Saturday, 1 June 2013

Desai's Theory

For human beings at least, there is a historical cycle with over fifty examples, including Old China three times, older Egypt three times, India and the Roman Empire;

the stages are -

wrong decisions,
Pax enforced by the universal state or Empire,
dissolution of the Pax,
its reconstitution,
final collapse or disintegration,
a dark age,
a new society beginning in the ruins;

the wrong decision for Technic civilization was the transformation of the Polesotechnic League from a mutual-aid organization of free entrepreneurs into a set of cartels;

the Terran Empire is the universal state of Technic civilization;

its Pax is a militarily enforced subservience, giving only a respite from the wars multiplying after the original breakdown;

this anarchic phase or interregnum can include stretches of peace and relative prosperity but will last for only about another eighty years unless modern technology, nonhuman influences or interstellar distances alter the duration;

suspicion and centralization encourage incompetence;

defence and civil functions disintegrate, provoking rebellion;

the Empire will rise again as a centralized divine autocracy (Diocletian);

that second peace of exhaustion will be followed by the final collapse and the Long Night, although this is not inevitable because a fresh start is possible with the will and the means;

however, an empire in the anarchic phase is prone to invasion and conquest;

thus, Osmans, Afghans, Moguls, Manchus, Spaniards, British etc conquered older cultures;

in this way, Terra is threatened not by barbarians, Ythri or Gorrazan but by Merseia;

in fact, Aycharaych and others in the Roidhunate probably know and apply this theory of human history;

the basic theory was formulated a millennium earlier and is to be found in the archives but Desai's experience and further study confirm it;

it has been successively rationalized, ignored and suppressed and Desai can share it with Flandry only by speaking in confidence;

there is not yet any comparable theory about other races, including the Merseians, but Desai intends further study in his retirement;

Emperor Hans would be better advised not to lead an armada against the barbarians but to remain at home to guard against civil wars, even at the expense of losing the Spican sector.

In this exposition, Desai does not use the terminology of the "Principate" and "Dominate" phases of the Empire which is used in Sandra Miesel's Chronology of Technic Civilization.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Very interesting! And as I'm sure you recall, Poul Anderson based this theory of history on the works of a real life scholar and historian, John K. Hord. In fact, the best summaries I've been able to find of Hord's work is from A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS and the essay "Concerning Future Histories," BULLETIN OF THE SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS OF AMERICA (Fall 1979). I simply can't find anything by or about Hord which focuses on this theory. Very frustrating!

If I'm recalling correctly what Anderson wrote, he believed Hord has found a pattern in human history which works out basically as he and Anderson described it. Altho Anderson was careful to allow for both free will and factors like the influence of non humans also taking a part in this process for his Technic History.

I know you lean to the Marxist view of history, but do you think Hord has insights which you may accept as likely to be true?


Paul Shackley said...

I do. It sounds all too plausible, especially with the large number of detailed examples which, apparently, are there in the historical and archaeological records.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I agree, I too found Hord's theory, as summarized by Poul Anderson, very convincing and borne out by the evidence given us by actual real history and archeology. Far more so than alternate theories such as the Marxist.

The only quibble I have is Hord/Anderson apparently thinking the failure of the Conciliar movement of the 1400's was a mistake for the West, because of how they believed it led to Protestantism, the absolute monarchies of the 1500s to 1700's, the French Revolution, etc. As a Catholic I believe if the Conciliar movement had succeeded, it would have led to the destruction of Papal authority, which I hold to be divinely instituted. I know, you don't agree! (Smiles)


Paul Shackley said...

I think the early churches were founded by Apostles (Thomas or his successors in India). Each Apostle appointed assistants and each church elected one assistant as a successor (bishop) after the founding Apostle's death. Those early bishops never recognized one of their number as wielding supreme authority. Centuries later, Constantine split the Empire. The Church in Rome, claiming to have been founded by Peter, the chief Apostle, gradually claimed that Peter's successor, the bishop of Rome, had a universal authority which had never been recognized by the significantly named Orthodox bishops.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Of course I agree the churches which preserved the seven sacraments were founded by the Apostles or their validly ordained successors. All Catholics have to believe in the Apostolic succession.

I simply argue that the case for Papal primacy is far stronger than many believe. Not only can I cite scriptural texts for the unique authority only Peter (and his successors) held, I could (and have) evidence from the Fathers and Church history for this view. Examples being the Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Irenaeus of Lyons treatise AGAINSTS HERESES. But it would take a whole book to set forth the Catholic argument! (Smiles)

As for the Eastern Orthodox using "Orthodox," it goes back to about 843, with the final defeat of the Iconoclast heresy.