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Systems of Government and the future in sf.

Images pixabay (book covers are links)

A little while back someone on FB had a thread on the topic of why, in modern sf the systems of government of the future are usually feudal and hierarchical. I found this both interesting and amusing.  THE FORLORN/MORNINGSTAR had various forms of feudal government – but it was on a colony planet where the level of technology had been knocked to at best medieval.

RATS BATS & VATS – the dominant human political system was Shavian socialism –and displayed as a system which required a permanent disenfranchised underclass to survive. The Alien cultures were 1)pure communist (complete with ‘the party’ in opulence) 2) A survival based (non-hereditary, but shaped by the biology of the species) hierarchical oligarchy. And among the Bats communal socialism (with some small acknowledgement to one of my Jewish friends who once said something like ‘where you have three Jews, you’ll have four political parties’. Having heard bats bickering in a cave, it seemed appropriate, and likewise the bats enjoy politics and have constant battles between different factions – which only a common enemy stops. The Rats, of course, have Anarchy – or would have if they cared a damn about politics. They just live it.


Stardogs explicitly explained the collapse of crony capitalism into hereditary autocracy, and was the precedent to a revolutionary war to destroy that.

SLOW TRAIN once again had multiple political systems, ranging from anarchist, theocratic non-tiered (no hierarchy beyond the elected council) democracy, qualified franchise (where males were not allowed the vote), Meritocracy, hereditary dictatorship and a minarchy with immediate democracy (where anyone could put measures to the vote and the vote on any subject was direct and immediate.) Each had flaws. The best functioning was in fact democratic and non-hierarchical.

The Karres books exist within Schmitz’s Universe, and the political systems he described from 1960s (so not mine).  The rest of my books are either present day or fantasy, or Alternate History and logically derived from the known politics of the time.

So I am obviously not a modern sf author: or at least not a typical one. This is amusing, along with many of absolutely batty comments. This however was the classic:

ole

Now as: 1) PW surveys find the staff in Trad was IIRC 78% female and more than half of senior management female. 2) A count of new (as in bought for the first time in the last 10 years) sf/fantasy authors in trad big 5 are over 75% female. 3) Awards (for what they’re worth) are overwhelmingly female – 100% as often as not, 4) Using political donations (considered the most accurate proxy of political affiliation – because money doesn’t lie) US Publishing has less than 1% NOT left wing, and any analysis of the public positions of Trad published authors will show they either share this position or kiss up well… so Ole has trouble telling his Ole from his Elba. (Napoleon, having seen it all from People’s Revolution to Imperial autocracy, I believe said on the ‘ole, Elba was preferable)

Still, I am sure, even faced with sexist, racist, homophobic facts and mathematics ole Ole would have concluded nothing different, just, like communism, it hadn’t worked because it needed more. Even less than 1% was too much conservative white male patriarchy, and it was still its fault.

It curiously does say that this political and sex bias has produced (if the premise is correct) a lot of sf with authoritarian and hierarchical systems of governance. That’s pretty funny really. Nearly as funny as Ole’s conclusions as to reasons… I wonder what Freud would have said about the expression of their subconscious?

I would be curious to see if an analysis of Indy sf produced a future more full of variety. Perhaps Anti-authoritarianism, minarchy and libertarianism?

Anyway, this sort of brings me around to my thesis for today: besides exploring all sorts of possibilities, what value can the modern author extract from the political setups of his or her futures?  Because, contrary to the gibberish talked by the leading lights of modern traditional publishing we’re NOT here to challenge our readers, or to make them uncomfortable, or any other balderdash. They actually don’t HAVE to buy your books. They don’t have to READ your books. (Perhaps this lies at the heart of the dream of an authoritarian future where the hierarchy in the daydream has them at the top and the peasants have to read what is good for them so they can be educated.) We’re here to sell lots of books they want to read. We’re here to suspend their disbelief, to immerse them in a different world. It might possibly do all sorts of things but along the way but – even if these were the author’s main interest in writing it — they are ALWAYS secondary to getting lots of readers to read (and love) your books.  It’s not rocket-science, you’d think even Ole could get it (Ok, maybe not). If no one reads your books, besides not making any money, all your hifalutin’ goals cannot be met.

There’s nothing wrong with stretching the political envelope. There’s equally nothing wrong with a feudal future – many readers, never having experienced brutal authoritarianism, or socialism (which inevitably seems to trend to authoritarianism) may find it attractive.

I’m outright pessimistic about the short-term future progress of good political governance: we’ve got a classic quis custodiet ipsos custodes issues. We have a vast amount of ‘end justifies the means’ (always an excuse for abuse. Always) nonsense, and things like the governments of first world democracies using the organs of state to spy on  and sabotage their political rivals – an appalling abuse, which can hardly be described as progress. We have intrusive and draconian and confiscatory laws designed against the citizenry by political powers.  We have horrendous levels of propaganda, and we have the fourth estate (which is supposed to curb political shenanigans) having become organs of the same.

But as something of an anti-authoritarian who still holds that, well, democracy may lead the people into trouble – but at least it’s the trouble of their choosing, I like hope in my sf.  Many of my ideals are quite libertarian, and I detest hierarchy – especially entrenched unearned and intrusive officialdom… I don’t think I’m alone in this. So yes, that is the future I tend to paint my characters as fighting towards.

On the other hand…  just as a world language and world culture are anathema to me – why the hell should any future have one political system (well, if it does, my characters will be trying to fragment it.)?

58 Comments
  1. 23 and me2 skidoo

    January 21, 2019
  2. I’ve always thought the “authoritarians in Spaaaaaace!!!” [bows towards Muppet Show] came about because it is easy to write. Likewise a generic feudal system – king, noble titles, peasants, some assembly required. I did think Pournelle and Stirling’s Sparta was an interesting variation on the theme, but that might have been cheating since the people deliberately tried to scale ancient Sparta to a planetary scale.

    January 21, 2019
    • I always thought it’s part and parcel of the ‘-in space’ transplant; and so we could get to the story versus trying to explain the worldbuilding and it getting in the way of the story.

      January 21, 2019
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      Thing about generic feudal, it often doesn’t involve asking “so what do the barons have for a power base”, then iterating up the ranks above that. A lot of the time it feels like the noble titles are wholly disconnected from any sort of feasible feudal hierarchy. Of course, as someone who put together a working model of a feudal hierarchy late in life, I may have missed little cues of plausible working hierarchies in my earlier reading.

      January 21, 2019
    • Yes, I think it’s in large part intellectually lazy, a short cut that involves no real need to work the ramifications. I think it particularly wryly funny that they default to authoritarian, and hierarchical as I think this reflects (policies stripped out) the political system they would naturally gravitate to.

      January 21, 2019
      • What’s funny is why it is a short cut. In all the history of all the world (outside the U.S.) how many were not heirarchical? Or some variety of feudal (with the label filed off)?

        V. Amusing.

        January 21, 2019
        • Yes – and I suspect that is why a government of involved citizens, and not of some variant of hierarchy is an outlier.
          Horrors – those plebs imagine that they can organize themselves? Well, really !
          Some brand of feudalism, dressed up in whatever robe is fashionable at the moment, is the default mode of humanity.

          January 22, 2019
      • That’s because their preferred system is basically feudalism in a bad suit.

        January 21, 2019
    • Mary #

      It has the wonderful advantage of allowing you to shove it to one side.

      In particular, appealing to the emperor and having him rule in your favorite is a much more dramatic restoration of justice than chasing a case through the courts.

      January 22, 2019
      • TonyT #

        Well, Erle Stanley Gardiner did the court room dramatics pretty well…
        but that’s not science fiction

        January 22, 2019
        • Mary #

          You can do SF or fantasy courtroom dramatics — but it’s a genre in itself. And it dominates the story.

          January 22, 2019
  3. George Crichton #

    I think the feudalism impulse comes from difficulties in communication. When it could take decades to send messages, you have to rely on people at the colony to make decisions.

    January 21, 2019
    • Randy Wilde #

      The Traveller RPG had that premise. Individual worlds and small clusters of systems could have wide varieties of local governments, but at the large scale the “Third Imperium” was feudal in nature. Communication was limited to the speed of travel, which in the game had a hard limit of about 20 ly/ week, and in practice was usually half or so of that.

      Border wars could be fought and resolved before instructions from the capital would be received, much less reinforcements.

      January 21, 2019
  4. Ori Pomerantz #

    Lets be Darwinian about it. The form of any institution that we’ll see is the one best at survival under the conditions. In the case of political systems, survival is usually threatened by either losing a major war (The Empire of Japan), or by internal factors (The Roman Republic).

    I believe the reason we are seeing so many countries pretend to be democracies is that democracies are better at getting the loyalty of their citizens to make them into soldiers. In WWII the US only had to execute about a hundred soldiers, whereas the Nazis had to kill over 25,000 (https://www.quora.com/What-was-the-biggest-mistake-America-made-in-WWII), and the USSR even more.

    However, real Republics may require a common enemy to unite against. Rome lost the Republic once there was no longer a credible external enemy, and I suspect we in the US are going the same way.

    January 21, 2019
    • Mike Houst #

      WWII Germany killed 25,000 of their own military? That right there would go a long way to explaining why they lost the war. You don’t execute what amounts to an entire division when you have a small and limited number of fighters.

      January 21, 2019
      • Joe in PNG #

        The SS got downright sadistic when it came to executing suspected deserters and others towards the end of the war.

        Hitler and his lickspittles were overly obsessed with “Not One Step Backwards!” type orders, and with the same amount of success- losing your armies piecemeal trying to keep undefendable bits of terrain.

        Post-1942 Germany strategy is a wonderful example of “How To Lose A Major War”.

        January 21, 2019
      • Ori Pomerantz #

        It’s Quora, so not necessarily reliable – but other sources agree it was in the thousands (https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=222008).

        January 21, 2019
        • One of my father’s best friends was a former German WW2 soldier, who as young man attempted to dodge military service. He was rounded up, and found himself on the eastern front with concrete in his boots.

          January 21, 2019
    • The habit of using ‘useful’ terms – ‘democratic’, ‘Republic’, ‘liberal’, ‘people’s’, ‘social justice’ ‘progressive’ etc.is that they come with a built in credibility (built by previous – and often totally unrelated – effort). 9 times out of 10 they’re actually the inverse of the terms they use as skin-suit and demand credit for. You can bet the People’s Democratic Republic ain’t any of those. So it is most probable that the future Democratic progressive liberal people’s social justice state, is an Autocracy which had one election, once, and hell to live in, unless you’re one of the small group of ‘people’s representatives’ and hangers on.

      January 21, 2019
      • Ori Pomerantz #

        People’s Democratic Republics believe that you have to have democracy somewhere, and it would have the least effect to have it in the title instead of anywhere else in the country.

        January 21, 2019
  5. Christopher M Chupik #

    “The SFFH community is predominantly White, Straight and Male and for the US Conservative.”

    Uh-huh. Sure. Whatever you say.

    The thing is, I’m not sure if this is pure ignorance, or if they’re deliberately pushing the narrative that SF is still some bastion of reactionary whiteness so they can push it even further to the Left than it already is, or some combination of both.

    January 21, 2019
    • thephantom182 #

      Christopher, it is clearly propaganda. You can tell because any argument or statistic you bring up that runs counter to the “reactionary whiteness” theme makes you a RAAAACIST and they de-platform you. Total myth, perpetuated to keep their Lefty gravy train running on those beautiful biscuit wheels.

      Now, if we’re talking about the -audience- for SFF, then White, Straight and Conservative is certainly the majority. Because white, straight and conservative is the majority of the US population, despite all the noise and ruckus created by the Left.

      Why do you think they claim people in Flyover Country are ignorant hicks who don’t read?

      January 21, 2019
      • ” the -audience- for SFF, then White, Straight and Conservative is certainly the majority. Because white, straight and conservative is the majority of the US population” – THIS. This is the point I have been trying to make for at least 10 years. To grow sf, you have to look at what your possible audience is, and cater to them. The demographic data is there. Then you have the money to support odd niches. If you want to be the biggest caterer in Israel (or Egypt) you can’t only sell pork. By the reaction you’d think I was asking them to murder babies, and certainly did so with my teeth.

        January 21, 2019
        • thephantom182 #

          The point is worth rubbing, with a healthy pinch of salt.

          The actual market for Alex McFarland’s “NonBinary über alles” is on the order of 5% of the population who even want to hear about it, probably 0.01% actually concerned about it. If we’re talking English, the maximum potential customer base is ~5% of 300 million, that’s still a pretty large number. 15 million. But, its an order of magnitude smaller than the number of white males in the audience, ~100+ million.

          The Progressive Left picked the most productive, most educated, bravest, meanest, most committed demographic in the history of the world for their enemy. White males. For 70 years, the message has been slowly seeping out into the world.

          Last week, with the Gillette commercial, it is arguably valid to say the White Males finally noticed. That vast group who’s busy working, and they don’t pay attention to any of this shit? I think a lot of them saw that and were personally offended.

          An awful lot of women were offended too. Their men being disrespected like that? Women buy all the bathroom stuff for the family. Oops.

          And, if I may be allowed to add insult to injury, the potential non-white market is ~30% of the population. Give or take some, for the nit-picker jerkweeds I know are reading this. 100 million white males, 100 million white females, and ~100 million of everybody else.

          Bottom line, actively insulting and alienating 200 million people in the process of selling to 100 million, that’s not a great idea. It certainly isn’t good marketing. But that’s what they’re doing.

          I smell a business opportunity writing stirring tales for straight men to enjoy. ~:D

          January 21, 2019
          • George Phillies #

            I am not clear why the Gillette ad would not bother many people, just because their skin was darker than mine. Perhaps I missed your point.

            January 21, 2019
            • thephantom182 #

              “Toxic masculinity” is, so far as I see it bandied about, focused primarily on white men. Because non-whites are oppressed by the eeeevile Colonialist Patriarchy, and so have no free will of their own. The Whiteness is what makes it bad.

              Those non-White men, its not their fault, the poor things. They can’t help it.

              Although, there was plenty for everyone to not like in that commercial. I’m sure most men of any race who saw it were offended.

              My point is that according to the internet activity I’ve seen, an awful lot of specifically white men who were not previously political sat up and paid attention. They were not amused.

              Leaving aside the damage to Gillette as a brand, the SJW cause has finally been -noticed- as an irritant by men who don’t pay attention to things like that. Race has nothing to do with it, other than the targeted group of the ad was white men.

              January 21, 2019
            • I want to say that there’s no reason that the Gillette ad wouldn’t offend men other than white men but I think that phantom is right and the toxic masculinity stuff is aimed in a *very* racially exclusive sort of way.

              Though I think that framing the question as if there is any demographic, even a small one, that wants to read about emasculated men is a mistake.

              This hardly reaches the level of anecdote but I noticed something in romance novels many years ago. The novels (a few) that I read that were “black” romance… the heroes were forceful and didn’t talk about their feelings and a level of possessiveness was portrayed. The ones that I read from black authors but in “mainstream” category imprints weren’t as much so, but still slightly noticeable difference in how the black hero was written. Meanwhile, the heroes in most contemporary romances (15 years ago or so when I was reading lots of them) was strong and handsome but would have had no trouble navigating a feminine mind-space… in other words, they were in touch with their feelings and if their feelings were inappropriate, they “grew” until they got to that point. Almost girlfriends with pecs and a six pack.

              Gawd… I read one where every word out of the guy’s mouth sounded like a women’s psychological relationship manual right up to “take our relationship to the next level.”

              In other areas of popular culture, too, there’s a distinct difference in tone in music, graphics, whatever.

              It seems to me that if we, whoever we are, want to create stories or art that is maximally inclusive and appealing to people in every demographic, that manly men is the way to go.

              January 22, 2019
    • Define “community”.

      The look on Gerrold’s face when the row of Campaigners to End Puppy-related Sadness kept standing through his “How many of you have been involved in fandom for 10 years… 20…. 30…” was priceless.

      The “community” is whatever is useful today. It’s who/whom all the way down.

      January 21, 2019
    • Thing is, I suspect that Ole is a foreign leftist. He probably thinks that Hillary Clinton is a conservative.
      In other words, he’s not as wrong about the politics of SF fandom as he is delusional about the world in general.

      January 21, 2019
  6. Hmm. I’ve got several worlds with multiple nations, and types of governments. More feudal than democratic. One brutal theocracy. Then I’ve got a 12 world empire with an elected President and Council. Some near future “One World Governments” but in a federated style with the nations continuing their own thing internally.

    I tend to think the slide into literary feudalism is party for convenience (the king decrees, instead of two years of congressional bickering, political ploys and breaks for elections. Even if it wasn’t that easy IRL) and partly for the rose colored glasses a bunch of people view princesses and knights through.

    January 21, 2019
    • Can you imagine how long the Co-Dominium books would have been if we had seen all of the politics on Earth and then the colonies and then back on Earth?

      January 21, 2019
    • I’m just waiting for Izzo to become president. Since it was the only thing predicted for him that hasn’t happened yet.

      And I’m sure he’ll throw a conniption fit when someone points it out to him. 😉

      January 21, 2019
      • “I’m I the only one who didn’t see this coming?” as his wife laughs at him.

        January 21, 2019
  7. Most science fiction isn’t *about* government. It’s just not. Even when the main characters and action involve people in the government, either hereditary or elsewise, the story isn’t about government. One (or more) governments exist as background and framing with the level of detail necessary to move the plot along.

    Most science fiction isn’t *about* biology. Once in a while it is, but not all the time. And yet biology exists in the story. Air exists. People eat. And everything to live is present with the level of detail necessary to move the plot along.

    In either case, a system and framework of either politics or biology that works well is going to be further in the back ground the better it works. The feudal system is in the foreground because it creates problems and conflict, not because it works. Same with biology. How food reaches people isn’t a story until food doesn’t reach people. Alien microbes aren’t a story until they make someone sick.

    And so on.

    January 21, 2019
  8. ole Ole doesn’t seem to pay much attention to things.

    Ole, if you perhaps might find the time, look into the silly Worldcon carpfest that took place a bit back. Those evil straight rightwing conservative guys in the committee and publishing made sure and certain only White Straight Males win their phallic symbol award!

    Wait. What?

    January 21, 2019
  9. The inevitable question about how your worlds are ruled is a question involving numbers, environment, and time loops of transportation and communications.

    Most slow-boat colony worlds, unless they have huge initial populations are going to be dictatorships in all but name. Decisions have to be made, and there isn’t enough excess/luxury time for slow decisions of a political nature.

    Any “near future” colonization of Mars or the Belt where you respect the laws of physics is going to be either independent powers or a loose federation, as the communications loop is at least an hour for the Belt and transit times start out at about two years for the Belt and ten months for Mars one-way. And, it never really goes below a month for the Belt until you start getting into matter/anti-matter propulsion.

    (Fun calculation time! Go to the “Calculating History” section on the Atomic Rockets web page (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/appcalchistory.php) and figure that the writers of “The Expanse” didn’t do the math as well as they should have. Assuming Belt/Civilian Epstein Drive is a 4th Generation IC Fusion torch, UN Epsteins are 5th-Generation IC Fusion torches and Mars Epstein Drives are 3rd-Generation AM Beam engines-UN/Mars response times are about identical with each other, but Mars can control the Belt in ways that require the UN to either base large numbers of ships in nodal points at the Belt or concede that control. And the Belt is extremely loose, probably long cycles that only end at the big asteroids(Ceres, Pallas, Hygela and Vesta, with Eunomia and Interamnia being ports that dream large but don’t have the mass for more). Moving up a generation along the scale makes things interesting. The Belt is only a week away or more for all the powers, but Mars probably has more delta-V when they get there. Saturn and Titan are seven weeks out, and Gayamade and Jupiter are “merely” a month out for the Belt and the UN, while Mars can do the trip in less than two weeks.)

    It’s an interesting logic experiment and you can map a lot of previous real-world concepts onto the circumstances.

    January 21, 2019
    • I don’t buy the dictatorship thing, really. Decentralized systems are more robust. In some sense centralized control is a luxury made possible by a certain level of wealth.

      January 21, 2019
      • I should have specified “initially, with a plan to transition to a less dictatorial government at the first chance.”

        January 21, 2019
      • Mary #

        Dictatorships also have a succession problem. Hereditary monarchs are not a happenstance; it means you can raise some people to be subjects and others to be sovereigns.

        Notice what troubles the Communists had with succession. Notice how the one with the least is really a monarchy.

        January 22, 2019
    • I suspect Synova is right, and colonisation of various asteroids for example would lead to many different forms of little governments – some of which would work (this BTW is central to the short I have had accepted by Baen for new collection)

      January 21, 2019
      • Cooperative systems, certainly. And perhaps each headed very much by a single person with authority to speak for the group, though no telling how that person is selected or if that person is actually in charge or subject to having their chain pulled up, sharp.

        If the colony was someplace like Mars, life might be extremely strict, but it still makes more sense to duplicate systems so that there are fewer points of failure for the whole. Many small nuclear power plants rather than just one… many greenhouses growing a variety of crops rather than a single crop in each greenhouse. Many interior pressure doors rather than just the ones that lead outside. Same with many habitats that are as self-sufficient as possible.

        Centralized control, even if production is distributed as much as possible, suddenly gives a single point of failure for anything under that centralized control. The local guy might get his group all killed through bad planning. The central authority could kill everyone by making a bad judgement call.

        January 21, 2019
      • thephantom182 #

        Asteroids will be families, clans and Nations in the old sense. The Nation is the gathering of the clans.

        From a travel-and-trade standpoint, it will be [very] roughly like medieval Europe. Ever town is half a day’s walk from the next town, the Big City is three days from the outliers, and space-ships big enough to carry anything worthwhile are Expensive.

        From a human scale time-and-effort view, that’s similar to Europe.

        January 21, 2019
        • Evenstar #

          That actually sounds really cool.

          January 22, 2019
          • thephantom182 #

            I think that with a bit of work that would be a pretty cool setup for a culture trying to launch an STL starship from the asteroid belt to Centauri.

            January 22, 2019
  10. thephantom182 #

    About the most alien government setup I’ve read was L. Neil Smith’s “Probability Broach” universe.

    Everybody else, from Asimov to Zelazny, pictured some form of Big Authority that ran things, for good or ill. Neil Smith was the ONLY GUY out there who asked “gee, I wonder what would happen if there was -less- government.”

    In my own books I took a little different approach. I asked “what would happen if you could do -anything- you wanted?” So I dropped nanotechnology, limitless intelligence and a world-ending threat on George McIntyre, a kid who worked at an auto-parts counter, and stood back to watch what happened.

    George knows he has to somehow get around the government because they will not try to solve the world-ending threat. They will try to make a deal with it. So rather than mess with government, he gives them something shiny to look at while he proceeds to change the basic conditions and culture of the country, and ultimately the world.

    The rest of the series, interactions with government are mostly for comic effect. I mean, what are the cops going to do with a fusion powered tank the size of a supermarket? Bluster! And then the tank makes fun of them, at considerable length. She’s got a mean streak, that tank. ~:D

    Branching out into the big wide world, the opportunities for comedy are many. Imagine what happens when George opens a robot-girlfriend employment agency in North Korea.

    Imagine what happens when robot girlfriends find Omelas. >:D Will they walk away?

    January 21, 2019
    • TRX #

      I love Smith’s Broach books – the first three, anyway… but his North American Confederacy has the same problems the Communists and Libertarians run into – it presupposes a radical shift in human nature.

      Every form of government has to deal with the problem of those who seek power and those who think someone should be in charge.

      January 22, 2019
      • thephantom182 #

        Yes, the North American Confederacy, it was a beautiful dream but there was a great deal of “look, a squirrel!” and “then magic happens!” to cover the gritty detail parts. So real life, it could never work. I think the failure mode would be a lot less bad than the “success!” mode for Communism. Mass rioting is less fatal than mass starvation.

        But as a Science Fiction universe to illustrate a point? Brilliant! I loved it back in the 1980s, and I bought all his NAC books.

        His work did seem to go a bit weird around 1989, and of course these days there’s no way he’s getting a publisher.

        January 22, 2019
  11. Because the SFFH community is predominantly White, Straight, and Male, and for the US Conservative,

    The Leftists maintain lies like this one because they need a boogey man to fight against. Without the “[Straight, Racist, Sexist] White Male Menace” they wouldn’t have anything to use to control their various victim groups with. They rely on people not usually checking to see if their claims are true. When someone does, they attack.

    January 21, 2019
    • Draven #

      +1

      January 21, 2019
  12. Evenstar #

    There is nothing wrong with being white, straight, male, or conservative and any combination thereof. I’m so sick of the left whining that I just want anyone to make them shut up.

    January 21, 2019
    • Spot on. Not…” Are you blind, we’re not… ” But some variety of “You really don’t like white people, straight people, or men. Gosh, that’s sad.”

      Not that I figure these thing out very quickly. Apparently mushrooms are even pokier than oxen.

      January 21, 2019
    • thephantom182 #

      I kind of like the screaming, myself.

      Straight White Male: “Hi. Nice weather we’re having, eh?”

      SJW-NPC: “REEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!”

      SWM: “What’s the matter, you never saw a man before?”

      SJW-NPC: “REEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!”

      SWM: “Do I have something in my teeth?”

      SJW-NPC: “RREEEEEE [hack, cough] EEEEE!!!!!!!!!!”

      SWM: “I can keep this up all day, sister.”

      SJW-NPC: “REEE- never mind.” [walks away, kicks dog, dog bites her]

      January 21, 2019
  13. Joe in PNG #

    One important facet of government style is warfare. How are wars fought, by who, and with what weapons & tactics. As a rule, those who have arms tend to be those who make the rules.

    Nobility as a government form was strongly influenced by the predominate use of well trained armored knights on horseback, a style of warfare that needed a lifetime of training & conditioning to properly master.

    But, once firearms became an effective weapon, governments turned from the aristocratic to a more popular basis. Firearms are relatively quick to master (you can turn out a fairly disciplined military in around a year, or cannon fodder in a few weeks), and numbers became more important than pure training. However, those same numbers demanded representation in their governments- hence the revolutions of 1848. Generally speaking, most governments since have been broad based and popular- even the Communist pretend to be democratic and representative.

    January 21, 2019
  14. TRX #

    Monarchies and oligarchies are simple and easy. And, for tradpub and likely most authors, what they’re most familiar with – as a child, they obey their parents. In school, they obey the teacher. At work, they obey the boss. If they’re in academia, they obey the System.

    They’ve been subjects or serfs their entire life, and so was almost everyone they ever met. It’s as simple, natural, and unremarkable as gravity.

    As a corollary, most of those people seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of democracy, as exemplified by how many Americans thought the Previous Incumbent was some kind of king, instead of a public employee. Once he announced he was going to rule “by phone and by pen” and do as he pleased, people who should certainly have known better heaved sighs of relief and said things like, “Finally, *someone* is going to make the trains run on time!”

    People who *don’t* live under someone’s jackboot, and don’t *want* to, are obviously nuts.

    January 22, 2019
  15. Now that I think about it, I don’t recall reading much SF that featured WORKING Marxism, Communism, or Socialism. So maybe I understand where the Facebook Person is coming from. Xhe sees Monarchies (which CAN work… to a degree), Democracies, and Theocracies (which also can work, if the population is homogeneous and/or dedicated enough).

    What is confusing Xer is that Xhe (man, this pronoun thing is wearing) sounds like one of those people who believe that history has an arrow pointing Left. SO SF, depicting “The Future!” should be full of stories featuring the culmination of the Marxist dream and the perfection of mankind!

    (I’ll pause here so you can all stop laughing)

    Frankly, one of the best tells that Marxism is a lie and the great Marxist dream is doomed to failure is that SF writers, who can dream up some of the most out-there crazy Alien stuff, can’t manage to dream up the perfect Marxist dream-world government, and make it remotely believable. (or interesting, for that point. It sounds like a complete BORE, so even if it was possible I’m not sure I would want to live there)

    January 22, 2019
    • Clearly, the person in question has never seen a proper timeline. The arrow of history mostly points right, or sometimes down . 😛

      January 22, 2019
      • In Hebrew or Japanese it might point left?

        January 22, 2019
  16. Reziac #

    Funny, flyover country is where there are the most public libraries and usedbook stores… (the latter ~100x more common in the farming midwest than along the left coast, and the ratio is even higher per-capita rather than per-town)… and the flyover-library booksales contain a whole lot more highbrow stuff.

    *thinking*

    Must be where the Secret Masters of Reading toss their discards.

    January 23, 2019

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