Thursday, 30 April 2015

Section 3, concluded (I think)

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Hanno's identities in 1975:

Charles Tomek, millionaire, old, currently vacationing abroad;

Joseph Levine, 67, attorney for Tomek, with an apartment near Seattle International District, drives a Buick;

Robert Cauldwell, founder of the Rufus Memorial Institute, lives on Queen Anne Hill with views of Mount Rainier (see lower image), the Space Needle and Elliot Bay (see upper image), drives a Mitsubishi;

Tannahill, first name not yet known, editor of The Chart Room, a political periodical;

a dozen others in four countries "...ranging from magazine publisher [Tannahill?] to day laborer..." (p. 375).

Two kinds of identity:

currently active but diversified to avoid unwelcome attention;

paper identities to be used as escape routes when necessary.

Hanno's agent in Frankfurt knows "...that the Rufus Lab wanted to contact members of long-lived families..." (p. 386) so it seems that there is a direct link between the advertized Longevity Studies (p. 370) and the Lab's "...effort to discover what made living beings grow old." (p. 377) Despite his three millennia of caution, Hanno does not keep all of his activities in separate compartments. The Lab's Director is Catholic which fits with the nearby Seattle University being Catholic.

Director Giannoti, who knows of Hanno's longevity, says:

"'...we'll outlive the galaxies, you and I and everybody...'" (p. 381)

I know that this is orthodox doctrine but how can he be so sure of such an unlikely proposition? It is a great deal to deduce from the elusive accounts in the concluding chapters of the Four Gospels.

On television, a politician named Moriarty declaims:

"'This squandering of untold wealth on weapons of mass destruction, while human beings go hungry and homeless, must end...'" (p. 383)

I agree: we should feed and house each other instead of preparing for mass slaughter. However, Hanno groans and swears on hearing Moriarty's voice. Does Hanno think as follows?-

A successful liberal politician must be dishonest because, if he is successful, then he is intelligent, and, if he is intelligent, then he knows that liberal values are falsehoods. However, he propagates those values so he must be dishonest. QED.

I have not placed this argument inside quotation marks because it is not a quotation. Rather, it is my formulation of how I think some people think! I may be wrong. I might have read this argument somewhere but, if so, I will have to track it down. Meanwhile, of course, it is possible for two people to be intelligent yet disagree. Neither of them needs to be dishonest as well.

14 comments:

  1. What I think that Hanno thought, and what Anderson thought, was that it was necessary to spend wealth on defense in order to deter Soviet aggression. It is surely regrettable that human beings go hungry and homeless, but their suffering is likely to be increased by all-out war or foreign conquest, which we need military strength and the will to resist in order to deter.

    Also, contrary to Teddy Kennedy -- ahem, I mean Moriarty -- expansion of government welfare programs is not necessarily the best way to relieve the suffering of the poor and downtrodden. That's my opinion, at least, and it was pretty clearly Anderson's.

    Best Regards,
    Nicholas

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  2. Thanks, Nicholas. I think history has shown that that Russian dictatorship was always behind in the arms race and was then bankrupted by it? They were the ones who, according to their own (dishonestly) stated principles, should have encouraged greater democracy and used their resources for social good instead of stockpiling instruments of genocide.
    Paul.

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    1. Greetings to both Nicholas and Paul!

      Nicholas: correct, given the avowed goal of the then USSR to impose socialism on the entire world by force, the US and her major allies had to have powerful armed forces to hold at bay Soviet aggression and intrigues.

      Ha! And I see you caught how Poul Anderson had the unspeakable Teddy Kennedy in mind with Senator Moriarty! I mentioned this to Anderson in one of my letters to him and he agreed Moriarty stood for Kennedy, one of his bete noires.

      I also agree with your comments about "social welfare" programs are not always likely to be the best ways of helping the poor, and that very often they have counterproductive results.

      Paul: but WHY was the Soviet dictatorship so often behind, at least in quailty, to US and Western arms development program? I argue that the command economy, based on the Soviet claims to plan efficiently, simply was not able to "come thru" in actual practice. Moreover, the Soviets were eventually bankrupted only because they frightened enough people in the West to push the US and her allies into continuing arms races the Soviets were eventually unable to keep up with. Absent this alarm the USSR might well have gained an advantage decisive enough to risk going to war.

      Sean

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  3. Sean,
    Agreed command economy inefficient.
    Paul.

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  4. Sean, Nicholas, everyone!
    I want an economy planned not by bureaucrats controlling armed forces and a secret police but by elected, recallable delegates with no means of lining their own pockets or reimposing minority rule but I concede that such a concept remains to be proved in practice! (I am a bit preoccupied today so my responses may be sluggish.)
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      And here I have to continue to disagree. Because I believe it is simply NOT POSSIBLE for any kind of gov't, no matter how "democratic," to make or plan for the miillions, even billions of choices made in a real economy. And any regime which tries to run a "planned" economy will HAVE to use a huge bureaucracy and secret police to implement those plans. And the planners WILL certainly be often corrupt and more than willing to line their pockets.

      What makes you a moderate and reasonable leftist, unlike true believing fanatical hard liners is precisely your admission "...that such a concept remains to be proved in practice!" Such heresy would have gotten you shot by Lenin or Stalin.

      No, my view has to remain that only a reasonably free enterprise economy, moderated by tort law and the laws against fraud, theft, embezzlement, etc., has worked.

      Sean

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  5. Sean,
    Again, the issue has arisen because of Hanno's hostility to Moriarty so the future of economics is as much a part of Andersonian discussion as the future of technology and space exploration. If I were persuaded that Stalin and the market were the only two alternatives, then I would have to accept the market as the lesser evil. However, I remain hopeful that, with technology and education, humanity has the potential to do better.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      Ultimately, I think it comes down to us having some what different views of human nature. As a Catholic I believe we belong to a fallen race all too prone to doing evil (or simply bungling matters). Which is why I'm skeptical that education and technology will change matters.

      And I AM convinced that Stalinist command economies and a free enterprise sytem are the only alternatives for mankind. And of the two, only the free enterprise system has worked.

      Sean

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  6. Sean,
    Agreed: different views of human nature.
    I am drafting what will be the first post of next month.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      You previously wrote: "If I were persuaded that Stalin and the market were the only two alternatives, then I would have to accept the market as the lesser evil." Why should the free enterprise economy be thought evil at all? What is that kind of economy? Far too briefly, it's the socio economic system in which goods, services, resources, etc., according to the demands and wishes of individuals and groups acting freely with only the restraints of tort law and the laws against fraud, theft, embezzlement. How is that bad? My view is that the evils seen it comes not from the free enterprise system but from our flawed human nature.

      Sean

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  7. Sean,
    I can see that this system is dynamic, is preferable to its predecessors, has many good features and is in theory very good. I was going to reply by mentioning wars for resources, pollution and a number of bad features but you trumped me by attributing those to human nature! However, the boom-slump cycle is built into the competitive economy. That leads to unemployment, waste, goods stockpiled or destroyed instead of distributed, homelessness coexisting with unsold houses, stockpiled bricks, unemployed building workers etc. However, you can indeed reply that we will face big problems whatever system we adopt so this disagreement will not be resolved - but can be returned to now and again...
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I'll focus on your boom/slump comments. I don't recall which economist said one very important feature of the free enterprise system is its "creative destuctiveness." That is, the reason why we so often see slumps following booms is that goods and resources were becoming misallocated (or malallocated?) near the end of a boom cycle. Ideally, slumps are when bad econcomic decisions are corrected and resources of all kinds (including human resources) are more efficiently allocated. Surplus goods no longer commanding higher prices are sold at lower prices (or destroyed as you said), property owners being forced to ask for lower prices for the houses they wish to sell, etc.

      I don't deny unemployment happens! I've been thru that myself! But, my view is that too often gov't measures prolongs or worsens this. Prolonged gov't "unemployment compensation" (you may have a different word for it in the UK) can and has led to lasting unemployment for many able bodied persons Instead of a relatively quick if sharp recesssion lasting only one or two years, gov't programmes can worsen matters and drag it out for years into a true depression. That is exactly what has happened here in the US during the entire presidency of Obama. A prolonged recession followed by a weak "recovery" hindered by Obama's policies.

      I still believe the only alternatives we have is either the command economy dominated by the state or the free enterprise system. And only the latter has been SHOWN to work in real life and history.

      Sean

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  8. Sean,
    Thank you. I did not expect such a lengthy discussion! Should we leave that issue where it is for a while? Poul Anderson will bring us back to it as he does to everything else. I do not mind recurring political disagreements if you don't.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      Certainly! While I think many other points could have been made by me, such as ill advised state interference with real estate markets, I think enough has been said for now. Poul Anderson's own works will help to make such discussions appropriate.

      Sean

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