The Lies of the Twentieth Century

Every society and system tells itself lies. Some of it is because it’s inherently impossible for humans to perceive truth. It probably would require us to think in twenty dimensions and smell colors, or something.

I mean, I’m probably not the only one who ten years later looks back on some situation and goes “Oh, dear Lord, so that’s why–“

Then there’s the lies you tell yourself. In my case there is this certainty that if I think hard enough I can overcome anything. Which means I keep coming up against my body’s hard and ever shifting limits. Right now it’s vision. Note to self: it’s really hard to do a thing properly, when you can’t see. Lots of things actually. You’d think I’d have figured out when I have to hold on to the railings and climb and descend stairs very slowly it’s my eyes. At least I’ve only fallen once. Last time this happened it took three falls on stairs, one of them severe for me to get the point. Besides, my body knows my eyes have ALWAYS been fine.

Then multiply that by x number of people, and pass it through administrative levels.

Societies tell themselves lies because individuals in the chain tell themselves lies that get passed on; they tell themselves lies because those lies are convenient; they tell themselves lies because they conform to an image of themselves.

Then add the coercive power of a government capable of collecting and evaluating information and punishing or rewarding based on that information, and the lies exponentially magnify, inflate, and do like the flat cats in The Rolling Stones, till the fill every available space including the air we breathe.

Sometimes collective lies, and the system they create grow from some new capability we’re super impressed with.

In the Elizabethan age they were super-impressed with clock work stuff. So the universe was supposed to be clock work. And I guess human beings were clock work too. And this genesis of the modern state killed as many people per-capita as Stalin would manage. (Given a much smaller starting population.) Or as an historian once put it “The Tudors killed vast multitudes of people, some too young to crawl to the executioners block.” (Fact check: slightly exaggerated but mostly true.))

Because the problem is, of course, that humans aren’t clock work.

However larger state apparatuses (apparatenuse? Apparati? Apparapopotamus?) require you to think they are if not clockwork, at least widgets. Units of production and consumption infinitely changeable and inter-changeable. In fact, while that is true if you pull out to extreme abstraction (Abstraction on the level of “there’s only two plots”) it bears no relation to reality. And even on extreme abstraction it throws curve balls.

For instance, you can go “Well, if 100k people live here they’ll need roads this size.” But then throw in two years of lockdowns, and telecommuting, and apparently? people’s counterintuitive need to still get out of the house no matter what, and suddenly what you have is 24/7 traffic congestion. No, I still don’t understand that, and I doubt it could be predicted.

Anyway, in the 20th century — exploding in the middle of — we’d developed bureaucracy and record keeping to the point that people started imagining the state was omnipotent and government knew best.

And because the same people who controlled the government had influence over the media, either direct or indirect, (Trust me, FDR could be very direct) the lie grew legs and went galumphing around in everyone’s brain.

When I was a kid there was the same feeling about government that there is about the Catholic church in some conspiracy books: It’s immense, and it knows everything about everyone. And we don’t have — insert magical tech — only because it’s hiding it, and doesn’t want us to have it.

In fact, the idea of government was very much like a god, in the sense that Roman gods were gods. We didn’t think it was good, but we gave it all sorts of very strange powers.

And when we in other countries stopped believing that about our own country, we still believed it about the US government, the CIA, the FBI, etc. etc.

I remember sitting with my host brother in the family room late one night (I was 18 and he was 16) discussing the kind of philosophical stuff kids that age discuss and one of us (It’s been so long I don’t remember which) finally going “And at any minute, the CIA will knock on the door and ask why we’re talking about this?” (I don’t remember what this was. Could be aliens really existing or the famous one gallon per hundred miles carburetor.)

Of course, none of that is real. In fact, the more we’re finding out — now information isn’t restricted to the media — about how our information systems and government really work, it’s more like a Laurel and Hardy comedy, if Laurel and Hardy were vicious and hated the country they are supposed to serve.

But in our heads the myth of the great government that knows everything still bangs on. It probably has existed since before we were humans and some band somewhere had a great (compared to others) leader, and then after he died, they kept talking about him, and how great he was. Probably where Greek and Roman style gods evolved from.

In fact, at the very back there’s probably the idea of the parents, like we experienced when we were infants. “WOW, they know when I need food and when I’m wet and–”

This leads a lot of people who have realized our government sucks and wants us dead to idolize communism. Partly because of communist PR and the idea that somehow automagically it knows what everyone wants (This comes from not thinking in detail. HOW would they know? Even we don’t know what we want half the time.)

I was reading a book written in the seventies, recently, and the author who grew up in some Western country talked about this vitamin/mineral/whatever pill that his mom was taking, which would increase human life by another half, and in fact the Soviet Union was making all their citizens take it.

