Not creepy social experimentation, *the* feudalistic space opera, and guilds
The emergence of spontaneous order (Panarchy)
Individuals, from infants to old people, resent or fail to show any interest in anything initially presented to them through discipline, regulation or instruction which is another aspect of authority…Even temptation, the gentlest form of compulsion, does not work because human beings, even children, recognize carrots for what they ultimately mean; we have at least progressed beyond the donkey!No, not Hayek, a bunch of physicians – same era, though
This comes from a report (Biologists in search of material, 1938) that summarized the findings of a social investigation “designed to determine whether people as a whole would, given the opportunity, take a vested interest in their own health and fitness and expend effort to maintain it” (the Peckham Experiment). The report was even covered in the prestigious Nature magazine.
I am a fan of the novel (of the dabbler kind, not a balls-out groupie) and hinted at it some time ago (the title of this comes from a Dune character, smuggler Tuek. Since I feel I have to explain it, the reference was either brilliantly subtle, or just lame).
It contains more than a few pop-culture icons (and the inspiration for others), like the Sandworms, the stillsuits, the CHOAM, the Sardaukar and so on. Plus, a Greek staple: House Atreides, supposedly tracing back to this family, the source of Oresteia.
Will Denis Villeneuve Capture the Greatness of Dune? (National Review)
Dune Foresaw—and Influenced—Half a Century of Global Conflict (Wired)
The author, Frank Herbert, had one thing or two to say about Big Government, but my favorite is an inscription at the Emperor’s Palace, in the city of Corrinth (which gets its name from the ruling House Corrino, but also vaguely reminds of another Greek word). I still ponder its meaning:
Law is the ultimate scienceHouse Corrino motto
One of the pillars of Dune society is the Spacing Guild, basically a monopolist of faster-than-light interstellar travel. Speaking of close ops:
Review of Sheilagh Ogilvie, The European Guilds: An Economic Analysis (AIER)
The guilds generally stifled competition and promoted rent-seeking. The system fizzled out as liberal institutions – democracy, free markets – took hold.