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Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Politics in Science Fiction #1 Politics is People.

Why do engineers write stories with political systems which operate exactly according to specifications? Why does anyone write such stories?

Politics is people. Laws -- written, oral, signed, telepathed, etc. -- produce results only if people enforce them. They produce the intended results only if interpreted as intended. (And only if other things go right, of course.)

Ideas matter only when people use them. Those people don't have to believe an idea; they can use it to cover up their own self-interest or as camouflage for less acceptable ideas.
(How many Southern politicians ever really believed in "Separate but equal?" How many English politicians ever truly believed that Scotland and Wales were equal partners in the United Kingdom?)

And like other institutions, governments tend to place the welfare of people inside the institution ahead of the institution's purpose.

Staff the government with genetically engineered saints, transhumans, artificial intelligences, or frogs with enhanced brains? That simply puts another kind of people in charge; they'll generate the same problems.

Replace government with competing businesses, voluntary cooperatives, Fourieran phalanxes, organized crime, free agreements between individuals? You'll still have the same kinds of problems.
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