The Politics Of The Future

Now this is an odd topic. We’re in a rather low point in politics where urban legends often trump (no pun intended) facts. Just look at the supporters of all three remaining candidates. Most of them border on the delusional.

But I don’t want to talk about our present political atmosphere, which is a function of our frustrated and distrustful mood as a people. No, I’m talking about what the politics of the future will look like. History clearly demonstrates how cyclical everything is. One can make a fair argument that politics today aren’t much different from those of the late 18oos – dominated by a wealthy few, large powers jockeying for power and influence, most of those in charge technologically clueless.

But how will we manage our collective affairs when we become a multi-planetary species? Many writers tend to project their own political beliefs onto their work, sometimes annoyingly so. Gene Roddenberry believed humanity to be perfectable, with the Federation becoming a post-capitalist utopia where scarcity was no longer an issue. China Mieville sees a socialist future, and this, in his vision, is not a bad thing. Similarly, Poul Anderson envisions a libertarian wonderland in the future, celebrating the individual in a way Ayn Rand probably should have emulated. (At least we got a decent Rush album out of Ayn, but I find her repulsive otherwise.)

A few writers are more nuanced in their predictions. Both Robert Heinlein and his wicked stepchild John Scalzi see both good and evil in a militaristic union of human worlds. Like our present day superpowers (and don’t kid yourselves. China and Russia are superpowers), they have much to offer their citizens, but there are downsides. Starship Troopers depicts a world where only those who serve in the military may vote. On the upside, it makes those who can vote more appreciative of having the right. On the downside, you have an electorate acclimated to war. Scalzi goes further. His Colonial Union, like America and Russia and China, lies to its people in the name of security, sometimes playing clandestine games. And in both cases, Johnny Rico and the green soldiers of the Colonial Union find their respective authorities sometimes doing more to preserve their positions more than the human race.

In the Compact Universe, where travel and communications happen by wormhole, things are fragmented. Central control at the start of the series is not really feasible (though the powers that be try). Some worlds lean left, others right, some going for nostalgia (The Caliphate, the Roman-inspired Etrusca, and the royalty obsessed Bonaparte), others just struggling to find a way. None of these are good or evil, and maybe that reflects my political philosophy. I can sum that up that easily as, “I’ve never met an ideologue I didn’t think was completely clueless about reality.”Lepetomane 2016, Give a harumph for America!

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