Saturday, 26 December 2015

Outlaws

In Poul Anderson's The Snows Of Ganymede, Planetary Engineers investigating Ganymede deduce that the colony leaders could eradicate the Outlaws but do not want to. An external enemy is too useful for controlling their own population. A book that I received as a Christmas present argues that some existing regimes find it expedient to practice surveillance of external enemies because this gives them a means to control their own populations. Thus, there is a parallel between two texts, only one of them fictional.

This could be a controversial discussion! Imagine an argument between two Ganymedeans. One, supporting the colonial regime, believes that the Outlaws are simply a threat that must be eradicated. The other replies that:

some of the Outlaws oppose injustices within the regime;
the regime does not want to eradicate the Outlaws because vilification of them helps to unite the population and maintain the regime.

Now transfer that argument to an existing situation.

Meanwhile, back in an earlier sf novel, 1984, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia are permanently at war in mutually agreed battle zones but never attack each others' home territories although the prole populations are continually propagandized with the threat that invasion is imminent. This deception maintains social order, hence the Party slogan: "War is Peace."

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