We All Must Spartacus Now
Distracted Dragons. Here’s the latest APGI; an ambiguous one, potentially contentious in several directions. Does as it’s says on the tin. To be used as you see fit. Also, a little something for the weekend, a possibly even more controversial quote from the much lamented Iain; and a little companion coda.
Essentially, the contention is that our currently dominant power systems cannot long survive in space; beyond a certain technological level a degree of anarchy is arguably inevitable and anyway preferable.
To survive in space, ships/habitats must be self-sufficient, or very nearly so; the hold of the state (or the corporation) over them therefore becomes tenuous if the desires of the inhabitants conflict significantly with the requirements of the controlling body. On a planet, enclaves can be surrounded, besieged, attacked; the superior forces of a state or corporation – hereafter referred to as hegemonies -will tend to prevail. In space, a break-away movement will be far more difficult to control, especially if significant parts of it are based on ships or mobile habitats.
The hostile nature of the vacuum and the technological complexity of life support mechanisms will make such systems vulnerable to outright attack, but that, of course, would risk the total destruction of the ship/habitat, so denying its future economic contribution to whatever entity was attempting to control it.
Outright destruction of rebellious ships or habitats -pour encouragez les autres- of course remains an option for the controlling power, but all the usual rules of uprising realpolitik still apply, especially that concerning the peculiar dialectic of dissent which -simply stated- dictates that in all but the most dedicatedly repressive hegemonies, if in a sizable population there are one hundred rebels, all of whom are then rounded up and killed, the number of rebels present at the end of the day is not zero, and not even one hundred, but two hundred or three hundred or more; an equation based on human nature* which seems often to baffle the military and political mind. Rebellion, then (once space-going and space-living become commonplace), becomes easier than it might be on the surface of a planet.
Iain Banks. A Few Notes on The Culture
*Michel Foucault: Where there is power, there is resistance.
I’ll be reusing both these quotations. I like them very much and they give me hope, although I fear that they’ll soon become obsolete. But not yet. Some people are still out there, rebelling, fighting back, reinforcing and spreading dissent. Resistance might not be futile…yet.