Monday, 18 April 2016

Choice But No Choice

 Do you prefer chicken or ham - if you are a vegetarian? Lethal injection or firing squad? Should a pacifist vote for war now or just for continued arms expenditure? Should a wage earner vote for wage restraint by legislation, by market forces or by agreement with trade union leaders? Some choices are not choices.

In one period of Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, the only alternatives seem to be maintenance of an Imperial aristocracy and bureaucracy or a return to interstellar barbarism. These are at least alternatives, even though most citizens have no say in the matter.

However, this Imperial system allows for more elbow than appears at first. Each planetary population is free to perform whatever social experiment it wants as long as it pays modest taxes and accepts Imperial protection and trade possibilities. An alternative economic system, if it worked, would be able to exist and even to spread without having to mobilize military opposition to the Imperium. We can think outside that box.

An entire sub-series of the Technic History could show people doing things differently. As against the War World period of Pournelle's CoDominium History or the Man-Kzin Wars period of Niven's Known Space History, we might have a different kind of world or a different kind of inter-species interaction. Next, I will post about alternatives in the early period of the CoDominium History.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And in THE REBEL WORLDS, we see Dominic Flandry commenting that many different intelligent races inside the Empire doing precisely that, running their own affairs in ways most humans would think very strange. A variety of social organizations the Empire tolerated as long as modest taxes were paid and formal loyalty was offered to the Throne. And planets colonized by humans also had a variety of socio/political forms. Dennitza, Aeneas, Freehold, Hermes, Vixen are examples I thought of.