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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress: Part 4: Earth Strikes Back

As last we saw, Manuel O'Kelly Davis (computer repairman and reluctant rebel), and Professor Bernando de la Paz (amateur revolutionary and rational anarchist), were sneaking onboard a rocket to get them back to Luna after their attempt to bring their case to the people of Earth. Both men are disappointed; Manuel because the Federated Nations refused to recognize their independence; Prof because they were in the city of Agra twice during their trip and he never got a chance to see the Taj Mahal.

But Prof does not see their trip as a failure. He never expected recognition from Earth; in fact his greatest fear was that the FN might offer a compromise that would satisfy most Loonies but which would neither grant full independence, nor (most importantly) solve the problem of Luna shipping its resources to Earth.

(Here's another, more subtle, parallel with the American Revolution. Although the American Patriots talked a lot about "No Taxation Without Representation", their leaders didn't really want seats in Parliament, where they would always be out-voted by the majority).

Prof apologizes for not explaining to Mannie sooner; the true purpose of the trip, he reveals, was to be divisive; to create a diversity of opinions on Earth. They didn't have to convince a majority that Luna deserved independence, but if they could sow enough doubt, convince enough people that Luna had just grievances, convince enough people that war with the Lunar colony was more costly than it was worth, convince enough nations that they could profit more from dealing with an Independent Luna than by backing the FN; then they might stay the FN's hand, limit their actions, and create an environment where the nations of Earth might be persuaded to back down.

Another parallel: General Gates, who commanded the British forces during much of the American Revolutionary War, was a member of the Whig party, which actually opposed the War. Gates was by no means sympathetic to American Independence, but he disliked warring on those he considered fellow British Citizens. Early on, he had numerous opportunities to crush the rebellion which he let pass because he felt that too-bloody action would eradicate any hope of a more peaceful resolution.

Mannie and Prof are welcomed back on Luna as conquering heroes and Prof makes a stirring speech; " short on logic, loaded with ringing phrases. "Love" was in it, and 'home' and "Luna" and "comrades and neighbors" and even "shoulder to shoulder" an all sounded good." During the American Revolution, John Adams guestimated that a third of the colonies wanted independence, a third was indifferent and a third were actively against it. Prof realizes that a sizable group on Luna will be opposed to independence too, particularly the farmers who will take a big economic hit when grain shipments to Earth are halted. Another purpose for the trip to Earth was to help solidify support on Luna.

Once they can extract themselves from the reception, Prof and Mannie, along with Stu, meet with Wyoh to discuss things with "Adam Selene." Stu still doesn't know about "Adam's" true identity, and so they are still going through the charade of the Chairman who teleconferences but doesn't appear in person.

While Mannie and Prof were gone, some changes have been made. The Ad-Hoc Congress Prof set up to keep the yammerheads busy has actually called for and held elections. This distresses Mannie, but Prof assures him that all will be well.

"In each age it is necessary to adapt to the popular mythology. At one time kings were anointed by Deity, so the problem was to see to it that Deity anointed the right candidate. In this age the myth is 'the will of the people' ... but the problem changes only superficially.

Prof and "Adam" have already anticipated the election and set things up so that the candidates they favored would have an advantage over other candidates in terms of a head start on petitions and the tacit endorsement of "Adam Selene" himself, (officially non-partisan, of course, but...). The polling was held at banks and the votes were tabulated by computer.

Suddenly a light came on in my skull and I decided to question Wyoh privately. No, not Wyoh -- Mike. Get past his "Adam Selene" dignity and hammer truth out of his neuristors. Recalled a cheque ten million dollars too large and wondered how many had voted for me? Seven thousand? Seven hundred? Or just family and friends?


If was one thing all people took for granted, was conviction that if you feed honest figures into a computer, honest figures come out. Never doubted it myself till I met a computer with a sense of humor.

In last week's reading, Prof commented that Mike might be their worst enemy because of the way all communications goes through him and can be controlled through him. Mike's control of elections is pretty darn scary too.

Although public support on Luna for the Revolution is currently high, it could fade quickly; especially once economic hardships begin to be felt. The conflict between Luna and Earth must be turned to open war as quickly as possible. But Prof is adamant that they must provoke Earth into striking the first blow; "the classic 'Pearl Harbor' maneuver of game theory, a great advantage in Weltpolitick." The danger of this is that the first blow may be the last; as Mannie observed earlier, all it would take to wipe out the Lunar colony would be one ship and six H-bombs.

They launch a new propaganda offensive: "In essence it called for us to behave as nastily as possible while strengthening impression that we would be awfully easy to spank." In the meantime, they prepare as best they can for the inevitable attack; staging pressure-suit drills, forming defense militia groups, reconfiguring the large industrial lasers used in ice mining as anti-spaceship weapons.

