Yep, it’s another Bojidar Marinov article!
In previous episodes we saw that fear is the most powerful emotion people experience, and, judging from its prominence in the Bible, it is also the most important. We also saw that fear itself has a religious foundation and nature; and more than that, it is also a religion itself. (Ever been in a situation where you tell people paralyzed by fear that they shouldn’t be afraid, only to see them lash at you as if you were some sort of a heretic?)
Of course, Traveller is (in part) about facing and overcoming the thing your PC team fears, be it aliens, poverty, Imperial Power, environmental breaches, pirates, cunning enemies, or by being physically rip apart by the teeming millions of an xenophobic hostile world.
Well-trained psionic warriors may also be a problem: but the flavour of the threat differs depending on their ability to mind-read, use telekinetic powers, teleport, or manipulate matter (or even computer programs & algorithms) by thought alone.
Or all of the above, combined.
“Charted Space is very large… large enough for real monsters to lurk in.”
“With over 50,000 systems, you are correct. But it’s also true that Charted Space is very small: a pebble of the mountain called the Milky Way galaxy, and her 200 billion systems..”
A few revolutionary leaders argued that for France to remain full and content, about a quarter of the population should be exterminated to match the land available for food production. These ideas were, however, a little too extreme even for the French taste at the time; besides, most of their proponents – like Maximilien Robespierre and Georges Danton – were themselves guillotined. Similar ideas were floated in Prussia as well, although the Prussian monarchy, always in need of more soldiers, never took them seriously.
If I wanted to find out how France lost her demographic dominance of Western Europe to Germany, I would start with the different ideas of French and German leaders and thinkers first, and then the outworking of those ideas and goals in the real world as they were applied.
“First the spirit. Then the flesh.”
But, you already know that I would make a very bad materialist.
Nasty, Crippled Pagan Thinking
In a very short sentence, the thesis of the Essay on the Principle of Population is that the prospects for humanity are bleak. Why? Because, as Malthus explained in mathematical terms, while the world’s population grows geometrically, the means for food production only grow arithmetically. That is the simplest and most popular way of presenting his thesis. In reality, however, his thesis was a little more complicated. He had to make it more complicated in order to add respectable [Christian] religious language to it, in order to conceal his true intentions. A fuller explanation of his thesis would be this: There is a certain number of population that matches the available resources for food production. However, when food production increases, mankind – and especially the lower classes of mankind – are not wise enough to maintain the same stable rate of human reproduction with the purpose of achieving higher standard of life. Instead, they are stupid enough to start reproducing more and more, exponentially. Eventually that exponential human reproduction catches up with and even overtakes food production, and people, even with the new and higher level of food production, are left much poorer and hungrier than before. That point where human reproduction catches up with food production has come to be called Malthusian catastrophe by sociologists, and the level at which the excess population stops growing due to shortage of food is called Malthusian trap. In short, all that Malthus’s analysis promised humanity was inevitable suffering in the future, marked by short periods of prosperity which, because of the very nature of humanity – especially of the poorer humanity – will inevitably lead to more and worse suffering.
…under the verbose expression of love and concern for the poor and needy, he practically declared that the political elite must do everything they could to prevent the masses from achieving any sort of prosperity, even if that meant artificially created shortages. He was in favor of government taxes on food so high as to keep sufficiency of food beyond the reach of the average family; in his view, the masses of people needed to be kept at the brink of starvation even in years of abundant crops. In his pious language, it was better to be poor than foolish and use the abundance for more irresponsible procreation. He didn’t even shy of recommending violent death as a final measure; since natural famine and pestilence didn’t always do their job in regulating the population, he believed governments should finish the job by starting wars just for the sake of thinning out the population.
Now, this would be an unpleasant Imperium to live in.
Call it Alternative Imperium: Malthus’s Paradise.
Like many ideas, it can also be shrink-wrapped and placed within a more Canonical Imperium: a single world with a distinctly unpleasant local government.
Idea: A local Mathusian government, clashing with the disapproving Imperial Noble of the world. The Noble has money and power, but not enough to directly take on a planetary government: and remember, it is quite possible for the Noble (who shapes Imperial relations with the world) and the planetary leader (who is the actually the ruler of the world) to be two very different men.
