Imagine There’s No Nations

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Sorry to be late. Yes, Greebo is fine. This is just one of those weeks when I’m being nibbled to death by ducks. Which is delaying everything.

Of all the stupid ideas of golden age science fiction, the idea of one-world-government always struck me as the goofiest for adult human beings who have some idea of other nations/cultures to believe in.

I mean, most golden age science fiction writers were relatively well educated and many had been all over the world, met foreigners (and sometimes killed them.)

But they seemed convinced, holding onto the notion hell for leather, that not only would national states wither away, but that what came next was a world-government. It appears in ALMOST every single golden age SF book.

I usually roll my eyes, then give them that one thing, kind of like giving them FTL. It’s not possible, but it makes them happy. And most of the time it’s not central to the plot.

Until recently I hadn’t read a lot of new space opera. Mostly because I was having trouble finding decent space opera that’s non-military. (I have nothing against military space opera, it just tends to have way too much inside baseball for me. For perspective, I can read Dave Weber, and enjoyed the living daylights out of the Weber/Ringo Prince Roger series. I just wish they would pocking get the next one out again. [Poertena is my spirit animal.] So, there’s a level I can handle. Much above that, though, and I can’t “get in.”)

Now I’ve fallen into a groove of reading it (having realized that Space Opera always was and remains where my soul resides) and realized that this is the one idea that modern Space Opera authors LOVE and will hold onto buckle and tongue.

Gone are the perfect supermen (for the most part) and the robots who are just like humans but better (for the most part) and the government that is a supercomputer (for he most part) and all the other crazy notions inhering in Golden age SF.

But one-world-government? Yeah. That’s with us for keeps.

Which makes me wonder what exactly is in their heads; whether they understand what is wrong with the EU (or even that there is anything wrong); and also whether they understand the very concept of non-tyranical government.

Look, I can see empires (see Prince Roger) and even uh… commonwealths not only worldwide but extending to several worlds.  In the cat’s cradle universe (there are several worlds, and very different cultures) that Winter Prince falls into (as do a lot of other things, including Valhalla is for heroes, which was arguably the first SF I ever wrote. But never published. Now I know why and I’m scraping and rewriting from scratch) and which is now called Schroedinger Worlds (thank you husband) there are federations and empires of more than one planet. And the Earth is a one-government state.

The one world Earth is mostly because there are actually very few people remaining on Earth and because the Earth is an administrative district. As in the people who live here are all bureaucrats, regardless of culture. (Did I say it was a utopia?)

As for the multi-planet groupings, they are more what NATO was supposed to be. Even at the Empire level, most things are done at the various local levels, and it is only for things like yep common defense, sharing of technology, and trade that it’s considered one unit.

It is not a world government as we picture it.

It’s not even as strong as the Federal government now is.

Part of my reason to think the concept is insane is precisely the pickle we’re in.  This is not how we were designed to be. Our civil war, like the Punic wars to Rome, sent us down a side-spur, in our case into a strong central government.

But there are two or perhaps three things that happen when a strong government rules over too large and diverse an area:

1- They will lose accountability to the people, and actively do things to stop alarms going off that tell them they’re going SERIOUSLY wrong. I don’t think I need to explain that to anyone here, right? Including the fact that our government is now MOSTLY run by a vast and unaccountable army of bureaucrats? Europe put its head in a worse noose, probably because the EU is a bureaucrat’s dream to begin with. At the EU level, none of those people are elected. They’re appointed, with the usual horse-trading. Yeah. Fun for everyone. (Very chuffed over Britain finding its metaphorical testicles, btw.)

2- They will become mostly interested in impressing/responding to those people they see every day, from colleagues to neighbors. What this means is it ends up being “dictatorship by whatever region the government is located in.” Humans are humans, rule comes with an assumption of superiority. “We are much better than them,” type of thing. And if it becomes obvious that other people in other regions don’t agree with you, you think of them as rubes, ignorant, deplorable.

3- They will fall prey to absolutely insane theories and fads, because they live in a bubble who all approve of it.
See, our last few rounds of educational insanity mandated over the whole country, because we can’t let those rubes over there have their opinion; or open borders bullshit, because they want low price gardeners/nannies; or a ton of other utterly indefensible nonsense.

But mostly, mostly, the biggest problem is that the first and foremost human tendency when acquiring enough power — and any government over a very large area has enough power — is to disable the alarm system and make sure there’s no negative report on whatever we choose to do, ever. Everything else comes from that.

So, divorce yourself from the local level, surround yourself with like minds, who all agree with you, stop the press from saying anything bad about you: result, unchecked and unnacountble power over other human beings, which leads you to believe they’re all widgets and start treating them as such.

(One of the reasons to vote Republican, even in a situation where Republicans and Democrats field equally awful candidates is that our press being mostly corrupt, convinced leftists, they will report every time a Republican looks at someone funny, but they will not, under any circumstances, report even major fraud and corruption from Democrats. All else being equal, the Republicans are less able to disable THAT alarm system. Of course, the press is now disabling itself by reporting mostly on the contents of their own heads, but that’s something else.)

As is, we have it relatively easy. If you start with a government over that large an area, but created on very different principles and with no checks or balances the result is the USSR… or China. We have so far — knocks on head — and barring a president Sanders avoided the millions of mass graves.

Local government can be absolutely awful, granted, but they also live right there, where it’s hard to avoid the consequences of their mismanagement (unless they spend most of their time elsewhere, see Nancy Pelosi and St. Poopcisco.) And they can be yelled at at townhalls and interviews.  Not run off the plot and start responding, again, mostly to the other lawmakers who surround them, so they start doing stuff like trying to impeach a president for being elected and thereby make a mockery of self rule and the votes of millions of Americans.

The problem is that it seems to be human to be unable to process ‘different cultures are truly different.”

As one of those people — we the few — who actually acculturated ON PURPOSE, I have, perhaps, a more clear view of how different cultures can be than most other humans.

And a multicultural perspective that’s different from the “multiculti” being pushed in our schools.

No, I don’t think that most cultures are equally valid. That’s nonsense. A culture that routinely leads to stagnation and starvation is not the same as one which has so far lifted its poor out of poverty and need that people give free clothes and food away, and it remains unclaimed. (I’ve noted more and more people trying to do just this and failing.)

A culture that kills women for speaking out of turn is not the same as a culture that encourages them to pursue full and happy lives.  Etc.

BUT what a culture seems to be is an integral whole. As in, it’s really hard to work on just one thing. And also, most of the cultural habits and tendencies of long standing are there for a reason. The reason might be stupid and no longer applicable (desert tribes covered their women so as to discourage raids because some visitor from another tribe found them ravishing, for example.  Also women tended to be traded and be from other tribes. Until/unless they acculturated, they had to be controlled so as not to tear the tribe apart) but you can’t work on it and shouldn’t rip it out till you’re sure that’s the reason.  And even then count on the people whose culture you’re trying to change/design to resist as hard as they can.

There is a way to totally remake a culture, of course. It’s called invasion and occupation. Which means not only is it very expensive on the invader in time and money and people, because as the man said:

Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild –
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

He knew of what he spoke, and btw, anyone who thinks that’s a hymn to white supremacy or empire or whatever is not only innocent of understanding of world history and human psychology but probably completely and thoroughly virgin of comprehension of English.  Or these days maleducated and taught not to thing, but only to pile on because “our teacher said.”

There is also a price on the captives, because change something too far too fast and it seems there is a …. ah… pathway for the culture.  I call it “the disease of the conquered culture”: the men become self-destructive, the women become whores (often with the invader, but not only), there are no children or the children get killed, and everyone tears down the shrines and sacred places of the culture.  (And if that sounds familiar, I think most of the west interprets the imposition of socialism from above as “we have been conquered” at least in the back brain.)

And this why a one-world-government with common laws, or given the trend of large governments common regulations (we must regulate the curvature of bananas!) quickly devolve into abomination.  Or through sheer lack of understanding of how a region works destroy the ability of people in that region to function/survive. (Why the yellow jackets fight.) OR even through sheer lack of understanding of anything but how to impose your petty will on others, destroys the food supply and food production of… well, everyone, sometimes in favor of a crazy shiny new theory. See cultural revolution in France, or the war against farting cows that has dairy farmers in open revolt all over Europe.

Imagine a government that has to deal with China, with the Arab culture, with British, with Americans. Sure, everyone will get  an equitable fair deal, right?

HOW can really smart people believe this?

Well, they believe that this end wars, apparently having forgotten that the American Civil war was one of the most destructive wars of the modern era. And that’s not taking in account other, older civil wars.

They want to “imagine”.  And they believe humans and cultures are both infinitely perfectible.  Which is to say not human.

And they too must have completely tuned out that other people — let alone other cultures — have different needs.

What this points to is a need to reform our education system.

That we also need to reform our government goes without saying.  For really large polities, the government needs not only to be kept small and powerless, but the balance of power needs to always rest in the most local polity possible.  The city should be more powerful than the county, the county more powerful (over its own jurisdiction) than the state, the state more powerful (over its jurisdiction) than the country.

Let central governments be muzzled, that they don’t intervene unless in the direst need, and even then are kept lean and relatively powerless.

Stop trying to rule people by means of faceless entities that cannot be controlled.

Because just because you broke all the alarms, it doesn’t mean you’re not in danger.

We’re in the very beginning of a hell of a correction to internationalist dreams.  PRAY that it proceeds with a minimum of war and blood.

We might live in interesting times, but it’s better than allowing this madness to go on.

The future is likely to be far more humane and decent than the 20th century (yes, damning with faint praise, but baby steps, okay?) and we get to build it, one way or another.

Be not afraid.

 

 

 

 

246 thoughts on “Imagine There’s No Nations

    1. The guy imagined that thinking about life without money might be too hard, but without religion, is easy. Which is actually missing from more societies?

    2. Imagine is the closest thing to proof that there is an actual Satan we have in this life.

      I have never seen a song that so tickled people while simultaneously describing what an actual serious Hell would be like…

      I say it is close to proof of Satan because how else could you be inspired to write such a song?

    1. It is among the more loathsome popular songs. Lennon was ok, as long as he was making an effort to be part of the Beatles. When his ego got out of control, his output rapidly became drivel.

          1. “Imagine there’s no Lenin…”

            Fixed it for you. I enjoyed the Beatles, and Lennon was an essential element. Lenin, on the other hand, was a right bastard whose actions led to untold misery.

            1. Imagine there’s no Lenin
              It’s easy if you try
              No gulags or Holdomor
              A hundred million don’t have to die

            2. Credible reports indicate that John eventually extracted his head from his [butt] and was supporting Reagan at the time he died. Given the political bent of his hagiographers it is unsurprising this has remained largely obscured.

              Imagine there’s no Yoko,
              No Ono if you try …

              It would not be particularly challenging to craft a mystery in which that was the actual reason for his assassination, with poor delusional whossname set up to take the fall. Perhaps make the mastermind behind this be the guy who replaced Paul in 1966 …

  1. I believe a world government is possible and even beneficial, but only in a situation where all the residents of that world believe they have more in common with each other than the people of another world.

    As I read history, that’s basically the story of how families gather into clans, clans to tribes, tribes to nations. You band together either to protect yourselves from aggression by the other or to aggress against them yourselves. Weber’s Honorverse gets into this in the latest books — first, the single system nations band together in an alliance, and when that alliance successfully beats off a powerful enemy, other single government worlds vote to be a part of that alliance and even to be part of the most powerful nation for defense against other, larger enemies. Only a threat to the whole planet (whether aliens or human colonies able to rival Earth’s power) could possible unify all the diverse peoples on it, and that certainly won’t be happening any time soon. But in a space opera, and particularly in dealing with colony worlds that like North American colonies would most likely start with immigrants from a single culture, I have no immersion issues with whole world governments.

    1. At this stage, a one world government for humanity is probably a death sentence for our species; or at least a set back that would take thousands of years to correct.

      1. Absolutely. But space opera normally entails a universe in which Earth, if it exists, is just one planet among many.

        Actually, the Quadrails series by Tim Zahn has a nice bit with this. It’s roughly 300 years in the future, and humans are just one of 14 different sentient species that use an interstellar train network for faster-than-light travel. But unlike the other species that have become very centralized, the United Nations has just barely enough authority to agree to rail stations and plant colonies on humanity’s behalf, while several different regional blocs actually govern. This makes humans far less susceptible to the the antagonist who is infiltrating governments.

        1. Agree. Space Opera. With emphasis on “Space”. I liken it to planets as large countries in the scope of things. As far as Earth, the space entities don’t interact with the country level, they interact with the earth government, established to deal with space matters, not have a hammer over countries in the world. Implication is that the “world” government is the only government. Why? Just the interaction is at that level. It is space opera, action, not in depth dive into the workings of the world.

  2. I suspect that for a number of the golden age writers the first sixty years of the 20th Century, with its World War, a major depression and another World War, inspired them dream of a world in which there was but one nation state.

    Ever notice that most of these imagined one world governments suited their dreamers? For example, International Marxists were perfectly happy to back such dreams … so long as that one world government was, surprise!, an International Marxist government.

  3. “ Of course, the press is now disabling itself by reporting mostly on the contents of their own heads, but that’s something else.)”

    I must beg to differ. The press is now disabling itself by reporting mostly on the contents of their own backsides..

      1. True. But the distinction is important. To say that they are reporting the contents of their heads implies that they actually BELIEVE that drivel. I don’t think they do. Instead, I think they are pulling out of their arse anything they think the public will believe that helps their agenda.

        They ARE delusional, but they are also dishonest, and hold the voters in contempt. Which is why they keep losing.

        Lesson for Elites from the British election; no matter how stupid you think the public is, if you make the mistake of asking them what to do, and they don’t pick your preferred option, doing what YOU want anyway has consequences.

    1. Or where there’s been a population crashing calamity, and not enough time has elapsed for competition to arise. (Or you tinker with the species . . .)

    2. The fun starts when you have a planet with multiple colonies that are NOT homogenous. On the other hand, a planet is BIG.

      1. Yeah, early colonial period it could make sense, not so much later. I’ve been toying with a scenario where a big space polity has to deal with a world where one major government is an ally, while the other governments on the planet are hostile. Could be a fertile source for story-driving politics.

        1. I think large polities (and schrodinger worlds has LOTS of lost colonies) would just set minimum standards, work on enforcing those, have various sanctions (short of war) if you don’t comply, and maybe expel you at worst.
          Stuff like “you can’t eat your own babies.” “No slavery” type of minimum standards.

    3. Even then… in Traveller there was a “balkanized” designation for a world government that meant the world had multiple nations.

  4. The problem I have is, the biggest alarm bell was disabled a really long time ago – about around the time when Congress started abusing the hell out of the Commerce Clause, and nobody called them on it.

    Also, in terms of One World Government, this is likely tied with the thought that the only way we could get off-world would be to mature to a level where sanity and logic reined and we could finally put aside our differences. Or CACS is right and it’s purely war weariness to begin with, and corruption of the educational system by the Soviet propagandists that kept it going.

      1. Oh, but the progressive propagandists have managed to keep the flame alive … from Cold War and all its little skirmishes to the War on Terror. We now have war weariness suffered by people who really have no real reason to be weary.

          1. I am sad for all the young people who are being so abused — and then being sent out to facilitate further abuse. It must be horrid to live your life in such a constant panic. (The global climate change movement reminds me of Chicken Little writ large.)

            The Spouse show me an article that collected good news stories you haven’t heard. At the end of the article it observes that one reason you don’t hear such stories is that they aren’t click bate and don’t generate lots of comments.

            1. I lately read some of the jatakas (stories that Buddha told about his experiences in past lives before he became the Buddha), and found one about a rabbit that heard a mango dropping onto the ground and ran about telling all the other animals that the Earth was breaking apart. Yes, it was exactly the Chicken Little story. Then a lion showed up, asked what was going on, took the rabbit back to where he heard the sound, and pointed out the fallen mango. . . .

  5. A good education is part of the solution, albeit not sufficient. First step with reforming education is to abolish publuc schools at any level of government. Now and increasingly in the future, the centralization of education is unnecessary: Khan Academy is the harbinger. One of the potentially beneficial uses of AI will be to teach each child in a way tailored to the child and the prescriptions of the parents. Kind of a Chiron for each kid.

    Education will be increasingly decentralized, but the central problem of the hearts of men will remain. This problem can only adequately be dealt with by Christ and when dealt with will show in repentance. Repentance that particularly ceases to idolize the state.

    Technology is general is going aid decentralization. 3d printing makes possible the manufacture of highly complex devices without plants capitalized in billions of dollars. This, plus advances in medicine (also decentralizing), agriculture, etc., will make possible smaller communities. Somewhat analogous to family farms/businesses and medieval villages. People of common worldview will band together and culture will differentiate. This will be shocking to those comfortable with the forced cultural homogenization pushed by Hollywood, public education, and out of control government.

    I the future will see independent communities ranging in scale from families to empires, but in general tighter at the smaller scales and looser at the larger scales. Look

    1. You know, I can’t get behind abolishing public education – because where do you expect the child to be, and who’s supervising the little truant, while they’re using Khan Academy?

      At home? Great, if you have a full-time stay-at-home parent who can motivate them and work with them. But if both parents are working, do you expect Jonny-Bored-And-Frustrated to have the emotional maturity to delay gratification and stick to studying for 9 hours while his parents are at work? …When he’s 6 years old? There’s a reason parents hire babysitters when they’re out instead of leaving kids to their own devices.

      At the parent’s work? Yeah, no, there’s no leaving little Susie alone while dad is busy welding, or mom’s delivering packages.

      For all the snide remarks about “warehousing” children, it is true: parents actually get many hours a day to get things done when the kids get back in school. And not every couple can afford to give up the second paycheck in order to stay home with the kids… and that’s before we start talking about single-parent households. Again, there is no one-size-fits-all solution… and there’s a reason so many communities organized public schools with a single teacher as soon as able.

      1. As long as you have public education you’re going to have the results of today: indoctrination rather than education. My point was that changes in technology are going to bring changes in society: decentralization of many things, including education. Further, education involves more than the three R’s plus other knowledge: inculcation of self-discipline is part of it–and that manifestly does not happen in public schools.
        Further, if both parents have to work then one of them is probably seeing most of their pay go to childcare, travel expenses, work clothing, etc. All of which significantly reduce the benefit of the extra paycheck.
        The public school system isn’t going to get better–education is not it’s purpose. If you want to propose 100% total local control and funding of significantly smaller schools, maybe. But who is going to man the ship? The same people who produce the mis-education today? I think the better alternative will be competition provided through various technology options.
        As I said in my original comment, AI has the potential to provide a tutor that is tailor made for a particular child and also per the parents dictates. Other technology will provide opportunities for parents to spend more time with children.

          1. Couldn’t find anything on first pass, but do think the one room school house could easily make a comeback. Our oldest 3 begged us to homeschool, but we couldn’t find a good, affordable curriculum at the time. For our youngest we used the Ron Paul curriculum. It was ~$500 per year for all the requisite classes (180 videos of 45min each per class) plus the forums. The advantage of the video instruction is the student can watch the video as much as needed to get it.
            Obviously not every family can oversee the kids this way so a one room school house could be viable and increasingly so in the future.

        1. When Jerry Brown’s dad was governor of California and the state arguably had the best public schools in the US we got indoctrinated, but the indoctrination was that the US was a Good Thing. The same mostly still held true in my junior high and high school years, when Reagan was governor (and the high school ROTC used real rifles, albeit we only installed the firing pins when we took them to the outdoor range at a nearby military base. (The indoor rifle ranges at the public high schools in San Diego were limited to .22lr.)

          But taking public schools back now would be difficult because the people who taught today’s teachers mostly didn’t even know what they were leaving out or indeed that anything was missing.

          1. Yeah, I came in at the tail end of that era and the beginning of the current one. But the question is was it really good to just indoctrinate US good? As opposed to teaching our history, how we came to be governed the way we are. Why a constitutional republic is good and compared/contrasted to other forms of govt. Why free speech and the right to bear arms are important. The reason for 3 branches of govt. Why the 10th amendment is important. How to evaluate a law constitutionally. The responsibility as well as rights of citizenship, etc. The first few generations of indoctrination over education seem ok, because the moral/intellectual/educational capital is still available. But it is quickly spent and the stories used to indoctrinate quickly become like fairy tales. The ideas are no longer anchored in reason coupled with example/experience. It’s just nostalgia and is subject fast overthrow by determined people, which is what has happened.
            The model was the assembly line, which revolutionized manufacturing. Socially, the thought was we could apply assembly line techniques to education and churn out millions of high quality, low cost citizen widgets increasingly tailored to the whims of an overweening state and its elite.
            We can do better. 3d manufacturing is revolutionizing today by enabling customization, simultaneous reduction in # of parts with a more complex whole, and profitability with smaller production runs–all of which lowers the capital cost of manufacturing, thus decentralizing. So we need a new paradigm in education that does similar things.

      2. For most of human history there were no public schools to take kids out of their parents’ care. I expect people will find all sorts of answers to what to do with the kids.

        1. I suspect much of the problems of public schools could be addressed by banning forced union membership (closed shop) rules and barring public employee unions from ALL political activity (including campaign donations.)

          Yeah, I’m not holding my breath awaiting the first politician to refuse to accept donations from teachers’ union members, much less sponsor a law making such donations illegal.

        2. Most of human history, mom’s work was close to home. In some respect so was dad’s. When they were both out in the fields, so were the kids. Older kids watched younger ones.

          Heck, even here in the 30’s, a lot of grandma’s household money came from raising turkeys, when grandpa (engineer) was between contracts, during the depression. She used to take her oldest two with her to the clutching pen (grandpa was busy out & about trying to scrounge work). Had a specific spot for both children to stand & stay because the turkeys would have gone after them (where do you think I got the “turkeys are mean” impression?) When I first read that, it was “oh, wow”, then I got thinking about it and it was “Holy C**p” those kids were aunt, & DADDY.

          My mom’s folks were the same way. When grandpa was working in the mines, grandma was at home working, with a 3 year old & infant, & no vehicle. She may not have been bringing in money, but don’t tell me that hauling water from the creek for everything (no running water), doing laundry, baking everything from scratch, etc., nursing an infant, and keeping a 3 year old from killing herself in a one room cabin on the upper side of the mine road, isn’t “work”.

  6. From what I’ve seen and read – pertaining to this case, Star Wars, Star Trek and a load of European/Soviet sci-fi – the matter isn’t so much about a one-world-government, than a one-world-culture. Classic Space Opera likes to treat entire worlds as nation-states in their own right, all neat and tidy like marbles in a bag. It’s less about imagining all the different peoples of the world joining together and singing secular Kumbaya, and more about failing to imagine that different peoples exist in the first place.

    To that effect, you can have a crew comprised of Johnsons, Petrovs, Wangs, Tanakas et cetera, yet none of them would exhibit values and mores different from those of the author, save for some stereotypical quirk. (And you can often guess the nationality of the author by what kind of quirk – as national stereotypes tend to vary.) Now, this was more or less explicitly enforced in Soviet sci-fi – since, in the future, obviously all of Earth would have embraced Communism, same as with all space-faring races in the Galaxy – but it also shows as a matter of habit, a way to keep the written universe streamlined. (Sometimes a bit too streamlined, with Star Wars explicitly having a one-galactic-government… though it does realistically suck bantha balls.)

    A comparison can be made with billion-strong countries nowadays, like India and China, who internally have dozens if not hundreds of cultural variations, customs, laws, languages etc. – all things that would warrant categorization of sub-regions as separate states in their own right – yet are still collectively referred to by a shared name, with a number of shared cultural aspects as well. Conversely, in a setting spanning numerous star systems, it’s not improbable for everyone on Earth to be habitually lumped together as “Terrans” in casual conversation. It’s only when the workings of the government get explicitly focused on, that this attitude really stinks up the place.

    1. (Sometimes a bit too streamlined, with Star Wars explicitly having a one-galactic-government… though it does realistically suck bantha balls.)

      I got the impression that The Last Jedi was supposed to rely on the problem of galactic-scale politics where the otherwise absurdly named “Resistance” was a local reaction to a local (but expansionary) takeover of restore-the-Sithly-Empire type ambitions and the central government back home thought Leia was a washed-up crackpot seeing out-of-date dangers out of nostalgia for her glory days. (“We won, honey. The minus-tens called, and they want their internal policy back.”)

      …I’m still not sure if this was actually supposed to be happening or if I automatically went into fanfic mode.

      1. You probably put more thought into it than the writers did.
        Definitely more thought than Rian Johnson ever did.
        One problem is that the I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Empire! is far, far too upgunned, manned, and well equipped to not be seen as a threat by the New Republic.
        One of the things Zhan understood was that the Imperial Remnant would be struggling for resources and materials, and why a lost fleet of obsolescent dreadnoughts would be a prize worth contending for.

        1. Even more to the point, he understood how to make the Empire a genuine threat without relying on a superweapon like a Death Star, something almost none of the other SW writers in the old EU or the new sequels seem to understand.

          1. Ah, yes, one of my first thoughts on TFA was “I thought the escalating superweapons were one of the parts of the EU they were trying to get rid of.”

            Which was nonsense, of course. The old EU was a very mixed bag, certainly, but I think the decanonization was almost certainly independent of the content.

            1. And with good reason – they actually continued the story while taking account of setting. Namely, the civil war is far from over, new and different problems arise for both sides, yet without the direct influence of the Emperor, a more peaceful resolution may be within reach. It helps that Zahn is an accomplished military science fiction writer, and thereby lacks the reactionary “armies bad” attitude that’s hinted even in the original films. He writes Imperial soldiers as people, rather than cardboard moustache-twirlers – an influence that I imagine greatly added to the Empire having so many fans in its own right.

              To contrast, the sequel films really wanted to reset the whole thing to “good rebels vs. evil empire”, no matter how much this twists the original story, and how ridiculously flat the characters would have to be. They feel like the deranged fantasy of modern millennials that keep searching for “Nazis” to fight, in order to feel more heroic, with no self-awareness as to how they look in turn.

              1. Reminds me of something Orson Scott Card said about fantasy authors. Loosely paraphrased from memory, “fantasy authors all too often just want to rewrite Tolkien instead of learning from him.” Star Wars writers tend to want to just remake “A New Hope” over and over again.

                What makes Zahn (and to a lesser extent, Micheal Stackpole) such great Star Wars authors is that they step back and think about the consequences of the previous stories that have been told, extrapolate what could be realistic threats, and then work within the characters’ known strengths and skills to create a satisfying ending.

            2. One of the reasons I liked “Rouge One” is that it felt like a decent EU novel put on film.
              That, and it didn’t hate us.

      2. TFA seemed to suggest something along the lines of what you were talking about. But then the First Order apparently blew up Coruscant (the movie seemed to imply that, though it was never completely clear just which planets got blown up). At that point, the Republic should have been conducting threat reevaluations.

        The less said about TLJ’s grasp of the political situation, the better.

        1. It was Hosnian Prime, according to Disney materials. A capitol planet made from scratch that just happened to look like Coruscant. Yeah.

          Disney has a weird obsession with copying the Lucas movies, but changing the names of planets and aliens.

          1. Disney has a weird obsession – period.

            Okay, Disney has multiple weird obsessions. Specific details unnecessary.

            1. Disney has hit up against 3rd Generation syndrome. The original visionary is long gone, the competent follow up team is long gone, and now the hacks, lickspittles, yes men, and other creatively bankrupt but politically astute (in an office environment) are in charge.
              And they honestly have no clue.
              So, like most 3rd Generation types, they go with what’s been done before. Only, they don’t really grok their product, or the audience. So, they get things messed up and backwards. They go for safe remakes where they should go risky and creative, but they get “edgy” where they should have stayed with tradition.

          2. Regardless of which planet it was, the Republic should have immediately crushed the First Order (particularly after the Resistance blew up their planet killer). But iirc the intro crawl for TLJ seemed to indicate that the attack had somehow thrown the entire Republic into disarray.

            1. John C. Wright put his finger on it: you needed a new and more potent menace. With the Force-based power to corrupt the minds of everyone on the planet or something.

    2. We might also accept that none of those writers gave serious consideration to the idea of one-world government — it was a trope already established in the genre and simplified the writing of Kimball Kinnison’s adventures.

      It ain’t like those guys were dong other than writing to market, and at pretty poor rates per word, too.

      1. Pretty much. From an outsider perspective, it’s almost mind-boggling just how great of an impact pulp magazines and adventure novels seem to have had on Western science fiction. To contrast, Eastern European sci-fi tends to veer into melancholic navel-gazing – like Solaris or Stalker, for instance – and is overall a lot more slow-paced and cerebral… and occasionally deeply satirical – Stanislaw Lem’s “Star Diaries” are a veritable manual for ridiculing socialist policies, among other things. (In general, to my knowledge, out here there’s never been a stigma on science fiction as low-brow alien-punching entertainment, at least not until recently.)

        Funnily enough, it still usually avoided showing any details on the world’s government/s, for much the same reason – it just wasn’t the focus of the story. If anything, I’d say it’s for the better, since the last thing I want to see in a tale of science or space exploration is a bunch of bureaucrats babbling about the discoveries being made.

        1. The intro to “Roadside Picnic”, aka “Stalker”, the authors go into a lot of what they had to change to make it palatable to the Soviet State, as any implied criticism would mean no publication.

      2. On the other hand, any one planet was rather small potatoes compared to the whole of Civilization. Even Tellus.

        Quite aside from the fact that Doc Smith made it clear that Civilization was run by a rather minimalist government. When your highest income tax rate is under 3%, you have a very advanced culture indeed.

      3. The Galactic Patrol was the actual government; the local “governments” were all subject to the Patrol’s authority. He devoted an entire book to the Patrol’s takeover of all Earth governments.

        There’s a big gap between what Smith *says* about the Patrolmen and Lensmen, and what they actually are shown to *do.* They’re pawns of the Arisians, and the Arisians have no concern for human death or suffering.

        1. I really don’t think that that’s true. The Arisians do aim to bring about a free, prosperous, and happy civilization in the long run. They simply are prepared to weigh the happiness of any individual or any present generation against the happiness of all the generations to come, without regard for their personal feelings, if any.

          Within the story, the Arisians function as an analog of divine Providence—and the problem of pain has always been a key issue about divine Providence. But theistic religions don’t go from “We suffer terribly and we don’t understand why” to “God has no concern for human death or suffering.” And the Arisians, unlike the gods of many faiths, are not omnipotent; they are compelled to make hard choices.

        2. We’ve really no concept for the size of the Galactic Patrol, nor its operating costs.

          What do those giant warships cost to build, what does it take to staff them with trained personnel, what logistics are entailed in supplying consumables for their crew and reimbursing the vendors? What is the construction cost for a planetary-sized negasphere and how much liability insurance is required?

          I imagine a fairly funny story could be written from the POV of the administrative clerk having to review Kinnison’s expense chits. He may have carte blanche but that doesn’t mean his expenditures don’t need to be accounted for.

          1. Also remember that humans are noted as being a particularly fractious bunch of beings. We have a hard time producing Lensmen because of the incorruptibility requirements. Other races have a hard time because of the other requirements, not that one. Obviously, when large populations are incorruptible, you don’t need to govern them much.

            1. Not really true. A lot of what the courts and government handle has nothing to do with corruption, just ordinary disagreements plus standards (weights and measures) and safety regs.

              1. I didn’t say none.

                Also standards and safety regs do not take much when people are acting in good faith, and disagreements will be few and far between.

    3. One-word culture can work if it’s a new world, and the new population thereof works to make or keep it so. The US works this way. If a colony ship consisted of mostly USian or North American persons, for instance, one can have Tanakas, Wangs, Petrovs, and an entire multitude of others, all sharing the same culture.

      Mixed colony ships will have different results, as will different waves, of course. It all depends on how one envisions things happening. In the Weberverse, a Chinese colony got taken over by the Anderman mercenary colony and made the center of that empire. Which is why all the prominent Andermani have Chinese first names and German last names. Kratman’s colony planet basically just redid Terra but with new names. And Barrayar has four distinct ethnic/cultural/linguistic threads, even with a planetary government.

      1. That “take over” had to be the easiest in Galactic History.

        The Chinese colonists were starving to death and the leader of the Mercenaries poured out his money to save them.

        The Colonists lived and he got very loyal subjects.

        Of course, he and his descendants worked hard to keep the loyalty of their subjects.

      2. Eh, read the history of the colony of Massachusetts. Admittedly the culture they were aiming for was rather rigorous, and they couldn’t exclude all undesired elements, but the big problem was the children.

  7. I think that with a lot of space opera the writers aren’t really thinking that one world governments are a nifty thing. They’re just making a fairly simple substitution. They want to write about different cultures? Oh, but we want to make it clear we’re in SPACE! so fine, identify each culture/government with a different planet and carry on.

    Isn’t that what Bujold did with the Vorkosigan universe? So when reading one of her books, we can nod and think, “Yes, of course Betans would vote on military tactics! And if you want to do something sleazy with biology, naturally you go to Jackson’s Whole. And Barrayarans are just like that, aren’t they?” Culture Government Planet.

    I have no problem with a substitution on that level; I read it as being like the handwavium-powered FTL travel and the universal translator, a gimmick that leads to the story the author really wants to tell.

  8. I’ve never heard a Good Reason for a World Government. Everything that people have “claimed as a Reason” would (if a valid reason) could be done by international agreements.

    On the other hand, I had an Earth Alliance where the most powerful nations got together in a “de facto” world government (federal system) in order to defend Human Freedom from an Alien Foe.

    On the gripping hand, I “rigged” the system. The Soviet Union & Red China never came into being in this “story universe”. So it would be hard to work together but it wouldn’t be impossible. (As it would have been with the Soviet Union and/or Red China involved). 😈

    1. I’m re-re-re-re-reading “The Mote in God’s Eye”, and the reason the Second Empire of Man has is not too bad- preventing a repeat of the Wars of Secession.

    1. Londo Mollari: “But this…this, this, this is like… being nibbled to death by, uh…Pah! What are those Earth creatures called? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet…go ‘quack’?”

      Vir Cotto: “Cats?”

      Londo: “Cats! I’m being nibbled to death by cats.”

  9. … nibbled to death by ducks.


    Oooh – I hate when that happens!

    Note to WP: if this was a duplicate comment shouldn’t the first have @#!$& shown up ere now?

    1. It’s a Christmas season party day for the hamsters! Don’t expect rational behavior from WP. (Or anything else, for that matter. Ordered $ITEM from 3rd party vendor via Amazon; shipping label was created Monday. It just shipped last night from the wilds of suburban Southern California.)

  10. One reason for the interest in one world government is that the revolution in communications makes people think it’s possible to have better knowledge of far flung territories.
    However, one of the things learned during WWI is that better communications can make executive meddling and misunderstandings worse.
    In times past, one would give authority to a viceroy, a marshal, or an admiral, and let them lead according to the tactical situation on the ground. But, near instantaneous communications meant that the leaders at home thought they also had a good idea of what was happening, and they would give tactical orders to the men in the field. And the leaders on the field had gradually lost personal initiative, and would just go along with what their bosses told them.
    The escape of the SMS Goeben and the Battle of Coronel come to mind.

    1. There’s actually a book…can’t remember the name…about the impact that the telegraph had on reducing the authority & freedom of action of ambassadors.

      This issue applies in business, too. Decentralization that was once required by communications-technology limits…say, the authority granted to a regional sales manager or a particular factory manager…now becomes a conscious choice. And the vogue for “big data” is often a major temptation toward centralization.

      1. Happily, central planning killed Hillary’s campaign in 2016.
        They have a model, dammit, and you peons need to stop believing your lying eyes and trust us.

      1. Well, a Modern Major General, his knowledge of warfare still stuck in the war he fought a few decades ago and unable to comprehend modern tactics and weapons- yeah…
        “In fact, when I know what is meant by “mamelon” and “ravelin”,
        When I can tell at sight a chassepôt rifle from a javelin,
        When such affairs as sorties and surprises I’m more wary at,
        And when I know precisely what is meant by “commissariat”,
        When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
        When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery:
        In short, when I’ve a smattering of elemental strategy,
        You’ll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee—

        For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
        Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
        But still in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
        I am the very model of a modern Major-General.”

  11. One-world or one-system governments are easy to write and don’t require as many notes and series-bibles to keep track of. Sort of like a certain movie maker and his one-climate planets. (Which showed up in the novels, too. *eyeroll*)

    1. Exactly! I read most instances of one-world governments in space opera not as serious arguments for a planetary government but as a quick and easy substitution: “I want to write about national/cultural clashes, but in SPACE, so nation = culture = planet.” Lois Bujold did that in the world of the Vorkosigan stories; Betans, Barrayarans, Komarrans, Cetagandans all have recognizable cultures and she has fun playing them off against one another.

  12. The Confederate general Porter Alexander (he was Lee’s artillery commander at Gettysburg) became a railroad president after the war, and later remarked that it was just as well the North had won, on grounds that technology had made the doctrine of States’ Rights largely obsolete:

    “Well that (state’s rights) was the issue of the war; & as we were defeated that right was surrendered & a limit put on state sovereignty. And the South is now entirely satisfied with that result. And the reason of it is very simple. State sovereignty was doubtless a wise political institution for the condition of this vast country in the last century. But the railroad, and the steamboat & the telegraph began to transform things early in this century & have gradually made what may almost be called a new planet of it… Our political institutions have had to change… Briefly we had the right to fight, but our fight was against what might be called a Darwinian development – or an adaptation to changed & changing conditions – so we need not greatly regret defeat.”

    I think that the calls for World Government are largely based on similar technological reasoning, with the jet plane and the Internet playing the roles that Alexander assigned to the railroad/steamboat and the telegraph. There were some problems with the original Alexander Analysis, and they get more problematic still when extended to peoples with different languages and with cultures much more different than even the pre-Civil-War North and South.

    One thing people tend not to realize is that creating larger entities causes *problems* as well as advantages. While connecting power grids together into a larger supergrid has many advantages in terms of load-sharing and failure resiliency, it also creates *more* potential for harm when failures are propagated across a wider range. Easy travel between countries facilitates the spread of epidemics…easy immigration can facilitate the spread of toxic cultural values as well as beneficent ones. Globalization of the food supply means that an American political decision to turn corn into ethanol causes food prices to go up for low-income people in countries far away. I think many Trump supporters are motivated by an intuitive perception of these issues, which perception is not shared by the mainstream Republican Party and certainly not by the Democrats.

    See my post Coupling:

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/58361.html

    1. I’m prepared to make the argument that Federalism was killed by Henry Ford and Eisenhower, not Lincoln. 200 years ago, traveling from one state to another took an effort. Today, I can eat my breakfast, get in my car, and eat lunch in any one of six states.

      Combine that with intrusive laws, and you have a recipe for either trouble, or standardization imposed from above.

      1. Some Prager U video I saw a while back also claimed that when the Southern Democrats rejoined the government postwar they presented such a united front politically that they essentially “won” the peace. In other words, they played their hand in such a way as to regain most of the control they had previously lost.

        1. IMO we saw that with JFK’s “The Pope doesn’t tell me what to do” speech.

          The Pope was openly against segregation and Democrat Catholic JFK needed the votes of Southern Democrats to become President.

          Therefore he made a speech saying that (in effect) he wouldn’t oppose Southern segregation.

          Amazing that the so-called “Separation of Church And State” folks love that speech but fail to understand why JFK made the speech. [Sarcastic Grin]

      2. Heck, there are a couple of places where you could have each course served in that many states in a single hourlong meal on a Greyhound bus.

  13. A world government would be needed ONLY if there was an external threat. Otherwise…it makes for some really interesting arguments.

    I’ve been toying with an SF novel (still working on the plot details, only a few thousand words written). There’s a Congress of States, but it explicitly is NOT a World Government. It’s a forum for discussion, a home for useful transnational groups that were retained after the UN was abolished. The Space Guard’s jurisdiction ends 100 km from any occupied celestial body – and the major powers are careful to make sure that the Guard doesn’t fall into the hands of nasty globalists.

    Which has all sorts of interesting effects on the plot.

  14. I think you have to bear in mind that the SF Golden Age coincided with a historical moment when people in the West had fallen in love with the idea of top-down planning. And by that I mean on a fully bipartisan basis, both here and in Britain (most of the other European countries just went back to The Way Things Were before the War…). The joke used to be, if the Democrats (Labour Party) proposed to abolish private property by the end of the year, the Republicans (Conservative Party) would counter with a five-year phaseout plan…

    David (ptui) Brooks, whom I normally don’t have much (any?) use for, wrote a very insightful book a couple decades ago–1980s, IIRC–called something like “The 1970s: How We Got Here, Like It Or Not.” It was actually a book-length version of an essay he had written about places he called “Latte Towns” that seemed to be taking over the countryside, but still had a great deal to say.

    The premise of the book was that the long stability (or stagnation, depending on perspective) of the post-war era until 1968 or thereabouts was actually the aberration, and that “normal” US politics were much more anarchic. It’s worth reading.

    But WRT to the current topic…should we really be surprised that the literature of the age reflected the sensibilities of the age? Most people think of SF as escapist…what if they’re right? Certainly I think you can make a strong argument even for Heinlein–a full-frontal, clear-quill libertarian–being in that chorus.

