Thursday, 20 August 2015

An Eerie And Chilling Text

Poul and Karen Anderson's Gratillonius and Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry defend civilization because it enables populations and generations to live in peace. Anderson's Nicholas van Rijn defends civilization because it is profitable but also shows that he wants peace not only because it is profitable. He has a conscience as well as a profit motive.

However, there are antithetical reasons to value an ordered society. In SM Stirling's Marching Through Georgia (New York, 1991), the American journalist, William Dreiser, refers to:

"...the eerie and chilling Meditations of Elvira Naldorssen." (p. 64)

Later, we are able to judge for ourselves because p. 230 comprises a three paragraph quotation from Meditations: Colder than the Moon by Evira Naldorssen. (I do not yet know which is the correct spelling of Naldorssen's first name.)

Having promised us an eerie and chilling text, Stirling delivers. The Draka do not violate the Golden Rule or utilitarianism. They reject them. They conquer to conquer and dominate in order to dominate. "The purpose of Power is Power." (p. 230)

(James Blish once said that sf has to be about something and that 1984 worked because it was about the proposition that the purpose of power is power.)

"...power is the ability to compel others to do your will, against theirs. It is end, not means." (ibid.)

I most disrespectfully disagree. Naldorssen goes on to present a chilling vision of "...the Final Society, a new humanity without weakness or mercy, hard and pure." (ibid.)

An inhumanity.... Remembering Count Ignatieff, we must commend Stirling for creating villains who are not just our heroes' honorable enemies but thoroughly evil.

What does Naldorssen need? An extended period in a society where every new acquaintance treats her as an equal and a friend, where no one imposes their will on her and where she has no means of imposing her will on anyone else. After a while, she would either be unexpectedly happy or deeply depressed. If the latter, then all we would be able to offer her would be an island hermitage!


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree with your comments about how Stirling created thoroughly nasty villains. And villains who were not cardboard cliches. Your mention of Count Ignatieff reminded me of how Yasmin described him, horrifyingly, as a man of great faith and piety. Alas, the god he worshiped was Satan and evil was "good". It brings up the obvious point, the count might very well have been a VERY good man if he had been a Christian.

But even normal enemies can be bad (even if many are, themselves, reasonably decent as persons). The Terran Empire and people like Dominic Flandry, for all their faults, are still better than the militant racism of the Merseian Roidhunate.


Tamara Wilhite said...

Your underlying assumption is that love heals and reverses poor socialization. Groups like ISIS whose ideology reveres strength and gives them authority to commit atrocities and own slaves look at this as weakness to be exploited.
Look at Muslim migrants raping European women, and then being forgiven by European feminists and judges while simultaneously saying "it is wrong not to let more of these people in". All while Muslim leaders are saying go, conquer them, convert them, until Europe is Muslim.
And your assumption that someone from such a domineering ideology converts to liberalism is proven false by European governments submitting to Muslim demands for no-go zones and outlawing criticism of Islam, instead of them becoming less oppressive.

Paul Shackley said...

Hi, Tamara.
Thank you for your comments.
Have feminists and judges forgiven rapists? Should all immigration be stopped because some immigrants have committed rape? If someone of my ethnic background had travelled abroad and committed rape, I would not like to be classified as "one of these people" and prevented from travelling. Some Muslim leaders say conquer and convert. Most condemn this. Have European governments agreed to no-go zones and outlawed criticism of Islam? Have I assumed that anyone with an oppressive ideology can easily be converted to liberalism?
Please respond to these questions if you want! There is a lot of potential discussion packed into a few sentences.
Live long and prosper,

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul and Tamara Wilhite!

Tamara Wilhite:It's good to meet a new combox commentator here. And I hope we see more remarks from you.

Paul: while I don't entirely agree with how Tamara criticized Islam, I do agree with certain "aspects" of what she said. Immigration should be controlled and limited, not UNlimited. And Muslims should be vetted to see if they believe in Islamic supremacism--and if shown to be in favor of jihadism they should be refused entry. And placed on "to be watched" lists, just in case of future trouble from them.

And, unfortunately, I have read of de facto "no go" areas in some parts of the UK, France, Germany, etc. Areas where the legitimate state has tacitly surrendered its sovereignty to those who advocate jihadism and Sharia law. If allowed to proceed unchecked it WILL become a danger!