Saturday, 24 June 2017

Behind The Scenes of History

Let us differentiate between four kinds of texts with overlapping contents:

news media reporting current affairs;

analyses of global economic and political power structures;

conspiracist claims that a single secret clique completely controls everything from the Presidency and the Papacy to Planned Parenthood;

works of fiction that fantastically reflect reality by creatively adapting conspiracist ideas.

In how many works by Poul Anderson do aliens or time travellers secretly manipulate society for their own ends?

There are at least three groups of aliens;

Wardens and Rangers wage their war through time;

how often does the Time Patrol not only guard but guide and even cause events in its timeline?

For comparison, in Marvel Comics The Ultimates Volume 2, Nick Fury briefs the members of his US Superhuman Defense Initiative that:

there are at least eleven alien species on Earth;
the Chitauri arrived in 1777 and have been responsible for several acts of genocide, including World War II;
eleven feet tall and reptilian, they can assume human form;
they caused Naziism and the rise of Hitler;
their Japanese training camps were destroyed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
they were believed annihilated on Earth but a fresh corpse was found in a river near Calcutta and there have been more sightings since;
in New York, five hundred and twenty eight sleeper agents organized mind-control drugs in the water supply and infiltration of the national media;
they are planning global annihilation from a base in Micronesia.

None of this is true but:

the world really is this dangerous;
the fantastic fiction has some elements of plausibility - the Chitauri have not been here forever, do not control everything and can be pushed back.

15 comments:

  1. Conspiracy theories are very reassuring. They assume that -someone- is in control and that the world can, in fact, be planned and managed.

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    1. Mr Stirling,
      I am sure that that is the attraction. A conspiracist at a meeting I attended wanted to be REASSURED that the conspiracists completely controlled educational policies and even had an agent in every school...
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul and Mr. Stirling!

      Paul, I can think of at least three stories by Poul Anderson featuring aliens manipulating or trying to manipulate human affairs: "No Truce With Kings," "Details," and "Interloper."

      Mr. Stirling: interesting, I had never thought before that conspiracy theorists wanted to be REASSURED, that secret plotters are planning and managing the world. I had hitherto dismissed conspiracists as paranoid persons TERRIFIED that this or that group was secretly running the world.

      I'll have to write down this idea of yours about "reassurance" and slip it into my copies of your Shadowspawn books. We certainly see a group of very unpleasant persons who had been secretly more and more running the world since WW I in those books.

      I'm frankly impatient with most conspiracy theories. We don't NEED secret plotters running the world to see why human affairs are so often badly handled. All you need is a large number of people with more or less the same beliefs, point of view, philosophies. And if these persons believe in very bad ideas and manage to at least partly control a nation, then you will get bad results, with no need for secret conspiracies.

      The Democrat party and the left in general in the US is one example of people believing in very bad ideas and getting disastrous results from them being even partly implemented.

      The Muslim Brotherhood is a group of fanatical Muslims frankly and openly plotting to conquer the world for Islam and setting up a global caliphate. But they are flexible about the tactics to be used, depending on the situation in a particular nation.

      Sean

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    3. Sean,
      Those are the three stories that I had in mind.
      Paul.

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    4. Both,
      My "lefist" slant is that the global economy is structured neither to address human needs nor to develop human potential but to accumulate vast wealth for a small minority. Therefore, this minority has no need to "conspire." Some of them manipulate in various ways but others don't and the system as a whole is chaotic, generating poverty, waste, famines, wars, misunderstandings, scapegoating of minorities and other evils - but there is a lot of good as well. We live in a very divided and potentially beautiful world.
      Paul.

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    5. Kaor, Paul!

      While I agree there are plenty of non conspirators with no interest in or belief in any ideology who simply want to get rich by hook or crook, I don't this is a particularly major factor in why our affairs are badly run. I put far more blame on large numbers of people believing in bad IDEAS. And bad ideas implemented by using the state will get bad results.

      One very bad idea recently being advocated by many on the left in the US is that the national gov't should arbitrarily raise wages to $15.00 an hour. There are MANY bad things about this idea: (1) it would favor only CURRENT employees and discourage hiring of young or entry level workers (resulting in INCREASED unemployment), (2) it won't make the buying of goods and services easier or cheaper--prices will simply rise to reflect the new price levels--canceling out the "gains," (3) it would lead to massive inflation, with all their bad consequences. And I'm sure more economically knowledgeable persons than I am can list more reasons why such an idea as this one will not work.

      I also dislike the left in the US for moral and social reasons as well. Such as it's near ABSOLUTE support for abominations like abortion or absurdities like men claiming to be "women" should be allowed to use women's rest rooms.

      Sean

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  2. One aspect of the "reassurance" concept is that if whatever situation IS the result of a conspiracy rather than just being the way events play out, there exists the possibility of overthrowing the conspirators and "restoring" whatever the conspiracy-believer feels is the CORRECT path.

    THAT'S what's reassuring, I think; not the notion that there are sinister plotters, but the belief that if we KNOW about these puppet-masters, we can DEFEAT them.

    "The International Jewish Bankers cause wars, to make profits by arms sales! If we get rid of the Jews, there won't be anymore wars!" ...And other notions just as ludicrous.

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    1. Kaor, DAVID!

      Interesting notion, conspiracists feeling reassured from being convinced they know who is allegedly secretly running the world and the solution is to get rid of Group X,Y, or Z. And, yes, Jews have too often been scapegoated like that!

      Sean

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    2. David,
      That too. But part of conspiracism is definitely: (i) we understand how the world works; (ii) also, we can't do anything about it so we are absolved of any responsibility to try to improve the situation.
      Paul.

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    3. Kaor, Paul!

      I just thought of something as regards your point (ii), might some conspiracy theorists attempt their own "counter conspiracies" or commit acts of terrorism on those they believe are plotting against them?

      Sean

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    4. Sean,

      Anything is possible! I have really had up close contact with only one guy who is an extreme conspiractist. He buys everything:

      the Moon landing and the Twin Towers attack were faked;
      there is a Grey Pope and a Black Pope behind the "White Pope";
      every single newspaper headline is designed to mislead us in some way.

      The only good thing about it is that this guy, and presumably any others like him, has no capacity for violence and an apparent belief that our alien masters are unassailable in any case so all that can be done is to complain.

      Paul.

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    5. Kaor, Paul!

      This gentleman you mentioned seems a rather extreme and sad case. I had thought conspiracists are obsessed about only ONE kind of alleged conspiracy. But your acquaintance plainly believes in all kinds of alleged plotting.

      And of course I am glad this man, and I hope most like him, has no capacity for violence.

      I thought of another of Poul Anderson's works where we see hidden aliens secretly manipulating affairs not only on Earth but also on Mars: THE WAR OF TWO WORLDS. I like Anderson's ingenious twist on the alien invasion/conquest theme!

      Sean

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  3. As the old saying goes, never attribute to conspiracy or malice that which can be explained by stupidity or incompetence.

    Human beings are hard-wired to find intentionality everywhere, because we evolved with an acute need to be able to figure out what other human beings were thinking and what they intended.

    The downside is that we tend to assume conscious purpose where there isn't any -- to anthropomorphize natural phenomena, for example.

    We also tend to overestimate the degree to which things -can- be consciously controlled and made to come out the way we want them to.

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    1. Mr Stirling,
      Too true. When I inwardly complain about the arbitrariness and apparent "unfairness" of life, I have to remind myself that no one designed it.
      Paul.

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    2. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      I agree! Sometimes sheer incompetence and bungling, not deliberate malevolence, lies behind our troubles.

      Sean

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