View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:19 pm



Reply to topic  [ 7 posts ] 
Society and Force (split topic) 
Author Message
Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 1024
Post Society and Force (split topic)
This might be a good time to bring up something Heinlein wondered about for which I have found no resolution in the correspondence. On several occasions he mused through his fingers about wondering whether a technological civilization could be maintained at all without some degree of force.

I think about this periodically but can't get a handle on it. What is it about a technological civilization that especially requires force?

There is probably a simple and obvious response to this that just doesn't occur to me because of my own orientation.


Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:23 pm
Profile
PITA Bred
User avatar

Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:17 pm
Posts: 2401
Location: The Quiet Earth
Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
This probably warrants a new thread. IMVHO.

My first kick around the block ranges from...

"technology multiplies the capability of the individual, necessitating more social/governmental force to hold things in check"

to...

The argument is specious. That is, every type of civilization requires some amount of collective force from the thugs in charge that is greater than any one individual. The multiplier may simply be greater in a technological society.

_________________
"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:32 pm
Profile

Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:40 pm
Posts: 540
Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
Bill Patterson wrote:
What is it about a technological civilization that especially requires force?


Just guessing here . . .

A technological society emphasizes the differences between the technologically capable and those who aren't (what did Lazarus's notebooks say about those who couldn't cope with math, something about friendly idiots who could be trained not to make messes in the house???)

As the divide between the two groups grows, will force (at some point) be required to keep the innumerates in line???


Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:28 pm
Profile
Heinlein Nexus
User avatar

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:10 am
Posts: 2232
Location: Pacific NorthWest
Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
The assertion is ambiguous enough to be worthy of an Ericsonian hypnotist. I find myself unable to speculate on it without some clarification of what is meant by "technological society", "maintained", and "force".

No, I'm not being deliberately cute. Is a technological society one that uses technology, if so, when did it start, with the agrarian revolution, the industrial revolution, the information revolution, or at some point in the future when individuals have the ability to destroy civilization through widespread availability of devices such as genetic synthesizers (we're nearly there, the code for the Ebola virus is freely downloadable today)? Or does it mean a society that is focused more on technology than, say, social issues, like we were in the fifties when your average American boy had posters of rockets adorning his bedroom? Does "maintained" mean "kept from destroying itself" or "keeping the established system of government in place" or "kept from turning into a non-technological society"? Is the force military, judicial, legislative, economic, or psychological, and is it applied overtly or covertly, and directed by the government or a private entity? If a democracy or a republic votes for the force by a majority, does it still count?

Visions of "Brazil", "Blade Runner", "THX1138", and "Minority Report" dance through my head. I have no idea where to start.


Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:43 am
Profile WWW
Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 1024
Post Heinlein vs Rand
James Gifford wrote:
This probably warrants a new thread. IMVHO.

My first kick around the block ranges from...

"technology multiplies the capability of the individual, necessitating more social/governmental force to hold things in check"

to...

The argument is specious. That is, every type of civilization requires some amount of collective force from the thugs in charge that is greater than any one individual. The multiplier may simply be greater in a technological society.

This is not obvious to me. Could you explain (unpack) your thinking on "...every type of civilization requires some amount of collective force from the thugs in charge that is greater than any one individual."? Since Heinlein's comment was discussing the inadequacies, in his view of standard anarchist theory, let's omit the normal collective activity allowed by that theory (i.e., specific contracts among groups of individuals) and force that is retaliatory rather than aggressive -- i.e., a forceful response to force brought against the individual (or fraud). Does your thinking rely on these exceptions? I would probably admit those exceptions. What I'm really looking for is why is it necessary for "collective force from the thugs in charge" to be brought to bear on individual activity in order for a civilization to flourish?


Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:20 am
Profile
Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 1024
Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
Peter Scott wrote:
The assertion is ambiguous enough to be worthy of an Ericsonian hypnotist. I find myself unable to speculate on it without some clarification of what is meant by "technological society", "maintained", and "force".

No, I'm not being deliberately cute. Is a technological society one that uses technology, if so, when did it start, with the agrarian revolution, the industrial revolution, the information revolution, or at some point in the future when individuals have the ability to destroy civilization through widespread availability of devices such as genetic synthesizers (we're nearly there, the code for the Ebola virus is freely downloadable today)? Or does it mean a society that is focused more on technology than, say, social issues, like we were in the fifties when your average American boy had posters of rockets adorning his bedroom? Does "maintained" mean "kept from destroying itself" or "keeping the established system of government in place" or "kept from turning into a non-technological society"? Is the force military, judicial, legislative, economic, or psychological, and is it applied overtly or covertly, and directed by the government or a private entity? If a democracy or a republic votes for the force by a majority, does it still count?

Visions of "Brazil", "Blade Runner", "THX1138", and "Minority Report" dance through my head. I have no idea where to start.

Well, as you can imagine, Heinlein's passing comments in letters over 20-25 years never defined these issues. But the comments seemed to me to wonder if the kind and level of society we have now could be maintained without this rather vague and undefined "force." I took a stab at placing some reasonable boundaries on the discussion of force in the reply to Jim.


Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:23 am
Profile
Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 1024
Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
Let me add a qualification here. I think the "technological civilization" of Heinlein's comments might have been intended to create an exception to the anthropological field studies of the Bushmen that started appearing in the 1950's. These studies created a challenge to the Hobbes fallacy ("Life in the state of nature is poor, nasty, brutish, and short"), because the studies revealed societies with some very desirable features -- an average individual working day less than 2 hours, a strong social and family structure, tolerance of individual eccentricity and personal freedom beyond anything observed in even the most liberal modern societies, near-total absence of stress-related diseases. This lifestyle is a direct descendant of the lifestyle for which Homo evolved, adapted for extremely harsh conditions.

(Parenthetically, they also posed a problem in wondering why hunter-gatherers adopted city living at all; the answer to that conundrum was that they were rationally trading freedom and leisure for certainty: food is much more abundant with a civil lifestyle, so you are no longer tied to the luck of what you can find in any given day).

So the way Heinlein formulated his comment avoids becoming embroiled in this particular discussion and assumes as a given that we have already made the choice to trade personal freedom for lifestyle benefits.


Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:38 am
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 7 posts ] 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF