Sunday, 1 April 2018

Two Time Patrol-Technic History Parallels

Manse Everard says of a time criminal:

"'I think most human misery is due to well-meaning fanatics like him.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Time Patrol" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (Riverdale, NY, 2010), pp. 1-53 AT 5, p. 42.

I disagree with "most."

Dominic Flandry says that, if the would-be usurper, Cairncross, is killed:

"'...the temptation would be very great for an officer of his to take over the dukedom and carry on the project. That could well be from idealism; they're surely dedicated men...Idealism has killed a lot of people throughout history.'"
-Poul Anderson, A Stone In Heaven IN Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 1-188 AT XIII, p. 169.

Flandry says a lot, not most.

"'Has the universe therefore brought forth sentience, in order to protect and give purpose to its own existence?'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), Part Six, p. 435.

"If sentience did not abate the accidents of a blind universe, what meaning had sentience itself?"
-A Stone In Heaven, XII,p. 161.

Big questions transcend timelines.


S.M. Stirling said...

C.S. Lewis once pointed out that a sadist can be sated, and greed can be glutted, but idealism keeps the believer's nose to the grindstone indefinitely.

The -really big- disasters tend to involve idealists and utopians, particularly in the modern era.

Even before then the Mongols had non-rational reasons; "One sun in the heavens, one Kha-Khan upon the earth."

The Romans were firmly and sincerely convinced that they conquered the known world in a series of defensive wars all of which were provoked by the other side.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul and Mr. Stirling!

Alas, I have to again disagree with you. I agree with both Manse Everard and Dominic Flandry on how so MUCH misery has been caused by both "well meaning fanatics" and "dedicated men." With me leaning more to Everard's "most." Approximately 100 million people were killed in the monstrous 20th century alone in the name of Marxism.

Mr. Stirling: I agree. I distrust idealists and Utopians. And the Romans were amply expert in rationalizing their aggressions.


Paul Shackley said...

Maybe "idealists" is a wider term than I realized.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, it can be. And it's better for leaders to be disillusioned realists, not idealists.


S.M. Stirling said...

It's more a matter of what you want, and/or think possible. Are life's negatives problems to be solved, or conditions to be managed? How much can we know, or control, of our individual and collective lives?

People who think they know how everything works, and can use that knowledge to solve all the problems, are frankly a menace. On the other hand, complete passivity and fatalism accomplishes nothing.

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
Individual: meditation; collective: politics.
There is a prayer for courage to change what can be changed, patience (?) to accept what cannot be changed and wisdom to know the difference.
The British Daily Mail newspaper once pompously announced to black South Africans that they had to accept Apartheid. In our life times, the Berlin Wall has been erected - and dismantled.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I agree on the need to avoid both arrogantly thinking I/we can solve all problems and the danger posed by passivity/fatalism.