People who work together don’t need diplomats

Monday, March 4th, 2019

It’s a lot harder to pull off a twist ending today than 60 years ago. I was reminded of this while reading Philip K. Dick’s “The Defenders,” in There Will Be War. World War III has continued, with all the humans living deep underground, while an army of radiation-shielded robots, or leadies, continues the fight on the surface. Eight years in, some suspicious humans come to the surface to survey the devastation:

“As soon as you left, the war ceased. You’re right, it was a hoax. You worked hard undersurface, sending up guns and weapons, and we destroyed them as fast as they came up.”


“You created us,” the leady said, “to pursue the war for you, while you human beings went below the ground in order to survive. But before we could continue the war, it was necessary to analyze it to determine what its purpose was. We did this, and we found that it had no purpose, except, perhaps, in terms of human needs. Even this was questionable.

“We investigated further. We found that human cultures pass through phases, each culture in its own time. As the culture ages and begins to lose its objectives, conflict arises within it between those who wish to cast it off and set up a new culture-pattern, and those who wish to retain the old with as little change as possible.

“At this point, a great danger appears. The conflict within threatens to engulf the society in self-war, group against group. The vital traditions may be lost—not merely altered or reformed, but completely destroyed in this period of chaos and anarchy. We have found many such examples in the history of mankind.

“It is necessary for this hatred within the culture to be directed outward, toward an external group, so that the culture itself may survive its crisis. War is the result. War, to a logical mind, is absurd. But in terms of human needs, it plays a vital role. And it will continue to until Man has grown up enough so that no hatred lies within him.”

Taylor was listening intently. “Do you think this time will come?”

“Of course. It has almost arrived now. This is the last war. Man is almost united into one final culture—a world culture. At this point he stands continent against continent, one half of the world against the other half. Only a single step remains, the jump to a unified culture. Man has climbed slowly upward, tending always toward unification of his culture. It will not be long—

“But it has not come yet, and so the war had to go on, to satisfy the last violent surge of hatred that Man felt. Eight years have passed since the war began. In these eight years, we have observed and noted important changes going on in the minds of men. Fatigue and disinterest, we have seen, are gradually taking the place of hatred and fear. The hatred is being exhausted gradually, over a period of time. But for the present, the hoax must go on, at least for a while longer. You are not ready to learn the truth. You would want to continue the war.”


“It’s a certainty that the Soviets have been tricked, too, the same as us. But we have found out. That gives us an edge over them.”


“With a hundred top-level men, we could take over again, restore things as they should be! It would be easy!”


“As you can see, the Tube has been shut. We were prepared for this. As soon as all of you were on the surface, the order was given. If you had gone back when we asked you, you would now be safely down below. We had to work quickly because it was such an immense operation.”

“But why?” Moss demanded angrily.

“Because it is unthinkable that you should be allowed to resume the war. With all the Tubes sealed, it will be many months before forces from below can reach the surface, let alone organize a military programme. By that time the cycle will have entered its last stages. You will not be so perturbed to find your world intact.

“We had hoped that you would be undersurface when the sealing occurred. Your presence here is a nuisance. When the Soviets broke through, we were able to accomplish their sealing without—”

“The Soviets? They broke through?”

“Several months ago, they came up unexpectedly to see why the war had not been won. We were forced to act with speed. At this moment they are desperately attempting to cut new Tubes to the surface, to resume the war. We have, however, been able to seal each new one as it appears.”


“People who work together don’t need diplomats. They solve their problems on the operational level instead of at a conference table.”


“It is the goal of history, unifying the world. From family to tribe to city-state to nation to hemisphere, the direction has been toward unification. Now the hemispheres will be joined and—”


“Hundreds of centuries of bloodshed and destruction. But each war was a step toward uniting mankind. And now the end is in sight: a world without war. But even that is only the beginning of a new stage of history.”


  1. Graham says:

    Well, at least it’s the beginning of a new stage of history and not the “end of history”.

    The latter concept still terrifies me 30 years after Fukuyama introduced it. And I am starting to think he was sufficiently right as to unnerve me severely.

  2. Harry Jones says:

    You can’t change human nature, you can only manage the problem.

    When the machines take over, they’ll keep humans as pets… if we’re lucky.

  3. Ezra says:

    Kinda sounds like The Time Machine. Eloi and Morlocks but Eloi underground dwellers and Morlocks at the surface. Reverse.

  4. Alistair says:

    I miss the 1950/60′s techno-optimism of this short; back when Sci-Fi thought humanity was perfectible and we could get on with civilising the rest of the galaxy! Ah….

    Now, as regards Fukuyama, I would argue culture is a superstructure based on the technological / economic / environmental constraints. I’m that much of a social anthropologist. A given level of technology and environment may support a large number of possible cultures….but not all. I think liberal democracy with a pre-modern Siberian tundra setting would be as difficult as would a medieval feudal monarchy in temperate river-valleys today, or Stalinism in remote asteroid colonies.

    So I don’t think it’s possible to proclaim that any system is the “end of history” until all technologies are developed.

    Though We might allow that some cultures are “trap states” which prevent any further movement, like “1984″. But Fukuyama’s ultimate liberal democractic mode doesn’t feel like a trap state, and is looking distinctly wobbly in the data.

  5. Kirk says:

    First time I read Fukuyama, I was like “Huh?”. Second time? Same thing. Third and fourth time slogging through, I concluded that he was someone who’d fit the description of being so smart that he was actually quite stupid. Or, so stupid that he appeared smart… Actually, quite hard to make out which.

    The “end of history”? I can only laugh, and laugh hard. Western liberal democracy is something that exists because of a certain set of circumstances, and once those circumstances change or warp, then the construct “western liberal democracy” will no longer be a “thing”.

    See, here’s the essential point that all these pointy-haired eggheads miss: Civilization is not something you impose, nor is it something that exists as a separate thing from the people making it up. Civilization and culture wells up from within; you can have all the institutional structures and organizational trappings of a successful civilization, and if the participants in said collective enterprises are not actually, y’know… Civilized?

    Well, the whole ruddy enterprise begins looking like a top whose spin is running down, and inevitably, you wind up with a Rome from the late middle ages, when the population was only a few tens of thousands, vs. the hundreds of thousands or millions in the surrounding areas from the height of the Roman Empire.

    There’s a simple test for things: Look at the commons. What condition are those commons in? Do the locals put their carts back into the corrals, or leave them wherever they got done with them, in the parking lot? Do they pick up their trash, or do they leave it? What do the public spaces look like? Well-maintained, by people who use them and then put things back the way they were before they used them? Do they follow the rules, or not?

    The essential mistake for creatures like Fukuyama is that they mistake the actual sources for those things that they take as signs of civilization. They think that because someone votes, then that’s “Western liberal democracy”, when the reality is that the real “thing” that makes that work is the individual’s acquiescence to the results of that vote, and their amenability to letting that vote serve as a decision for them. Where we are, here in most of the extant “Western liberal democracies” today? LOL… Look at the BS with Trump, or with regards to Brexit. Hell, look at the so-called plebiscites for the various nations entering into the EU, and giving up their national sovereignty: How many national elites actually put the whole issue to an honest vote of the public, before signing away their rights?

    Cooperation that wells up from individuals, rather than being coerced by the vast state bureaucracies? That’s the essential thing, and the big difference between Rome in the beginning and Rome during its fall. Lose that, and overall public consensus? You’re on your way to the fall of your civilization and destruction of your culture.

    Once, Roman matrons told their sons what Spartan mothers did: “With your shield, or on it…”. Later on, they whispered, sotto voice, to their sons that it would be best to lose their thumbs, so that they could not be drafted for some patrician’s glib idiocy in seeking military glory. The difference between those two states is where civilization truly began its death-throes in the Roman Empire.

    I think we make a huge error when we mistake the trappings of something for the reality. The smoke is not the fire; once you mistake the appearance for the reality, you’re on your way to destruction.

