to the preservation of peace throughout this globe. We will settle it with our citizens..." (p. 98)

That sounds like rhetorical justification of imperialism. Of course, Anderson is able to show us two sides of any question but here he does convey that it is the human colonists who, while striving and building admirably on inhospitable Mundomar, have become unreasonable about sharing the planet with another species that would be able to occupy a different ecological niche.

No less an authority than Gunnar Heim, informed by friends in his planet's Intelligence Service, denounces Eleutherian (human) imperialism and argues that Earth should stay out of it but the deprived of Earth, a few of whose numbers have become the Eleutherians, are whipped up to support them. Thus, plausible politics in a futuristic setting.

Heim says that the dispute could be resolved by negotiation as "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight" was. That meant nothing to me but googling immediately revealed that it was a US-Canada border dispute. Past history always informs Anderson's future histories.

No comments: