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Old 04-11-2016, 05:54 PM   #5
FJCestero's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Charleston SC, USA
Default Re: Socio-Economic Factors Influencing the Last War

Another discussion on the Last War!

Ok, I too have thought on this subject and though there's a lot of overlap, my conclusions are different in some key ways. Therefore I respectfully disagree (on certain parts) and present my own analysis:

Couched in the terms of the original post, the world of the Last War is not a post-scarcity society fighting over resources to feed the nano-factories. The very nature of post-scarcity renders that effort needless: a continents' worth of land can easily support a continents' worth of people and given the weapons of the day, it is far better to invest in what you already have than to risk it all to grab more. Nano-tech plus AI means that the equation of make vs. take swings overwhelmingly in favor of "make".

No. The socio-economic situation of the Last War is far, far worse...

The world of Ogre is a PRE-post-scarcity society. The 'PRE' part is the key. It's not about resources. It's not about technology. If it were any of those things, the Last War would never have been fought at all or it would be far more rational, and ended sooner. No, the Last War is about history, culture,... and human nature. The tragically rational fear that gripes when you see your future being appropriated by others who got there first.

Technology has been shrinking the world and Nano/AI is the last real revolution. Neither technology's promise nor human potential is infinite, at some point they come to an end. And once you can manipulate atoms technology is done. It's only limitations are the physical laws themselves -- and no revolution can change those. And just as the industrial revolution made Western Civilization dominant for centuries, whoever wins this last revolution will dominate for the rest of the foreseeable/theoretical future -- and reshape humanity in their own image. Nanotech is history's end-game, and every cultures' last chance to leave a legacy. Once post-scarcity is realized, the mold is set. Consider:

The Combine views human beings as defined by their economic activity.
The Paneuros believes the individual is a social construct.
The Middle East wants to rule for the glory of god.
China wants its Middle Kingdom back.

Each faction has a broadly different view of what humanity is and what it should be. In a sense there's nothing new here, really. The Last War is a story as old as mankind itself. Yes, the weapons and technology are new, but then, they've always been new. What's different now is the end-game nature of the socio-economic (to which I will add 'cultural') factors.

Of course the particulars of pre-post-scarcity technology just make things even worse: and low-kiloton nukes as common munitions aren't the problem. The problem are those very AI-factories that produce such easy abundance: they break the devastation feedback that normally ensures any war burns itself out like a fever. The real reason WWI ended was because Germany simply collapsed from exhaustion. A similar argument can be made for the Cold War. At some point, a society decides that what they might gain is worth less than what they've already paid. Instead, with nano-factories the war keeps going on and on. You won't even run out of troops. With AIs that 'bake' military expertise right into the hardware, the current age of highly trained professionals once again gives way to Napoleonic armies of mass conscripts. You don't need the cream of your youth to do the fighting, much less the 'Special Forces' types -- you can keep putting below average young men with a few weeks training into battlesuits and ship them off to the front. And the war just goes on and on.

Bad enough? It gets worse. Consider the Final War's omnipresence. Even the "World Wars" of the 20th Century weren't: vast swaths of humanity either sat them out or were involved for appearances sake. The influenza after WWI killed almost as many as the whole Great War. In both cases the worlds' population was greater after than it was at the start: even Hitler and Stalin and Tojo put together couldn't kill people faster than millions of mothers around the world could quietly give birth to more. By contrast the Final War cut the world's population by more than we'll ever really know. And worse it was *everywhere*. No nucleus of civilization to rebuild from, not even romanized barbarians to sweep aside a degenerate Rome and rebuild. No Constantine, no Charlemagne. Nothing except nano-factories nobody left alive understands... and what's worse: no longer need to.

Add to this a cultural ennui that makes the "Lost Generation" of the 1920's look like a joke. If four years of WWI could shatter the "Imperial Arrogance" of the 1910's across a continent, imagine what 20 years with nukes across the world would do. Effectively man devolved to a "magical" existence. Materially and psychologically dependent upon the AI, with no understanding, nor any need to understand. And thus with no hope of ever rising again.

And that brings us to the last and most horrible aspect of the Last War: Unlike every other war, there's no recovering from this one. The mold set by post-scarcity will be that of a crippled humanity.

tl;dr: HeatDeath and I both reverse engineer the length and savagery of the Last War seen in the fluff through technology. Where we differ (IMHO) is that he sees events in terms of a post-scarcity society. I see things in terms of the run-up to post-scarcity, where each part of humanity is vying to shape it, either for dominance or at least to avoid eternal inconsequence. Our fundamental difference (again, IMHO) is that his explanation is too logical, too rational. It makes too much sense to sustain a war of this magnitude for 20 years. But where HeatDeath sees a battle for resources, I see a battle for the future, for legacy. I feel this better explains the savagery of the Last War: technology made it possible, but human nature gave it it's form in the face of a technological 'end of history'.

Last edited by FJCestero; 04-12-2016 at 05:42 PM.
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