I almost walled the book, which was on some technical thing and had nothing to do with supplements, because…. seriously?

First, the USSR came up with this discovery? Given that they could be super-ruthless about human experimentation, I could see them figuring out some stuff through horrible methods, but how would they have tried it out and known how much it extended life, since at the time the USSR hadn’t been extant the span of an entire human life in normal circumstances.

Second, supposing some scientist had figured this and the USSR shot him in the back of the head and stole it: HOW would they make enough for their whole population? They never managed it with anything else, up to and including food.

Third, supposing this amazing supplement existed, why would you have to MAKE people take it? If there were a pill proven to give me another fifty years of healthy life to live and write in, I’d take it. Wouldn’t you? I don’t want to live forever, but living a bit longer and having more time to work wouldn’t hurt. (And this makes me wonder if that’s why the left is so puzzled about people refusing the vaccines, because they also haven’t thought about the details. Like you know “Completely new method that never worked before” and “bodies that aren’t widgets.”)

However, an otherwise smart and educated man believed that nonsense.

This basic trust in government knowing what is best for each person and also needing to use force to make people do this one great thing that will save us all.

The problem with that, as we’re seeing, is that the more you put power in the hands of an individual (the end state of hyper-powerful bureaucracy) the more you’re prey to that person’s delusions. Like millions of people died or lived in fear because Fauci thought AIDS was airborne, and could be mitigated with masks, and– It’s fairly obvious Fauci got bit by an airborne virus somewhere in infancy, and so has this one solution to any problem that comes along. And since he’s given unchecked power, we all have to live in his hell.

Fortunately the myth of the all-powerful government seems to be getting chipped away, if not utterly crumbling yet. (It needs to crumble, honestly.) Of course the idea of the perfect chieftain will remain to pollute society and how we think. (If nothing else, the idea of a transcendent G-d allows us to overcome all of those, because every human is flawed. Which is why the most successful societies in history in terms of feeding everyone have that, and things go sour fast in “Atheistic societies.”)

It won’t crumble fast enough, and it’s going to be tricky navigating around so it doesn’t fall into something worse.

But the lie of the 20th century was exceptionally lethal, and it’s good to see it lose power.

And it’s good to be aware of it, and chip away at it in our own heads as well. Government isn’t magical. Communism isn’t magical.

There’s no magic at all, except us poor individual slobs doing the best we can.

As often as we fall short, it’s not as bad as when governments fall short by the numbers, collectively and with force.

And that must be our consolation and our hope.

156 thoughts on “The Lies of the Twentieth Century

  1. There was the Lie that in order to defeat the Soviet Union, we had to be more like the Soviet Union. IE Massive Governmental Central Planning, etc.

    Oh, one person on Baen’s Bar was claiming that Chinese Central Planning would enable the Chinese to defeat the US. ;lol:

    1. Paul,
      At this point, a part of me wonders if this was me, say, a decade and a half ago.

      I vaguely recall being even dumber than I am now.

      1. Well, you weren’t the person on Baen’s Bar. He was a Russian living in Russia. 😉

        But the first part was widely spread.

    2. And every time someone says that, I’m reminded of that Marine convoy that got ambushed and proceeded pincered the ambush.

      Basically, the ambushers hit the middle of the convoy, but the units at the front and back figured out the middle was being shot at, so the units went around the back of the enemy ambush and rolled them up.

      The whole command and control was basically at the non-com level. They had so much communication that everyone knew what was going on and did what they needed to do.

        1. And everyone being trained to do everything.

          There’s a reason Western tank crews fight like demons under fire, while most Middle Eastern armored forces serve only as target practice.

          And its not just relative armor effectiveness.

            1. I’ll have to go do some tracking to go find the article, but apparently one contractor rep remembered how the commander of an Egyptian(?) tank regiment followed him down the line picking up the gunner manuals as he handed them out. He wanted to be sure he was the only one who knew how to lay the guns.

              By contrast, in a US tank, when the loader gets his chimes rung by a penetration that blows his seat out, someone is going to hop down there and start slinging shells. The question is how best to fight the tank, not whether or not she’ll flinging is beneath the dignity of a tank commander.

          1. Well, I did read about an interview with an officer in Iraq’s Republican Guard. “Your first clue that you’re in a battle with an American M-1 Abrams tank is when your tank blows up.”

    3. Reminds me of the first Austin Powers movie. The protagonist comes out of decades of cryogenic sleep at the beginning of the movie, sees a Russian officer standing alongside his British handler, and immediately assumes that the Soviets won the Cold War.

      My brother’s father in law was visiting my parents the other night, and said FIL started talking about a book he’d read talking about how China was building all of this stuff, and they were going to clean our clocks. I noted a few counter-examples to the claims made by the book that had so impressed him. But I also got the sense that he wasn’t really open to outside arguments – at least from a civilian. So I refrained from doing more than that. What really bugged me, though, was that he could say this sort of thing while China is quite openly about to have *huge* issues due to their real estate companies. It’s not as if this is hidden information, or that you have to go digging through stacks of old records or intelligence intercepts to find out about Evergrande, and that it’s not the only company in dire financial straits. It’s all out there in the open for anyone who cares to look right now.

      1. My big worry about China isn’t that they’re suddenly going to become hyper-competent at multiple branches of warfare, it’s that their economy is going to go sideways in a dramatic fashion, and that will cause their leaders to start a war to distract their people.

        They don’t have to win to make everyone else in the world miserable, they just have to cause enough trouble.

        1. While this is a concern, worrying about a Chinese crash upsetting the stability of the world is a lot less worrisome than worrying about a USA that ends up playing second fiddle to China. Having said that, my gut feeling is that One Child and the fallout from it means that China has a much smaller manpower pool to draw from in the event of a major war than Beijing would like everyone to think they have.

          And, contrary to the image that China would like to project, manpower *does* matter for an awful lot of stuff that a country needs both in war and in peacetime.

          1. China also has an awful lot of bachelors with no hope of getting married–it’s part of the reason human trafficking is so big over there (it was always big, but more for the high-mucky-mucks than the plebes). Were China to convince a couple million of those that they could have all the US women for the taking, and land them on the west coast, their hierarchical and logistical problems would be meaningless. Although I think they would get a major shock once they got past the coast itself, they would still make a huge mess.

            1. When they meet those Left Coast Militant Feminists, they’ll beg to be sent back to China. 😀
              There are forms of stupidity that businesses can’t indulge in. There are no such limitations on the stupidity of government.

            2. People keep saying that. But they’re acting as if the economy back home in Mainland China, with its rapidly aging population, is just going to somehow support itself with two million fewer workers.

              It doesn’t work like that.

              1. Except what portion of that economy supports plastic garbage shipped to the US. If you turn off the iPhone you 1. Cause dissent within enemy, and 2. Now have workers for similar tasks and draftees

                1. Most of those plastic garbage producers probably aren’t going to be the ones that get conscripted into the armed forces and dropped off on the US West Coast. In fact, an awful lot of the people working in those plastic garbage factories appear to be women, based on video footage that I’ve seen. That also matches up with what I’ve seen at the local production plant that I happen to work at (we make something other than plastic garbage, but similar production methods are in use), where the majority of the employees who work the floor are women.

              2. Besides, why ship them to the west coast o North America when Korea, Vietnam and their other neighbors are right there? Nipping ove the border to collect loot and w.immen has a long, long history. (The period is to get the slang past spellchecker).

          2. Don’t forget the floods, snowstorms, and other natural disasters they’ve experienced in China. They’re in really bad shape over there, and the economy is only half the picture.

            1. You have to assume that any news that isn’t coming from people that have actually been there and coming back, or satellite observations, is coming from Communist Oligarchs.

              Communists will lie like a rug.
              Oligarchs will lie like a rug.
              Communist oligarchs will lie four times as much as much.

              And, lying profusely without a “hard” power control to anyone that isn’t immediate family in Mainland China is a long, “honorable” tradition. You can do whatever you want to the foreign ghosts, because they aren’t real people. (Seriously-just a casual reading of Chinese history makes the Romans look kind and egalitarian to foreigners in comparison.)

              I think there’s going to be that moment when the lies collapse. I’m just surprised it hasn’t happened yet. It’ll probably be something like the Three Gorges River dam finally failing, because the CCP can’t keep lying to people like the have always done. Think what happened with Chernobyl-they can’t pretend it didn’t happen. They can’t hide it. The facts confirm the rumors to such a degree that even the useful idiots can’t deny it (and, while they’ll pivot to a general “technology bad!” theme, they can’t pretend it didn’t happen).

              The problem is that because of all the lies and all the schemes and all the cynicism it creates, it makes everything harder for everyone else.

              1. There are a lot of Chinese kids who are very, very angry. And who also have good ideas for making money that they’re not allowed to do, or that they have to bribe somebody to be graciously permitted to take a tiny chunk of the profits.

                1. Which, to be fair, is traditional in China-the required mandatory bribes and payments may not be as bad as some places (India comes to mind, so does a few other places), but there’s a definite flavor to the relationships there.

          3. The only way for the US to end up second fiddle to Chyna in the near part of this timeline involves all the non-US nuclear powers ganging up at once. Anything less and even a catastrophic decline for the US still leaves us looking fine relative to the Thanos snap level decline of Chyna.

            And even then Americans are quite good at running on sheer anger when they need to.

