I just finished the 3rd book in Asimov's Foundation Series. What a thrill! Here is an author who has written literally hundreds of books and articles spanning fiction and non-fiction. In the first three books of this series there seems to be no lack of imagination in the fusing of a truly immersive world of interplanetary politics, spaceship battles, plot twists, futuristic technology and romance. Overall these stories are delightfully entertaining. It does fall upon my critical nature however to point out the fallacious premises by which Asimov has constructed this technocratic future world. Being the free marketeer that I am it seems only fitting I blurt out the most obvious fallacy immediately.
Before proper analysis of the fallacy however I want to look at what Asimov did brilliantly, which was tell a riveting story while revealing the methods by which a state begins, grows, and controls its population. Not that every facet of such a complex subject is covered, but rather a few plausible excerpts from the playbooks of the elite were used to tell this tale. Religion, trade, war. This guy has got all the basics covered and they serve to truly enhance the realism of this potentially dark future.
In order to avoid giving complete spoilers, I will speak as generally as possible about the overall plot lines.
There exists a universe of planets inhabited by humans collectively known as the Empire since one central government rules. The first book starts just prior to the collapse of the Empire after which chaos ensues and a dark age sets in.
Now call me an intellectual oompa loompa, but it seems to me that if an organization with a monopoly on violence and theft over the entire universe gets eliminated mankind should begin to flourish not decay into a cesspit of moral corruption. If the thief goes away, how does theft increase? If the murder goes away, how does murder increase? It's as if the author believes that the biggest thief is somehow already protecting us from thievery. It's a typical logical inconsistency promulgated by statists. Their views about the state always presuppose its angelic qualities and ability to create desirable social bonds. The exact opposite is true.
If all people are good, we don't need a state. If all people are bad, we can't have a state because the state would inevitably be filled with bad people. If most people are good and only some people are bad, we can't have a state because only bad people would want the power to steal, kidnap, and murder and thus join the state. If most people are bad and only some people are good, we can't have a state because it would still be filled by bad people. There is no logical argument which shows anything good could possibly occur when some people are given the power of life and death over others, and in fact quite the contrary.
The idea that if some people have the moral obligation to take some other people's property, then somehow we get charity, security and virtue. If no one has the moral right to take someone else's property, then we get chaos and destruction or as Asimov paints it - "...a thousand years of darkness..."
It probably shouldn't surprise me by now, just how deep the illusion of statism penetrates even the most agile of intellects. And do not take this the wrong way, Asimov certainly was an intellectually thoughtful writer, I just wish there were more great entertainment out there that didn't involve the worship of politicians. Even though at times I wanted to pull my hair out reading these books, I am going to continue looking past the fallacies in order to enjoy the rest of the series.
p.s. I love Mule, but I don't know why? ;)