Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Political Spectrum: Right vs Left or Citizen vs State?

I have always loved history. In conducting research for the Homeland series, I have had to go back and reexamine some of the things I thought I knew about history, politics, and the way the world works. This post is dedicated to a long-held paradigm that was challenged and ultimately changed by this research.

Conventional wisdom places communism on the extreme left of the political spectrum and fascism on the far right, but is that really true?

I submit that it is not.
The mutual fanatical hatred and savagery toward each other by the Nazis and the Soviets in World War II is usually pointed out as the prime example of the opposing natures of the two systems. But this point of view overlooks the fact that Hitler and Stalin were allies at the outbreak of the war. Stalin watched with glee for years as Germany consumed much of Europe. He even helped, invading Poland from the east shortly after Germany blitzed the country from the west. Those arrangements were made between the two dictators before the first panzer rolled. This mutual admiration society lasted until Adolf screwed his neighbor to the east in 1941 via surprise invasion. Stalin was so shocked by the betrayal of his ‘friend’ that it literally took him days to regain his senses and put up a defense. Thus, the hatred toward the evil fascists was born of betrayal and brutality more than from philosophical differences.

The similarities of communism and fascism are brought into focus when we consider the life at the ground level of each government.
Both fascist and communist regimes have centrally planned economies. Both control the internal movements of their people (papers, please). Both spy on their own citizens. Both have secret police (Gestapo vs KGB) to quell dissent. Both imprison or execute those who dare criticize the regime.  Both have government-controlled healthcare. Both control the media. Both systems claim to promote ‘the greater good for the greater number.’ Both populations live in perpetual fear.

I could go on, but you get the point.

Is life appreciably different for citizens living under these supposedly opposite systems? If you found yourself in 1938 Berlin, would your thank your lucky stars you weren’t living in Stalin’s Russia? Would the opposite be true? The truth is, life under both states would be pretty similar.

In both systems, the rights of the individual are trampled by the needs (or whims) of the all-powerful state. Additionally, said individual has no recourse to correct harm to himself, his rights, or his property. He is powerless to resist, thus the individual has no rights save those arbitrarily granted by the State. It should be noted that what the State giveth, the State also taketh away. As such, communism and fascism are merely different breeds of the same animal. That animal is Statism, also known as collectivism.

When we adjust our view to see fascism and communism less as opposing ideologies and more as estranged siblings, we see that they are just two of the most recent forms of statism to join socialism, despotism, monarchy, and others among the ranks of collectivist systems which crush the individual under the weight of centralized governmental authority.

This is why The United States was designed to be a Republic and not a democracy. Democracy may appear on the surface to be the best defense against State tyranny. In reality, it is also a form of collectivism.

But that is for another post.

This false paradigm may also help explain why many people don't believe their vote matters. If your choices are between two flavors of the same tyranny, how could your vote matter?

Voters sense this false dichotomy at some level, though may not be able to put their finger on why it doesn't make sense. I was in that spot for a long time.

The popularity of candidates like Sanders and Trump demonstrate voters' desire to break free of 'the Establishment' by electing people they see as outsiders. But as long as we are still operating (and voting) under false assumptions, little will change aside from the natural growth of the State.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Martin Paradox: Has G.R.R. Martin Written Himself into a Corner?

I love the Game of Thrones series on HBO. I also enjoyed the books it was based on…mostly (they move painfully slow, but that’s for another time.)

            G.R.R. Martin is five books into his A Song of Ice and Fire series, the first of which was published in 1996. He has since published a new volume every five years or so.

            The TV series began in March of 2010 and is now in its sixth season. Each season roughly follows a book in the series. As a result, plot of the TV show has now caught up with the plot of the books. The sixth book is due this year (maybe). The next book (which I believe is set to be the series finale) will likely be published around 2021.

            So here is Martin’s dilemma:

1.     At this rate, the TV show will be the ultimate spoiler for his last one or two books if they follow the same plot. The remaining books will just be a rehash of the TV show (which would be an interesting reversal of the usual pattern).

So he can’t do that, can he?


2.     If the books follow a different story arc, fans’ heads will explode, the Ice and Fire universe will be torn asunder. I’m talking biblical proportions here: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

So he can’t do that either, can he?



So what is Martin to do?

We'll just have to wait and see. He's a very smart guy. I'm sure he'll figure something out.    


Friday, May 20, 2016


My oldest son, Robbie, and I were recently interviewed by the local NBC TV affiliate to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the University of Tennessee ROTC program.

I graduated from UT ROTC in the 90s and Robbie just finished his freshman year in the same program. It was an honor for us to be asked to speak for this outstanding program and to be a part of its rich history.

This was a great experience for us and we are very thankful for the opportunity to do this as father and son.

Special thanks go out from us to John Becker of WBIR and Lee Dalton of University of Tennessee ROTC.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

New Worlds

     Homeland: Executive Orders, the second installment in the Homeland series is about 50% complete. I originally committed to writing a minimum of three books in the series, so that puts me at the halfway mark for the whole shebang, which means it’s time to start planning the next project. That being said, if Homeland gains a large readership, there will certainly be more than three books.

     Ideas about what to write after the Homeland have been marinating in my mind for a while now. I’ve all but decided that it will be sci-fi. I can’t give much away at this point, but believe it will involve the new Age of Exploration that will ensue once humanity is capable of harvesting the vast resources of the solar system.

     Will we repeat the mistakes of the first Age of Discovery? Will we war over territorial claims and access to vast wealth and resources?
     Or will we all get along and share nature’s bounty as one big human family this time?
     Of course not. What fun would that be?
     In the mean while, here is the trailer for what looks to be a great indie sci-fi movie currently being crowd-funded on indiegogo.com