              1. Also hundreds of megaguns, with more being added each month. That puts us in uncharted territory, and has to be giving pause to certain parties.

        2. Ah yes the old short Victorious war trick. Ask Russia how that went with the Russo Japanese war. You’re better off to start a land war in Asia or go in against a Sicilian where death is involved.

          1. One of my concerns is our government pulling that schtick somewhere like Ukraine if things get bad enough here.

            1. Sadly the Turnip In Chief might just go for that. The US Military of 1991 or 2003 would have had a hard time doing that due to really stretched logistics lines. The US military of 2021 that has been forced since 2008 to sit in circles and talking about their feelings and how hurtful white males are by flag officers appointed by Obumbles hasn’t a paper dog’s chance in hades. The only thing that might save us is the nomenklatura running FICUS are anti military and pro Russia. Of course all the stupid posturing could end up with a misstep and then things go south really quickly. Thank you Legislatures of Penn, GA, WI and others for not doing your fricking job and investigating or decertifying highly questionable results. Although with Trump in office we’d be in impeachment five or six and the House would be busily tieing things up. Although Oil would still be flowing.

    4. How many central planners would it take to make a country of 330 million run well? I’m thinking around 300 million (there are some folks who seem to need someone to make decisions for them).

      1. One. Provided that he left people to run their lives, and focused on shooting the busybody Karens who want to run their neighbor’s business.

      2. What’s 330 million ! (factorial). It’s a honking big number. Unless you are omniscient you are not dealing with that potential number of interactions (And I wonder if dealing with that doesn’t make the Author a bit cranky from time to time).

    5. Chinese not hating their own nation and wanting it to die in a tire fire; Chinese leadership knowing that men and women are different… Cultural stuff like that..

      Might let China “beat AINO” for values of “beat” meaning the CCP rulers can do whatever they want in the territory they control no matter how vile (la plus ca change), colonise Africa, cut out U.S. corporate interests in South America, and bully nearby asian nations with impunity.

      Central planning? That’s completely irrelevant.

      Unless America-that-was survives. God willing.

      1. Honey? Take no counsel of your fears. The Chinese have their own delusions.
        I have friends in Africa, where the Chinese are getting their cake eaten, because they’re so convinced of their own superiority they can’t see past the end of their noses.
        Yeah, they can do terrible things IN THEIR TERRITORY. For a little while. They don’t have enough people to keep it going, and their army of little emperors cries when hit.

        1. Agreed. I am more afraid of the Western kleptocracy (including the AINO ones) who are playing footsie with West Taiwan than I am of the CCP itself. I am less sanguine about the Chinese oligarchies going under if only because they never have*. It is not that they are so strong, but that everyone else is hell-bent on self-destruction.

          And yeah: “Africa always wins” Poor sods

          *Correction welcome.

          1. Yeah, but they’re still idiots. They’re homegrown idiots. We grow the BIGGEST idiots. (We grow the biggest everything.)
            Right now take note that they’re DESPERATE.

    6. Well, central planning concentrates money in few hands. Much easier to buy US rulers with a few big donations than a lot of little ones.

  2. Humans are not clockwork.
    Humans are not steam-machinery.
    Humans are not electrical devices.
    Humans are not electronic devices.
    Humans are not chemical devices.

    They might well have ASPECTS of all. And even BE some of them (electr{-ic,-onic}, chemical, mechanical) in this way or that. But what humans are is COMPLEX, and not in the mere mathematical sense. That would be FAR too easy!

    Now, I know, as a Mythical Creature, that I am FAR simpler. I am a… construct. And, you know, that’s plenty complicated enough! Dear Humanity: You poor bastards! [Kipling’s ‘Breaking Strain’ or such goes here…]

    1. Human are a system of systems. There is at least one hypothesis that the human mind emerged from the complex interplay of the complex subsystems. A comforting thought when coupled with the acceptance that predicting the state of such a mind would require a system more complex by several orders of magnitude. There is a theorem I recall from my misspent youth studying complex adaptive systems that, even given a computer sufficiently powerful to run a model of a human mind, such a prediction could not be done in real time.

      One reason I am skeptical of the “skynet hypothesis” and laugh-out-loud dismissive of the idea that a human mind (or even a godly mind) could micromanage a group of more than a few hundred individuals.

  3. When I looked it up, in Latin, the singular was apparatus with a short u, and the plural was apparatus with a long u (“apparatoosse”?) Doesn’t work in English. If you figure it’s gained English citizenship, then I’d make it “apparatuses,” because that’s the standard English way of pluralizing. (The numerical subscripts in mathematical expressions are indices, but the things at the ends of books are indexes, because ordinary people talk about them.)

