I liked The God-Hater. I thought I’d say that before I devoted a post to how it tripped over a peeve of mine.
The book has an important subplot revolving around corporate warfare – and that’s not a figure of speech. Myers called corporations the “warring nations of today”. I’ve seen this in science fiction before: the mega-corporation with military capabilities, imposing blockades, sending armies, taking upon itself matters of crime and punishment. It’s an old tradition of the genre.
And I never had much sympathy for it. Violence and justice as the prerogatives of anyone besides the government is a departure from thousands of years of western civilization. But in sci-fi it tends to be taken entirely for granted – as if it just follows, like the colonization of Mars.
I don’t believe the mega-corporation just follows, and I certainly don’t believe it’s already here. When, in The God-Hater, corporations conducted helicopter raids and got into machine-gun shoot-outs, it struck me as … silly. Corporations just don’t do that. It’s not in their make-up. They’re not the Mafia.
Try to picture the competition between Microsoft and Apple coming to gunfights between their employees. Can you imagine the headlines, the public reaction, the congressional hearings? Can you imagine how fast – how hard – the government would come down on them? The government hates it when people get violent, if for no other reason than that’s their job.
Granted, Travis Mackenzie’s computer program is far more valuable than Windows or the i-Phone. (But don’t be overly impressed by the idea that it could be worth more money than several nations. Wal-Mart’s annual revenues exceed the GDP of almost every nation.) Still, CEOs do not generally metamorphosize into Al Capone when facing lucrative projects. And if they did, the government would ruin them.
Myers severely stereotypes both capitalists and capitalism. It’s slander to say that all they care about is money. But even if that were so, the corporate warfare Myers paints is jarringly out of touch with reality. The “warring nations of today” are pretty much the same as the warring nations of yesterday. Just look at the Middle East.