Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 8, Authority.

You’ll find the introduction to this series here.

This post looks at Authority.

Most dictionary definitions of authority include references to legitimacy, but modern usage incorporates, and indeed often prefers, the more pejorative definition including the abuse of power. Authority, originally an attribute of tribal leaders, later taken over by various religious organisations, and eventually adopted by the heads of emerging states, was long held to be a unifying and stabilising force within society. Frequent abuse by leaders has, however, reduced the belief in those benefits and brought about many questions relating to its validity. One has only to look at the actions of recent individuals like Donald Trump, Bolsonaro, Putin, and Erdogan, etc., and dictatorial regimes like those in many African countries, China, the military in Myanmar, and religious control in Iran and Saudi Arabia, to understand why the very idea of authority has been brought seriously into question.

So, what might the future hold in this contentious area? In a world in desperate need of unity, if it is to survive the global climate emergency, do you envisage nations cooperating, leaders combining efforts to combat global warming and species extinction? Will your story be a dystopian catastrophe, or a utopian triumph, or a mixture of events and philosophies creating confusion, conflict, collaboration, changing priorities, entrenched politics, and socio-religious tribalism?

Can you see police/military forces siding with those in charge, backing the rebel populations, or simply taking over themselves?

These are all considerations for any author writing fiction set in the future and delving into the topic in their story. What other questions come to mind in pursuing this aspect of our future? Feel free to place them in the comments below.

Part 1, Introduction and Accommodation. Part 2, Activism. Part 3, Advertising. Part 4, Agriculture. Part 5, Artificial Intelligence. Part 6, Animals, as Pets. Part 7, Art.

Research examples:

Future of Working

10 thoughts on “Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 8, Authority.

  1. On our news yesterday it was mentioned that UAE is sending a mission to Mars. The sixth nation to do so! Here we are, moving into space, while completely unable to solve our Earthly woes, most of which are driven by greed and the need to exert control. Next up: how many ways are there to pollute Mars?

    These people will exploit any weakness and I think that their actions are premeditated. I know of no historical example of an authoritarian just falling into it (the exception is being born into it) – there has always been an underlying history pointing to their intentions. I see Trump as a largely instinctive individual who recognised the power gap (his “voiceless, faceless” base) and exploited it to get elected (and to try to stay in office – all dictators say the election is rigged; not very original). This set of circumstances has occurred repeatedly throughout history, indicating that authoritarian types are also catalysts for, or harbingers of, much deeper, unaddressed issues. They are in a sort of death dance with their supporters (and they always have them, certainly at first).

    Trump is a symbol. The question is, of what? One thing I do know is that these underlying issues haven’t gone anywhere, and they will re-surface. So then, this question comes up for me – underneath all the blathering about human rights, democracy, etc., do many of us have a latent desire to just be directed? Don’t have to think; do what you’re told, no decisions to make, so easy …

    Those are the ideas your post prompted. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Lynette. I agree with your comment. And, yes, I believe there is an underlying desire in certain groups of people to have decisions made for them, to have their thinking done for them, to have authoritarian leaders direct them in life. Mostly, this is demonstrated in religion, with the mythical deity designed to give direction. But the very fact that people believe in something like god without evidence, and are encouraged to do so, makes them susceptible to belief in anything without evidence. They are ripe for conversion into any number of belief systems, few of which are good for humanity as a whole. And the fact that the right wing are so ready to exploit this basic human need, and ally themselves with religion at its most extreme, allows the deception to continue and even grow. Capitalism and exploitative religion go hand in hand all over the world, increasing inequality and making that inequality acceptable by spreading the lie that the poor deserve their lot. As long as faith-based education continues, and governments fail to recognise that capitalism is an unsustainable system, we will be faced with authoritarian leaders able to capitalise on the idea of a dream that is an impossibility for most and a nightmare for many.

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    2. Even if ALL the nations in the world are able to send people to another planet, it will be impossible for them to send even a fraction of their population, let alone each and every one. The sooner they realize this reality, the sooner they’ll come to the conclusion that this is their home, so, they better stop polluting.

      I’ve expressed this ‘race to conquer space’ in my books. I sincerely hope people who have the power to something about it, can take evasive actions.

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      1. Overpopulation is another topic I’ll be dealing with later in this series, Asit. And, I agree, space exploration and potential colonisation of other planets is no answer to the problems we face right now on Earth.

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  2. People like Trump have become authoritarian only because of lies propagated by him and sycophants around him have allowed him to do so only because of their selfish greed to hold onto the power themselves.

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    1. Yes, Asit, and those supporters clearly hoped to gain by their unquerstioning help of his dangerous acticities. Men like Trump (they’re almost always men) have a distorted understanding of humanity, seeing the vulnerable aspect and preying on it. There’s a sort of cunning that the ill-educated see as intelligence, and those in power with a vested interest recognise as a potentially winning strategy. None of those involved with the likes of Trump have any interest in the country they pretend to ‘love’. They are all self-absorbed and self-serving. It is mostly the ignorance of the mass of supporters, often a negelcted and unrepresented group of people, who are desperate for some change in their lives, and who look for some other group to blame, who are easy to manipulate by these charlatans. But, for centuries, the needs of so many in society have been either ignored or treated with scant regard that they present a reservoir of resentment ripe for the likes of the Trumps of the world to capitalise upon. I hesitate to say this, but I fear capitalism, especially ill-regulated capitalism, must be held responsible for much of the inequality that causes such dissatisfaction among so many.

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