Monday, 31 July 2017

Myth Meets Economics

Copied from the Science Fiction blog:

SM Stirling, The Tears Of The Sun (New York, 2012) is an fsf mix so it is appropriate to discuss it on an sf blog. There are gods but they are scientifically rationalized. Mind, sometimes manifesting as gods, evolved in an earlier universe and now transforms new universes from their beginnings. (Norse gods originated in a precosmic void so the origin of Stirling's gods is legitimate.)

Let's look at history in our universe before we get into Stirling's fiction. Why were kings powerful?

Mythological answer: because they were descended from and appointed by gods.

Economic answer: because social labour had produced a surplus that maintained, and was controlled by, a ruling class.

My response: appreciate the mythology and understand the economics.

In Stirling's fiction:

high technology stopped working in the Change;
economies retrogressed to cannibal, tribal, feudal etc;
many populations have taken refuge in diverse mythologies;
and beings answering the descriptions of gods, saints and demons have become active both in the Change and in the subsequent course of events.

Now, in this context:

"The Destined Prince with the Magic Sword is wonderful, but less wonderful when he asks you to cough up every tenth bushel and piglet and takes out a mortgage on your farm." (Chapter Fifteen, p. 463)

Myth meets economics. A divinely appointed High King must raise taxes to wage expensive wars against demonolaters. Why can't the gods be more helpful by making him financially independent, e.g., with a secretly located, privately owned gold mine?

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Well, the mythologies ties in with LEGITIMACY, the ideas and beliefs people have about their gov'ts which gave them the right to govern in the first place.

And while gold mine would certainly be useful to King Artos, it's not a cure all for his problems with logistics. I'm reminded of something similar happening to Spain in the 16th/17 centuries, when vast amounts of gold and silver from her New World empire help to fund her wars in Europe. Problem was, all this gold didn't do Spain much good, because it was spent right away or used to pay interest on her mountainous national debt. It had the perverse effect of IMPOVERISHING Spain.

Long term, it's probably better for Artos and his people to depend on taxing real goods, like that tenth bushel of grain or piglet.