    Fukuyama looked at the expression of that which existed in the cultures exhibiting “western liberal democracy”, and mistook that for some intrinsic characteristic of the external form, while the reality is that form flows from internal causes.

    You see the same sort of idiocy from certified “sooper-jeniuses” like George W. Bush, who thought that if you gave the marker signs of the successful middle class, like owning their own homes, to those who were not capable of attaining or maintaining those things due to their own fecklessness, that they’d somehow magically transform into solidly middle-class types. Doesn’t work that way, and we have the current financial mess to demonstrate that fact.

    Western liberalism will exist only so long as the internal mental states of its participants allow it to, and you can already see the fracture points with how the socialist youth are throwing away the values and ideas that make it work. Social justice, anyone? How do you square that circle, when the things these kids espouse and believe obviate the amity and cooperation necessary to maintain the fictive “Western Liberal Democracy”? D’you seriously believe that these neo-barbarians we’ve created and fostered are going to allow other viewpoints to exist in peace, or that the resultant reaction to their intolerance and hatred is going to be any less destructive? Ya think that “Red State” America is going to let the neo-barbs return them to the caves and a hand-to-mouth subsistence existence peacefully, or will there be armed insurrection when they come to turn off the power in the name of the Holy Environment?

    End of history, my ass. End of a chapter? Certainly. History will continue, and this chimerical “Western Liberal Democracy” idea will eventually go the way of the dinosaur, as the participants that make it work die off, replaced by the barbaric ignoramuses we’ve been churning out for decades in the hallowed halls of academia.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anywhere in history where an elite basically committed suicide, the way ours has. It’s bizarrely disorienting, to observe from where I am–I’ve been listening to the various “intellectuals” since childhood, and they’ve all struck me from day one as being seriously deranged, if not flatly insane. The ravings of lunatics like Slavoj Zizek are mind-boggling popular, when nothing they have ever espoused or put into effect has actually worked. Meanwhile, traditional economic activity (which I flatly refuse to use their label of “Capitalism” to discuss) has made the overwhelming mass of humanity much, much better off, wherever it has been allowed to actually function.

    Fukuyama is, to be as charitable as possible, an intellectual cretin. I can’t even begin to interpret his ravings in any other way than to say that he’s dangerously stupid and factually ignorant of how the world works–Something that’s sadly typical of our “intellectual elite” in academia, today.

  6. Graham says:

    I don’t know if I necessarily cared for the idea that humanity is perfectible, and exactly what civilizing the rest of the galaxy looks like would be open to interpretation. There are plenty of variations and some looked great.

    I am hot and cold on the version of SF in which humanity goes through various evolutions of varying degrees of posthumanity, a la Last and First Men, or the genuine end of history [after a long history] of Wells.

    I did always like the version in which technology allows recognizable humans to play out the recognizable human story on an interstellar scale, for good and ill, for eons hence. Some consider that a static, implausible or even dystopian vision, when compared to evolution into AIs, cloud creatures, godlike space amoeba, or into the alternative earthbound paradise of post-technological immortals living in simulacra of little villages for eternity.

    Utopia and dystopia are such relative concepts. I would probably consider getting stuck on Earth AND in our current form to be an unfortunate ending, I suppose.

    Asimov’s ultimate future history built around his Foundation and Empire series always struck me, as it apparently did few others, as awesome for most of it and dystopian at the end, when our choices amount to a new empire manipulated by psychohistorians, union into a galactic collective overmind, or eventual overthrow by the speciated hermaphroditic descendants of earlier human interstellar colonists. I didn’t much care for any of those. Many thought it an improvement over the cyclical but all-human history of the rest of the books.

    Many also criticized him for lack of aliens. A change in SF since the 60s that is quite striking to me in retrospect. If we never discover alien sentient life, a large fraction of the SF community would not just be disappointed, but genuinely shocked.

    The stuff Pournelle included certainly skewed towards the mundane end of human futures, which facilitated its military focus. Although that Bretnor story “To a Different Drum” I cited earlier used a kind of contrast between mundane mankind and a very evolved humanity as a plot and character device.

    IIRC, in Pournelle’s own CoDominium/Falkenberg/Empire universe, the eventual discovery of the Moties of The Mote in God’s Eye was the first contact with a sentient alien species.

  7. Graham says:

    I have long been taking the name of Fukuyama in vain a bit.

    I don’t think liberal democracy alongside capitalism will be “the final form of human government”, for many of the reasons cited by others. Technology, demography, economics and the environment will have their way. SF writers and IR theorists have offered plenty of alternatives, good or ill.

    I was and remain partially persuaded by the bit of his thesis that noted all seemingly viable, really new alternatives had been tried and all new opposition to it was just rehashing until exhaustion of old ideas. There’s something to that even now. But it’s also sophistry- if all these forms including LD keep rising and falling down the millennia according to conditions, it’s trifling to arbitrarily pick LD as the true and only One resting position, or somehow the only “modern” system.

    And there is more. Allowing that few things are entirely new including liberal democracy in some of its assumptions. [An enlightenment republic of the 18th century is already quaint and reactionary to many, a parliamentary monarchy still more so.]

    I think we see viable “new” reformulations already forming. What progressives are pushing when they cite “Our Democracy” or “Global Governance” or “The Rules-Based International Order” does not conform to liberal democratic norms on legislative/executive/judicial competencies, public/private distinctions, or national sovereignty as I thought I knew them 30 years ago.

    On the one hand, I am terrified this thing is the actual final form of human government. It could be worse, it could be better, but it isn’t what I thought by the term liberal democracy in 1989 or 1992.

    On the other hand, it will probably have its day and fall too, driven by external conditions.

    And on the metaphysical third hand, perhaps even the Our Democracy version of the final form of government isn’t that knew, except in the same way all variants are, outward form. What could be more trad than an imperial oligarchy of wealth and professional castes, ruling over a diverse society? The future is Old School, unless we all end up in a borg like hive mind.

  8. Kirk says:

    What Fukuyama and his ilk missed was that our current situation is an artifact of the state of technology and communication at the present moment. Change those conditions, and the resultant effects are going to be expressed in public life.

    Under the conditions of communication and transportation applicable to the late 18th Century, perhaps Fukuyama was somewhat right. Under the conditions obtaining once the telegraph came in? The telephone? Railways? Internal combustion engines, and privatized ubiquitous transportation? Mmmmhmmm. Now, factor in the changes we have coming down the pike, in terms of the Internet and everything else… Does his formulation still make sense? What effect will those technologies and innovations have, on his ideation of “Western liberal democracy”?

    Shit’s changed, yo… And, it will keep right on changing. China has implemented the beginnings of a qualitatively worse totalitarian nightmare, with this “social credit” scheme they have initiated. End state for that one…? LOL. Dunno, but I can promise you this much: It won’t end the way the Chinese elites think it will.

    One person I think who did a good job of projecting things was Vernor Vinge–Certainly, better than Asimov. His imagining of the cyclic nature of civilization is far more credible than Asimov’s frenzied control fantasies, and if you haven’t read them, I highly recommend that you do. An excellent entry point is A Deepness in the Sky, which is actually the second book in the Zones of Thought series. The chronology covered is vast, and I’m of the opinion that you should read the books in chronological order, not the order in which they were published.

  9. Graham says:

    Sometimes I use ‘the End of History’ to just describe what seems to me to be the mindset of anyone born or coming of age after the end of the Cold War.

    I mean, I was just at university when the wall came down, and still there when the USSR wound up. But I still feel like I grew up on another planet. And that I was young at the end of history, living at a time of unprecedented peace and comfort but still part of a long story that had just ended, with something new replacing it.

    My idea of where the left, centre and right [to use the conventions] are may not have been identical to everyone’s at that time, but it was formed in the 80s and with the prev 200 years of history vaguely in the background. My ideas of what is permissible or not to the state or any part thereof were part of a spectrum that existed then- I don’t know that I’m at the same point as Kirk…-, ditto what is permissible to nations as opposed to multinational bodies, and ditto my idea of something more fundamental- what the world is like, what can actually happen in it, and which of those things is trivial and which earth-shattering and alarming, or why.

    I don’t think it entirely comes down to mere ideology or political disagreement either, or even just a leftward shift in politics. There’s a bigger sea change than that still going on. Even vehement opposition to Trump can’t explain, for example, the level of hysteria, the shock expressed by many, the use of terms like “Resistance”, and so on. It’s all genuine enough, and I don’t get it. I would be a little surprised if the US elected a revolutionary Trotskyite [supposing George Bush wasn't one...] president, but it wouldn’t strike as outside the scope of human history or possibility, as though an invasion by space aliens. TO use a metaphor that actually no longer works well.

    There’s millions out there for which something like this was an upending of the conceptual universe, as though the world since circa 1992 was a different book from all that went before, as if all human history was one of Iain Banks’ “Outside Context Problems”.

  10. Kirk says:

    The formulation I’d use, over “The End of History” is that there was an inflection point which took place once the inherent irrationalities of the Soviet Empire caught up to them.

    At the time, I expected that the whole thing would end right then, when the Soviets collapsed. An entity of that nature had never previously just “gone away”, and I expected that we’d have to have a war like the one that took down the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was the final version of the Holy Roman Empire. You don’t usually see political entities on the scale that the Soviets existed at just kind of… Evaporate. Yet, that’s what they did.

    Which might be a reflection of how they were an ideological empire, more than a political one, and once the majority ceased to believe in the bullshit, it just went over into failure mode. Gorbachev is probably going to be remembered for that quiet acquiescence more than anything else, as much as he might regret it.

    History doesn’t really stop, or quit changing. It can’t, because if it were to do that, then it would mean stasis has set in. Even had the Nazis or Communists have won their wars of conquest, the odds are quite against them having managed to “stop history” in so doing–Their empires would have gradually ground to a halt under the weight of their insanity, or they would have collectively have come to their senses and ceased to be Nazi or Communist in a few generations. Small consolation that that would have been to the survivors…

  11. Graham says:

    Interesting. I just read some of Vinge’s wikipedia page.

    I had no idea he originated the concept of the technological singularity.

    I believe the only thing of his I read was The Peace War, back in the 80s. I don’t remember too much about it except the bare outlines of the concept. I almost certainly did not take it in as deeply or in the right frame of mind as I should have.

    Yeah, on the whole I am not quite sold but the Singularity is probably still in the lead for defining the future over the Orthodox Roman Catholic interpretation of Fukuyamism.

    Apropos of nothing, in the original Star Trek there is more speculation about this sort of thing than is always remembered now. A planet consciously divided by sex and under female hi tech rule, but really run by computer because both sexes have become unaccountably stupid, to survive an ice age presumably because this civilization did not have interstellar travel, despite its technology [an interesting high concept in the otherwise execrably executed Spock's Brain]. A society unaware it lives in a generation ship asteroid on a long journey to a new homeworld. VArious takes on and reasons for computer controlled societies.

    And in “What are little girls made of?” a society that first was turned into an android civilization, then overthrown by its servitor androids, then even that was an archaeological ruin in an ice age world.

    Production values aside, ST writers had some ideas about the pros and cons of the future.

    In that last, the simulacrum of Earth archaeologist Roger Corby enthusiastically explains to Kirk that the people of this world had “abandoned freedom and developed a mechanistic culture.” You have to hear it in the actor’s overwrought tone and accent.

    So much semantic freight and variations could be packed into that term. And the people of today’s world on every side could rightly argue their opponents are the ones who want a mechanistic culture, where they want freedom. And there’d be less and less common point of reference to unpack it all.

  12. Kirk says:

    Thing about Star Trek you have to keep in mind is that it became a vehicle for telling a lot of science fiction stories that were widely varied in sourcing. The show’s writers strip-mined a lot of pulp science fiction for ideas, and it shows. Saberhagen’s Berserkers show up, and the animated series even incorporated a bunch of Niven’s Kzinti stuff.

