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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Monday, December 24, 2007

Darkness and … Darkness

During the heyday of totalitarianism, totalitarianism crept into the work of people who intended to oppose it. For example, in Darkness and the Light by Olaf Stapledon (seen via The Long View) there was a discussion of two possible futures for humanity: one in which totalitarian thugs triumph (Darkness) and one in which the forces of gentleness win (Light). In the Light section, the World Federation has a little problem with those Americans. It seems that the Americans insisted on keeping capitalism. The President of the World made a compromise offer:

The World Government could now afford to be generous. He therefore proposed, with his Government's full assent, a temporary arrangement allowing the Americas economic autonomy within the Federation. The World Government reserved the power of constant inspection of American industry and would not permit any infringement of the rights of the workers, as laid down in the preamble to the constitution of the Federation. Certain kinds of industry were excluded from capitalist enterprise entirely, such as armaments and the great means of expression. These, and education, were to be nationalized under the American state, subject to final control by the World Government. It also reserved a power of veto on any industry which it regarded as undesirable from the point of view of the world, and it might order American industry to produce some particular kind of goods needed by the world. Such work might be subsidized by the World Government.
Translation: We'll let you live … provided you're neutered and lobotomized.

I wasn't surprised when the civilization was taken over by localvores. (BTW, why do the advocates of human cooperation oppose any specific instance of large-scale cooperation?) I was even less surprised when their reaction to a crisis was to restrict human action even further rather than extend it.

1 Comments:

Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

Stapledon was a thorough socialist, even a Communist. That comes across perfectly clearly in Last and First Men and Odd John.

7:27 PM  

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