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.