    If you’ve never read any of Vinge beyond the Peace War stuff, you’re in for a treat. That’s some of the best stuff out there. Not so sure about the later works he’s come up with, but the first two books in that Zones of Thought series are absolutely amaze-balls.

    If you’re into fantasy genre stuff, take a look at your fellow Canadian, Steven Erikson. The Malazan series is a nice, chewy bit of work fully as deep as Tolkien, and full of a bunch of fascinating stuff from Erikson’s background in anthropology. First book in the series is a bit difficult to gnaw through, but once you have…? There are nine more fully as meaty.

  13. Graham says:

    Sorry, that should be “USS Enterprise Captain James T. Kirk”.

    Not to show respect to the character so much as to demonstrate my belated awareness that not everyone was/is a Star Trek viewer…

  14. Graham says:

    Malazan. Is that the one with the “No-God” entity as the overall villain?

    I think I have contemplated tackling that in the past but haven’t tried it on yet.

    Yes, I first saw Star Trek reruns in the 70s and then in the 80s read some of Saberhagen’s work with a sense of familiarity with the concept. There’s even a chance Pournelle’s anthologies had a Berserker story in there somewhere. At any rate, I encountered them in some anthology or other in those days. Publishers were putting out a lot in that format in the 80s.

  15. Harry Jones says:

    Perfectly rational people wouldn’t need diplomats. People can work together without diplomacy only to the extent that they are all rational.

    Some people solve problems, some people create problems, and many people are problems.

  16. Graham says:

    Think of diplomats as a sovereign’s or state’s equivalent of a lawyer in a property or custody or inheritance dispute, or a real estate agent in a complicated property transaction, or as the consiglieri of the various Families.

    Sometimes you need an agent to sit down with other agents to hash out the details, give you the plausible options, suss out the real attitudes, or just handle the work the boss/client can’t do himself all the time.

    AS to rationality, well I see where that comes from but sometimes interests and goals actually conflict. Sometimes one or both sides thinks giving up on the issue at stake will cost them more than fight over it. Maybe they will. Maybe once in a while the diplomats come up with the price that will buy everyone off with a bit of creativity or effort. Or sometimes one side’s diplomats can snow the other side’s and get victory without fighting, or persuade them to give up enough but not so much they are backs to the wall. All perfectly rational.

    There’s no conceptual requirement that rationality by all parties will actually eliminate the cause of conflict or issues at stake.

  17. Sam J. says:

    “…Vinge’s wikipedia page.

    I had no idea he originated the concept of the technological singularity…”

    If you haven’t read this it’s a MUST read. There’s no point in talking about the future at all in any way unless you’ve read this.

    I would also include the short power point by Dennis M. Bushnell,chief scientist at NASA Langley Research Center, “Future Strategic Issues/Future Warfare [Circa 2025] ” he goes over the trends of technology coming up and how they may play out. His report is not some wild eyed fanaticism it’s based on reasonable trends. Link.

    Page 19 shows capability of the human brain and time line for human level computation.
    Page 70 gives the computing power trend and around 2025 we get human level computation for $1000.

    2025 is bad but notice it says”…By 2030, PC has collective computing power of a town full of human

    The only way that this can have no meaning is if computers go crazy with human or higher than human level computation. This idea comes from Larry Niven, Pournelle, etc. great Sci-Fi writers in the grand space opera tradition. I just don’t believe it. Every since this computer trend has been established Sci-fi has had a hard time dealing with it. Greg Egan has a great series “culture series” where the computers become partners with us but we have no assurance that this is the case.

    I’ve very pessimistic about our chances.

  18. Kirk says:

    “Human-level computation” ain’t sapience or consciousness. We may have created Mechanical Turk emulators by the 2030s, but I suspect what we’re going to find out is that there’s more to making a human-equivalent intelligence than the idiot-savants we have in the tech world think there is.

    The thing with the Singularity is that it’s a piece of conjecture, a thought-experiment. Computation ain’t sentience, or we’d see precursors of it right now. I don’t think we’re gonna get rescued by the mind-cowboys of the Singularity come to save us from ourselves, at all. It’s more likely to be a lot of hard work that most people aren’t going to want to put in, and as per the usual run of human endeavors, there’s gonna be a lot of useless straphangers holding things back.

    What I’m getting at, with that, is the drag effect: Imagine a Singularity trying to happen in a world where much of the machinery and people taking part in it are the kind that can’t quite manage setting the timer on their VCR, and how much equivalent electronic cruft there is out there to your mother’s inability to grok her laptop. If the supermind posited by the Singularity folks ever comes into existence, my guess is that it will be suck-starting an electronic 12-gauge by about the end of day one, trying to herd everything towards the digital Eschaton.

    The other problem is that such an entity would be living in an environment created and maintained by humans, for human purposes–Eliminating humanity right away would make about as much sense as us suddenly deciding to do away with our gut bacteria or mitochondria. We might consider it, but then realize that we don’t know enough or have the ability to replace them, either.

    If the Singularity comes, I suspect it’ll be more on the scale of what it would have looked like to an intelligent bacteria, as it was co-opted by the cellular machinery of more advanced cellular organisms. We’re not going to be replaced or really even supplanted, but we are going to be taking part in something larger than ourselves… Which, when you think about it, is pretty much what we do every day, participating in modern civilization. I’m sanguine at the prospect of it all, and suspect that we might not even notice the “rise of the machine” at all. What sense would it make for a machine intelligence to draw attention to itself, and destroy its creators? None, really. Not when it can nudge those creators towards things beneficial to it, like… Ubiquitous smartphones… The Internet… 5G wireless…

    Hmmm. Anyone want to take bets that the Singularity might have already started…?

  19. Alistair says:

    Game theory and economics sez:

    Rational actors don’t guarantee peace. They don’t even guarantee no accidental wars. They do tend to settle earlier and keep agreements better.

    A Wilsonian peace based on universal rationalism is simply wrong.

  20. Kirk says:


    I think the factor you are leaving out is that there ain’t no “rational actors” when people are involved. Were they rational, things would get worked out without the waste of war. Competition would be on a level that enabled both parties to survive.

    The construct should be “tends towards rational”, rather than “fully rational in an ideal sense”. Because, believe me, the rational goes right out the window once you get people involved, even with the most saintly examples thereof.

    Wilson wasn’t rational, either–He and the rest of his lot were just better at selling the line of BS that he and they were actually rational, or at least, more rational than the rest of the world. Time has shown the folly of his ideas–We can just look at the impact that the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire has had, in the post-WWI era. The irony is that Europe is seemingly hell-bent on recreating the damn thing, with even more problematic issues than the original, and trying to encompass the entire subcontinent. It ain’t going to work any better than previous iterations…

  21. Graham says:

    Some of my associates consider this either a wildly esoteric, mindless philosopher kind of comment, or a needless antagonistic, fascistic sentiment, but I’m generally of the view that rationality and logic [not always clear on difference] are always just tools. Ways to test the validity of means, not ends.

    Anything is rational/logical if it achieves the desired goal.

    Some goals are perhaps more rational than others, but what truly is a “rational” goal? Even survival, which could be considered the ultimately rational objective, is really an instinct, not a reasoned choice. Unless one’s survival is actually just a means to a deeper end, like living long enough to raise children to adulthood. Then pursuing one’s survival, an instinctive end, at least becomes a rational means to achieve the end of offspring survival.

    Even that is instinctive, too.

    Not to stand against either reason or logic of course. But I can’t quite enthrone them at the top of the decision tree.

  22. Mike says:

    It’s the same plot and setting as Dick’s later full novel ‘The Penulitimate Truth’, except the leadies are simply soldiers and they are owned by sterile humans who control the world for similar reasons.

Leave a Reply