Monday, 7 July 2014

Why Freeholders Leave The Cities

Originally published on Poul Anderson Appreciation, 7 July 2013.

As usual, Poul Anderson presents an in-depth explanation that makes us feel that he is describing a real social process.

(i) The original, individualistic, colonists of Freehold made scant provision for the unsuccessful so some of the latter withdrew to the forest.

(ii) Some fugitive criminals and dissatisfied romantics also withdrew.

(iii) The first generation survived by trading gems, fur or labor for manufactured goods.

(iv) However, the second and third generations adopted an uncivilized way of life.

(v) Three hundred years ago, many Christians responded to anti-Christian sentiment by withdrawing to the forest, thus allowing the Mechanists to come to power with minimal violence.

(vi) Therefore, Hedonists withdrew to avoid persecution.

And the Imperial investigator, Ridenour, wonders whether the alien Arulians, who by his time have been on Freehold for two centuries and who occasionally trade with the outbackers, have also influenced their ideas. Failures, criminals, romantics, traders, laborers, self-sufficient forest dwellers, Christians, Hedonists and possible alien influence: what a mixed bag! - the sort of mixed bag from which Poul Anderson would expect a dynamic new culture to emerge.

We should note two points about the conflict between the Cities and the forest dwellers:

each City wants to cultivate the land around it and ultimately to civilize/urbanize the entire planet whereas the forest dwellers want the forests to remain as they are;
so far, we have heard only City-dwellers telling Ridenour about their problems with the "savages" but what is the "savages"' point of view?

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