July 5, 2015

Slice of PIE: Who Is Critiquing the Future of Government and What Have They Got To Say?

http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-in-the-strict-sense-of-the-term-a-true-democracy-has-never-existed-and-never-will-exist-it-is-jean-jacques-rousseau-263188.jpgUsing the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in London, August 2014, I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. The link is provided below…Governing the Future – Science fiction once took government for granted. Writers like Asimov and Clarke often assumed that advances in technology and knowledge would naturally spawn rational world governments. Speculative societies, like Star Trek’s Federation, could be utopian or, like those of Huxley, Zamyatin, LeGuin, dystopian, but government was central. However, increasingly, authors like [Ken] MacLeod, [Cory] Doctorow and [Vernor] Vinge write governments out of our future. Why has so much SF lost faith in government? Has government failed, or has familiarity bred contempt? Does modern science fiction value personal freedom, and resent government intrusion into our lives, more now than it did in the past? Or does it undervalue the benefits of government, and take its safety net for granted? With: Nicholas Whyte (M), Charles E. Gannon, John-Henri Holmberg, Justin Landon, Farah Mendlesohn, Liz Gorinsky (page 59)

May I be so bold as to point out that the examples of writers eschewing government and the members of the panel are all people who were born and raised in Developed Nations.

Secondly, may I be so bold as to point out that the only writers who might be able to comment on the failure of government from experience – those from African, South and Central American, Eurasian, and Pacific Rim countries – were not apparent in the list of authors writing governments out of the future or on the panel.

Those who have witnessed a true failure of government and might be qualified to comment may very well have been in the audience. Yet I hesitate to be certain of this.

“Who are you to say anything about this? You’re the same as all of them!!!”

Au contraire, monsieur, madame, ou mademoiselle!

In Nigeria as a missionary invited by the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, we entered the country on December 22, 1983 under the incompetent but democratically elected rule of Shehu Shagari. Nine days later, a military coup d’etat placed then-General Muhammadu Buhari in power. The borders of the country were closed, and all external communication was cut off (this being in the days before cellphones, no one outside of Nigeria knew if anything had happened to us). All expatriates were told to stay indoors for the duration of the unrest. Our hosts openly talked about the problems with the Shagari administration and more-or-less welcomed the General. As he was from the same tribe as Shagari, bloodshed (we were told), was minimal. [As a side note, General Buhari – now the newly elected president from the All Progressives Congress party – is the first President to begin office in peace.] Roughly two weeks later, the borders opened, communication resumed, and we could observe no changes of any sort in the everyday lives of the Nigerians we encountered. We travelled the country – though not deeply into the Muslim north – and never experienced any trouble. When we left Nigeria for Cameroun four months later, we again experienced an attempted coup d’etat to overthrow President Paul Biya (“Biya survived a military coup attempt on 6 April 1984, following his decision on the previous day to disband the Republican Guard and disperse its members across the military.]”)

I am thinking that I may have more experience with the failure of government than some on the panel or those noted as writers proposing the elimination of government. I don’t know for certain as none of their Wikipedia entries note that they were in countries in which the military overthrew a previous government – or live in countries currently under a anarcho-capitalism or any of the other forms of anarchism. It might be logical to say that my experience would convince me that the elimination of government would be a PROVEN good!

It’s not. I lean more toward the kind of government that Roddenberry made for the United Federation of Planets. (If I’m not mistaken, the Ferengi in his universe have a sort of patriarchal anarcho-captialist society.)

That being said, Humans have thus far only imagined Human-style types of government. I have no doubt that there will be others that we’ve not stumbled across. There may even be forms of government that we haven’t imagined yet because the technology to execute them hasn’t been invented. I’m curious though, why none of these writers haven’t taken the ubiquitous cellphone and computer’s interaction with government to its logical conclusion.

Everyone has a cellphone – even the poor.

What about a PURE democracy, where everyone person has, quite literally, one vote? What are the arguments against it? What are the implications of it? Anyone know of a novel based on this concept?

No comments: