“[…] about twenty-four hundred years ago, there arose a group of people on Helicon who were quite convinced that Helicon was the only inhabited globe in the Universe. Helicon was the Universe and beyond it there was only a solid sphere of sky speckled with tiny stars.”

“How could they believe that?” said Dors. “They were part of the Empire, I presume.”

“Yes, the Globalists insisted that all evidence to the effect that the Empire existed was either illusion or deliberate deceit, that Imperial emissaries and officials were Heliconians playing a part for some reason. They were absolutely immune to reason.”

“And what happened?”

“I suppose it’s always pleasant to think that your particular world is the world. At their peak, the Globalists may have persuaded 10 percent of the population of the planet to be part of their movement. Only 10 percent, but they were a vehement minority that drowned out the indifferent majority and threatened to take over.”

“But they didn’t, did they?”

“No, they didn’t. What happened was that Globalism caused a diminishing of Imperial trade and the Heliconian economy slid into the doldrums. When the belief began to affect the pocketbooks of the population, it lost popularity rapidly. The rise and fall puzzled many at the time, but psychohistory, I’m sure, would have shown it to be inevitable and would have made it unnecessary to give it any thought.”

“I see. But, Hari, what is the point of this story? I presume there is some connection with what we were discussing.”

“The connection is that such movements never completely die, no matter how ridiculous their tenets might seem to sane people. Right now, on Helicon, right now there are still Globalists. Not many, but every once in a while seventy or eighty of them get together in what they call a Global Congress and take enormous pleasure in talking to each other about Globalism. — Well, it is only ten years since the Joranumite movement seemed such a terrible threat on this world and it would not be at all surprising if there weren’t still some remnants left. There may still be some remnants a thousand years from now.”

Issac Asimov, Forward the Foundation

The context of the above quote is a conversation between the characters Hari Seldon and Dors Venabili in ‘Forward the Foundation’. They are, of course, discussing the history of a fictitious planet and Universe. But I find that the discussion rings true in the atmosphere of denialism of science and history and sociopolitical regressionism that we see in so many parts of our world, today. It also points to the cyclical nature of such ideas and movements, that they are never fully gone, and, perhaps, that we should trust that the great arc of history does indeed bend towards justice.


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