Monday, 16 January 2017

Meanwhile, On Earth...

Although Poul Anderson's Tales Of The Flying Mountains (New York, 1984), about asteroid colonization, is a future history, it presents neither a time chart nor any intermediate installments recounting events on Earth. But that does not mean that there is no history happening. We must make inferences from what we are told.

In "Nothing Succeeds Like Failure," set before the end of the twentieth century, the head of NASA remains accountable to Senators and Congressmen who we assume, not having been told otherwise, still serve the United States.

In "The Rogue":

time has passed - we are at least well into the twenty first century;
a newly elected North American government deploys space battleships;
the Social Justice party ("Essjays") is in power;
there is a President and a Congress;
there are large corporations "' Systemic Developments...'" (p. 67)

That's all for now, folks, but I will keep an eye on Terrestrial politics.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    The situation described in "The Rogue" about North America reminded me of the "corporatism" and cartelization of the Solar Commonwealth as seen in MIRKHEIM. And we both know how poorly Poul Anderson thought of such things!

    What such corporatism/cartelization really amounts too is the state more and more coming to make the real decisions, more and more taking power away from other institutions. And, like PA, I call that a very bad thing.


    1. Sean:
      To me, the terms "corporatism" and "cartelization" suggest more that big businesses, not the state, have taken the power - possibly including control OF the state. I'm recalling, just now, the mention in Jack London's *The Scarlet Plague*, of how "the Board of Industrial Magnates" appointed the President of the United States (not, it was implied, for the first time) the year before that epidemic wiped out civilization.

    2. Sean,
      "The Rogue" reminded me also of MIRKHEIM. We can compare PA's future histories not only with Heinlein's etc but also with each other.

      I think that the main power in society is not political (the state) but economic (EITHER the big concentrations of capital OR the class whose labor creates wealth). The state exists to maintain the status quo.


    3. Kaor, DAVID and Paul!

      David, but I can't think of a single instance in real history where the state was absorbed by private corporations. Nor do I think that is ever likely to happen. Because, the two, to my mind, are very different things. The Coca Cola corporation, for example, exists to manufacture and sell soft drinks. It has to PERSUADE people to buy its products. Not having the coercive powers of a state, any state, Coca Cola cannot force us to drink its stuff.

      I can imagine US Presidents being appointed, elected, or placed in office by means other than what is now mandated by the Constitution. But I really doubt a committee of industrial magnates will ever have that kind of power. Perhaps an Electoral College of US governors might come to select the presidents? IOW, powerful local territorial magnates or barons analogous to the Electoral College of the Holy Roman Empire (having the right to elect the Emperors) might come to choose presidents.

      Paul, and we see Nicholas van Rijn disliking the corporatism/cartelization seen in MIRKHEIM because it to increased control and domination by the Commonwealth.

      Of course I agree there are powerful financial interests, such as corporations and unions, whose leaders wishes have to be taken into account by the state. But I can't imagine them RULING any society unless the state is weak, for whatever reason. And it's no surprise that the works of RAH and PA can be compared with each other. They both distrusted over centralized government.

      Suspicious tho I am of over mighty states, I don't think defending the status quo is necessarily a bad thing. The rightful job of any state is to preserve internal peace and to defend its society from external aggression by hostile powers.


    4. Sean,
      A lot of money, including corporate money, goes into backing both the Democrat and the Republican candidates for the US Presidency.

    5. Kaor, Paul!

      True! And I see nothing wrong, per se, with that. What has been causing some upset lately in the US was how foreign gov'ts poured millions of dollars into the Clinton Foundation due to the widespread expectation Hillary Clinton would be elected president. To have FOREIGNERS doing was simply too much for many Americans.


    6. Sean,
      Corporations also wield power in that many people are dependent on being employed by them. Work is necessary for life but employment of many by a few is not.
      It is early here and I will shortly go out for the day not to return till late so there will not be much blog activity here today.

    7. Kaor, Paul!

      I'm not sure I understand your first paragraph. There are thousands of corporations, large and small in the US, but their leaders and managers comprise a relatively small portion of the population? Granted, but doesn't this relative few still need to employ millions for their corporations to WORK?

      Take your time about blogging!


    8. Sean,
      Of course corporations need many employees but the question was who wields power? In "Soldier From The Stars," Anderson made the point that, instead of conquering Earth militarily, the aliens sold their military services to the highest bidder among Terrestrial governments, thus became rich in Terrestrial currencies and thus conquered Earth economically.

    9. Kaor, Paul!

      Now I understand better. I was thinking of corporations from a strictly economic point of view. And "Soldier From The Stars" is an interesting way of showing how economics can be used to gain political power. Could it work in real life? Maybe!