Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Project Text

Dwinda Adrianto
ENGL 114 B
Sean Pessin
                                    Power Politics:  A Predetermined Perseverance
            The notion of power has always been around for centuries since the dawn of mankind. It is a grotesque notion that believes that survival of the fittest is the principal virtue that will ultimately ensure individual or group survival. It justifies the realist position that “the strong shall devour the weak” as a natural order of the universe. In the field of International relations, power falls into two distinct categories: Soft Power and Hard Power, whereas soft power believes that principle strength derives from an individual or a group’s ability to influence others and hard power derives from an individual or groups ability to coerce or dictate others to behave accordingly by establishing a rigid hierarchy (Kegley 36). This notion of power plays a dominant role throughout the Foundation series, throughout the series the Author Isaac Asimov seems to focus solely on how the Foundation managed to survive among hostile neighbors despite having limited military capabilities. This paper will focus on the earliest stages of the Foundation establishment which allowed it to navigate through various crisis along the book, it is an undeniable fact that the Foundations dominance and influence is a direct result of the effectively early exercise of its soft and hard power Overall the Foundations survival is heavily attributed by its effective manipulation of soft and hard power
The Foundation series that falls under the science fiction genre illustrates many deep political aspects that are relevant in actual life especially in the fields of international relations which explain specifically on how a state dominates the hostile environment within the international level. The book proposes the notion that military power is not the only means to become a dominant player in the galaxy but also through the effective combination of leadership, technological innovation and establishing a dominant influence. The foundation’s survival against all odds is a result of the foundation's ability to effectively maneuver through its barbaric surroundings by establishing a dominant presence within its periphery.
            The story revolves around the Galactic Empire and a prediction made by a man called Hari Seldon with a background of psychohistory which predicted the inevitable fall of the Empire. Seldons views were viewed as a severe offence and nonsensical by the empire’s administrators which resulted on his immediate exile along with all of his followers to a far and desolate planet in the far fringes of the galaxy called Terminus. Here Seldon wishes to establish a scientific haven in order to preserve humanity's achievement if the galaxy were to fall in a period of barbarism after the empire's fall. From there on the plot revolves around how does the foundation managed to survive while it is surrounded by hostile natives which hopes to exploit and conquer the foundation itself. Through the effective combination of technological supremacy and effective diplomacy the Foundation quickly become one of the most influentially powerful planets within the periphery rivaling that of the declining Galactic Empire itself. The Foundation Series compromise out of three books: The Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation. The first book focuses on how the foundation was established and how it became a dominant power within its periphery, the Foundation and Empire focuses on the war between the foundation and remnants of the Galactic Empire before being destroyed by a mind controlling creature called “the mule”, the Second Foundation focuses on the foundation’s success in catching the mule off guard and telepathically altered his psyche and the search for the second foundation located in Trantor. This paper will break down the role of power throughout the three foundation series book which will be done by sections.
The deep political aspect is always relevant as the book progresses. It describes the aspects of applied soft power and hard power possessed by the foundation in which ensures its survival. Firstly by soft power the book relates on how other planets depended on the foundation's technological innovation for survival and how the Foundation managed to establish a religious order centered within Foundation. The hard power aspect would be the foundation's possession of atomic energy which other planet feared as being atomic weapons. The Effective manipulation of these two aspects of power ultimately led the Foundation to become a dominant and influential player among its hostile neighbors. Another political aspect which could be discussed would be the role of the central government in shaping the foundations policy which relates to external threat, where a constant conflict between a more pacifist government and a more assertive government within the foundation is always prevalent. The pacifists were people who believed that conflict should be the last measure in dealing with external threat while the hardliners believed that the Foundation should strengthen its military capabilities to deter possible aggressions. However as it turns out the pacifist under the mayor Salvor Hardin were the one who took control calling for other means either than war to deter possible aggressors, this illustrates the idea that force is not the only possible option to survive from external threats. This correlates with true events on what we see happening in our own world and judging by the overall aspect dominant throughout this book, Isaac Asimov must be inspired by actual events the events on which the author draws its inspiration. The story's overall suspense for me at least lies in the events unfolding when the foundation faces would be aggressors and then later on deterring them "peacefully". Overall this book has an overall plot where many readers will find overwhelming with information, too fast paced and a lack of significant characters. My guess would be that the characters the author made for this book only compliments the overall plot, and generally speaking it is likely that the plot itself is the story given the less amount of  time the author gave in describing and developing some of the numerous characters in the book
            First, we shall analyze the first book and how does power politics of play through the foundations effective use of diplomacy. During the period when Terminus have just been settled down by researchers whose sole aim is to finish the Encyclopedia Galactica, the founders soon finds that the planet is scarce of steel and aluminum and their primary supply comes from the empire itself which is considered too far away while its sole survival is determined by a kingdom called Anacreon which has the agenda to dominate Terminus itself. The foundation is divided into two different factions first one calls for a more pacifist approach towards aggressors by relying on the Empire for its protection while it focuses solely on the completion of the Encyclopedia Galactica this faction is led by Lewis Pirenne and the other faction calling for the complete independence from the empire led by Salvor Hardin. It is inevitable that the foundation will have to rely on the Anacreon for protection and resources since the empire seems uninterested on providing safety for the foundation from outside aggressors. However Anacreon wanted compensation in exchange for ensuring the foundations protection among them being allowing Anacreon to establish military bases in Terminus itself which doesn’t sit very well with the faction that focuses solely in the development of the encyclopedia. Hardin, thanks to his skillful diplomacy at first deters Anacreon military base intentions by announcing that the foundation is in possession of atomic energy which Anacreon has none of therefore intimidating Anacreon by the possibility of the Foundation possessing advanced weaponry this is seen by the look of surprise of Anselm Haut Rodric an envoy of the Anacreonian kingdom when Hardin mentioned of the Foundations possession of atomic power.
            One could analyze this aspect of power by using the realist notion of “Hard Power” which defines power derives from the capability to intimidate others (Viotti 15). This notion can be observed in the field of international relations which defines the relationship between two or more states based on distrust and suspicion. If related with the issue we see in regards to the relationship between the Foundation and Anacreon, it is clear that Anacreon fears the possibility of Terminus possessing atomic energy which will not rule out the possibility that the Foundation is also in possession of atomic weapons and being able to us it at its disposal. What added to the fear of the Anacreonian is that its own lack of similar power for its disposal, so in order for Anacreon to annex Terminus as its territory it must be really careful or risk possible destruction in the hands of atomic weapons. In real life we can observe this phenomenon in such cases where countries who possesses atomic energy tend to have the capabilities to develop atomic weapons tends to arouse fear of its neighbors and tends to be treated carefully if they potentially posses such capabilities this. Through this witty remark made by mayor Salvor Hardin, it successfully asserted diplomatically that the Foundation is a force to be reckoned with and will demand respect. Through the combination of the effective use of diplomacy which is considered soft power and the use of coercive intimidation which falls under the hard power category Terminus ensured its survival as it goes through the first Seldon Crisis one could not argue that a perfect combination of the foundations Soft Power and hard power ultimately ensures its survival and independence from a foreign power in this case the Anacreonians.
Through the effective use of discreet intimidation masked as the willingness of the Foundation to agree with Anacreonian proposal on establishing a military base within the foundation in exchange for protection and resources, Mayor Hardin succeeded in stalling the inevitable invasion of Anacreonian forces in Terminus. Mayor Hardin perceived that cooperating with Anacreon is the only feasible alternative because due to the Galactic Empire’s reluctance to help protect the Foundation from possible aggressors and the Foundation’s relative isolation from other parts of the empire, mayor Hardin also knew that the best way to avoid direct confrontation with Anacreon is to pretend to cooperate with Anacreon and simultaneously reaping the benefits of Anacreon providing for the Foundation’s security and providing them with steel and aluminum. There’s no arguing that mayor Hardin is well versed in the field of politics, and his ideas itself is not exclusively exists in this particular science fiction series, Sun Tzu an ancient Chinese war strategist mentioned “For  to win one  hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill”, therefore one must not solely rely on direct confrontation with the enemy in order to win however being able to win battle through the effective use of strategy is of the extreme excellence.
It is an undeniable fact that when the foundation is still at its weakest diplomacy plays an important role in ensuring the Foundations survival.    Diplomacy can be defined as the art and practice of negotiations between different nations or the skill of handling affairs without hostility (Nau 7).  There are many aspects in soft power but for this case example soft power is distinguished as “smart power” which can be defined as a nation’s leadership capabilities in conducting diplomacy without the excessive use of force (Nye). A correlation with the effective use of soft power would be if it were not for Hardin’s policy in not resorting to force to expel the Anacreonians, the Foundation will find itself destroyed because it has no means for direct conflict with the Anacreonians at that time so Hardin bought time for the Foundation to develop. Another indirect result of this smart maneuver by Hardin is the fact that the foundation manages to develop sophisticated technology under the Anacreonian protection that allowed the Foundation to become a major power in the future. During the earliest times of the Foundations establishment the Foundation finds itself lacking the basic resources necessary to establish a respectable civilization and in this vulnerable state the risk of facing an all out war with Anacreon is far too great. By pretending to cooperate with Anacreon despite the pro encyclopedia faction insistence on taking a more tougher role it reaps more benefit that it would be from an all out war therefore biding the foundation time to develop peacefully under Anacreon’s protection and when the Foundation slowly becomes more sophisticated than Anacreon they will rebel and kick them out of their planet once and for all. The point of this that through the effective manipulation of soft power diplomacy achieved through effective leadership, the Foundation managed to navigate the threat of direct Anacreonian assault without deterring through the use of force.
It is evident that leadership plays an important role in ensuring the foundations survival during Hardin’s period. Leadership itself falls under the category of soft power where the ability or inability of a particular state to project power outside its borders rests solely in the individual leader’s leadership capabilities. Before Hari Seldon re emerges in terminus after years of his death thanks to holographic projection to announce what is called the Seldon Crisis: A prediction of events that will happen to the Foundation within a particular period of time he mentions that the Foundations will go through a turbulent period of time marked by the Galactic Empire’s decline and the fall of its surroundings into a period of barbarism, I personally believe that Hardin with his sheer combination of mastery in politics, effective use of diplomacy and strategically thinking is the right person to lead the foundation as it undergoes its early years of turbulent periods marked by power struggle of the planets within the fringes of the Galactic Empire.
Another case example of soft power execution which could be observed throughout the book would be the Foundations effective use of trade. The ability to influence the policies of other states or planets in this case is through the foundations establishment of trade dependence centered within the foundation. Trade dependence centered in the foundation also plays a huge role in deterring would be aggressors to the Foundation. The Foundation being a technologically superior among the less technology sophisticated countries within its periphery made the Foundations survival important for all the other planets that depended on the Foundations technological capabilities and engineering capabilities. It is generally believed that a nation would be reluctant to attack another nation if it risks the threat of injuring itself economically (Nau 7) the Foundation is able to assert control towards other planets policy through the dependence of other planets through trade with the foundation. In the areas of political economy trade plays a huge role in determining a nation’s soft power capability since it is one of the fundamental aspect to assert control without the use of force. No doubt the foundation gained tremendous benefits through the establishment of a Foundation centered trade as a result of its technological innovation that allowed it to dominate the system as less developed planets rely heavily on the Foundations technological capabilities for its survival.
The greatest achievement the Foundation made in ensuring that no planet dared to attack its territory is through the establishment of a religious order based on technology centered within the foundation itself with priests who happen to also be engineers which are stationed in other planets, in reality this could be similar with the Vatican centered Catholicism and Saudi Arabian centered Islamic world which plays a dominant role in being the center of faith for millions of people. The same argument also applies through the Foundation centered religious order, by establishing a religious order the Foundation has managed to control the minds of the people within its periphery, it’s an undeniable fact that faith plays a huge role in determining people’s actions. Within the book the Anacreonians tried a second attempt to occupy the Foundation but the attempt failed because other planets condemned the invasion calling it sacrilegious. The Anacreonian troops also are reluctant sacred ground since the Foundations religious order has established dominant roots in other planets. The soft power nature of religion lies in the fact that if you manage to control people’s minds and perception you ultimately have the upper hand in the areas of diplomacy so it could be considered another way of establishing a dominant influence.
Overall the foundation series being a science fiction genre relates to the actual real life possibilities of things relating with reality or the areas of what could happen in the future. Being of the science fiction genre the author Isaac Asimov has managed to tie the significant plot throughout the book with the actual reality of the world system. In the case of the foundation series it is evident that there is a deep rooted political aspect happening throughout the book on which this paper analyzes with the use of theories within the field of international relations. In the world of anarchy power plays an important role for survival and power itself can be categorized as hard and soft power. It is clearly evident that like in actual life, the Foundations survival is a result of the effective manipulations of the aspects of power and the things which contributes to that specific power respectively therefore in order to survive in a world where according to Hobbes is complete anarchy where men devours other man is through obtaining power and having the necessary capabilities to assert them.

Kegley, Charles w. World Politics: Trends & Transformation. 9th edition. Thompson Woodsworth Publishing 2008. Print. April 22 2012
Nau, Henry. Perspectives On International Relations: Power, Intitutiona, Ideas. 3rd eition. CQ Press Publishing. Print. April 22 2012
Nye, Joseph. Foreign Policy Magazine April 2011. “The War On Soft Power”. Web. April 22 2012
Viotti, Paul R. International Relations And World Politics: Security, Economy, Identity. Prentice Hall Publishing. Print. April 22 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment