Friday, 12 May 2017

A Difference

Reading about Swedish Internal Security in Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest highlights one difference between any such familiar intelligence services and the Terrestrial Imperial Naval Intelligence of Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series.

One internal designation of S.I.S. is "the Firm."

"The Firm's most important task for many years was so-called personnel control, that is, the investigation and registration of Swedish citizens who might be suspected of harbouring communist or subversive views. Within the Firm the terms communist and traitor were synonomous."
-Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest (London, 2010), Chapter 5, p. 108.

First, this is a mistake. Someone who believes that Swedish society should be changed in the direction of "communism" (variously understood) is not necessarily spying for Russia and indeed might be equally opposed to the Russian regime, despite the common use of the term "Communist." (Words really can get in the way of understanding.)

Secondly, and more importantly here, there cannot be any equivalent group on Terra in Flandry's time. If there are any campaigners for social reform or revolution, it can hardly be suspected that they are covert "Roidhunists," funded and equipped by, and spying for, Merseia! There is an approximate equivalent. We understand that certain Merseian agencies feed propaganda to "'...Imperial academies, religions, and news media.'" (The Game Of Empire, Chapter Twenty-Two, p. 447 IN Flandry's Legacy) Nevertheless, we are not told of any radical political movement and, even if there were one, there would be no reason for Intelligence officers to regard its members as synonomous with pro-Merseian traitors.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I cannot entirely agree with your third paragraph. Because the problem posed by traitors is a real and HAS occurred. I only need to cite the examples of such miserable wretches as Kim Philby in the UK and Alger Hiss in the US (to name only two) to show that treason is a real possibility.

The harm and damage done by the odiously vile Kim Philby was esp. devastating to the UK and her allies. So, I don't think the anxiety felt by the Swedish S.I.S over possible traitors was entirely misplaced. They would have observed the very real harm done by Philby and Hiss and feel the need to search out Swedish traitors.

Btw, just to drag in something SF related, I like how Tim Powers, in his novel DECLARE, showing us in an ingenious way, how Philby got SOME of the punishment he so richly deserved.