    But the nuance is…not every writer saw this as good. On the one hand you’ve writers like Asimov, whose Socialist and urbanist sensibilities clearly informed his writing and made him think of a billion-planet, quintillion-man Galactic Empire as a Good Thing. OTOH you’ve Heinlein, whose description of the regnant society in (say) “Between Planets” is not only eerie, but entirely too prescient: re-read the passage the protagonist has in New Chicago on his way to reunite with his parents if you don’t believe me.

    And of course there were always writers who never bought into the paradigm, of whom my fave is Jack Vance. In his broader universe–the Oikumene–there is no “Galactic Empire” or even “Galactic Federation.” Indeed, if you need a wrong righted, there are no actual, full-time cops! You can get permission to do this as a licensed planetary cop, which requires you to pass a few /de minimis/ checks by the IPCC–the Interplanetary Police Coordinating Commission–but even in that case the IPCC is described in terms that make it sound more like a trade association than a government bureau.

  15. “Poertena is my spirit animal.” Now, that explains so much.

    I’m just happy that your “big pocking wrench” is metaphorical. (It is, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t? … It?… Buehler????)

  16. I will grant the Golden Agers their One World Government concept because, frankly, few had any idea what a Charlie Foxtrot it would be. Look at it from their perspective: FDR’s policies were still fresh and shiny new, with the packaging still about and laudatory press. Hell, even in the mid-Thirties there was still glowing press about the economic miracles Benito, Adolph and Joe were achieving.

    Public Choice Theory was largely unknown, and most people had scant direct experience with bureaucracy, much less opportunity to observe the fiefdom-building that rots it. Sure, students of British History likely knew about the mis-management of the British War Office in every war since the American Revolution (if not sooner) but, you know: Military! It was to be expected. But in America the central government was still small and relatively powerless, and state government not notably intrusive — as late as the Forties not all states required Drivers Licenses

    As late as the 1930s and 1940s, many states simply instructed the potential driver to pay a small fee of 25 or 50 cents in exchange for a driver’s license, which were often sent by mail. … Although exams were not required in Washington state until 1937, when the state began issuing driver’s licenses in 1921, it required two signatures to certify that the candidate was able to drive safely. The last state to require drivers to pass a driving exam was South Dakota in 1959.
    https://itstillruns.com/history-drivers-license-5552087.html

    So people didn’t even have the DMV as model of failure.

    So the idea of a world government was mostly benign, more of a coordinator than ruler, a source of such conveniences as stable common currency and import/export regularization.

    By the Fifties a few of those GA authors were wising up — see some of Heinlein’s later juveniles, such as Star Beast, but even then the failures and excesses were largely attributable to corrupt/incompetent politicians, with disinterested technocrats benignly maintaining the state and limiting the damages inflicted by those politicians. Heck, few of those writers had any experience with middle management types, They simply couldn’t see the forest for the trees, couldn’t realize that any system depending on human beings was damned to misfire.

    To now persist in such beliefs, however, is akin to an “adult” clinging to childish notions — it happens but is nothing to be proud of.

    1. TL:DR version: the reason they could imagine a non-tyrannical one-world government is that, in their experience, government did not do much, and much of what it did went unnoticed.

    2. Also noting that RAH’s last novel intended for YA audiences was Starship Troopers, set in the aftermath of a cluster-fornification of a world government. OTOH, it was still a world gummint, but it had been retooled, and the Tree of Liberty was freshly watered.

      Note to self: get a fresh copy of ST.

      1. I just re-read that – well, the original magazine version – a few months ago. About the only thing we’re told about the government is that various military forces banded together, overthrew the existing governments, and set up a military dictatorship.

        The details of how that worked are almost entirely absent. Rico got a tremendous amount of indoctrination in Basic, including the supremacy of “just following orders.” Frankly, a lot of it sounded very much like the stories of people being brainwashed in North Korean and Chinese prison camps during the Korean War.

        Presumably everyone going into “government service” got the same indoctrination; if so, they would have had a remarkably monolithic block of voters.

        Yeah, Heinlein, and all that. And maybe he fillled in some blanks for the novel version, but the society in “Starship Soldier” looks half a step above a total disaster. Get some SJWs in there, twiddle the propaganda, push “unsuitable” people to drop out of the system, and pretty soon you have an “us” and “them” with an unbridgeable gulf between them.

        1. I think RAH skipped details of the government in the novel version, too. (It’s been quite a few years since I read it, though.) I think he wanted a multinational military, and the global coup/rebellion/junta was the handwavium way he could get it, and then on to the meat of the story.

          1. IIRC, they didn’t know how the Federation came about. Too many fragmentary records from that period of time. All they knew was that after a particularly nasty global war all the world governments collapsed and anarchy ensued. There was some sort of vigilance committee run by returning veterans that popped up in a city and they only trusted other veterans to be on it early on and it kind of spread after that.

            1. A particularly nasty global war where they had a POW / MIA problem like Vietnam but larger and documented, both that people were still held AND the governments couldn’t be bothered, IIRC.

    3. I read once that John Kennedy said the biggest change in his lifetime was the expansion of both the size and reach of the Federal Government.

      And the Federal Government in 1963 was tiny compared to the Leviathan of today.

      1. JFK’s Executive Order 10988 is arguably the greatest cause of the Federal government’s expansion and his most significant error, far more damaging than the Bay of Pigs or our involvement in Vietnam.

        Nixon’s expansion and re-codification of those union rights with Executive Order 11491 could not have been executed without JFK’s predicate.

    4. Thinking over Heinlein’s juveniles, the government in Between Planets is overtly repressive, the one in Starman Jones maintains a system of occupational licensure that’s not far short of a caste system, and the one in Red Planet supports a corrupt and rigid colonial bureaucracy on Mars. And all of those came out before The Star Beast, which actually has a rather benign view of central bureaucracy—and indeed contrasts it with provincial ignorance in a way not far short of calling John Thomas Stuart’s neighbors “deplorables.”

  17. I suspect the one world gov’t thing is popular because it’s handwavium to avoid politics, on the “why don’t they just move?” level.

    Seriously, even the Avengers movies hit this– I’ve had to explain to waaaaay too many folks that Captain America COULD NOT agree with that treaty, because it’s flatly unconstitutional on multiple levels.
    But, for story reasons, they kinda skipped that….because politics is pretty boring.

    Hey! That’s why we’re getting Trump and Boris! They’re not boring!

    1. On that movie, IMO the treaty would be politically and internationally impossible.

      Regulate Superhero activities? Sure.

      Give the UN sole authority over the ONLY Superhero team? NO WAY would any of the Major Powers would give the UN that much power. Heck, the UN (in the Real World) has no military to call on. It has to use the militaries of whatever nations let the UN use.

      1. Eh, they may have been able to scrape up enough support simply because the only official team is in the US– just figure that, as usual, all the bad actors are counting on cheating like heck while we’ve got our hands tied.

        It still violates the constitution five ways from friday, in ways that would get almost any congress critter that voted for it booted in a quite rude manner.

        1. No argument that it’d violate the Constitution.

          I’m just not convinced that any of the “powerful” nations would want the UN to have that power even if it involved “removing the only Superhero Team” from America.

          And no, I can’t accept any US government would go along with that scheme. And yes, I have a low opinion of Obama but even he would get a “HELL NO” from the Senate.

        2. You’ve a higher opinion of voter defense of the Constitution than I; I can think of a dozen or more Congress critters now who would vote for that and get re-elected easily.

          Based on the fealty to Constitutional writ on display in the sure to pass articles of impeachment currently rolling through the House (and the probability that at least forty senators will vote for them, sight unseen) and are near certain to return in the next Congress, I would say it is your opinion which requires supporting argument.

          OTOH, any treaty which purports to put the UN (or any government) in a supervisory role over The Hulk is conceived dead, delivered dead and destined t remain dead.

          Even if Latveria supports it.

          OTOOH, if there is a group of Americans with weaker comprehension of the principles of the American Constitution than those found in Hollywood it would be comic book writers.

          1. Biggest reason is that the Avengers are popular, and the rules are so easily abused– those, plus the insane level of unconstitutional, destroys its chances.

            Plus, yes, just /try/ persuading me that anybody is going to control the Hulk. 😆

        1. Oh, now that’s good characterization.

          I haven’t seen that one. I do remember facepalming at people who seem to see Steve’s “We’re supposed to follow orders” line to Tony without remembering the context that we then promptly see him going in to do his own investigation.

  18. I think a one-world government is inevitable for Earth, but mostly because once there’s stuff worth fighting over in space, we’ll be fighting over it, and the low orbits go across the entire planet. So either nobody uses anything but geosynchronous orbit _or_ someone has effective control over the orbitals.

    And once you’re the one with orbital supremacy, you have a massive military advantage, so conquest becomes more viable.

    That said, Russia and China are going to have to fight out who gets the geosynch orbits over Siberia, since they’re largely the same as the geosynch orbits over China, so the longer they squabble over that the longer the US will exercise our much more benign hegemony. Maybe we’ll keep the world from needing to be conquered under one flag long enough that the question of orbitals will stop mattering so much, because the race will instead be to plant viable colonies everywhere.

    -Albert

    1. I kind of like (from a fiction perspective, NOT from a “would like this to happen in RL” perspective) the setup in the Crest of the Stars / Banner of the Stars anime (I haven’t read the light novels). The Ahb (a race of gengineered humans built to be good in microgravity environments) have built a spacefaring empire where they pretty much don’t care WHAT you do on the planet surface; they only care what happens in orbit and above. Interestingly, the anime presents them as sympathetic, benign imperialists who do this because they don’t want interstellar war to be possible. (Helping them be sympathetic, of course, is that the protagonists are an Ahb, and a non-gengineered human who’s becoming culturally Ahb.) Unfortunately for them, they don’t control all human planets in the galaxy, only about half, and the other half band together to declare war on the Ahb empire… and then Plot Happpens.

  19. But one-world-government? Yeah. That’s with us for keeps.

    There are a couple countrarians – one I recall had all teh other countries eventually applying to join the USA as states, ending up in the hundreds – yeah, as if – but that meant POTUS was the world prez and the USN was StarFleet.

    Several others I recall have the spacefaring powers devolved into blocks that are basically empires, with groups of nations back on Terra under unified foreign policy whatever the internal arrangement and separate colonies and space navies out in the black, sometimes on the same side and other times not.

