How to get people today to adopt sound reforms?
That is the question many concerned people ask themselves as they try to develop and sell reforms that would actually work
People today are distracted by many entertainments. Many consider politics a form of entertainment, and show this by electing entertainers to high office, usually on promises to “do something” they cannot possibly do, or that would have bad outcomes if they did. Proposals for sound reforms are drowned out by a flood of unsound proposals. Everyone tries to put forward his own, and most don’t have a clue how to do it, nor does the public have a clue how to select the better ones.
In the past the main vehicles for reform were long treatises. We have many of them online in our Liberty Library. We don’t see many such treatises being written today, because people don’t read them. Not many people read those past treatises, except for a few students and scholars. Our website, can be considered a kind of modern treatise, a compilation of many articles on many subjects, but most visitors seem to go to particular pages based on web searches, and no further. Attention spans seem to be limited to a few hundred words at a time, or 140 characters.
But this is not a litany of alarm. I and others have done that elsewhere. This is to explain a way I have tried to solve the problem.
The way is a novel, now completed, I have spent the last three years writing.
A new kind of hero must set history on a different course to save Earth from destruction almost a thousand years in the future.
In planning the novel I first had to identify a single wrong turn in history that, had it been taken differently, history might have taken a much better course. There are many wrong turns in history. Some are more critical than others, and some occurred during periods where taking a different turn might have had a more lasting effect. Most situations requiring reform are the result of historical wrong turns, and most reforms are attempts to correct the historical mistake.
One wrong turn turn stood out. The Battle of Evesham on August 4, 1265, when royalist forces led by Prince Edward, later to become Edward I, slaughtered Earl Simon de Montfort and most of his reformist followers. A faction of English and Welsh barons, led by Simon, had seized control of King Henry III and established the first English parliament at Oxford, to which commons could elect representatives. Although weak parliaments continued to be held thereafter, centuries of civil war among claimants to the English throne retarded progress of England through what would otherwise have been an earlier flowering of the Renaissance and the industrial revolution in the British Isles, by involving merchants and craftsmen in the making of law. It is plausible that Evesham set back human progress by perhaps 400-500 years at a critical stage in progress in Europe, that might have accelerated if the Montfortean reforms had become established in 1265.
The late 13th and early 14th century also presented many opportunities for reform. The Roman Catholic Church was without a pope and its cardinals could not agree on a successor. The Holy Roman Empire was without an emperor, and its electors also could also not agree on a successor. Northern European lands were experimenting with various reforms. Spain and Portugal had established early parliaments, each called a cortes, to which commons could elect representatives. Venice, Florence, and Genoa experimented with republican government using random selection. The Egyptian Emir, Baibars, swept across the Holy Land, driving out Christians and Jews and consolidating Arab control of the region for the next 800 years. The Mongols were destroying the lands in the Caucasus region, and also conquering what later came to be called China, but were temporarily set back by deaths of some of its leaders. The Persian llkhan had conquered Baghdad and killed most of its people. The peoples of the Indian subcontinent were at war in ways that presented opportunities. The Aztec and Inca empires had not yet emerged in the New World.
The situation presented an opportunity for an enlightened, gentle military leader, based in the British Isles, to put the stamp of her personality on most of the world, as had not been done since Alexander. After some deliberation, I concluded this could only be done by an extraordinary young woman who was formidable both in personal combat and as the head of military forces intensely devoted to her. She had to have superior abilities, not superhuman, just superior. Not only as a leader, but as a charmer. I have known such women, perhaps none as intelligent as our Ariel, but serene, regal, beautiful, and professional.
If we examine most examples of science fiction today, most of the leading characters, such as the crew of the Starflight Enterprise, are regularly exercising abilities far beyond the reach of someone with an IQ of less than 200. They might claim not to be genetically enhanced, but they would have to be to do what they do.
So what are the biological limits on how much intelligence the human brain can achieve? I examined the abilities demonstrated by savants on specialized problems, then extrapolated them to the brain as a whole, and to a full array of problems. I came up with a functional IQ about 5 times that of unenhanced humans. This is not the extravagant intellectual power of a Lucy, which is not plausible. However, the motivations of the character are plausible. It is considered standard plot design to give heroes flaws or weaknesses. Ariel has no flaws. like many of the women I have known on whom she is modeled. She does have weaknesses, mainly arising from her love for others, but we see in Chapter 25 what happens to a villain who tries to exploit it. Unlike conquerors of the past, Ariel loves deeply. It is what motivates her.
On the whole, the enhancements made are essentially those that might be made by progress in human genetic design and market demands for them that can be expected during the next 200 years. They are a break in 1224 (when Rebecca was conceived), but not in the larger course of human history. Our novel merely moves the progress ahead by a few centuries, leaving readers to consider how to deal with it.
She also knows how to have fun. From sex to music and other arts. She can learn a new language in a few days. She admires her Jewish tradition as an art form, not because she accepts the faith, like many of my Jewish friends. She laughs easily, and has a wicked sense of humor.
It would not have done to merely introduce supremely talented individuals before the battle. They needed to know things they could not know. That meant finding a way to get information from the future, and the obvious solution was from a future human. But I needed to introduce a plausible way to do that.
Modern physical theory provides a possibility. It posits that if a stable wormhole could be created and maintained, and one end accelerated at nearly the speed of light for long enough, the ends of the wormhole could be separated in time, with one end in the past and the other in the future. The past end could be left in the past for use of a future individual. A stable wormhole would be unlikely to be wide enough to permit passage of even a single subatomic particle or photon. However, it might enable a telepathic connection between the two ends. For that I posited that what we call telepathy is a kind of quantum entanglement, and that human brain functions are themselves a kind of quantum entanglement between parts of the brain. Much of mental capacity can be explained that way. I have also regularly experienced telepathy, so can testify to the reality of the phenomenon.
Information, in the physics sense, is conserved, so that no information can be transferred between past and future without an equal exchange in the opposite direction. Quantum entanglement avoids the problem, because within a quantum entangled system there is no real transmission of information. Within or between minds information exists everywhere at once, without being transmitted. It is a theoretic leap to posit enablement of this connection through a wormhole, but not implausible based on present theory. It makes a convenient plot device for this story.
The awareness (not “information”) conveyed could not require the 13th century young people to recreate industrial civilization within a single year. They had to build on what was available in 1264. Fortunately, that foundation did exist then, mainly in Northern England, with clever action on the part of our Three recipients of future knowledge. Such a thing could not have been done sooner, or done anywhere else. With their new awareness, it was just barely barely possible to create and use the needed weapons in the time available.
The Three could have intercepted the royalists somewhere else than at Evesham, but Evesham was the perfect spot. It had a hill for artillery emplacement. The royalist forces could be expected to form themselves in the same arrays used in the other timeline, making them vulnerable to bombardment. That presented the Three with an opportunity to not only defeat the royalists, but to crush them, as they had not been following their defeat at Lewes. The royalists had to be defeated so thoroughly that they could never make a comeback. In 1265 the royalists were on the ascendant, for reasons that would survive a battlefield defeat.
When Ariel saw that not all the royalist leaders were killed, she sallied forth to finish them off. They could have surrendered, but were unlikely to do so to a single knight. That gave her the warrant to kill them all.
That still left the problem of the king. Prince Edward was mortally wounded by the barrage, but the king had to die of an accident, so the reformists could not be accused of regicide. Dragging the king by his stirrup through the battlefield accomplished that. That left the realm without a king, and since Simon did not want to assume the position, there was an opportunity to replace the monarchy with a republic. The main other plausible claimant to the throne was Simon’s son Harry, as he king’s nephew, who also didn’t want the job.
That situation opened the way for the Three to introduce a new Constitution, Bill of Rights, Rules of Order, and other reforms, which they do at the banquet following the battle, in the form of printed booklets using their new printing presses. In accepting them Simon lent his support for adopting them, and that brought the consent of others among the reformers and the nobility (whose privileges were not divested). Once land was granted to the farmers who worked it, there was no going back to the old feudal system most of them knew.
It would not work to make the rest of the novel a manual on the governing documents. That would lose the readers. The relevant elements could be woven into the narrative at various points as the drama permitted, leaving the documents to appendices for those who might want to read further.
If Britain had become a merchant republic in 1265, like Venice, Genoa, the Netherlands, or Portugal, It would very likely have explored, and discovered both the New World and the way around Africa to India. If so, it would have displaced Spain, Portugal, and the Dutch as exploring and colonizing powers, especially if it had first incorporated northern European lands, perhaps including the Netherlands. If this had occurred under thew enlightened leadership of someone like Ariel, those colonies would have been quickly incorporated into a British Federal republic as new states, thereby extending the federal union to most of the world. The Union Constitution provides for that.
It would also work if Ariel continued to lead it, not as a public figure, which her own Constitution would not enable, but as the head of a system of private foundations that control most of the wealth of the world, if she lived a long time, and had fellow descendants of her mother to whom she could delegate authority. Unlike Alexander, she does live a long time, and her relatives are worthy successors. Although the army and navy are nominally under the authority of the Union, in fact they are private, under the personal command of Ariel and Harry (mostly Ariel in practice). That would give her a free hand in putting her stamp on the world under her control.