- The Noble has legal authority with the Imperial government, but the Planetary Ruler has legal, local authority on the planet.
- The Noble may well have great wealth, but the Planetary Ruler has the resources of an entire local government at his disposal.
- The Noble has a network of interstellar friends and allies, but these friends are spread out across a subsector. The Planetary Ruler has his own allies and friends, and most/all are movers and shakers of the world in question.
- The Noble could order the world to be interdicted, but such orders will be reviewed by his superiors. The Planetary Ruler may well have total and final say on the planet in question.
It is possible for local clashes between the Imperial Noble and the Planetary Leader leads to the Noble taking over the planetary government in his own name, or (difficult, but possible) in the Name of the Emperor. But sometimes, the Planetary Leader has the chops to actually force the Imperial Noble to abdicate his place, and take it over himself, being BOTH the ruling Imperial Noble and the ruling Planetary Leader.
It ain’t cheap for even a wealthy Noble to fight a planetary government on his own dime and also win the peace, gaining the support of the local population and power elite. It’s a lot cheaper if he can seize local power in the Emperor’s Name, using the Emperor’s Purse and Armed Forces to win the fight… but there are a lot of obstacles (legal, traditional, and time/space) in doing so. The Emperor dislikes having his forces used to meet someone else’s goals.
(An Imperial Warrant makes things a lot simpler, but those things don’t grow on trees.)
As an aside, I have a suspicion that the subjects of the British Raj got to see such thinking applied to themselves, especially as the idea of racial superiority began to harden into formal Imperial policy. Coupled with the fact that British landowners in India could get more money selling food to distant, wealthy Britain, than in selling it to starving, impoverished Indians, and you get some ugly set of consequences kicking in.
(As well as some interesting fodder for Traveller adventurers and smugglers!)
In the final account, behind the seemingly dispassionate academic language, there was evil.
Yep, it’s the usual set of rationalist-materialist goals: unaccountable power at the top, with a combination of obedience/fear, structured ignorance (‘information management’) and ‘justifiable oppression’ at the bottom, with lots of talk to pretty things up and insure compliance and stability.
The Enlightenment’s standards for all scholarship were that it was supposed to be as technical and mathematical as science, and, most importantly, free of any ethical values and considerations.
How very rational. How very scientific. How very Enlightened.
His proposals, no matter how dressed they were in religious lingo, smacked of the ideology of the ancient pagan empires, especially the Biblical Assyria. The last time Europe had encountered such ideas and policies was in the last three decades of the 14th century when Tamerlane, a distant relative of Genghis Khan, tried to restore the Mongol Empire. Tamerlane was so systematic in exterminating whole populations that he beat even Genghis Khan himself. However, ever since the 14th century, no one in the known world ever used such policies nor advocated for them, not even the Ottoman Turks. (They had their share of atrocities but, in general, the Sultans viewed conquered populations as sheep to be bred and milked and sheared, not as vermin to be destroyed.) Malthus brought back to life ideas that everyone before him thought should have passed away with the passing of paganism.
“Sultans viewed conquered populations as sheep to be bred and milked and sheared, not vermin to be destroyed.”
First: now you know why Islamic Europe will grow, while Secular Europe will shrink.
(Christian Europe? What are you talking about? European Christendom has been dead for a long time now, thanks in no small part to the dedicated efforts of clergymen such as Malthus.)
Second: this would also make for an interesting variant Imperium. Call it Alternative Imperium: The Stars Belong to the Sultan.
(And yes, it can be shrunk from Imperial Size to Fun Size: a planet, a continent, or even just a single nation, space station, or organization.)
We all know that ideas have consequences. But I have argued before, in some of my articles, that ideas are themselves consequences of something deeper and greater than ideology – namely, faith. Ideology is always based on some religion, and even when we present our ideas in a seemingly rational and unbiased and academic form, they are still religious in their origin. There is still some deep moral commitment, some deep religious impulse that drives our ideology. I can bring in tons of quotes from Cornelius Van Til and Greg Bahnsen here to illustrate what I am talking about, but I prefer this short phrase by Dennis Peacocke which beautifully explains presuppositional epistemology in general and my argument here: “The mind only justifies what the heart has already chosen.”
That’s the truth!
I would put it slightly different: “First the heart decides, and then the mind justifies.”
Or, if justification is impossible, merely imposes by judicial fiat and a sea of univocal media blather.
So, what was it that Malthus’s heart had chosen that his mind masterfully justified in that book?
I have a name for the religion behind his thesis: Paganism of a Closed Universe. Or, a Closed-Universe Paganism, if you wish. Those who have studied physics know that I am borrowing a term from physics: Closed System. A closed system is a system that doesn’t allow the transfer of mass or energy in or out of the system. In the same way, a closed universe is a universe that does not allow any transfer of energy in or out of the universe. All that there is, is inside the universe; if there is anything or anyone outside that universe – like a God or something – it or He is irrelevant to the system and its working, and can neither bring anything in nor take anything out of it.
Sounds very Vilani.
“But the Vilani are very conservative, and definitely believe in the mystical power of gods, long-dead ancestors, and ancient traditions.”
We’ll see about that.
What is paganism, ultimately? It is the rejection of the belief in one God, Creator of heaven and earth, Who is outside time and space and controls time and space. For paganism to make any sense, such God must be entirely excluded from existence. Or, at the very least, of any consideration. He must be irrelevant to the universe in which we live. Such a God is dangerous to any paganism. Why? Because, by definition, He must be radically different from humans, who live inside the universe. God Who is outside the universe and intervenes in the universe is a God Who can not be grasped or comprehended by humans – and especially by human rulers, which is the more important part of it.
<Waves to the Imperial Nobility.>
OK, that’s somewhat unfair, especially in the early Solomani-dominated Imperium. After all, equality under the law (yes, even for non-humans!), an unregulated press, and a broadly free market are all strongly tied to the Solomani religion of Christianity, after all.
But in the end, the fear of losing power, a loss of confidence, and increasing fear of rising Vilani corporate power drove the Solomani rulers to cling tightly to their DNA purity as opposed to the Law and the Commandments. After all, the Imperium was never a formally Christian state, and it was always the Emperor who was the Source of the Law, not Christ.
He would be, therefore, a God that can’t be controlled or manipulated by humans. He wouldn’t need human permission to exist or to be relevant or to have any influence in human societies. Even worse, He wouldn’t need the permission of human authorities to do it. Once such a god is allowed to exist or be relevant to human thought and action, all the other gods cease to be relevant. Oh, and did I mention, all human authorities cease to be relevant, except if they cease to be authorities and become servants of that God. Paganism then, even if it uses the same word for its magical beings (“god”), is radically different from Christianity. As a matter of fact, given that very important difference, atheism is not different from any religion; it is right there, in the same basket as all paganism. It basically believes the same things as any paganism.
Just switch the Source of the Law from “the gods”, “tradition”, or “karma” to the Leader, the State, the Party, and the Right Sort.
Now, about the Vilani and their gods/traditions/Ancient War Machines…
Religions of the Walking Dead
For paganism to exist as a system of thought and belief, it needs gods who are inside the universe itself. The universe first existed, preferably in the form of chaos. (For if there was order in the beginning, that might smack of a pre-existent God Creator.) For whatever reason, movements within that original chaos produce the first divine beings – but, remember, those divine beings came out of that pre-existing universe. They are creations, just like man is. They are not radically different than man; they are just more powerful beings who can use their power to overpower the chaos they came from . . . and overpower other beings like them, as well. Like, other gods. Or humans, who are much weaker. Humans, however, may not be that weak. They may be capable of finding ways within the universe of manipulating these gods, these more powerful beings, to do their bidding. Or, at least, convince them to help in their human causes and agendas and ambitions and aspirations. After all, these gods are themselves creations of the universe itself, and who knows if there are mechanisms in that universe of controlling those gods? The gods themselves are still discovering their potential; what of humans find a potential way of controlling the gods. And, even better, what if powerful human rulers discover these ways, and use the gods to establish their power over an increasing multitudes of people?
We are used to think of paganism as something that is basically the same as Christianity – it’s just their gods are rather smaller and weaker. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reality is, paganism is very deliberately opposed to Christianity. Why? Because paganism needs its weak gods; they are needed to serve men and especially human rulers. Pagans elect their gods and don’t allow anything to be a god unless they have approved of it and it has proven to be useful to them. (Read Tertullian’s Apology to have a good laugh of how he presents and mocks pagans for their religions. Also, read Greek mythology to see the real development of all such paganism to its logical end.)
Neither the Establishment, nor the leaders of the Enlightenment, has ever hated religion per se. Indeed, useful religions, from Zeus and Confucius and Shinto, to Marxism and Darwinism and Islam, can easily gain the backing and support of the Right Sort.
They just despise one religion in particular.
So far so good. Christianity chooses to have a God out of this universe Who intervenes in the universe, and pagans – and atheists and agnostics with them – choose to declare such a God either non-existent or irrelevant to whatever happens within the universe. That is, both of these categories – and they are actually one and the same category, anti-Christians – have to postulate a universe that is closed to any outside being. No transfer of energy is allowed, inward or outward. No communication is allowed, inward or outward. No exchange of information is allowed, inward or outward. We all live in a closed system, and there is no recourse above and outside the universe.
Our Masters do love their cages so.
Why would anyone expect that a universe that spawned man as a secondary byproduct would care to contain solutions for him? Why would there be any relation between the needs of a product of chance, and the inner workings and nature of the universe? It doesn’t make sense, does it, to really expect the impersonal universe to be so benign and favorable to the personal man.
In such a view, there can be no hope for long-term progress or long-term prosperity.
In the final account, all resources will be spent, and humanity will disappear. A pagan who is consistent with his view of a closed universe has no reason to believe that that closed universe holds anything but more misery and eventually extinction. In short, there is a good reason why, in every pagan mythology, the Golden Age is in the past, not in the future; obviously, given the presuppositions of all paganism, there is no reason to believe that the future holds any systematic improvement for mankind.
Pagans should be left to weep for a dead Golden Age.
I have no idea why so many Christians want to join them, though. Most likely, its because they have zero faith and trust in God’s promise if victory, in time and on earth, no matter how many times the Bible pounds on the point.
Certainly, many, many people in the Traveller universe weep for a Golden Age of eternal stability (the Vilani’s First Imperium), of Solomani glory (the Second and early Third Imperium).
Or even, post-War of the Rebellion, of a wealthy and powerful, tolerant-yet-human dominated, free-yet-organized empire (the later Third Imperium).
And today, many people moan for a mythical 1980s, or the 1950s, or pre-Civil War South, or the Revolutionary Era. Or the Era of Discovery and Colonization, when Europe was the queen of the world (and on which Traveller is modeled on.) Or the Middle Ages. Or Mohammad’s early Caliphate. Or Rome. Or even the supposedly peaceful tribes of natural primitive communists, ‘before the evil, selfish invention of property.’
Astonishingly, the ranks of these defeated dreamers includes many Christians, who should know better than to moan and cry over the dead past. Didn’t Christ teach that His Kingdom would fill the earth in time, that death itself would be conquered BEFORE He returns?
The past was not better than the present. It was generally worse: physically, wealth wise, health wise, in liberty, and – yes – even morally, in some important ways.
(Sure, in public education and government debt/control/surveillance, it’s worse: but its not so hard to evade/gut the contemptuous plans of the Right Sort for you and your family, and the coming Great Default will only accelerate today’s decentralizing trendlines.
“No money? No power!”
“No kids? No future!”)
The future is not to be feared. It is to be welcomed.
As I have always said, the Christian worldview is covenantal, and covenantal means ethical/judicial. That means, we can’t grasp God as He is, but we can know Him from His works and, more importantly, from His commandments. When it comes to population growth, His commandment is given at the very beginning of the Bible, as part of the Creation Covenant with man: “be fruitful and multiply.” Population growth is not a technical question to be decided in the context of economic factors; it is the ultimate covenantal – and therefore the ultimate moral, judicial, economic, aesthetic, environmental, etc. – imperative that mankind is under obligation to obey. Fail to obey that one, and nothing else matters. You can find any excuse in all kinds of factors, and try to control population growth, or condemn population growth, or present population growth as evil or dangerous or foolish; but the commandment remains: Be fruitful and multiply. There may be temporary measures for times of trouble, as Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 7, but as a principle, and in the long run, population growth is a command, and failing to obey the command will make God change the whole context – economic, financial, environmental, political, etc. – that the worst consequences will come no matter how well you have planned against them. That’s the nature of covenant theology and covenant reality: Disobedience never brings the results it has been rationalized for.
