Tag Archives: World Government

Science Fiction Today – American Exceptionalism

One of the most American things I've ever seen...

One of the most American things I’ve ever seen… 

Something that has been a big topic this year has been America as a superpower – America the Great, It’s a topic probably in most presidential election years, but especially this year. The idea of American Exceptionalism is old, perhaps, tied up in revolution, manifest destiny, and all the rest; but it is most especially a result of the Cold War, and the need to posture from a position of strength against the USSR.

However, not a lot of Science Fiction includes a strong America. Indeed, often not a lot of nations at all. Sometimes a world government, and sometimes corporations are the new organization of power. Or some of both. Or a breakdown of society after an apocalyptic event. Or a new government arising after such a breakdown, like in The Hunger Games.

The main country I see showing up in a lot of Science Fiction is England, because England prevails. Takes them back to the Blitz I suppose. England just kind of keeps prevailing…

Still, throughout all of that, there’s not a lot of nations in Science Fiction. Instead, it tends to be a view past them, to either a united front or back to smaller and local force. Or perhaps to some form of future Americanization. Where does America go in all of this?

One answer might be that we still kind of see it, see democracy in action, when you get to multi-world governments. Like the Federation in Star Trek or the government on the Citadel in Mass Effect. In those examples, it’s the whole world being represented by the one agency, the one government. The whole human race.

And so maybe that’s the view we should be taking. It’s not about what’s only good for America. Not in the long run. The smaller and more local we’re thinking – even if that’s a nation – the more that we resemble a dystopia. The broader we look, the more we think of the whole world, the whole race – the more that we resemble a utopia.

Advertisements

Science Fiction Today – United Nations

U

The United Nations. If you’re like me, then they are that overarching governing body that you completely forget about most of the time. They have a lot of member states, but do they have a lot of power?

Not necessarily something I need to answer here – because this isn’t about the UN of today. This is about the UN of the future, or whatever we might call the World Government of the future. We normally break things down into Utopia and Dystopia with these posts, but with this there’s also the question of will there or won’t there be World Government one day… In the interest of keeping this short, let’s just explore the good and bad potential of future World Government!

Peace In OUr Times

The ideal of the UN, or any World Government, would be for none of the member states to go to war with each other – and for everyone to be a member state! To be that place of meeting, negotiation, compromise, and arbitration. To solve the world’s problems diplomatically, rather than through other means.

Since this is a political topic, let’s talk politics. Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan talks about the “state of nature,” and how in this state, we would live in

continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Probably the most famous quote of the book and the line that most sums it up. In political science classes in college, we talked about how individuals don’t really live in anything like the “state of nature” in today’s world (YMMV), but in terms of international relations, we kind of do. We have groups banding together, forming groups to intimidate each other and get their way.

In other worlds, World Government could be a force for good, solving this sort of international strife – especially since “international” would no longer have any meaning!

War, huh – What is it Good For?

In science fiction, where we see World Governments are often in situations where what we describe as “the world” has gotten smaller. Maybe it’s an alien invasion, or a zombie apocalypse – something has made it so that everyone who is left has banded together. For instance, you see this in the recent adaptation Dredd, where all the survivors live in a single, walled city. That might be all the government that’s left, but does it count?

Or else, you see a World Government when Earth is only one of many planets that have been colonized (and/or in connection with alien governments), in which case, it’s back to the beginning – instead of nations, planets. Mass Effect might seem great politically… or it might seem like a mess where nobody listens to the humans. It tends towards the latter… And it showed us the Protheans, an Ancient Alien Race who ruled the whole galaxy by empire-building. That’s one way to have a single government… just maybe not the best!

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!