It is also a plot element that her relatives, the Rebecchim, are not only intellectually superior, but also morally superior. This posits the controversial premise that moral behavior is mostly genetic, which is supported by many breeding experiments. It is not just the result of nurture or accident. None of her family are corrupt or abusive of their power. All are willing to lead austere personal lives, and avoid the trappings of personal wealth. They also thereby set an example for nonenhanced people. This eventually dominates custom and standards of proper private and public behavior, contrary to natural tendencies to acquire and display wealth. Wealthy persons are encouraged to form new charitable foundations, which include churches, universities, and medical institutions.
It is important that despite Ariel’s prowess in personal combat, and that she often leads from the front, in most conflicts she directs strategy and tactics, and manages logistics, so that her forces always have what they need, and always know precisely what to do in every situation. They are trained to improvise and use a chain of command to replace fallen officers. Most are trained in multiple skills so they can fill in when necessary. Like modern armies.
So world government would not be achieved by a UN acquiring the powers of government, but by the spread of a federal union to include ever more lands until it included most of them. More of a voluntary imperial process. Not of conquest or oppression, but of investment and trade. Nations join the federal union when they are ready. Nations don’t join before they are ready. Some never do. It is a patient diffusion process, much of it cultural.
Not provided is a technical solution to how to divert Wayward (or the Earth) to avoid a collision. Collisions with Earth are an old trope in science fiction. Usually if the other planet is almost the size of Earth no attempt is made to divert it. Yet our future correspondent Andra said the Wayward aliens had found a way to do it two hundred years before Andra arrived, but too late to use it, so they evacuated. They provided a general outline of the method, involving the diversion of seven Oort Cloud objects, but no details, so Andra could only convey that, and leave it to future humans to work it out. That meant that within 800 years humanity had to develop the technical means, and discover the Wayward World. In 1265 humanity had a head start, and could do it, but there were also natural disasters to get around.
I posit the natural disasters to have been eruption of the two major supervolcanos, Yellowstone and Campo Fliegre, which I had go off within a few years of each other. I considered an asteroid impact, but I needed something more manageable with preparation, which consisted to getting everyone to build survival shelters in their homes, sufficient to enable most of them to survive the events.
I also considered the singularity problem. In Andra’s timeline the machines took over all production, and having no more use for human labor, relegated humans to live 19th century wilderness lifestyles, with limited resources. There was no war with the machines. Only a loss of control, followed by benign neglect that would eventually lead to slow extinction. In Ariel’s timeline, the now genetically enhanced humans were able to maintain control, which they would not have otherwise been able to do. Their minds were so advanced that passage through the singularity without being pushed aside was possible. That is a long conjecture, but is needed to make the book work.
There is mention of alien outposts on Earth, which evacuated Earth, other than that they may have helped the Waywardians genetically enhance some humans. Providing the motivation for the Waywardians to help the humans was more complicated. That turned out to be a scientific experiment which would test the possible effects of using their wormhole to set past humans on a course to save the Earth.
There are no exotic technologies. No FTL drives. No transporters. No planetary tractor beams. No force shields, Just advanced versions of what we have now, or can expect to develop within a few hundred years. The Oort Cloud objects are diverted using standard gravitational slingshot methods, taking advantage of there being seven such objects in just the right places. The diversion devices are straightforward lasers. Just very powerful ones, enough to burn jets of plasma in the sides of plutoids to provide the gentle nudges of them in the desired directions.
The theory of the wormhole blast upon recombining the two ends is plausible. Accelerating one end would have resulted in a buildup of a great deal of energy, released when the wormhole collapses.
All that having been said, what can we learn from other attempts to deliver political reform ideas through fiction.
The Bible itself, especially the Book of Deuteronomy, is largely a litany of early Jewish law. It has been described as the Hebrew Constitution, although elements of the fundamental laws are found in other books. It is more history, or told that way, but in that resembles a work of alternative science fiction. But it is not fiction as we understand it.
The next example might be Utopia, by Thomas More (1516). Not fiction, but a satirical analysis, with a depiction of a reformed society.
There are two Wikipedia articles, Social science fiction and Political ideas in science fiction that explore the use of science fiction to deliver political ideas. Alternative history is one of the genres used.
One of the works not discussed in these articles is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, which is not great science fiction, but presented her philosophy of objectivism in a novel form, mainly as a set of attitudes voiced by her characters. No propositional content, or programmatic reforms. It has become a cult classic, despite its shortcomings.
Normally, the action of such a novel would be carried by dialog, but a 90000 word limit makes that infeasible, which is about the limit of a novel that could be converted into a screenplay for a two-hour movie. Of course, it could be more than one screenplay, or a television series. In which case the narrative track would provide the framework for a series of dialogs. The reader should read the novel with that in mind. I have provided enough dialog to tie the narratives together. If that is not enough I can rewrite. One-off publishing makes it easy to put out new editions.