The Solomani are big on reproduction: both racial doctrine and religious teachings are adamant on the issue. “You grow or you die.”
Many Mixed Vilani cultures have taken up the proverb for their own peoples (defined by genetics, planetary geography, linguistically, or by the correct divider, law and ethics.) some even taking the Christian religion as well… while dumping the racial ideology of the Solomani churches as ‘Satanic innovations of the Pure Holy Religion of the Ancestors and the Church Fathers.’
(Amusingly, these Mixed Vilani churches are quite correct! Odd, having Alien Humans getting a better grip on the Christian Faith than born’n’bred Terrans.)
Of course, the hard core Vilani hold on to their four-kids-per-couple traditions.. and quietly hope for a revival of atheism and secularism among the Solomani. “Life is so much easier when the competition slashes open its own throat!”
But what about prosperity? God specifically says that prosperity will come with population growth. Deuteronomy 28:11 is perfectly clear about the parallel growth of both: “The LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.” See that? Abound both in prosperity and in the offspring of your body. Not one or the other but both.
So mankind is explicitly commanded to be fruitful and multiply, and it is explicitly told that high birth rates will go together with increasing prosperity. That is the given presupposition behind the Christian view of population and resources; the truth that the Christian heart is commanded to chose. Only then, the Christian mind is expected to rationalize it, based on the Biblical evidence. That’s the way covenantal thinking works.
Bigger populations = bigger markets. Also, populations that are large and educated and self-governing (and so don’t need expensive, sluggish, and restrictive government rules & enforcement officers) are absolute hotbeds of economic (and cultural, and technological) growth. The Solomani (and some Mixed Vilani) understand this intuitively.
Of course, many Vilani love those expensive, sluggish, and restrictive government rules and enforcement officers, “because they keep us safe.”
The proper Solomani response to this is laughter.
Then how does a Christian answer the pagan objection? How does a Christian rationalize his beliefs on this issue when countering the pagan argument that population growth depletes the available resources, and therefore increasing prosperity is impossible with increasing population?
The answer, of course, is this: Our universe is not closed. Therefore, the limit on resources is not internal to it; it doesn’t depend on anything inside the universe. It depend on an external source. Transfer of energy between the inside and the outside of the universe is possible, and has happened many times. In fact, that’s the regular way our universe operates.
How can we say this?
The first and most obvious reason we can say this is because the Bible is clear that God can intervene in His universe with an infinite amount of resources and energy, as He wants. […] In fact, we can argue that there is nothing really “natural” in the universe. What we consider “natural laws” are nothing more than the statistically most common and predictable way God governs His universe; but He always preserves for Himself the power and the privilege to change His ways of governing as He pleases. Thus, what we call “miracles.”
All this is good as a conjecture, but will God really intervene miraculously to produce more resources for an obedient and growing population? Can we safely bet on such intervention. Absolutely. In fact, it is specifically promised in the very next verse after Deut. 28:11 I just read earlier. It is in the next verse, 12: “The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand. . . .” So God promised that He would personally intervene in the universe to transfer more resources into it. That’s a promise. He will make our fields and our work in them more productive by miraculous intervention. That’s what an open universe is all about.
But there is more. It is not just about His direct intervention. It is more than that. The word “productive” I just mentioned is another clue. “Productivity” has to do with the ratio of resources used to capital goods and sevices produced. The less resources, and the more goods and services, the higher the productivity.
The pagan Japanese & not-so-pagan Koreans have picked up on this.
Marxists, on the other hand, have not. They offer endless talk about raw materials and labour,
(Of which Africa has plenty of, and Japan/South Korea/Hong Kong/Singapore lacks),
and nothing about cultural discipline, peace and stable governments, rewarding creative output, predictable laws, and firm property rights.
(Which Africa lacks, and Japan/South Korea/Hong Kong/Singapore enjoys).
God promised that He would directly open His storehouse and would improve productivity. But He has still another way – and indirect way – to intervene in the universe and improve productivity. Namely, through His image. Man was created in His image, and thus, man carries what theologians and philosophers may want to call a “divine spark” in man. I personally dislike the term, but I can use it for the limite[d] purposes I have here. That “divine spark” in man is not divinity in itself – man can’t comprehend God, can’t grasp God, and man can’t approach divinity or God. (I [will] talk about the practical importance of this fact in a future episode.) But man can know God through His works, and can know God’s works, and can know how God works in His universe. Specifically, man can understand how resources work and how they transform into real, useful goods and services. And man can then control and regulate – that is, take dominion – that process, and learn how to make it more productive. In short, because of the image of God in man, man can grow in knowledge and discover newer ways of transforming energy into goods, and raw resources into food, and thus overcome what now seems to be a necessary limit on the expansion of mankind.
Or, “use the brains and eyes and hands and spine God gave you!”
Or even shorter: the image of God in man laughs at Malthus’s closed-universe paganism. The end of history will not be economic. It will come not because we have run out of resources – although, the limit on resources may theoretically point to an end of history. The end will be covenantal: it will come because the [church] has fulfilled the Great Commission and has made the whole world submit to Christ, and has made all His enemies His footstool. This is the end and the purpose of the Gospel teaching.
Well, it certainly won’t be because of a lack of resources, if we get into space in a big way.
As for making the whole world submit to Christ, that’s mainly a matter of preaching, teaching, working profitably, raising children well, and seeking justice and mercy on the part of covenant-keepers; and covenant-breakers eliminating their offspring and placing sterile/harmful perversity over self-restraint, indulging in short-sighted, wealth-destroying policies, choosing pleasing lies over hard truths, placing self-interest over justice, and fighting to get what they can right now rather than leave an inheritance for their children’s children.
Fundamentally, those who hate God choose death. And this is as much a driving factor of Christian victory as fearing God and receiving the blessings thereof.
The Bible makes it clear that righteous men leave an inheritance to their grandchildren. It also says that wealth is accumulated in order for righteous people to inherit it. The righteous will inherit the earth (Psalm 37:29). This means that they will inherit enormous responsibility. This is eschatologically certain. It is a prophecy. Jesus confirmed it. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). The meaning is not that wimps will inherit the earth. It means that people who are meek before God will exercise dominion. This means that covenant keepers must strive for mastery in their fields. They must therefore strive for success. This is a moral requirement. It is not optional.
History is a covenantal battlefield. This means that it requires well-armed, well-trained soldiers of the cross. The stakes are high: conquest in history. This has not been the attitude of the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians. They have been taught that the kingdom of God will fail in history. There will never be a worldwide Christian civilization, they believe. They have also been taught that poverty is a valid way of life for covenant keepers. Yet ever since the 1850’s, Western Christians have lived in the richest nations in history. They have been debt-burdened middle-class people who are richer than 90% of the world’s population. They live in homes that would be considered mansions by most people. Yet they have the mentality of beggars. They see themselves as eschatological also-rans in a world in which covenant breakers control most of the world’s wealth and political power. They think this is what God wants for His people. They believe that the righteous will inherit the leftovers. They read the story of Jacob and Esau, and they somehow conclude that Esau was the big winner in the economic competition with his brother.
Inheritance and dominion are linked ethically and also eschatologically. Capital accumulation is a moral obligation for covenant keepers. Why? Beause capital is a tool of dominion. Covenant keepers, not covenant breakers, will be the big winners in history. Preparation for dominion must begin in youth. This involves education in the broadest sense. It also involves money management.Christian Economics: Teacher’s Edition by Gary North
It will be a good day, when Christians choose to stop crawling on their bellies in fear of the enemies of God, be they Islamic, or Secular.
Or even lying churchmen like Malthus.
OK, back to Marinov.
The Hatred of Competition
Now, there is nothing wrong with environmental sciences and with a concern about the pollution; after all, you all surely remember a recent episode of Axe to the Root titled, “Technology and the Environment.” But environmental sciences that study to protect the environment in the context of population and economic growth is one thing. Environmentalism that tries to stop growth in the name of “protecting nature” is another thing. The very concept of “protecting nature” is already pagan because it assumes that mankind and its economic progress are not part of nature. And since nature outside man is the normative foundation, then the universe is even double-closed: there can be no legitimate intervention by God to improve things, and there can be no legitimate intervention by man to improve things. The only “improvement” is a return to a world with zero growth.
Modern Vilani megacorporations like profits, as they are forced to compete with various Solomani and other non-Vilani concerns. The Vilani bureaux of the First Imperium preferred ‘balanced’ or ‘zero profit’ policies, as too much profit increased the likelihood of cultural change (even, gasp, uncontrolled change!)
I have a suspicion that they would have either suppressed the traditional “four kids per family” policy, or saw to it that only two of those children would successfully reproduce, keeping the other half of the population as a kind of “strategic reserve” in case of war or plague or a failure of the centralized food & energy distribution networks.
“Keep the lower castes ignorant, poor but comfortable, with porn, a steady dole, a safe and predicable life, and a traditional euthanasia policy once they hit 200 years. After all, planing is so much easier when you can freely use all the tools available to manage the demographics of the Imperium!”
.Call it the kind of “limited Malthusian” policy.
I’m confident that – if their biotech had gotten to germ theory, and if the Traditions allowed it, and if it wasn’t just so revolutionary – the First Imperium would have mandated artificial, government-owned wombs as well, being sure to ban all natural births, all in the name of
centralizing control protecting the health of all Vilani women.
(You can bet that in the Third Imperium, some High Law worlds have done this. I’d peg it at Law Level F: “All facets of daily life rigidly controlled.” It’s certainly long past Law Level C: “Unrestricted invasion of personal privacy.”)
Modern environmentalism often aligns with the socialists in modern politics, and, in fact, it has a great deal of overlapping. One thing is common for both of them, and that is a hatred for capitalism. We all have seen how many times proponents of the different environmentalist scares (the ozone hole, global warming, etc.) have admitted that their agenda amounts to nothing [less] than [destruction] of capitalism. There is a good reason for that: They all associate capitalism with freedom of competition, and rightly so. Most of us have this idea that what socialists hate about capitalism is the profits. In reality, what they hate is competition. Environmentalists also hate competition, and there is a philosophical reason for it: if the universe is closed and resources are limited, then pushing one competitor out of the market will mean total control over scarce resources by the successful competitor.
For some reason, I doubt that Soviet Russia was saddened by all the monopoly profits that The People’s Manufacturing Collectives — all Party-owned, and managed by well-paid Party bosses — were reaping.
The problems kicked in when a Soviet Party Boss of two million workers was less wealthy, less comfortable, and has a poorer lifestyle than an American fast-food chain owner of 200 workers…
Now, under the open-universe view of Christianity, competition is not about control over resources; such control is meaningless in a world of constantly increasing productivity where resources play smaller and smaller role – smaller and smaller quantities – in producing more and more output.
Competition is about determining the best possible use of resources, while re-directing inefficient effort to better use. In the simplest terms, if two cobblers make shoes and one makes them faster and at a lower price, the other cobbler is in the wrong business. There is another niche on the market that needs his skills, and shoes are not it.
The closed universe ideology’s hatred of competition is expressed in many different ways, but the two most common today are the fear of free immigration and the fear of free trade. Trade restrictions (tariffs and quotas) have always been justified with “protecting our producers against [unfair] competition.” There is, of course, nothing “unfair” in the [competition] – unfair is only the government compulsion on the consumers to pay higher prices. But closed-universe paganism always sees competition as “unfair,” based on its foundational presuppositions. If you want to understand Donald Trump’s ideas about China and the trade wars, you need to understand that in his mind, there is no such thing as a win-win situation: If China is making profit, then it must be only because America is losing. The way to make America win, we need to make China lose. Zero-sum game is just another logical extension of the zero growth ideology.
Yeah, Marinov went there.
But you knew he’d do that.
Immigration restrictions are, of course, the twin brother of trade restrictions. After all, goods and labor are the two principal economic resources. And just like trade protectionism, immigration restrictions have always been sold as protecting the domestic population against competition. Whether it is competition for [scarce] jobs, or competition for welfare, or political and cultural competition for whose values will control the society, the philosophy behind immigration restrictions have always been one or another version of closed- universe paganism: We just don’t have that many resources for so many people to come and [compete] for them. Thus, immigration restrictions are simply another form of that paganism, together with abortion, socialist control of the economy, and environmentalist zero-growth policies.
When the West was strong and fearless — pre-World War I — there were no need of passports, few taxes, and few regulations.
Now, the godless, aging, fearful, dying West raises walls and rules and controls and gatekeepers in an attempt to kill — or at least delay — the onrushing future.
As a fan of Traveller, I’m on the side of the future.
With the resurgence of the closed-universe paganism, Malthus’s influence on modern politics has increased. Almost solely responsible for the growth of that influence is an American physician and political activist whoise name is not very well-known among the general public, and certainly not among the Christian and conservative public. That is mostly because he is a far left activist, and has kept low profile for the last 50 years. His name is John Tanton, and he has been a devout follower of Thomas Maltus and Margaret Sanger. Tanton is a radical believer in zero growth: so radical, in fact, that in many lectures and articles he has blasted the environmentalist concept of “sustainable growth” as “unrealistic” and “oxymoron.” In his view, no growth is sustainable; only complete stagnation and zero gowth can be sustainable. Tanton started his political activism back in the 1960s, with financial and political support from the billionaire Warren Buffet and a leftist politician, the Democrat Eugene McCarthy. Tanton started with being instrumental in founding and expanding several local chapters for the Sierra Club (a leftist environmental organization) and Planned Parenthood. He also became the president of an organization called Zero Population Growth (it changed its name to Population Connection in 2002): the organization is committed to fight population growth and advocates, US government support for abortion worldwide, sex education in schools, and government population control, including mandatory abortions. In 1979, Tanton left Zero Population Growth and directed some of his effort towards reducing and even stopping immighration to the United States. He started several organizations, with each one desiged to targer a specific niche of the political market – conservatives, liberals, libertarians, socialists, etc. Among his immigration control organizations are the Federation for American Immigration Reform (designed to appeal to the leftist part of the spectrum and the trade unions), NumbersUSA, and Center for Immigration Studies (both designed to appeal to the Christian and conservative part of the spectrum). Those of you who have been immersed in the immigration debate of the last several years, you may remember the “gum-ball illustration” of why immigration is bad. That “illustration” was entirely the work of John Tanton. Tanton also held racist and eugenicist views, and at least for a short time in the 1960s advocated for mass sterilization for certain racial groups based on IQ results. (He stopped using that argument after the 1960s.) His work has been so successful, that he has been able to lure even Christians to abandon their traditional views on population control and immigration, and adopt his pagan worldview. The conservative shift on immigration can be almost entirely ascribed to his efforts.
Vilani noblemen smile most broadly when they can get Solomani Christians to repeat Vilani talking points.
To restore the Gospel preaching in our day, and to restore Christendom, we need to attack paganism in every area. And the paganism of a closed universe is part of it. I know, most of you all still can’t figure out how we are supposed to do that. But give this episode some time to ferment in your minds. You will start seeing the problem more clearly, now that you know of it.
The reading assigned for this week is The Population Bomb by Paul and Anne Ehrlich. This is a book written by our opponents, keep that in mind. It was [published] in 1968 and it [predicted] mass starvation in the world in the 1970s and the 1980s, based on the ideas of the closed-universe paganism of which we talked in this episode. Of course, reading the predictions in the book from the perspective of our rising prosperity today when the wold throws away more food every year than it produced back in 1968 will be a fun experience. But while reading, also pay attention to the worldview behind it. Keep in mind that, at the time, it was powerful enough to shape policies, and continues to shape policies even today, 40 years after the book has been proven to be pure garbage. Never underestimate the power of a worldview, even if that worldview has been proven wrong many times.