So, in my last post about Asimov I decried his descent into collectivist propaganda (Foundation’s Edge).
I will continue my diatribe here and show how Asimov devolved from an anthropocentric viewpoint to a proponent of the hive mind.
In 1950 Asimov had a short story called Misbegotten Missionary. In the story an exploratory mission from Earth visits a world named Saybrook’s Planet that is populated by communal creatures. Although these creatures take on all the forms needed to make up an ecosystem (microbes, plants and animals) they are all part of one consciousness. In addition, any one of these creatures has the ability to alter all creatures around it so that all their offspring will be communal creatures too. The explorers took precautions to protect their ship from contamination by any biological contact. But unbeknownst to them a solitary creature has stowed away on the ship and is waiting to reach Earth to begin the conversion process. It somehow realizes that the earth creatures monitor bacteria and the mice that they have on board to detect contamination by an alien life form. Because of this the creature refrains from altering any of the ship’s life forms to avoid tipping off the crew. The creature is cryptic and disguises itself as a piece of wire in an electrical circuit on the ship. By the kind of remarkable luck that only happens in fiction (or the 2016 presidential election) the wire that the creature is connected to is in the circuit to open the ship door. So instead of converting earth to communalism he gets fried like a death row inmate in Florida. The conclusion has the crew discover the bullet they dodged and everyone breaths a sigh of relief.
Apparently, Asimov was unhappy with this result. So, 32 years later he corrected this mistake in the Foundation sequel, Foundation’s Edge. Searching for a mysterious unseen hand in the Foundation universe he follows clues that lead to Sayshell (not Saybrook’s Planet) where he learns of the existence of Gaia, a communal intelligence that not only is composed of all the living things on the planet but also the inanimate components too. Now of course, this reeks of James Lovelock’s trendy 1970’s theory, The Gaia Hypothesis, that Earth was one big super-organism that had become infected with the human virus (thus the Matrix, thus Al Gore). Apparently, Asimov had bought into this theory and saw a harmonization (read Borgian assimilation) of humanity by the communal organism as the perfect solution. And just to make sure no one thinks assimilation is soul extinguishing oblivion, he shows us a human component of the collective who is a cheerful woman who happens to like the protagonist. So, you see, if you glue a smiley face onto the Borg it’s all good. And just to make sure no connection to Saybrook’s Planet is possible, the protagonist in Foundation’s Edge is not forced into the hive but gets to choose whether humanity is melted into a collective consciousness with igneous rocks and hydrogen atoms. You see it’s totally okay!
Asimov displays all the symptoms of the proto-sjw that he was. He dislikes individualism. He admires the hive. He desires to remove choice from the currently free. And he dislikes all this random doing what you want to do (except probably for himself of course). And finally to hammer home the lesson that humans can’t be left to their own devices we find out that Earth is a radioactive corpse and the whole Gaia situation is a master plan put together by a super-intelligent robot to try to save humans from themselves.
So my question is, what the hell happened to this doofus? And of course, the answer is he just followed the same trajectory as most of the progressives from the thirties who admired the Soviet Union before the Cold War. Now, Heinlein started out in that camp too. But when he changed wives and married a conservative he changed course and rejected the hive. I remember in his novel Methusaleh’s Children Heinlein has a world where a race exists that also possesses a collective mind. And the humans also had to make a choice. If they remained they would be assimilated. Only those who feared death remained. Obviously, these collective races are the communists. Heinlein rejected it. Asimov finally embraced it, much to his detriment as a writer and a man. But it did finally earn him a Hugo. So apparently the Hugo had also made the transition by that time.