A Brief Note From The Doylist Perspective

So, saw an addition to the verse’ trope page today:

Libertarians In Space: Examined. The central setting, the Empire of the Star, is portrayed as a libertarian Utopia, where respect for liberty and personal choice is balanced by an admirably cheerful general attitude of voluntary civic-mindedness. On the other hand, it’s mentioned that there are plenty of outliers outside Imperial space where a narrow, dog-eat-dog, almost Randian interpretation of self-interest is practiced; it’s implied that these are not nice places to live at all, especially if you can’t afford decent protection services.

Well, now. To pick a nit or two…

While this is generally accurate – in any form of governance, it turns out, people are a problem1 – and while it’s bad form, I’m told, to edit Word of God entries onto one’s own trope page, the author would beg to point out that he believes that the locals (after being provided with the appropriate literature) would probably point out that they are practicing something relatively close to a Randian interpretation of enlightened self-interest, and really, can’t these bloody Earth-monkey [pseudo|anti]-objectivists get anything right? Haven’t they even read Effective Selfishness2 [Aral Harran, pub. 7222, Clue KEW Press]? (Of course, they’d probably interpret that wrong, too.)

1. With apologies to Douglas Adams.

Also 1. If you’re an Imperial libertist, an Earth libertarian, or an anarchist anywhere, you would probably add the corollary that the problem only gets worse if you let people be in charge of things, and also people. If you’re anything else, your mileage may vary.

2. A book which points out, for those who haven’t guessed already, that similar to the alchemy which transforms effective Evil Overlords into mere Unpleasant Accountants, that it’s mathematically demonstrable that you maximize your own personal return through cooperation, niceness, active reciprocal benevolence, and only punishing defectors. That’s optimal selfishness.

Your “nasty defectors” are screwing themselves over by sticking to a particularly idiotic local maximum that’s far, far below this in terms of productivity.

(This is why the typical Imperial critique of people the rest of the galaxy sees as greedy tends to be less “you evil plundering greedheads” and more “man, you suck at greed”.

And now my head is going to be full of Gilea Cheraelar lecturing Donald Trump on how he is basically a complete and utter failure in this respect and a disgrace to the good name of plutarchy, so, um, thanks, brain!)

…There Is Only Awesomeness

So, today I was randomly reminded of In The Grim Darkness Of The Contact Form, and the hypothetical fictional possibilities of a face-off between the Empire and Warhammer 40K’s Imperium of Man, which details I cover there with a note that I can’t really deal with metaphysical mismatches like the wackiness of the Warp.

Well, here’s what occurred to me this morning:

The Tyranid hive mind is known for creating a “shadow in the Warp” that plays merry hell with all psychic communications, Warp travel, Warp-related abilities, and anyone with any sort of psychic sensitivity that happens to be beneath it, which appears to be everyone who isn’t a blank or a Necron.

So, folks: what do you think the Transcend, a hive mind collective consciousness with some additional relevant features, like a core brain the size of a star system and moon-sized local ganglia, looks like in the Warp?

(My take:

Best case, you have a Big Freakin’ Glow in the Warp, which is a lot nicer than the Tyranids’ shadow but which will still interfere with your day and is not to be fucked with.

Worst case (for the existing galactic powers): A weakly godlike superintelligence just got promoted to strongly godlike, and as the Warp’s first Order God/Constructive Power it has issues to raise with absolutely everyone.

We also might have to start calling its part of the galaxy the Eye of Harmony, but I think that name’s been used before…)

 

The End of the Inquirocene Epoch

Bad news, I’m afraid, gentle readers.

…it looks like I’m going to have to start enforcing what I have been ignoring up to now, namely, treating asking questions as the one-per-$-per-month Patreon reward that I declared it to be, rather than as something freely offered when questions are asked.

I don’t really want to do this, as I rather enjoy expounding on little details, and for that matter, it is in some cases useful to explore some worldbuilding edge cases. The trouble is, however, writing up and in some cases figuring those answers requires much the same part of my brain, and for that matter the same part of my motivation, as writing. And thus, answering them, or just having them lying around to be answered, I have noticed, is having a fairly serious adverse impact on the amount of actual writing that I’m able to get done. (Especially since I have a contract job in the early stages which, from past experience, is also something that can impact my writing time.)

So, while not foreclosing the option entirely, this is an attempt to limit the volume to something a little more manageable, or rather something compatible with the fiction that is, after all, the point of the exercise.

I do, of course, continue to welcome your thoughts, speculations, and so forth, in the comments, even if I can’t reply to all of them.

Requesting your understanding,

The Somewhat Frazzled Author

 

Feel Free To Skip: An Election-Time Question Response

How would one, given the current situation on Terra, move humanity towards becoming something more Imperial, and in doing so, not cause massive amounts of death and destruction?

