Because Human Beings Didn’t Really Change from Generation to Generation; They Only Thought They Did

Excerpt from the novel Rising Storm icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 by S.M. Stirling icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12

S.M. Stirling's "Rising Storm" book cover. [Formatted]


     Ron Labane flipped through the printouts of news reports about the New Luddites’ various activities. The movement tended to get good press, but then, with every passing day it became more mainstream. Not surprising, after all; he’d designed the New Luddites to have a lot of middle-of-the-road appeal.
     His bestselling book had delineated the basic theories; how and why it was necessary to stop “progress” that created problems requiring solutions that only created more problems. He’d told the public how and why humanity should return to a simpler, if less convenient, lifestyle. Subsequent books had promoted clean, efficient public transport, with instructions on how to set up a community activist network. He’d created the New Luddite Foundation to promote research into clean fuel and new, less wasteful manufacturing methods. The money flowed in, and with it came increasing power.
     He glanced out the window and smiled; his office was deliberately modest, but it looked out on Central Park. Influential backers had flocked to his early seminars, and their backing gave him the clout needed to appeal to the majority.
     Once he had a sufficient number of dedicated Luddites in the fold, he could begin introducing the mainstream to more… proactive solutions to the problem of environmental abuse. He smiled. Not as active as the select, underground activists he aided and guided, from a careful distance, of course. But there would soon be a great deal more muscle available to make up for the less extreme tactics.
     He would—also of course—continue to enjoy his secret projects; like what had happened to Cyberdyne, for example. The general public knew nothing about the explosion that had purged the weapons designers from existence. But he knew, because his people were everywhere. When he’d heard the news he’d shouted “yes!” at the top of his lungs.
     Now, perhaps, there would be no more work on that fully automated weapons factory that he’d already helped to destroy once. He hadn’t heard anything more from the contact who had warned him about that. Perhaps the government had found out about him and put a stop to his activities. A shame; he burned to know who had destroyed Cyberdyne’s hidden base. The movement could use talent like that, sice every day brought them a little closer to the seats of power as well as destruction of the environment.
     Soon, he thought, and hoped it would be soon enough.
     Ron was disgusted with the more established environmentalist organizations. Long association with government had turned them into lobbyists instead of idealists. Mere horse traders, and dishonest ones at that.
     Once he would have checked himself, reminded himself that in spite of their flaws they still got a lot of good work done. Now he felt such an overwhelming sense of time running out, of events careening out of control, that he couldn’t forgive the sellouts. More and more even the smallest compromises seemed like selling out.
     Perhaps he was lacking a sense of proportion, or perhaps they were when they allowed themselves to be talked out of forestland and wetlands and more stringent regulations.
     How could he sympathize with those who were willfully blind to the changes in weather patterns, the increase in skin cancers, the mutated frogs? These were real warning signs, not the daydreams of a few paranoid fools.
     Ron dropped the news articles to the desk in disgust. Don’t they realize that this is a war?
     His head came up. Wait! It needed to be more than a war, it had to become a crusade. Yes! He’d often thought that a profound change in the way things were done required an element of fanaticism—like a religious conversion. Like—dare he think it?—Hitler’s conversion of the German people to Nazism. If it worked for the bad guys, why not for me? Education was key; he would fight for the hearts and minds of the coming generation.
     Uniforms are too extreme, he thought, but badges would work, and slogans. Banners, rallies, all the old tricks for capturing the imagination of a people. It could be done—even now when mere children were drenched in cynicism. Because human beings didn’t really change from generation to generation; they only thought they did.
     He grabbed a pad and began writing up ideas.

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