|Manipulate conditions properly and your city prospers.....|
The premise behind each of these games is that, some combination of providing goodies for your people, taxes that are high enough to support your government, your infrastructure, your wars or whatever your government is attempting to do, will make the people that you are the ultimate lord over happy and content and not rise up in the middle of the night and murder you in your bed. It treats people as mere automatons with little real will or purpose other than to serve the whims of the central planners who run their digital city.
This top-down approach in games like Sim City, Age of Empires, Civilization and others is based on an old pipe dream that has come down to us in the 20th century as Progressive Socialism. The premise says that a group of smart elite people can centrally plan virtually every aspect of human endeavor and do so in a way that makes everyone happy.
Since Satan in the Garden of Eden, humans have made the erroneous assumption that somehow they could take the place of God and make a perfect world for themselves all on their own hook. Unfortunately as millenia of human history has shown, the top down approach doesn't work well when the one on top is a human being.
Central planning could work, don't get me wrong. The problem is that the only one that could do it is a person (or persons if you go the politburo route) with certain superpowers:
- Omniscience - The leader would have to be able to track everything that is going on without being intrusive. This is where statist nations get into trouble because people don't like high levels of surveillance over their private lives.
- Precognition - The leader would not only have to see the future, but be able to manipulate the present so that the future would come out well. This is where visionary governments get into trouble. They cannot be sure their ideas or their manipulations of the economy, the fates of specific individuals or public policies will all come out well. Usually they just implement them and later, when they inevitably fail, they pretend they didn't fail and execute anyone who notices.
- Omnipresence - The leadership would have to be everywhere at all times to make sure everyone was following the plan perfectly and even then, without precognition, the leaders couldn't be sure the plan would work.
- Perfect Altruism - The leadership would have to be utterly selfless and love the people so much that, if necessary, the leader would sacrifice his own life or interests for his people. The problem with that is that the kind of power needed to make a centrally planned society work inevitably attracts corruptible people (see Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.).
Me I'll wait to try central planning until someone a lot more competent than any mere human is in charge of the planning.
© 2013 by Tom King