Nonviolence: Revisiting Asimov’s Foundation

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent

Salvor Hardin: First Mayor of Terminus

Asimov’s works are nothing short of literary genius and it is no surprise he is held as the father of modern science fiction. He is best known perhaps, for the Foundation Trilogy, a series of books about a genius psycho-historian and his mission to quell the downfall of the great galactic empire. Possibly the crux of the series is a type of social mathematics called psycho-history that is capable of predicting mass human behaviour.

Dr. Hari Sheldon, the greatest psycho-historian of his era realizes that the great galactic empire – spread across millions of star systems and housing zillions of human beings – was at a decline that would ultimately result in 30,000 years of barbarism. In order to combat this terrible future, Hari Sheldon gathers the greatest minds of his generation and sends them to inhabit two planets in the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

From these two planets would emerge eventually the second galactic empire along with the preserved knowledge of the human race, thus mitigating the barbarism predicted by Sheldon.

At the very core of the first Foundation novel is non violence. The small planet of Terminus, the foundation’s HQ, faces a series of political trials referred to as Sheldon Crises. Terminus must face the might of three rival empires greedy for nuclear power in possession of the foundation.

A political game ensues, where the President of Terminus, Salvor Hardin, keeps each empire at bay for 30 years. But as these small kingdoms become more and more powerful, the foundation begins to get worried and suggests immediate military action. It’s either they kill us or we kill them.  With the threat of justified war in the background, Hardin manages to single handedly defeat all 3 Kingdoms and pin them to the will of the Foundation all without firing a single shot.

“Violence, is the last refuge of the incompetent.” he says.

How does he do it? Well you have to read the book.

The book is a testament to the modern world. We solve everything through violence. The bigger the gun, the more powerful you are. Asimov combats this world view in Foundation.This is why it is such an integral and crucial book for ANYBODY and EVERYBODY to read.

Pick up the Foundation trilogy, because you need it.


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