Distant Dystopias

(Just a repost from the sci-fi site.

I decided to leave in the Traveller sci-fi role-playing elements, as they help illustrate certain ideas of politics and business. Even if you don’t get the full context, you’ll get the basic point.)

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Do Not Fear what They Fear

The concerns of pre-Star Wars intellectual sci-fi — dehumanization and authoritarianism — were never my concerns. Certainly such evils exist, but I have always believe that in the end. The Machine Stops, one way or another.

All Empires Die, although it can take a while.

For the same reason why All Idols Fall: the Universe God just does not like them, and He will find a way to blow their foot off, so they can hobble off in pain, bleed out without hope, and die.

(Or blow their head off, and die far faster: as happened to more than one real-life empire, and even the Third Imperium!)

No Information, No Wisdom, No Power

The governments of the Brave New World, and 1984 simply demand too many accurate decisions of their rulers, rulers who – even if they haven’t cut off the feedback mechanism of free human action, free speech, and noncompliance — just do not have the accurate information that prices relay: the problem of Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth is real, and faster computers with more information won’t solve it.

And seeing the kind of men who rise up to power in such cultures — outright psychopaths or bureaucratic rule-maniacs — I doubt if the Mighty Man would make the right call, even if he had the right information.

Correct knowledge, alone, cannot provide salvation.

Small Hells

All that being said, I assume such grim dystopias exist on various worlds in Traveller. Men really do choose hell over heaven, and slavery over liberty: and the crippling tyranny and/or sterile delusions can last for years or even decades.

(Centuries if you are talking about the Vilani, or other Collectivist cultures.)

Still: the problem of power fantasies is the increasing detachment from reality: and there are far too many military-minded Ruling Houses who would enjoy violently tearing apart such impoverished & ignorant tyrannies, displaying all that firepower and training the House have built up in a cause that the Imperial public approves — “Smash the stupid-evil local government!” — and adds more population and wealth for the Family to Responsibly Control.

The Corporate Nobles would rather cut a business deal, putting all those local drones to work and splitting the profits with the (inevitably corrupt) planetary Leader and Inner Party. The power of money has a way of degrading any tyranny, top to bottom, and bottom to top. All those delicious bribes, all those wonderful high-tech off-world goods, all that freedom to travel, gain new experiences, taste new foods, entertain dangerous new ideas …

Hell does exist, but the Universe God doesn’t like it. Hellish societies all fall apart in the end: but unfortunately, individual souls really can decide never to repent, and stay cut off from God forever.

Individual liberty cuts both ways, and God — unlike Our Betters — takes it seriously.

The Fall of the Gates — and Chains — of Hell

Still. Jesus commands His followers teach the nations – societies republican and monarchal – to obey Him and follow His ways. So at least one kind of hell, slavery, lie-network1, and brutal injustice can be driven to extinction.

That’s a rather good thing to work for.

Even in a fictional far future universe of aliens, psionics, and FTL drives!


1Lie-network: a network of mutually reinforcing lies.

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