Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Technic History And Anderson's Genesis

A single writer's alternative fictitious futures are indirectly and subtly linked, like Poul Anderson's Technic History and his Genesis.

(i) The Technic History is a series written sporadically from 1951 to 1985 whereas Genesis is a single work published in 2000.

(ii) Both are future histories. However, the History is an originally unplanned Heinleinian future history series comprising stories and novels covering several centuries and millennia whereas Genesis synthesizes the Heinleinian and Stapledonian future history models by covering millions of years with some chapters featuring characters and conversations (the Heinlein model) but others summarizing Solar and galactic developments on much longer time scales (the Stapledon model):

"Sol swung onward through its orbit, once around galactic center in almost two hundred million years..." (Genesis, New York, 2001, p. 96)

(iii) In the Technic History, consciousness-level computers were developed but discontinued because they lacked intuition whereas, in Genesis, it is inter-linked post-organic intelligences that gradually become a Stapledonian galactic brain.

(iv) Some parts of the Technic History are based on John K Hord's theory of history. According to that theory, the failure of the fifteenth-century ecclesiastical conciliar movement was a breakdown point for Western European society. Genesis features an AI "emulation" in which that movement succeeded, restoring power from the papacy to the bishops, thus preventing the Reformation. I still think that, in any history that went beyond feudalism, bourgeois individualism would have led to private interpretation of scripture, salvation by "faith alone" and "predestination" fantastically reflecting the unaccountability of success in a competitive economy. All of these changed religious beliefs would entail a challenge to the authority not only of the Pope but also of bishops and priests.

9 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    I'm sorry, but I don't agree that merely the existence of "bourgeois individualism" would NEED to lead to anything like the so called Reformation. You need to take into account that at least as many merchants and bankers did not become Protestants. The German Fuggers, for example, were determined Catholics hostile to Protestantism.

    Also, according to this theory, the Catholic Church should have died out. But, it has not; and moreover, has always been more numerous and widely spread around the world than Protestantism.

    Sean

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  2. Sean,
    Interesting alternative history ideas!
    Paul.

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  3. Beliefs are never uniform. If there is social pressure towards a Reformation, then some will accept it, some resist it, with many variations. If a new religious belief expresses the aspirations of a new economic class, it doesn't follow that every member of that class subscribes to that belief. Quite the contrary. Maybe more on this later.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      That I can agree with, that there may well be as many who refuse a new religion or philosophy as of those who adopt it. To me, at least, variation is much more plausible than a crudely simplistic thesis clashing with an antithesis to produce a synthesis.

      Sean

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  4. Fascism, claiming to be a Third Way, expresses the fears of a petty bourgeoisie threatened both by big capital and by organized labour. Not every petty bourgeois becomes fascist but fascism is likely to arise when a petty bourgeoisie exists and is under threat.

    A challenge to feudalism was going to include a challenge to episcopal authority because the bishops were feudal lords.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      I'm sorry, but I disagree that "fascism" was a "third" way between either capitalism or Marxism. Jonah Goldberg, in his book LIBERAL FASCISM, makes a very good argument for saying "fascism" was just another brand of left wing socialism. And quotes massively from many sources to back up his argument. Mussolini, after all, began as a leader of the Italian Socialist Party and always considered himself leftist.

      And, yes, I agree that the status of those bishops who held temporal lordships would be challenged as feudalism declined.

      Sean

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  5. I agree fascism's not a third way. What I meant was that its claim to be such reflects the fears of a particular class which can feel threatened from two directions.

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  6. Some feudal bishops would defend their position with religious arguments so it would be hard to prevent some anti-feudalists from taking on those arguments and arguing for a non-episcopal church.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      Sorry to be such a nit picker, but if you said "fascism" represented the fears of some members of A class, I would agree. Because there are too many exceptions for me to believe otherwise.

      Yes, I agree some bishops who held temporal lordships would use religious arguments to defend holding those temporalities. And they should not have, because temporal lordships are not ESSENTIAL to the nature of their office. They were merely accidents of history.

      Sean

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