    And then there’s “we magically joined up when the alien trading scow arrived” which is just crazy talk – never happened here.

    The other one I like is “We lost and they imposed an Imperial Governor” as in Glynn Stewart’s Duchess of Terra series – assuming an alien Imperium that makes perfect sense, see India.

    …what NATO was supposed to be

    I have an impression (as it was before my time) that the period in the 1950s when Western-occupied Germany exited the penalty box and was rearmed was pretty much peak-NATO. By the tiume I started paying attention, it was REFORGER and tripwire-to-trigger-using-nukes-at-the-Fulda-Gap, so what if the European NATO members were shorting the till – if things lit off it’d be the German towns that got gassed or nuked, so things would even out.

    But post USSR it became a different beast, moving out from under the US nuclear brolly and depending totally on conventional forces, i.e. that which the allies were not funding.

    So I guess one would need to pick ones “like NATO” time frame.

    [EU bureauaristos are](Very chuffed over Britain finding its metaphorical testicles, btw.)

    Backbone as well as testes, which the EU thought they had safely locked away in the same freezer as where the put the Irish ones after the first Eire referendum for joining failed and they made them go back and do it again. The EU just looked and only the Irish ones are still there, but only an empty fish and chips wrapper in the UK tupperware, along with an empty martini glass. Quite the mystery, that.

    1. It might be useful to look into what John Campbell’s thinking on this was, because it seems likely that if he didn’t care for one-world government the meme would have never implanted in the genre, and if he did like it the idea would have been an easy “JWC will buy this” go-to for professional writers.

      First rule of Handwavium is: if the editor doesn’t buy it it doesn’t stay in the story.

  20. Has anyone here been paying attention to what is going on in Virginia?

    Because it is interesting and awe inspiring and scary. And anyone who cares about this country should be watching the next couple months of that state like a hawk.

    1. Virginia’s Geheim Statspolizei and/or National Guard enforcing VA laws on gun seizures? Yep, following.

      While our dear Oregon governor usually looks to California for the latest and greatest in progressive disasters, it’s going to be interesting (in the Chinese sense, I fear) to see what lessons, if any, she picks out of Virginia.

      I rather like the “you show up, I’ll deputize you” approach that the one sheriff is threatening. I also wonder if the state legislators who’ve advocated National Guard takeovers have really thought things through. Especially now that they’ve self-identified as grabbers.

      One suspects Corporal Smith ain’t going to be happy to go to the Wilson farm to seize firearms, since he’s known them for years (and as general badasses). OTOH, that prig of a captain from the city might find (or be lead to believe) that fragging has come back in style…

      1. Yes. I suspect a lot of people are watching, taking notes, and sussing out the thoughts of their local sheriffs, in states where those individuals have clout.

        1. Our current sheriff has taken low key to an extreme, so I don’t know where he’d come down. OTOH, it’s coming up on election season.

          I think that a lot of the National Guard types come from the more rural parts of the state, and thuggish tactics seem to be a specialty west of the Cascades. We’ll see.

          1. Even behind the Schlichter Line here in the Glorious Peoples Non Binary Bear Flag Republic, local Sheriffs have a lot of discretionary power.

            And even the CANG is a self-selected group of people, with a significantly shifted spectrum of belief from, say, the general population of Berkeley.

      2. National Review‘s Jim Geraghty sums it up neatly:



        “State Representative Donald McEachin proposed that Governor Ralph Northam should call out the National Guard to enforce gun control laws in rural counties. “The governor may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law,” he told the Washington Examiner. … The Virginia National Guard currently has about 7,200 Soldiers, 1,200 Airmen, 300 Virginia Defense Force members and 400 federal and state civilians. Where does the representative think those guard soldiers and airmen live? A significant amount live in those 84 counties and cities — and would probably be less than enthusiastic about enforcing gun laws upon their neighbors that local government and law enforcement have deemed unconstitutional.”

        Emphasis added. “Nationalize”? WTF does this chucklehead imagine the governor is?

        Me, I think those National Guard fellas are out numbered and probably out gunned, and that’s just by the sheriff’s department personnel (assume an average 10 people per sheriff’s office …).

        Of course, as soon as they “nationalize” the guard and try to seize lawfully held weapons (passing a state law banning such ownership does not revoke the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment) president Trump could effing nationalize the effing Virginia NG and remove the government of the state for wholesale violation of the 2nd, 14th, 15th and probably 21st Amendments.

        Popcorn futures would soar.

          1. I suspect that depends on your definition of “armament”. I equally suspect that the Gov and Representative are defining it as “they have keys to the arms room they’ve never actually walked into.”

              1. Hopefully, President Trump will make sure they don’t when he calls the VA National Guard into Federal service and tells them to secure the armories and stay there.

    2. Closely, as I live in Maryland and frequently travel to Virginia. I’ve both friends and relatives there, had planned to retire there until two months ago.

      My own assessment is that the Dems have gone insane…or at least the nut-job faction of their party is getting all the press.

      I just hope we remember to make THEM fire the first shot. There’s a reason why Maryland gun owners have taken up “We Will Not Comply” as a battle cry. Civil disobedience forces the other side to take on the moral onus of having started the fight. And if you don’t think that is important, take a close look at the opening moves of the Civil War. I’m prepared to argue that the Confederacy lost that conflict the instant they fired on Fort Sumter.

          1. Grandfathering is just dishonest confiscation.

            “We will leave you alone (for now), so long as you agree to help us fuck over the next generation”.

            And then a decade or two later they want to close the “grandfathering loophole”.

      1. Yeah, it looks like the Democrats forgot what happened the last time they started a war with the Republicans.

      2. It’s Northam.

        Virginian Democrats have to show that they are pure enough to offset tolerating him without undermining other critical Democratic narratives.

        They have to pass as living the virtuous life /now/ by the lights of other Democrats.

        Backing out on Northam risks painting abortion is white supremacist, so they have to double down even at cost of career suicide. Maybe even at cost of jail time.

      1. they’d never pass it. the republicans woudl immediately use it against the sanctuary cities (iirc, norfolk and fairfax)

        1. I don’t know. Seems to me Democrats are constantly doing things that they can’t imagine the Republicans would ever use against them. See the recent history of Supreme Court nominations, or the current impeachment.

        2. Does the VA Governor as chief law enforcement officer of the state fall under the bill’s definition of “Public Safety Employee”?

        3. No they won’t, because the immigration laws are Federal. States can’t be required to use resources enforcing Federal law.

      2. Yep.

        Instead of backing off to sneak things through another day they are tripling down.

        Not even in office yet and they have already threatened military action against the population. Not really clear on why they aren’t sitting in a dungeon yet.

  21. There is a finite number of humans that can be governed by one entity absent brute force. I don’t know what that number is, but the older I get, the smaller I postulate it is.

  22. A corker. Brava!

    If you want to take part of your blog subscription in space opera, I have all the Andre Nortons and James H. Schmitz and John C. Wright’s and loads of Jack Vance. I’ll box them up and send them with a pre-paid postal order.

    For really large polities, the government needs not only to be kept small and powerless, but the balance of power needs to always rest in the most local polity possible. The city should be more powerful than the county, the county more powerful (over its own jurisdiction) than the state, the state more powerful (over its jurisdiction) than the country.

    Think nationally. Govern locally.

      1. Heh. I wasn’t offering to GIVE them to you – hence the inclusion of a pre-paid postal sticker with the books. Just a no-rush-to-return loan.

        I’m reasonably generous, but some of these are OpP/OSI or hand bound and I’m a re-reader.

              1. I haven’t tried a paperwhite, but the Fire 8.9 works for my (heavily reworked) eyes. #SPOUSE’s new Fire 8 is working for her. (Arggh, the ‘zon dropped the price of her model $30 just after I bought it. The web search says I’m SOL for getting any of that back. Oh well.)

      1. I’m sticking to Kindle because I’ve run out of room for bookcases. I have as many books in the shop as in the house, and it’s a pain to get at those in the shop.

    1. Ahem. Did someone say “Jack Vance”? “Loads of”?

      I collect Vance and would be happy to pay cash for what you are willing to part with and that I’d be interested in.

      I should make it clear that by “collect” I really do mean it: more like “collect the empties after the party” than “collect twee vanity press first editions.” 😉

      Although I do some of the latter as well! 🙂

      I am not exactly sure what the easiest way to continue this conversation would be, but…

  23. I could rant for days on the insanity of our education system. It gets worse and worse with each “improvement”. Just look at different textbooks over the decades and the degradation is startling. Yet, I say anything about it and people without kids, screech. For two years I was working on science education as a career. What I dealt with on the “week long follow a teacher” made me completely change course. I couldn’t be part of that system. And that was two decades ago. From what I’ve heard, it’s gotten worse.

    1. That’s Jimmy Carter’s Department Of Education at work. They’ve spent 40 years and almost 2 TRILLION dollars turning fairly decent public schools into completely dysfunctional failures run by the ‘teachers associations’ for their own benefit.
      ———————————
      If you want to learn, the worst schools and teachers in the world won’t stop you. If you don’t want to learn, the best can’t help you.

      1. Oh, the worst schools in the nation, can try! Indeed they are dysfunctional. On one of the shadow days, a test was being given and the teacher had to just watch as the students just wandered around talking to each other. One girl kept trying to concentrate on her test, but this guy kept harassing her to go on a date. I was told not to interfere or there would be an altercation. I was horrified as I’d attended over ten very different schools growing up, from an absolute best to absolute worst, from country to city, and what I saw shadowing would not only disincentivize, but teach very bad study behaviors.

    2. My breaking point was when I was looking into the “boots to books” (or maybe Troops to Teachers?) program that was recruiting combat vets for the classroom, and I was paranoid enough to look at what happened if they responded appropriately to attempted physical harm. Cases that came to mind were disarming (without harming) kids who attempted to knife them during class.

      Jail time, and being put on the hook for the degree they’d gotten through the program.

      F-no.

      1. Oh yes! The week before we had the hours long lecture on never, ever, ever touch a student. And never, ever break up a fight. Oh and if they hit you, just let them. I’d attended a ghetto school, and I was shocked and told I’d go to jail even if one kid was killing another, do not interfere. I knew my instinct reaction to help people would be my doom.

          1. It felt more like a prison than education. As I said I attended a many school districts —not due to the military— and the major change was complete chaos in the classroom and science material being taught to high schoolers I had in elementary school.

        1. I should clarify, I attended a ghetto school as a kid and knew teachers to break up fights. The shadow school was a mid-level school and worse than the ghetto one a decade before it.

