Saturday, November 26, 2011
Orson Scott Card's empire
I have been sick and stayed home for a few days, which gave me an opportunity to disconnect from the professional work and read "empire" and its sequel "hidden empire", both by Orson Scott Card, one of the my favorite writers, whose books are always thought provoking. The story is around the 2nd USA civil war, between right and left, where an history professor from Stanford, who dreams about American empire, following the step of the Roman empire, and concludes that like the Roman republic, the American democracy should be eliminated to achieve the empire, thus he orchestrates chaos, civil war, and some other actions, and takes over as an agreed upon president that both democrats and republicans nominate to restore order, later in the second book he takes advantage of a crisis to reshape some of the world and take another step in the empire vision. There are some questions behind the plot - whether the goal justified the means, since many of the book's hero characters, lose their life as a result of some of the actions, whether democracy is indeed a value (and if it is - whether today's political system is really democratic). I think that the clash between the ancient Plato's outlook that the individual exists to serve the society (Orson Scott Card's president is modeled after Plato's philosopher king as he writes in his epilogue to the books), or Aristotle's outlook that puts the individual in the middle and make society as means to serve the individual.
My own observation is that we gradually move from Plato's universe to Aristotle's universe, and that the current young generation puts the individual in the center. Societies of all types (including high-tech companies) will require to adjust to this new world. I have already written about the distinction between these two Greek philosophers, and will revisit this topic again.