Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Agenda 21: Buck Williams' Nightmare

Agenda 21, pp. 19-25

Okay, an overview before we proceed to the next chapter. Here's what we know about the future evil society:

  • Most people live in "Planned Communities," which are networks of fairly remote, nominally self-sustaining compounds built around some sort of central governing structure.
  • The people in these compounds produce electricity which is transmitted to that governing structure.
  • As far as we've seen, the Authority employs no mechanized transportation.

Let's add one more bullet point to that list, courtesy of flashback mom:

"We used to be able to listen to the radio, the televisions. Comedy shows. Sitcoms. News programs. Talk radio shows. We had so much to choose from. For a while after the new laws took hold the only thing on the radio or television were speeches by the Authority or music, patriotic music. But eventually even the marching band stopped. It wasn't my favorite music but at least it was something."

Makes sense - we all know how much environmentalists love Souza.

Courtesy of Joebengo/Wikipedia

So there's no more mass media. Presumably the internet is gone as well, though I don't recall this novel ever mentioning computers (which as we'll see later is not the only thing that gives this novel an oddly retro feel). This raises another question: Does the government employ any sort of remote communications technology? If they do, there's no evidence of it. The highest-ranked officials are never seen using telephones, two-way radios or anything else.

What does all of this tell us about this future nightmare scenario, which is intended as a cautionary tale?

1.) After abandoning all known and hypothetical forms of renewable energy in favor of generating power through what amount to giant hamster wheels, the evil future government places those wheels in clusters removed from the places that store the energy. No reason is ever given for this, and it doesn't even make sense in light of anti-environmentalist assumptions (see anti-gay Scott Lively, in his ill-fated gubernatorial run, suggesting that forced urbanization caused by Agenda 21 is the cause of road congestion in Massachusetts). My guess is that the authors were trying to draw some comparison to the relocations of the USSR and PRC.

Here's the problem: Spacing all these compounds apart would require miles and miles of power lines, transformers, and other infrastructure for every Planned Community. Yet again, I don't know who's building or maintaining this infrastructure, but maybe it doesn't matter, because...

2.) Without motorized transportation, there's no easy way to fix any problems that might come up. This society is not wholly without high-speed transportation, but bicycles are the only transportation option available for anyone traveling through the badlands to inspect power lines. Imagine how long it would take to recover from a blackout if the maintenance crews had to travel on foot and had no way to pinpoint what made the grid go down or any means of communicating with each other. Speaking of which...

3.) The lack of remote communication would make it next to impossible to govern the Compounds from a centralized location. This one blew my mind. I honestly kept waiting to see a shortwave radio turn up in some official's office, but it didn't. Government officials actually bring news to the Compounds in person. The only way this makes any sense is if you assume that the Compounds are largely autonomous. Care to wager if the story bears that out?

This whole story is an exercise in absurdity. No part of this evil future society makes any sense - and no, I don't accept "Yeah, those NWO guys sure are dumb, amirite?" as an excuse. This isn't crazy in the sense that it's bad government, it's crazy in the sense that it's impossible government. The bad guys in this novel are trying to run a contemporary society after arbitrarily eliminating any technology or infrastructure that would make running a contemporary society possible. The bad guys are being stupid because authorial politics require them to be stupid.

I swear I'm going to lay off the worldbuilding logic stuff for a while, but look at this. Just look at it. How can you care so little that you miss all of this?

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