        2. Which was illegal advice. As a teacher, you have at law a duty to rescue your students, and you can be charged with murder for failure.

          1. But I wasn’t a teacher. I was a grad student shadowing a certified teacher. This was also decades ago and states differ on laws. I’ve lived in eight of them and what’s legal in one is an offense in another. That doesn’t even go into how one county’s laws differ from another.

              1. I agree. Sure, morally, it’s the right thing to do. Legally, no, it is not. Do I agree with the legal, NO. I’m not sure if you realize how mean this sounds to directed at me. It’s implying, I was derelict in my duty, while I was shadowing. I was FURIOUS I was told to stand by and watch children be hurt or GO TO JAIL!

                I’m curious have you been a teacher, student teacher, or even substitute in the last two decades? If not, listen to those of us, like Foxfier, who have seen how the sausage is made. ::sigh:: this is why I usually shut up, because there’s always fight back from people who believe what should be, as opposed to what is.

                I *agree* TOTALLY, it SHOULD be the duty of ANY adult to stop a fight.

                I suggest you direct your anger at the National Education Association. This is what they tell teachers. tl;dr, say stop, if that doesn’t work, say stop again. But “Never get between students who are fighting.” Realize THIS is what people are sending their children to EVERY day. There is NO duty for the adults to keep the children safe. NONE. As I said, I could rant for YEARS about the education system. But I get push back because there’s the ‘head canon’ of what should be versus what is.

                http://www.nea.org/tools/14115.htm

                1. You have been misinformed. It is not, at law, the duty of any adult to rescue. It is the duty of teachers. If you plop “duty to rescue” in any search engine, you will find many, many, many discussions of it, and many, many, many references to the LEGAL study of teachers to rescue their pupils.

                  A teacher who fails in this duty resulting in a child’s death is at law guilty of murder.

                2. Why anyone in their right mind goes into teaching today …

                  Hubby recognized the trend over 45 years ago. He was going into math, HS level. His first student teaching exercise … he changed careers. He realized even not true stories of consequences to students who acted out in his classes was not prudent …

                  My sister just retired. Granted she retired one teaching season before she had intended to … she was going to stick it out until she was 62. District got into financial trouble. Given she was one of the higher paid teachers the district head asked what it would take to get her to retire, since she kept talking about it. After she’d gotten written up again*. She said pay out my contract & insurance (for the remainder of the year). They did. She retired March 2019.

                  * Her infraction … okay, in general she has difficulty keeping her mouth shut when not on topic. Her infraction this time? Taking a rowdy loud student out in the hallway, still visible to other students, class aid (adult), and other teachers, and quietly (others heard it so not whispering, but not yelling, but toned down, because her voice “carries”) stating “I asked you to be quiet and settle down” … THAT generated a write up. The teacher’s union, for all their “power” is worthless.

                  Me? It would have been “Dang it. I told you to be quiet and sit down. I’d call your parents but I know they won’t come anyway. Go sit down.” Yes. I’d be telling a middle school barely a teen, that their parent didn’t care. Right way to handle? No. Then I’m not and never have been a teacher in a school setting handling 20 or more kids, day after day. “Teacher” or mentor of kids in other situations, yes. But situations where the kid wanted to be there, and more one on one, or two, within the group (I don’t do get up in front of any group well, I can barely, but don’t). Where the implied exclusion or expulsion would actually be a determent without explicitly stating such to child (to parent on sign up, yes, to child no). Hubby made a great coach or mentor in these situation. It was the classroom structure and requirements that got to him.

                  1. That is horrible! And what I was afraid of. I like teaching. I love sharing knowledge, and I’ve got a whopping ton of it, but I’m what the Army would call a “career captain”, or “plain spoken”. I’m chewing on my cheek to not plug up our hosts site, to give miss moral mary up there a spanking. I know my stuff. I’m far from stupid, and I pulled the blinders off long ago, unlike Miss Know-it-all-Google-search.

                    I have no problem with public speaking, or teaching. I agree, it was the insanity of the requirements that made me say, “no, this would be hell. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from helping a child even if it meant getting hurt.” So, I gave up on something I thought I would like and got a career I adore.

                    Misinformed. ::roll eyes:: People who believe in “just so” and public relations BS are not just blind, but detrimental to fixing the system!

                    1. I left off. Today a teacher is expected to stand there, not only can they not defend other students, from another student (guns are probably the ONE exception), but if a student attacks them, biting, peeing on them, hitting them, or even with a physical weapon, up to and including a knife, they are required to take it. Just had a neighbor across the street quit her job, as a teacher for those exact reasons. Went work as a parts manager for a trucking & equipment company (a job she just lost due to SAIF law; a longer term employee was injured on the job, her job was the only one that employee can be perform now). Since her job as a parts manager paid more than her teaching position, we’re pretty sure she wasn’t a full teacher, but a teaching aide, regardless of actual credentials. Teacher’s aide is expected to be confronted with everything on the list, except maybe a student welding a knife, in our district; she was at the grade school level. My sister worked in a different district, but she just nods her head. Sis taught middle school – chemistry, earth & general science, and technology classes.

                      Now, whether a jury would convict, or the school district wouldn’t be sued to next Sunday for letting a teacher go protecting themselves or another student, is different. But until something like this actually happens … well in the mean time they are scaring away potential teachers. There are private teaching options, maybe … definitely getting involved in teaching through the online academies, no contact with students possible.

                    2. My mother was a teacher for 25+ years, KY and AL. She told all three of her daughters NEVER to do teaching, for all the reasons cited. Teachers are NOT allowed to defend themselves, and they are dealing with students that are uneducable. It was a system wide policy in AL county she taught in that no student would be held back for failure more than once. At that, she was ending up with effective 8th graders in 4th grade classes.

                      Most of them had no fear of being disciplined; even if you expelled them, all that meant was they hit the welfare rolls earlier. Many had been coached by their parents how to fake learning disabilities so the parents could collect SSDI “crazy money”; just another reason you couldn’t discipline them.

                      Only someone with no other career options would risk teaching in public schools today.

                    3. d, I know. The kids I saw weren’t bad kids, just unruly. However, I can extrapolate. It would take only one really insane kid to put people in danger; students and children alike. Schools are nothing at all like what I remember as kids. Even the really bad one, which had a shooting in the parking lot, but never made the news, because no one cares about the ghetto, but even that one wasn’t as unruly as I saw at a decent school in the 90’s.

                      I’ve heard it’s only escalated. That and the insanity of the system IS running off good teachers. There are other things I heard and saw, which would, again, challenge too many people’s world view. But education is not “Saved by the Bell” or any Disney series. That’s the propaganda.

                    4. Me, I was run off from ever considering a profession in teaching – although I am good at it – by mistakenly taking a course in college, which was required for ed track students.
                      And I love doing talks about history and writing to classes of kids.
                      But I figured out that early on – tolerating the BS involved in getting the credential, and then the kind of dysfunction in the classroom … yeah, no. I’ll stick to trying to educate through writing ripping good novels, thanks.

                    5. And when the sane leave, the slot is filled up with people, who are vested in the insanity. They fight tooth and nail when the truth is spouted, because to fix the system jeopardizes their career and livelihood. Who cares about the kids. Do another decade long study, while that decade of children is lost, miseducated, and encouraged to be feral. It should infuriate people, but instead outing the lie infuriates them!!

                    6. That and the insanity of the system IS running off good teachers

                      Why else would anyone accept lower wages and lack of union representation to work at a charter or private school?

                    7. “work at a charter or private school”

                      Teachers have to be careful of some of these too. Or at least the private schools. They have some control back. But because parents pay extra to be there, they can have more control too. OTOH, students can actually be expelled, given enough evidence. Those parents, even with a lot of money, have to face down the other parents.

                      Charter schools seem to be a middle ground. Parents & students have to sign a conduct & academic performance contract, students can be expelled, students can be flunked. Students can be held accountable. Better yet, Parents can be held responsible for their enrolled student. Schools aren’t as dependent on parental money. They get a percentage of the district and state butt-in-seat funds, by law. (Why districts love them, but neighborhood schools hate them. Neighborhood schools lose money, brighter better behaved students, and the parents more likely to hold their student child accountable. Districts get slightly less money than they do for the students in the neighborhood schools, but they have fewer responsibilities too.)

                      The problem with public charter schools is they have to have a specific philosophy, they can’t be religious based. Language immersion, the local leadership academy, Montessori (etc.), home school or online. Not sure what the philosophy of the Coburg Charter School is other than “we don’t want to bus our children into Eugene 4J, and we’ll accept any child who wants to drive their child to our small school”. But if you don’t want to follow any of those basis … Know of a few Latino families who when offered Spanish immersion, essentially said “WTH?” They are already fluent in Spanish at home, don’t want a third language (Japanese). Want them fluent in American English! Public charter schools are also held to a higher academic performance than the public schools (go figure).

                3. Mary forgets that her “duty to rescue” was ruled invalid by SCOTUS in the same rulings that say cops have no duty to prevent crime, or motorists have no duty to aid.

                  1. I know. Mary might want to send her vitriol and moral outrage towards U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom, who extended “duty to rescue” to educators, and the NEA, who tells educators to “say stop, and if that doesn’t work, then say stop again”.

                    But instead of going after them, Mary is enjoying brow beating commenters. It’s rather like a small child shaking their head back and forth going “nope-nope” when told a very inconvenient truth. But unlike her, I’ve tried to make education a career, and know far too much which would make her little sweet superior moral head explode.

                    1. :Sigh: I should be nicer. I should be, but all the “wrong” is just upsetting to me. I tired to tell what a teacher is told. Mary, you really need to open up to what other people have seen. I AGREE with you, it SHOULD be their duty to take care of the children in their care. It SHOULD be the case. I AGREE WITH THIS.

                    2. I agree that being dishonest is not nice, but that’s not the limit of the problem with it

                      You do NOT agree with me. You have literally and repeatedly told me that I am all wrong while not offering the slightest reason why I should believe you rather than literally every other source I have seen on the teachers’ legal duty to rescue.

                    3. I should be nicer, but I felt attacked. I even stated in my comment: “I’m not sure if you realize how mean this sounds to directed at me. It’s implying, I was derelict in my duty, while I was shadowing.” Instead of stating you didn’t mean to attack me, that was not your intention, you just continued.

                      As for not giving you any sources, I pointed you to the National Education Association, the largest education organization in the US. It’s up there in the comments. You completely ignored it and instead stated you did some web search and know-it-all.

                      Anyone can sue under “Section 1983, Ch. 42, USC”, but can they win? That judge I mention above, dismissed the case against the school for the Parkland shooting. This judge has created a Common Law precedent. She stated students are not in the “custody” of schools and therefore there is no duty to protect. (https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/421823-judge-rules-cops-and-schools-had-no-duty-to-shield-students-in I tried to find the exact document, but the easiest was behind a paywall.)

                      Under the law “Section 1983, Ch. 42, USC”, for liability to exist, a dangerous situation must be created by the school, knowledgeable of it, and have the opportunity.

                    4. Cut the passive-aggressive attack.

                      Your NEA link said NOTHING about whether a teacher was legally liable for failure in his duty to rescue, and was therefore irrelevant.

                    5. Most recently, in
                      Crispim v. Athanson,
                      the United States District Court
                      for the District of Connecticut held
                      that public elementary school officials
                      were not liable to a student who was repeatedly harassed by other students
                      because compulsory education laws do not create a special relationship
                      between students and the state. Crispim alleged that her son, an elemen-
                      tary school student, was harassed by other students both during and after
                      school hours.
                      Although school officials were notified and the children harassing Crispim’s son were identified, nothing was done to prevent the harassment from continuing during school hours.
                      The harassment continued until Crispim removed her son
                      from school and moved to a nearby
                      town to enroll him in its public school system.
                      Crispim sued several school officials, alleging violations of section 1983.
                      The court noted that a few courts have imposed a limited duty on school officials to protect
                      students from certain harms, but
                      declined to follow those cases.
                      72
                      Following the majority view, the court reasoned that since parents have the right
                      to decide where their children will be educated, they remain the primary
                      caretakers of their children.
                      Because students remain able to provide for their own basic needs, compulsory education laws do not create a special
                      relationship that would impose a duty on the school to protect students
                      from harm.
                      https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1038&context=unh_lr

                    6. And from the same paper, in your favor:
                      “A schoolmaster who knows that a group of older boys are in the
                      habit of bullying the younger pupils to an extent likely to do them
                      actual harm, is not only required
                      to interfere when he sees the bul-
                      lying going on, but also to be reas
                      onably vigilant in his supervision
                      of his pupils so as to ascertain
                      when such conduct is about to oc-
                      cur. This is true whether the actor
                      is or is not
                      under a duty to take
                      custody of the other.
                      119
                      Thus, tort law requires teachers to pr
                      otect students from harm by other
                      students. Tort law also requires teach
                      ers to anticipate harms and intervene
                      to prevent them from occurring. “

                    7. Mary. She’s not passively aggressively attacking anyone.
                      What she said is true, because I experienced it in my kids’ schools too. TEACHERS WILL NOT INTERVENE. They’ll barricade themselves with all the other kids while one crazy kid with a knife holds an entire classroom hostage.
                      Believe it or not, it doesn’t matter. No one says it’s RIGHT. But it is happening.
                      This argument has reached the point of nothing gained. Both of you drop it, please.

  24. When I was thinking about the Dawn Empire, it had two nasty little issues-

    1)Somebody had to control magic-letting people play around with antimatter in their garage was safer than allowing magic to run around without somebody in charge. There was the Magos, of course, but somebody had to bell the cat.
    2)The Wizard Wars were nasty. Any war where
    Allucard is considered a tactical weapons system is a war where the atrocities start out at “bad” and get worse. Nobody wanted to go back to that, but somebody was going to pull out those toys one day if they didn’t do thing right.

    Thus, the Dawn Empire. Brutally meritocratic, run by a military aristocracy that knew the cost of every fancy ball gown in drops of blood, ruled by an Emperor (or Empress, the Dawn Empire had about five of those) that commanded the sort of military power in their own person and direct retainers that could cow the aristocracy as needed. And, it had no illusions on what it was, what it did, why it did things, and how things had to be.

    The Empire also had a single, secret weapon in the war against human nature.

    Magos Terminals.

    Imagine, scattered through the Empire’s bureaucracy like chocolate chips in a cookie, there are inhuman, humane, thoughtful, reasonable, and kind beings that know all the short cuts. Know how the system works. Will help you if you actually need the help and knows how to make the bureaucracy work. And, trying to force or blackmail or run a con on a Magos Terminal? It’s like watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy set to Yakkity Sax.

    (I almost feel like talking about vampires at this point…and, that is interesting…)

  25. > world government

    Decades ago, I came to the conclusion that anything that approached that would resemble East Germany more than any place I would want to live in.

    “So there’s one government. What if you didn’t like that government? Where would you go then?”

  26. While the American Civil War was horrific and destructive, it pales in comparison to the Chinese one that happened about the same time.American military officers were hired by the Chinese government to lead their forces after our war. Traditionally when the Chinese government gets weak, the country breaks down into warlord groups and I fear this happening when they would have nukes to use on each other.

  27. See today’s Richard Fernandez (‘Belmont Club’) post:

    “The componentization phase of globalization has begun. One can’t roll the world back to pre-globalization days, but for it to be sustainable, things have to be encapsulated to safeguard protected memory spaces. There is a need for standard interfaces, not “open borders.” The networked world has been overwhelmed by complexity, whether it takes the form of the breakdown of trusted authority or the dazzling profusion of “collusion.” The intellectual challenge is how to make it safe for people to deal with strangers in a connected world. The problem can be solved but it can’t be solved by people who don’t think it’s a potential problem.”

    https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/returning-the-future-to-individuals/

  28. Which makes me wonder what exactly is in their heads;

    I have always assumed, both Golden Age and modern, it’s a simplifying trope not that different from the one world climate – ice planet, desert planet, etc.

    Earth becomes just a world like all the one government colony worlds (which in the end make no more sense as the sundering of both Spanish and British American possessions shows). While they might, at times, claim some political insight or reason, it’s just making Earth a nation as a simplying trope.

    1. Going along with that idea, there can be an aspect of “Old World” vs “New Worlds” in the story.

      For citizens of worlds settled from Earth but have a long history on their new worlds, it doesn’t matter if it is an US Terran or a French Terran when dealing with the Terran (especially if the Terran looks down on them as colonialists).

    2. Except in the modern, Herb, I get preaching about how all the people who were afraid of one-world-government were stupid, because it was the best thing that ever happened.
      I think that’s that kind of preaching that makes the new ones completely annoying.

      1. Hmmm…I must be better at avoiding it 🙂

        The biggest preaching on it I remember is early 50s Poul Anderson before he had a serious change of politics when he abandoned the Pyschotechnic League and similar stories.

        In terms of modern space opera I don’t remember it in the Coyote books, quite the opposite, although the latter books on Coyote got a strong “we’ve used up all the resources of the solar system” element to the plot which seems very artificial (and now I wonder if publisher introduced) or Reynold’s Revelation Space universe, although Earth is mostly in the background in those and his focus is on the cultures developed by relativist space travel.

        Can’t think of other trad published space opera I’ve read since 2000. I started the Night’s Dawn trilogy by Hamilton, but remember that as a cultures, Adamists and Edenists, more than preachy one world earth.

        Yeah, I guess I’m lucky at avoiding it. Probably a slow reader benefits.

      2. Oh, and peaceful one world government is kinda dumb from a storytelling perspective. Either it is in the background because the conflicts are more personal or the conflicts are contrived to not break the peaceful model.

        Not fiction per se, but that was my main complaint about the RPG Blue Rose with it’s “gender and sexuality all acceptable YA utopia” supposedly inspired by early Lackey and Diane Duane. It was so perfect all the conflict felt contrived and the villains cardboard versions of already fairly one dimensional “bad guys” (Jim Baker et al).

  29. Actually, Sarah, in some ways there’s a better poem (also by Kipling) that does a better description:

    Kitchener’s School
    1898

    Being a translation of the song that was made by a Mohammedan
    schoolmaster of Bengal Infantry (some time on service at Suakim)
    when he heard that Kitchener was taking money from the English to
    build a Madrissa for Hubshees — or a college for the Sudanese at Khartoum.

    OH, HUBSHEE, carry your shoes in your hand and bow your head on your breast!
    This is the message of Kitchener who did not break you in jest.
    It was permitted to him to fulfill the long-appointed years;
    Reaching the end ordained of old over your dead Emirs.

    He stamped only before your walls, and the Tomb ye knew was dust:
    He gathered up under his armpits all the swords of your trust:
    He set a guard on your granaries, securing the weak from the strong:
    He said: — ” Go work the waterwheels that were abolished so long.”

    He said: — “Go safely, being abased. I have accomplished my vow.”
    That was the mercy of Kitchener. Cometh his madness now!
    He does not desire as ye desire, nor devise as ye devise:
    He is preparing a second host — an army to make you wise.

    Not at the mouth of his clean-lipped guns shall ye learn his name again,
    But letter by letter, from Kaf to Kaf, at the mouths of his chosen men.
    He has gone back to his own city, not seeking presents or bribes,
    But openly asking the English for money to buy you Hakims and scribes.

    Knowing that ye are forfeit by battle and have no right to live,
    He begs for money to bring you learning — and all the English give.
    It is their treasure — it is their pleasure — thus are their hearts inclined:
    For Allah created the English mad — the maddest of all mankind!

    They do not consider the Meaning of Things; they consult not creed nor clan.
    Behold, they clap the slave on the back, and behold, he ariseth a man!
    They terribly carpet the earth with dead, and before their cannon cool,
    They walk unarmed by twos and threes to call the living to school.

    How is this reason (which is their reason) to judge a scholar’s worth,
    By casting a ball at three straight sticks and defending the same with a fourth?
    But this they do (which is doubtless a spell) and other matters more strange,
    Until, by the operation of years, the hearts of their scholars change:

    Till these make come and go great boats or engines upon the rail
    (But always the English watch near by to prop them when they fail);
    Till these make laws of their own choice and Judges of their own blood;
    And all the mad English obey the Judges and say that that Law is good.

    Certainly they were mad from of old; but I think one new thing,
    That the magic whereby they work their magic — wherefrom their fortunes spring —
    May be that they show all peoples their magic and ask no price in return.
    Wherefore, since ye are bond to that magic, O Hubshee, make haste and learn!

    Certainly also is Kitchener mad. But one sure thing I know —
    If he who broke you be minded to teach you, to his Madrissa go!
    Go, and carry your shoes in your hand and bow your head on your breast,
    For he who did not slay you in sport, he will not teach you in jest.

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