Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Own Worst Enemy

NPR had a story this morning on the dark and bloody history of nutmeg. Along with some culinary commentary, it detailed how the Dutch committed a massive genocide in their pursuit of profit from this seemingly inoffensive seed. No cause, it seems, is to trivial to provide an excuse for genocide.

When we create monsters for science fiction or fantasy, it's wise to remember that they are all images of ourselves - we really can't imagine anything worse. That said, there do seem to be a lot of admirable aspects to our character as well. So it's only logical, I say, to try to organize ourselves so as to maximize the "better angels of our nature" as Lincoln put it.

So what do we know about how to do that? Capitalism and Republican government? Those Dutch merchants of death were pioneers in both. Socialism? Can we forget it's incomparably more bloody history in the last century? Appeals to magical realism in either flavor will hardly cut it.

There are trends, though. Genocide has a bad reputation in the world today, despite a few obnoxious exceptions.