Monday, 7 November 2016

In The Valenderay

Admiral Cajal thinks that the Ythrians, numerically weaker, will:

"'...try to maintain hedgehog positions.'" (Rise Of The Terran Empire, p. 512)

Cajal's superdreadnaught, named after the supernova near Merseia, Valenderay, comprises:

"...radial kilometers of metal, machinery, weapons, armor, energies, through which passed several thousand living beings." (p. 514)

In the middle of this massive artifact, Cajal, surrounded by screens and silence, sees darkness and stars including Laura, the sun of Avalon, gold and shining. He prays for forgiveness for the destruction that he is about to unleash.

And we are bound to ask why all that power and technology must be used for death and destruction.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Commenting on your last sentence: are you TRULY puzzled at why nations go to war? Wars can happen even between reasonable decent nations when disputes and quarrels over things and places the disputants consider CRUCIAL become so intense that one or the other (or both) believes only war will settle the matter. Wars can also happen for fanatical or ideological reasons, when an aggressor is so consumed by belief in the rightness of his cause that he wants to impose his beliefs on the entire world. The classic example of this being being how Mohammed's successors conquered as much of the world as possible for Islam in the century after the false prophet's death. An example cited by Poul Anderson in THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN.

We get some idea of Poul Anderson's views about war in the Foreword he wrote for SEVEN CONQUESTS (Macmillan: 1969), on page 10: "The prayers, prophecies, denunciations, pleas, studies, conferences, and political restructurings of several thousand years have not done away with war. Our generation is unlikely to get further with its noisy peace parades and its mealy-mouthed obervances of United Nations Day. The violence of the state remains legitimatized, and often glorified, because it serves the ends of the state. And those ends are not always evil; ask anyone whom Allied forces liberated from Nazi concentration camps. Such considerations demonstrate the fallacy of pacifism."

And we both know Poul Anderson had no illusions about war, as the next paragraph demonstrates: "Nevertheless, whether the cause be good, bad, or indifferent, the human flesh caught in the middle is just as dead and maimed, the wealth is just as wasted. In an age of nuclear explosives and nerve gases, it is alike irresponsible to assume war will come to a permanent end when a number of people speak up for peace and to assume that wars can go on as usual without the gravest consequences."

Briefly, my view has to remain that of what Flavius Vegetius so pithily said in his DE RE MILITARI (circa AD 383): "If you want peace prepare for war." That is, you have to be so strong that your enemies and rivals will be deterred from attacking you. Weakness invites only contempt and a much higher risk of war.


Paul Shackley said...

I understand causes of war but think that we have a real chance of building world peace. But this does not mean leaving ourselves weak before a potential enemy! Basically, I think that we are rising from animality, not that we have fallen from Paradise! So I do think that a further improvement in our moral status is possible - although not inevitable.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Sadly, I see little prospect for real peace in our times. I see far too much weakness, incompetence, unrealistic wishful thinking, and sheer folly in too many Western nations (the US included). And I know you too believe in one's country being strong before potential or actual enemies.

I do agree improvement is possible, assisted by wisdom, determination, and divine grace. And it's good you admit that is not necessarily inevitable.