  4. Part of the idea comes from industrialization, at the point “efficiency experts,” started to appear. The idea that a specially trained guy (generally a guy) could look at a given procedure and work out how to make it easier, quicker and more productive, was very popular. And more efficient processes saved time and resources, so there would be more to go around.
    The problem was people took the idea of “industrial efficiency,” and thought it could be transferred to human affairs. Which led to the assumption that one person, properly trained, could “improve,” society, which meant central control and mor authority.
    And of course, “efficiency, ” is morally neutral, as Dachau proved. Efficient and evil.

    1. Sometimes it worked. The author of ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ (twelve kids…) did aid the folks shoveling coal into the boilers of steamships (shovel coal, rest a moment, THEN shovel more coal…) But it’s kinda like how Skinner’s pigeons took to things… you can be right *enough of the time* to generate addiction. ABJECT FAILURE gets no addiction. BUT *partial success* begets addiction. Now ponder gambling….

    2. So is Quantum Mechanics the reason why so many nutjobs think that if you say something is true loudly enough, it will be?


      1. Quantum Mechanics proves that nothing is clockwork, nothing can be predicted in detail. Any event which has more than one possible end state can never be predicted, only observed after the fact.
        When reality doesn’t conform to your theories, it’s not the universe that’s wrong.

        1. This is what I’ve come to believe about the whole “dark matter/energy” silliness. If you have to have some number of things that aren’t in any way sensible to make your theories work, and 50-60 years of trying to find said things have produced exactly bupkis, it’s time to look for new theories, not more attempts to sense the aether (sorry, dark matter).

          1. And now all of a sudden they’ve discovered not one but TWO galaxies that entirely =lack= “dark matter”, and are all in a dither about how this could even be.

            And I’m like… so, finally decided to observe reality instead of troweling on a fudge factor??

          2. Dark matter is a filler concept, the same as dark energy. A way of concisely talking about this question mark here and differentiating it from the question mark over there.

              1. Nanotech can fabricate anything that’s physically possible if provided with the correct elements, energy and a map of where every atom belongs. Not quite magic, but a reasonable stand-in for magic.

                Nanotech could also be the end of the world if it got out of control. A planet where nothing would ever live again.

                Managing the conflict between those two possibilities has all sorts of story potential.

                I’m writing a story that includes nanotech. The first use is to make diamonds out of charcoal. Later uses will include antigravity and force shield generators…

                Followed by a wide variety of medical applications.
                “Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here — this is the War Room!”

          1. A lot of the “Where is Planet X?” stuff died down after the Voyager fly-bys. It seems things didn’t demand a Planet X if you had more accurate numbers for the gas giants masses.

            1. Apparently there are planet Xs and Ys and Zs all over the Kupier belt, at least for values of “planet.”

          2. DING DING DING 10 points to the lady. When all your error bars start multiplying out to be bigger than the measurement you have an issue.

      2. Just as Darwinian evolution gave rise to all sorts of idiotic “scientific racism”, just so did Einsteinian relativity give rise to all sorts of “cultural/moral/social relativism”. The hot scientific theory of the day is always expropriated by the “social” “sciences”, because the phrase “category error” has no meaning to them.

        1. In the case of relativity, what got borrowed wasn’t the actual idea, but the word, which was misapplied. Einstein’s theory points out that some observable things vary depending on where you’re observing them from; but it goes on to show how to find “invariants” that are the same for all observers, regardless of point of view. In philosophy and the social sciences, “relativism” seems to be used to deny that there are or can be any invariants. In the extreme case, it’s used to mean outright subjectivism.

    3. It worked quite a lot of the time and still does, delivering enormous gains in productivity and efficiency (and much moreso then, at the beginning, than now). That was precisely the source of the fatal attraction it exerted, and continues to exert, over so many highly intelligent people.

      The issue is that human senses function logarithmically. For example, a sunny day is not several times brighter than your home or office, it’s more than 20 times brighter. A “brightly” moonlit night is 100,000 times dimmer than that same sunny day. Your clever brain smooshes all that vast range down so that you can make fine distinctions of brightness to see well in dim conditions while not being blinded by full daylight.

      Our perceptions of things like “complexity” seem to follow a similar tendency. We can make fine distinctions along the spectrum between a plough and a pocketwatch, but above a certain point it all blends together, “1, 2, many” style.

      That problems like laying out train timetables, designing a production schedule for a huge factory with hundreds of machines, or figuring out how to best drop depth-charges to catch a lurking submarine are amenable to analysis and consequent optimization seems amazing because humans correctly recognize the complexity in such tasks. What even many intelligent people fail to comprehend is that centrally managing economic production for even a small country isn’t just a bit further out along that complexity line, it’s enormously, cosmically farther out.

    4. The funniest example is the old movie “Cheaper by the Dozen,”* which was apparently based on the real life of one of the first industrial engineers. I’m thinking of the scene when the lady from the local population control society who came by to talk to Father and Mother. Mother (as I recall the film) listened politely at first. I believed she called Father. One of them began to summon the children (and timing them). The population control society lady soon found out that she wasn’t barking up the wrong tree—she was in the wrong woods!

      *I believe there was a late 20th or early 21st century remake with Steve Martin (et. al). It’s pretty good. I believe he was a football coach, so different idea.

  5. Not that it needs clearing up, but just in case:

    Though I was once (EXACTLY ONCE) called a “god”:
    I am NOT God. I am NOT *a* God.
    I have NEVER _claimed_ to be (a) God.
    I ain’t even as much as a Holy Roller!

    But yes, the person who made that insane claim DID get assistance as best as I was able to provide.

      1. Have you read the original version, with 60,000 words left in?

        The publisher said it had ‘too many words’. They were…mistaken.

        My least favorite is still ‘Farnham’s Freehold’.
        Always, always have a Plan O — for Oh Shit!

        1. I think Farnham’s Freehold is much better than most people regard it as being. It’s not the racist work it’s often thought to be; if you read it carefully, it’s an explicit attack on racism, done through the device of showing you racial oppression of whites by black and then pointing out that racial oppression of blacks by whites is morally equivalent. (Having been trained in mathematics, Heinlein naturally thought in terms of “without loss of generality.”)

          For my taste, the worst Heinlein novel is the one from Maureen’s PoV—To Sail Beyond the Sunset? I think that’ s the one. I don’t think I could endure to read it again.

          1. I have trouble with cheerful, militant incest.
            But my least favorite is, For Us the Living. The anti-Christian rant near the end (where the protagonist is undergoing mandatory therapy for jealousy) was like having an old friend slap me in the face.

            1. I finally read Heinlein’s first novel. The one where he figured out that he would have to master the form to sell the New World Order vision to the proles: it cast a pall on all his stories after that. Some didn’t make it out.

              I think that the process of figuring out how to do the job mitigated the vileness. Virtue is its own reward. Heinlein clearly owes a debt to Daddy Longlegs and is a model to any aspiring writer: Do not force the paying customer to choke down your dried out baloney! Make a decent sammy with mustard and pickles and cheddar with it. And dang! What a sammich!

              And some parts of his vision were true and good. Shines the name

              1. He changed a LOT of his views after that. Remember he thought he’d destroyed every copy of that. It helps to know where he was and where the world was when that was written.
                We’re none of us perfect and/or unchangeable.

          1. I think he was at his best in the juveniles, particularly Space Cadet, Tunnel in the Sky, Citizen of the Galaxy, and Have Space Suit—Will Travel.

          2. One of my computers is named Mycroft*, so ditto, though Time Enough for Love is up there.

            I have the doorstop V 2.0 of Stranger in the Round-tuit niche. Got a few paragraphs in when I bought it and put it on hold. Sooner or later.

            My least favorite is I Will Fear No Evil. I reread Farnham’s a few months ago and found it interesting. Last I read it was over 50 years ago. If RAH has received the loud condemnation that HP Lovecraft and JW Campbell got, I’ve missed it. “He used the N word! Get me my smelling salts!”

            (*) My computer names vary between fictional computers (Athena from TEfL, Orac from Blake’s Seven) and lesser characters from fictional detectives (Watson, though Mycroft fits both categories.)

            1. Lessee, here. Computers:

              Ghostwheel — from Zelazny’s second Amber series
              Imperium — from Lois M Bujold’s Barrayar books
              Epsilon3 — from Babylon 5
              Pyxis — from the VanDread anime series
              Zombie — ancient MS Win-Blows XP klone box

              Wireless networks:

              LunarAuthority — The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress
              InterstellarAlliance — Babylon 5 again
              Katzenjammer — Name a friend wanted for her network

            2. Huh. I posted a reply to this, but WPDE. Must have been a random word it didn’t like or something.

            3. Mine get named from myth and fantasy. I had one named Hagia Sophia, a while back. The current one is Polychrome.

            4. Oh, the condemnation has been going on for 20 years. They used to put me on the panels that could be summarized as “RAH, threat or menace?” for an illusion of balance. They stopped because I mopped the floor with them, then put them in the bucket overnight. 😉

              1. Ah, that makes sense now. I remember the H. Bruce Franklin bio–IIRC, written around the time folks tried to get HBF kicked out of Stanford for being a commie. (I wonder if you’d get kicked out of Stanford now for *not* being a commie?) That was pretty much an extended hit piece, circa 1980. Read it once, and it got culled recently.

                I suppose that the wokebots figured they’d finished RAH off years ago, so aren’t spending fresh bile on his memory. I stopped following SF in the ’90s through the Aughts because life was getting in the way, so I would have missed a lot of the political horse manure.

