Well, I intended to keep this blog as a companion piece to the story THE WORST TRADE, but that’s actually pretty difficult to do. What good is any writing if it does not inform and inspire dialogue for the current times? I had a film directing professor who once said that if you are not promoting dialogue, then you are wasting your time. That is the nature of storytelling, something that humans have been doing for ages around the campfires that used to separate us from the animals in the darkness. If you look at Star Trek; what was it that we were experiencing on screen that hooked us so firmly? We were looking at us; the human experience, looking at the human experience through the characterization of alien beings and situations of conflict that reflect our own human experience in those situations. Much like holding a mirror to a mirror and looking into it – that is all we really know.
As the title of this post suggests, I’m thinking about this mirror and drawing upon its use in the book and it’s impact on where we find ourselves in a current reality of surveillance, mistrust, and fear. How did we get here and what can be it’s real purpose? In the story, Eisenhower’s speech that warns about the creation and lasting effect of the Military Industrial Complex is a focused part of the story transition from the 50’s to the modern era of 2013. As well, the Kennedy speech about the danger of secrecy in a democracy is another doorway to the present.. These two items thrust us into the future in the book just as these two items have thrust us into the actual present that we endure right now. I say endure, because it is a condition, and one that is not yet concluded or resolved. Why would any entity want microscopic detail into the lives of all? And when ever in human history has anyone had such a power? Merlin and his handlers, if he had them. could not have imagined such a tool as to be a fly on every wall, on every paper, every text, every street corner, every message, every keystroke, and damn near every thought that anyone has. And when in history has anyone ever had such an omnipotent power that it was respectfully given back to the people and taken out of the hands of those that wield it? Never. Never has that happened in human history. This is what Eisenhower and Kennedy warned about. This is what the Founding Fathers dreaded. It may have been the very thing, attitude, or intent that got Kennedy killed. What does this mean for a sci-fi writer or anyone who dare say “The king has no clothes”? I’m not even sure that anyone outside of my own address book or contact circle is even able to read this. Sounds paranoid? I don’t think so, as that capability now certainly exists. You just have to allow yourself to think like a fiction writer. It can easily go that deep, and we were warned, fairly explicitly as well as evidenced below as excerpts from the real farewell office speech of President Eisenhower and a speech delivered by President Kennedy in 1961 to the national Press Club in New York City. They just don’t make speeches like this anymore. You can ask yourselves why, And always remember – scrutinize with a sharp mind and an open eye.
Eisenhower Farewell Speech Video :16 mins
Kennedy address to the National Press Club – excerpted as in The Worst Trade : 5 mins
Eisenhower – Farewell Speech
“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
“…Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war – as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years – I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight. Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.”
Kennedy – National Press Club – 1961
“The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.
For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.
Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed…”