…if I had an answer to that one, I’d be Chairman of the Vanguard Party, not an ‘umble SF author.

(Honestly, if I was feeling all upbeat and hopeful at the moment, I’d say “education, enlightenment – and the Enlightenment – and maybe some voluntary cognitive surgery”.

If I was feeling less serious, I’d go with a Dr. Horrible quote and say “Anarchy – that I run!”

But it’s election season here in These United States, and as I’m unable to escape the spectacle of almost everyone trying to decide whether to kneel before the monochrome authoritarian or the colorful fascist and receive their leavings of the screwing about to be rightfully delivered to the Other-Tribal-Americans, those unspeakable, interchangeable bastards, my opinion of humanity in general is busy experimenting to see if it can find some new depths to sink to, and so I’m going to quote a somewhat different part of the Horrible canon:

Any dolt with half a brain
Can see that humankind has gone insane
To the point where I don’t know
If I’ll upset the status quo
If I throw poison in the water main

Listen close to everybody’s heart
And hear that breaking sound
Hopes and dreams are shattering apart
And crashing to the ground

I cannot believe my eyes
How the world’s filled with filth and lies
But it’s plain to see
Evil inside of me is on the rise

…without the counterpoint.

I might be more than just a little bitter, cynical, and depressively-triggered right now, despite the best efforts of the medications. Ask again later.)

 

A Place Where Renegades Come From

See this?

Sorry, Mark Zuckerberg. Your plan to put an end to disease is a sickeningly bad idea

Well, one place where Renegades come from is when, having read too much of this kind of disgusting ephemeralist agitprop, and noting that advocating for prohibitions or even prohibitionary attitudes on life extension and its related family of technologies amounts to conspiring to murder everyone, forever, they conclude that while it’s not the common interpretation, it’s not really stretching the Right of Common Defense all that far if they go forth into the greater galaxy and cleanse it preemptively of would-be mass-murdering fuckheads, belike.

(While passing sardonic comments about the stubbornness of ephemeralist death-worshippers when it comes to running away from the unbeing they deify.)

 

Question: Good Economics

Out of curiosity, what would be the eldraeic critique of the idea of “Good Economics” as expounded on in the Book of Life, particularly as contrasted with Classical Economics?

(http://www.thebookoflife.org/good-vs-classical-economics/)

It’s a category error, plain and simple. Ironically, a lot of the things they complain about are examples of the exact same category error.

Economics, saith the Academician, is a science. It is to the laws governing utility, value, and exchange-value as physics is to the laws governing gravity, electromagnetism, color, and flavor. It’s a purely descriptive discipline, which is eo ipso amoral, in the same way that while how you use electricity or gravity may involve ethical choices, neither Newton’s nor Faraday’s laws have any ethical significance per se. Is, not ought.

What they’re talking about, with regard to making judgments of worth and dignity and so forth, with regard to what people want, what people want to want, what people ought to want, and what people ought to want, is the province of various other fields, like ethics, and aesthetics, with a side order of culture and religion, and whole bunch of bare-assed personal preferences on the side… exactly none of which goal-driven behaviors are economics, any more than all the ways sophonts have found to move mass and charge around to useful ends are physics, because neither of them talk about goals. They’re about how, not about what.

…and the irony is that when they talk like this:

But if next year, the wrestling society spends a record 11 billion, it is cause for praise: demand is growing, which is always good, irrespective of what it is actually demand for.

“Work is regarded only with respect to its financial status.”

Profit is, too, assessed only in terms of quantity. So long as one stays within the law, classical economics is neutral on the issue of how it is produced. To make profit from running a casino is no more or less admirable, no better or worse, than to make it by designing and constructing  beautiful streets of small houses.

The classical view is neutral about GDP. A society as a whole is assumed to be doing well so long as GDP is growing irrespective of the kinds of activity that lead this to happen. People might be working endless hours, the beauty of the countryside might be despoiled, but all that counts is whether the financial numbers are going up; anything else is irrelevant.

…this is the same category error ascribed to the “classical” side, in which people are assigning ethical and aesthetic qualities to phenomena which no more have them than gravity does. To say that increased demand for X or the greater profitability of Y is good or bad or better or worse in an ethical or aesthetic sense (vis-à-vis a limited utilitarian sense) is the same kind of damn nonsense as saying “more things falling down is (morally) better”.

(Of course, we have the whole mess called normative economics, which an Imperial economist would consider nonsense on stilts.

To such extent as it is merely a discussion of what one ought to want, it isn’t economics, as above. To such extent as it isn’t, it makes about as much sense as writing down your idea for how gravity ought to work and expecting results. You don’t get to have normative views on natural laws unless you’re in the reality-construction business, and if anything, the laws of economics are probably less tractable than those of physics that way.)