Thursday, 6 June 2013

Desai's Predictions

In Poul Anderson's A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, Chunderban Desai says that the Terran Empire is in an anarchic phase of civil wars and that some individuals in the rival Merseian Roidhunate probably know this and are taking advantage of it. The remaining two Terran Empire novels fulfill Desai's predictions.

In A Stone In Heaven, a Grand Duke plans usurpation. In The Game Of Empire, an Admiral not only attempts usurpation but also turns out to be working for Merseia. Unfortunately, the next work in the History of Technic Civilization series is set centuries later, long after the, also predicted, Fall of the Empire.

During the insurrection in The Game Of Empire, Dominic Flandry and his wife Miriam discuss the situation in the light of previous conversations that had been informed by Desai's analysis but nothing new is said. Flandry is against revolutions both because of the short term loss of lives and because of the longer term damage to the social fabric. If "revolution" means just another military coup, then I agree with him but, of course, there are different situations as when a mass uprising overthrows a dictatorship.

7 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    Here, I agree with Flandry rather than with youu. Revolutions, far more often than not, have brought only untold agonies and harm to the societies they occurred in. How often have mass uprisings overthrown a regime and replaced it with something better? Precious few!

    I thought of the Marxist Ethiopians who overthrew poor old Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974-75 as one example of a revolution bringing only ruin, disaster, and many years of wars and civil wars. So, I agree with Flandry in opposing revolutions.

    Sean

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  2. I agree poor record, as yet, in replacing tyrannies with something better but I am not sure what else those living under a tyranny can do except resist it - and try to apply lessons from past disasters?

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      Except, how many of those over thrown by brutal revolutions were truly tyrants? Far more often than not, men like Louis XVI of France and Haile Selassie truly did have the welfare of their countries at heart. One ex 82nd Airborne major I discussed this with said the problem was that in "traditional" societies attempts at reform and modernization are too often accompanied by ever higher hopes and aspirations which simply cannot be met, no matter how much the rulers themselves might wish for them themselves.

      I'm a Burkean (after Edmund Burke) conservative. Far more often than not, attempts at drastic change or reform brings only ruin and disaster. If any reform is to be genuine, it has to be prudent, patient, cautious, moderate, etc. And that means keeping what was good from the past.

      Sean

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  3. I think some real tyrants have been overthrown recently, though? I agree that the different levels of aspiration are a problem in bringing a satisfactory resolution to any national struggle. In South Africa, Apartheid at least was removed but poverty remains and struggles about that continue.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      Sure, dictators like Mubarak of Egypt have been overthrown, but I'm EXTREMELY skeptical that Morsi and the odious Muslim Brotherhood are going to be anything but worse. And both Bashar Assad and his enemies are vicious and vile people, so forget about Syria getting a half way decent gov't any time soon. And so on and on.

      Sean

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  4. You are right about Morsi but the struggle continues. There is a lot of energy, hope and activity now that an apparently undefeatable dictator has been ousted. Discussing PA's novels leads to discussing some of the most basic philosophical and political questions.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      Problem is, Mubarak was not an ABSOLUTELY ruthless dictator, bound and determined to cling to power at all costs (which is what Bashar Assad seems to be). I wish GENUINELY reformist circles in Egypt well, but we shall see who wins the struggle for power there, the Muslim Brotherhood or the real reformers.

      Sean

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