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Rule in Hell May 29, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in gummint, history, science fiction, writing.
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What triggers a train of thought is never easy to figure out (see the Bizarro cartoon for a possible answer, just not in my case) but I got to thinking about rulers and ruling. Smaller is obviously better when it comes to countries hardly a dot on the google map. Switzerland is a case in point. Crime is low because the population is relatively uniform, although they are polyglots, being sandwiched between larger countries, and there is an inaccessibility that makes invasion difficult (but total destruction simple).

You get to larger countries and the problems expand. Japan is relatively homogeneous in culture and ethnicity and is an island. Bansai, anyone? But they are lacking in natural resources and have to venture outward.

When you move to still larger countries, with more diverse population, ruling gets harder. The US is seeing this, as has much of the larger European countries. We are developing a national police in the TSA (when they patrol proms and put up roadblocks as well as x-ray at airports, this is a national police force) and the commerce clause is erasing state boundary distinctions. But the actual ruling isn’t going too well since we are relatively large. More cameras are needed, more observation, RFIDs and GPS tracking will be necessary for individual citizens, but there has to be a breaking point of technology for such rigid control.

Governing the entire of North America would be even more difficult. The Western Hemisphere even more so. And the world? All those evial baddies who want to rule the world? How would they really accomplish it?

One man rule (monarchy/dictatorship) isn’t possible, not like in the days of slow communication and relatively short reach across the lands. There is too much to do. A Soviet style bureaucracy would have to handle daily regulation. We certainly have that now but it isn’t of a scope that could take in an entire planet. What kind of technology is necessary to keep a monarchy/dictatorship in power, even one with a powerful bureaucracy?

Going a step further, how do you govern two planets? Or a dozen? What would the bureaucracy be like for that? And monarchy/empire isn’t really up to the task if you can’t remember the names of the planets, much less their smaller political parts. Democracy? How do you elect representatives if you have a thousand world alliance? Hegemony? Hanseatic League? Is mutual trade binding them together good enough without an FTC? Courts? Who chooses? How do you choose?

Amazingly fast computers might end up running our galaxy-spanning empire. Who programs them? Heuristic? And what are the basic parameters for the program to begin? Even with instantaneous quantum entangled communication, how long would it take to crush a rebellion? Taxes? Do you have a unified monetary system? Or is it only through trade goods? Welfare? Legal system? What’s fair for a pseudopod might not be fair for a humanoid. And even going to an Asimovian future of only humans in your empire, Hari Seldon’s vision seems myopic. And Jack Williamson’s Humanoids more farsighted.

But I wouldn’t want to live there. I might actually want to go down that tunnel shown below.

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