        2. My mother didn’t want me to read Farnham’s Freehold when I was about 10. Of course I sneaked it off the shelf and read it anyway. I enjoyed the story and didn’t really notice the incest or the racism when I read it. A year or two later she explained why she didn’t want me reading it when I did, and I told her that I hadn’t even noticed the issues she was worried about. My brain is definitely Odd.

      2. Me too. I like his early future history and loved his juveniles. My favorites are Space cadet, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Sixth Column, and Starship Troopers. I could do without Stranger and really didn’t like a Friday. He got just a bit too gamey for me.

        1. I like Beyond This Horizon too, though there are some disturbing implications. (Everywhere except North and South America is semi-savage, and being left alone to struggle back to civilization unaided).

          1. I strongly disliked “Job”. Starting with the fact that the main character didn’t strike me as a “Good Christian”. 😡

              1. IMO, he was what Heinlein thought a Good Christian was and what Heinlein’s “God” thought a Good Christian was.

              2. Retelling a story with a jerk rather than a hero is not effective as a criticism of the hero’s story.

                1. Sigh. No. But it’s effective as a “Learned better” story.
                  I’m not going to say that Heinlein’s “theology” was mine. Drastically different religious upbringing. But his was not unusual for his time and place, and his character ends up MUCH better at the end as a person. Which is a satisfying arc.
                  It left me cold because I was not raised in Missouri in the early 20th century, so his theology was AT BEST puzzling.
                  KINDLY remember the man was raised in a family where playing cards for FUN was considered a sin, okay?

                  1. As an independent story, it would benefit from being cut free and not held back by the pretense it’s Job.

                  2. Even Satan testifies to his protagonist’s sincerity.
                    I don’t share the theology either, though I’m closer to the area and was brought up Southern Baptist to boot.

      3. Amazingly Heinlein did have off days. Stranger in a strange land happened on many of them, long or original version. Most of the post Number of the Beast stuff isn’t much better, Though the latter I attribute to editors knowing they could sell anything with RAH’s name on it in fair to middling quantities so letting him right whatever he pleased. Still Hand me something by on of the modern SJW types or a Stranger in a strange land and I know what I’m reading.

        Favorite is hard. Moon is a Harsh Mistress is definitely in there, But I love Citizen of the Galaxy and Starship Troopers almost as much.

  6. ‘The Government’ is entirely made up of people. They are not any smarter, or saner, or better than everybody else, no matter what they pretend. Indeed, government seems to attract some of the worst sorts of people. Sociopaths and narcissists that crave power over other people so much that they will do the most evil things to gain and keep power, and commit the worst atrocities once they have it. The more power a government has, the more driven such deviant individuals are to partake of it, and the more they want to expand the government’s power, and theirs. Just look at our government.

    They can never admit that centralized planning and control of any group bigger than about a dozen is inherently unworkable. The Central Authority can’t know enough about everybody to make even adequate decisions, much less the best decisions. Top-down centralized authoritarian control always results in shortages of most commodities and wasteful oversupply of others. Like stores with no bread, no cheese, but shelf after shelf filled with five-liter jars of pickles.

    Any complex system requires complex controls, and the complexity scales up with the size of the system — at least exponentially, and probably factorially. The bigger a system, the more complex the task of controlling it becomes, thus the bigger and more complex any centralized controlling government has to be…and the government is itself a complex system which must be controlled.

    The United States economy is an extraordinarily complex system composed of 330 million parts, and the parts are people. Centralized control is utterly impossible. Any attempt to impose centralized control will cause shortages, supply disruptions, bankrupt businesses, unemployed workers, and inflation. The only way control can be managed effectively is by breaking the system DOWN into smaller elements with local control and feedback.

    But still they are stupid enough to believe they can micromanage the lives of 330 million people. The Government is their god, and that worthless fuck Karl Marx is their prophet.
    But the end result, the true genius of the plan, was the fear. Fear became the ultimate tool of this government, and through it our politician was appointed to the newly created office of High Chancellor.

    1. Subsidiarity. Deal with the issue at the lowest/closest level to the issue that it can be dealt with, by people who know the issue specifically.

      Turns out that a California educational system employee was already employed—and living in Philadelphia. And he was supposed to be fixing problems in California? Nope.

      1. “It’s so easy to cause problems with ignorance and stupidity; shouldn’t it be easy to fix them the same way?” 😛

    2. J.B.S. Haldane (who strangely enough was a lifelong Leninist) wrote that central planning didn’t scale up. He could image a planned economy for Luxembourg, or maybe a board of top industrialists managing Denmark, but he thought that planning for the UK or the US was as unworkable as having an elephant doing gymnastics.

      1. Socialism can’t work at anything larger than a monastery, and not very well there, really, that’s why the abbot is there.

          1. Was reading an online discussion where one commenter talked about a discussion he and his (atheist) friends were having about the Rule of St. Benedict. They ran across the rule that if anyone wanted to give a monk a gift, the abbot got to decide whether it was accepted and if so, which monk got to use it.

            After being stunned by it as so very severe, they discussed and concluded that it was the only way it could work.

  7. > “bodies that aren’t widgets.

    Kill off all the ones that react badly to the Jab, and it’s a self-solving problem. Drug any schoolkid who shows initiative, and you can keep that problem from biting you later. Make the law capricious and randomly enforced, and you keep your populace nervous and submissive.

    It’s all win from the statist POV.

  8. Third, supposing this amazing supplement existed, why would you have to MAKE people take it?

    Well, if extended life meant another 50 years under communism, I could see why people wouldn’t want it. 😀

  9. I grew up with my father’s philosophy being repeated to me: People are no damned good.

    It took me a while to realize that he wasn’t a hypocrite by treating people as if they were, in fact, good. Individual persons were good, all in all. It was when they started grouping up and forming committees…

    1. A long time ago, when I was a kid, my parents made a point concerning an activist (environmental flavor, I think). Those who proclaim that they love The People often do not like individual people at all. It seems to be true 90 out of 100 times thus far.

    2. “A committee is a life-form with a dozen mouths, a dozen stomachs, and no brain.” — RAH, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

    3. “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.” — Agent K, Men In Black

    1. I think Fauci probably caught something airborne and nasty as a child* and it’s predisposed him to be extra special fearful of airborne viruses. Thus his completely ludicrous pronouncements that HIV could be spread in the home.

      By the way, I learned the other day that “fauci” is Italian for “jaws”, so now in my head he’s Anthony “Tony Jaws” Fauci, like he’s a made man. He certainly has the body count for it.

      *(And probably got scolded/punished by his mother for playing with Johnny when he should have known Johnny was sick, etc., etc.)

      1. I prefer ‘Fauxi’ — from the French ‘faux’ meaning false, or phony. Fauxi should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and strung up between the shades of Eichmann and Mengele.

  10. Some of it is because it’s inherently impossible for humans to perceive truth

    Citation, as the poet said, needed. “Inherently challenging”, because entropy (the word for entropy in human relations is “sin”) makes the energy costs high; not infinite.

    This is another one of the embedded lies that we’ve been so marinated in, we cannot smell our own stink. True things cannot be known. Not by anyone, even if its hard for you. So, here’s our palatable half truth. Now let’s go build a Big Lie, together.

    No. We’re the ones who do the hard things.

    Ca ira

    1. In the “Belisarius,” series, Drake and Flint nail it – we can never achieve full justice or virtue, but that doesn’t excuse us from having to try. Ironic, perhaps, given their religious orientation.

  11. I think we nailed it in WW II: We are our own secret weapon. The individual.

    I think enough of us grew up in Free America to turn the tide in our own lives and the life of the Republic. I don’t know that there’s any other choice.

    1. Problem is that a huge chunk of what worked in ww2 was that we could outproduce the rest of the world combined. In addition companies were still in the mindset of ‘have competitir B build this part since we’re short handed and we will support their part 5 effort.” Rather today if something is handed to a third party it is because that way if it’s screwed up they don’t get paid. And usually third party is overseas or staffed that way.

      We don’t have a winning mindset for nearpeer anymore

  12. The lies that are harming our societies will persist until the media-education-government complex is shattered.

      1. I think it is starting, maybe. When I eat out, I hear a lot of normies talking about how much BS they’re being fed by the MSM, and how horrible the schools are these days

        OTOH, when my grandparents-in-law were finally tired of CNN’s latest nonsense, they switched changed to….. MSNBC. And remain convinced that despite how terrible the talking heads are, because they have experts on reinforcing the narrative, the narrative must be true, and that anybody getting their news from other-than-MSM sources that disagree is being misled. (sigh)

  13. Compared to the workload of actually managing a society from the top down – the 1960’s space program, including the moon landings, was an exercise in LEGO® or Tinkertoy® building.

    An exercise involving 400,000 people and $120B in today’s dollars … that landed TWELVE men on the moon, using hardware that only had to work from a few minutes to two weeks.

    Take that twelve, and turn it into 330 million … and expand the time frame to the full human lifespan from conception to brain death.

    And then tell me that the central planners can actually do this from the top down … if you can with any shred of intellectual honesty left.

    But that is what our misplaced-trust society invokes as a tenet of faith.

    The blind …. leading the blinded.

    1. I had to laugh at a segment on the news last week that showed Biden literally being led to the podium by a blind man with a cane. This is what we’ve come to, folks.

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