Thursday, 18 December 2014

Disagreeing A Little with Van Rijn II

"'Autocrats, plutocrats, timocrats, bureaucrats, technocrats, democrats, they all tell everybody else at gunpoint what to do. We is bound into an age of crats...Was a good holiday from that while we had it...'"
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 284.

Well, not exactly. Democracy is meant to be, and I think can be, the opposite of minority rule by gunpoint. Van Rijn's "holiday" was a brief period when the Polesotechnic League operated on an interstellar scale whereas governments operated on only a planetary or interplanetary scale and therefore could not control the League. However, some League companies made harmful decisions and the League of necessity exercised one state function when it deployed battleships against pirates.

"'No more important private decisions...'" (p. 286)

But why should decisions affecting many be made by a few?

"'Politicians appoint themselves magicians, who by passing laws and jacking up taxes and conjuring money out of thin air can guarantee everybody a soft ride through life.'" (ibid.)

Bankers, finance capitalists, conjure money when they lend at interest. However, society and its leaders or representatives need hardly conjure money when labor and technology create abundant wealth that can eliminate poverty.

This is not a put down of van Rijn's views. I enjoy engaging with them and still, after so many readings, finding so much to respond to in Anderson's texts.

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