Revolution: by Mack Reynolds

Mack Reynolds was a long time member of the Socialist Labour Party in the USA, and a hugely prolific and popular writer for the near pulps during the 50s and 60s. Much of his work in science fiction was political, extrapolating futures from the Cold War, from economics, and from news items which did not necessarily make the news, but certainly made the future. His work is always interesting, though in view of the fall of the Soviet Union, it appeared for a time that he had been debunked by history. Not so, as his novella Revolution demonstrates.

The Soviet Union has overtaken the US in the economic race. While America uses its steel mills to produce cars and televisions and washing machines, the USSR puts steel mills to producing more steel mills, and more, until the country is a belching powerhouse of economic growth. At which point the US decides to intervene by sending an agent into the USSR, with orders to contact the underground opposition and organise a revolt. Money is no object, and the agent is to be assisted by all the ingenuity of US industrial espionage.

The opposition is not at all what agent Koslov expects, nor is it what his masters in Washington need. They are not fledgling capitalists; they are not even disillusioned communists - they are syndicalists. They applaud the Soviet experiment; they believe it has been ultimately successful, but they also believe it has served its purpose in turning the USSR into a world power. Now they wish to place that power in the hands of workers. They want to transform the USSR from a Union into a Collective. Because he is Russian by birth, Koslov understands that these people are not revolutionaries because they are corruptible - they are revolutionaries because they are incorruptible. Koslov knows such people are no use to America's ultimate purpose, which is to overthrow Soviet communism and turn the USSR to free market capitalism. But will his paymasters grasp this? Their opinion appears to be that, because they have willingly assisted revolution, the revolutionaries are traitors and once bought, will stay bought. The US dollar is the payment; the imposition of the US system is the payback.

Reynolds leaves the story hanging, to be completed by events. Will the revolution go ahead? Of course it will, despite Koslov's warnings - America will have its Russian day, and if the revolutionaries prove inconvenient at a later date, they too can be dispensed with. Everyone is expendable in the human race to the bottom.

Of particular note in Reynolds' other works is The Fracas Factor, an extraordinary series of novellas which locate exactly where he believes history is going - "People's Capitalism" - in which corporations attempting takeovers and mergers hire proles to fight these as bloody battles, all televised for the delight of shareholders, stakeholders, and spear holders.

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