Then, an unexpected crisis emerges. While Prof is busy with war plans, the newly-elected Congress convenes a Constitutional Convention to formally establish a government. Anarchist that he is, Prof would prefer no government at all; but being a Rational Anarchist, he does what he can to cast doubt on the whole proceeding.

"Comrade Members, like fire and fusion, government is a dangerous servant and a terrible master. You now have freedom -- if you can keep it. But do remember that you can lose this freedom more quickly to yourselves than to any other tyrant."

He goes on to pick at some provisions of the draft proposals and offer alternatives.

"[Congressional districts determined by population] is the traditional way; therefore it should be suspect, considered guilty until proven innocent. Perhaps you think this is the only way. May I suggest others? ... Suppose instead of election a man were qualified for office by petition signed by four thousand citizens. He would then represent those four thousand affirmatively, with no disgruntled minority, for what would have been a minority in a territorial constituency would be free to start other petitions or join in then. All would then be represented by men of their choice."
"But in writing your constitution let me invite attention to the wonderful virtues of the negative! Accentuate the negative! Let your document be studded with things the government is forever forbidden to do.... Comrades, if you were to spend five years in a study of history while thinking of more and more things that your government should promise never to do and then let your constitution be nothing but those negatives, would not fear the outcome."

Which, if you think about it, is pretty much the whole purpose of the Bill of Rights of our own Constitution.

Of course, true to Heinlein's libertarian credo, Prof finishes his advice with a strong exhortation against Involuntary Taxation.

"Comrades, I beg you -- do not resort to compulsory taxation. There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him."

Afterwards, Manuel calls him out on this. "...about taxation aren't you talking one thing and doing another? Who do you think is going to pay for all this spending we're doing?"

Prof is forced to admit: "You know how we are doing it. We're stealing it. I'm neither proud of it nor ashamed; it's the means we have. "

Mannie is upset about this hypocrisy on Prof's part. Prof neither admits to nor denies the charge; but he reminds Mannie of Mike's projection of food riots in six years and cannibalism in eight.

Meanwhile, Earth has not been idle. Terra has sent a fleet of ships to Luna to pacify and retake the colony. It's using a long orbit so as to approach the Moon on it's far side where the radar used to track incoming ships is blind; a trip which takes two months instead of the couple days of a normal Earth-to-Luna trip, but one which catches the Loonies off-guard.

In the two months the Loonies have been waiting for the hammer to fall, preparedness has become lax. In the early days of the embargo, everyone kept their P-suit handy, carrying their helmets under their arms; but this proved awkward and inconvenient. When the taverns started putting up signs saying NO P-SUITS INSIDE, people started leaving their pressure suits at home or in work lockers.

Then comes the attack.

The Terran ships bomb key transportation links between the domed Lunar cities; then send troops on the ground to enter the airlocks and take the cities.

Was a mob, not a battle. Or maybe a battle is always that way, confusion and noise and nobody really knowing what's going on. In widest part of Causeway, opposite Bon Marché where Grand Ramp slopes northward down from level three, were several hundred Loonies, men and women, and children who should have been at home. Less than half were in p-suits and only a few seemed to have weapons -- and pouring down the ramp were soldiers, all armed.

Six H-bombs would have done it; but Terra wanted to re-take the domes, not destroy them; they wanted to subdue the populace, not exterminate it. That meant they had to put boots on the ground; and the best-trained, best-armed soldiers Earth had to offer found themselves walking into a hornet's nest.

Most Loonies never laid eyes on a live invader but wherever troopers broke in, Loonies rushed in like white corpuscles -- and fought. Nobody told them. Our feeble organization broke down under surprised. But we Loonies fought berserk and invaders died. No trooper got farther down than level six in any warren.

In the middle of the chaos, Mannie calls "Adam Selene" trying to co-ordinate what he can in the fighting and gets a message that Adam was in one of the domes which lost pressure in the initial attack and is presumed dead. Mannie quickly switches to a private line and asks Mike what's going on. "Adam Selene had to go someday," Mike explains. "He's served his purpose." Having Adam "die" heroically in the invasion will save them from having to continue the charade that he exists. Then follows a poignant exchange between Manuel and Mike:

"Personally, I always preferred your 'Mike' personality anyhow."

"I know you do, Ma my first and best friend, and so do I. It's my real one; 'Adam' was a phony... Man, when this is over, are you going to have time to take up with me that research into humor again?"

"I'll take time, Mike; that's a promise."

"Thanks, Man. These days you and Wyoh never have time to visit ... and Professor wants to talk about things that aren't much fun. I'll be glad when this war is over."

The fighting is all but over in the warrens. The invaders have been decisively beaten. Now it's time to execute Operation Hard Rock.

"Do it, Mike, throw rocks at 'em! Damn it, big rocks! Hit 'em hard!"

NEXT: Operation Hard Rock; Mannie vs. the Yammerhead; and the Price of Liberty. TANSTAAFL!

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