My son and I were talking the other day about Obamacare and the political consequences of it and other scandals in 2014. Matt said, and I concurred, that our present "elites" who seek to jam all this tyranny down our throats really aren't very elite in any sense of that word beyond self-appreciated position. Matt said, "They really are rather stupid." Their primary error is to mistake completely the character of the people they seek to rule and to fail to see that such failure will have personal consequences for them.That conversation came to mind on Christmas night when, true to insomniac form, I pulled down my well-thumbed paperback copy of Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card (Trussville Library discard, purchased for a quarter) and began to read Bean's account of the final battle in The Bugger War.Ender's Shadow, a parallel novel to Ender's Game, describes the same events from the perspective of Bean, a Rotterdam street urchin who has become Ender Wiggin's right hand in the war with the Formics, derogatorily known as "Buggers," an insectoid alien species that threatens to destroy the earth. As Wikipedia sums up: "In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, children, including the novel's protagonist, Ender Wiggin, are trained at a very young age through increasingly difficult games including some in zero gravity, where Ender's tactical genius is revealed."So, too, is Bean's. The Formics are the ultimate collectivist hive race, controlled by queens through telepathy and a faster-than-light communication device called the ansible. After the last clash with the Buggers, humans gathered all the ships they could muster and dispatched them to the various planets where Buggers had colonized, including their home world. Thus, the final battle of the war will be fought with the Earth's oldest ships, crewed by volunteers who signed on knowing it was likely a one way trip, and directed by the children. This information is kept from the child soldiers of Battle School, who are taught to use their innate gifts in games and simulations that, in the end, are all too real.The battles are increasingly costly and more difficult until finally comes the penultimate confrontation at the Bugger's home world:
The enemy appeared in the display.
Their fleet was deployed around a planet that loomed in the center of the display. There had been battles near planets before, but every other time, the world was near the edge of the display -- the enemy fleet always tried to lure them away from the planet.
This time there was no luring. Just the most incredible swarm of enemy ships imaginable. Always staying a certain distance away from each other, thousands and thousands of ships followed random, unpredictable, intertwining paths, together forming a cloud of death around the planet.
This is the home planet, thought Bean . . . They've had generations to prepare for us to come. All the previous battles were nothing. These Formics can lose any number of individual Buggers and they don't care. All that matters is the queen. Like the one Mazer Rackham killed in the Second Invasion. And they haven't put a queen at risk in any of these battles. Until now.
That's why they're swarming. There's a queen here. . . On the planet's surface, thought Bean. The idea is to keep us from getting to the planet surface.
So that's precisely where we need to go. Dr. Device needs mass. Planets have mass. Pretty simple.
Except that there was no way to get this small force of human ships through that swarm and near enough to the planet to deploy Dr. Device. For if there was anything that history taught, it was this: Sometimes the other side is irresistibly strong and then the only sensible course of action is to retreat in order to save your force to fight another day.
In this war, however, there would be no other day. There was no hope of retreat. The decisions that lost this battle, and therefore this war, were made two generations ago when these ships were launched, an inadequate force from the start. The commanders who set this fleet in motion ,ay not even have known, then, that this was the Bugger's home world. It was no one's fault. They simply didn't have enough of a force even to make a dent in the enemy's defenses. It didn't matter how brilliant Ender was. When you have only one guy with a shovel, you can't build a dike to hold back the sea.
No retreat, no possibility of victory, no room for delay or maneuver, no reason for the enemy to do anything but to continue to do what they were doing.
There were only twenty starships in the human fleet, each with four fighters. . . Eighty fighters. Against five thousand, maybe ten thousand enemy ships. It was impossible to determine the number. . .
A long time passed -- many seconds, perhaps a minute. By now Ender usually had them all deployed, ready to move. But still there was nothing from him but silence. . .
Ender has to try. If he doesn't we'll all die. Because even if they weren't going to send another fleet against us, after this they'll HAVE to send one. Because we beat all their fleets in every battle till now. If we don't win this one, with finality, destroying their capability to make war against us, then they'll be back. And this time they'll have figured out how to make Dr. Device themselves. . .
"Remember," Bean said ironically, "the enemy's gate is down." . . . But Ender didn't seem to get the joke. Ender didn't seem to understand that there was no way to get Dr. Device to the planet's surface.
Instead, his voice came into their ears, giving them orders. He pulled them into tight formation, cylinders within cylinders. . .
Surely the enemy sees what we're doing, thought Bean. Surely they see how every third or fourth move takes us closer and closer to the planet.
At any moment the enemy could destroy them quickly by concentrating their forces. So why weren't they doing it?
One possibility occurred to Bean. The Buggers didn't dare concentrate their forces close to Ender's tight formation, because the moment they drew their ships close together, Ender could use Dr. Device against them.
And then he thought of another explanation. Could it be that there were simply too many bugger ships? Could it be that the queen or queens had to spend all their concentration, all their mental strength just keeping ten thousand ships swarming through space without getting too close each other?
Unlike Ender, the Bugger queen couldn't turn control of her ships over to subordinates. She had no subordinates . . . That's why she wasn't responding intelligently. . . In fact, the maneuvers the Buggers were making were ludicrously wrong. For as Ender penetrated deeper and deeper into the planet's gravity well, the Buggers were building up a thick wall of forces BEHIND Earth's formation.
They're blocking our retreat!
At once Bean understood a third and most important reason for what was happening. The Buggers had learned the wrong lessons from the previous battles. Up to now, Ender's strategy had always been to ensure the survival of as many human ships as possible. He had always left himself a line of retreat. The Buggers, with their huge numerical advantage, were finally in a position to guarantee that the human forces would not get away.
There was no way, at the beginning of this battle, to predict that the Buggers would make such a mistake. Yet throughout history, great victories had come as much because of the losing army's errors as because of the winner's brilliance in battle. The Bugger's have finally, finally learned that we humans value each and every individual human life. We don't throw our forces away because every soldier is the queen of a one-member hive. But they've learned this lesson just in time for it to be hopelessly wrong -- for we humans do, when the cause is sufficient, spend our own lives. We throw ourselves onto the grenade to save our buddies in the foxhole. We rise out of the trenches and charge the entrenched enemy and die like maggots under a blowtorch. We strap bombs on our bodies and blow ourselves up in the midst of our enemies. We are, when the cause is sufficient, insane.
They don't believe we'll use Dr. Device because the only way to use it is to destroy our own ships in the process. . . Win or lose, there'd be no human survivors from this battle.
They've never seen us make a move like that. They don't understand that, yes, humans will always act to preserve their own lives -- except for the times that they don't. In the Bugger's experience, autonomous beings do not sacrifice themselves. Once they understood our autonomy, the seed of their defeat was sown. . . They had no way of knowing the story of blind Samson, who pulled down the temple on his own head to slay his enemies.
The domestic enemies of the Constitution, those who would rule as tyrants over us, whose appetites for our liberty, our property and our lives seem insatiable, do not understand this. As I have written before, they extrapolate their intended victims' expected behavior from their own cowardice, knowing that THEY would not risk imprisonment or death in standing up to the imperial federal government over something as unimportant to them as liberty or property. Their lives and comfort are the most important things to them. They have no true principles beyond that and the accumulation of power. Thus they do not understand, truly understand, that there are in fact people who would die for their principles. More importantly from their point of view, there are not only people who are willing to die for their principles but to kill in righteous defense of them as well. And, not to put too fine a point on it, such people are willing to kill THEM as well -- these proto-tyrants who would rob our children of their traditional, God-given and inalienble rights to liberty, property and life.
This is why the hive collectivists of Obama and Company should be reading Ender's Shadow. We will not act the way they expect us to act -- the way our previous patience and forebearance has led them to believe that we will act -- and their next depredation, no matter how minor it may seem to them, could lead to their utter destruction just as it did to the fictional Bugger queen and all her race. And they will be, just as the Bugger queen, utterly astonished when it happens.