Beating The Bad Guys – an article by: GF Willmetts (article).

In fiction, the heroes always have adversaries, mostly in the form of organisations. James Bond had SPECTRE and, briefly, SMERSH, the Men From UNCLE had Thrush. Organisations designed to be purely there to be beaten, irrespective of their desire for world-domination. Tailor-made, if you will, for their particular storylines. There were and are others but most of you would have head of these. They also prevented their authors from having to invent the wheel or a new organisation each time they needed one. I mean, how many illegal evil organisations can you have out there at any one time? In today’s reality, we’ve discovered that there can be a lot, although these are run by various nations with very few having any independence at all. Certainly, few that operate world-wide with impunity for long. However, their continual existence and failure to be completely beaten shows how ineffective the good guys are. After all, you would think the ultimate aim would be to beat them completely rather than just knock any of them on the head should they pop up.

Beating The Bad Guys
Beating The Bad Guys

In the real world, things like that don’t always happen. Most of the time, secret organisations tend to be regarded as terrorists these days. In fact, SPECTRE and Thrush were terrorist organisations in all but name when they were created, although they were mostly seen as being run by criminals than madmen intent on world domination. After all, the aim to rule the world seems an odd thing to desire. What can they achieve by such a thing? The same applies to the solitary villain. Subjugation seems like an odd thing to desire. Where do you go from there, let alone make it last.

Without draconian methods, any such rule would only be fleeting and you would be forever having to fight off the opposition or even people within the same organisation who want to be top dog in your place. One really has to wonder about such a motivation. Even more so, why should such a reality only exist in fiction than reality? The last time world domination came up was with World War 2 and both Germany and Japan were out-numbered, even with the countries that lined up with them. Yet it persists in fiction. With Science Fiction, with the likes of the Empire in ‘Star Wars’, it starts off with the bad guy in charge. You can have two big bads as in ‘Farscape; with the Peacekeepers and the Scaran or even a multitude who blended into two sides as with ‘Babylon 5’ and then, a lot of the time, they’re fighting amongst themselves than worry about you. Well, unless your home planet is in a strategic position or you have something valuable they want for their war effort. If anything, with SF, the scale just goes up but doesn’t address the problem that if the good guys weren’t there or beaten would anyone else climb up to beat them who might have different motives to take them on? I mean, if the best of them were thwarted, what would the likes of you and me have that could beat them?

The one thing that fiction does not like doing is having too many people on the same job. It clutters when you want to focus on someone who will be at the centre of the action. The hero or heroine needs to be the one person who goes in to sort the mess the enemy has started or brought to fruition. Even if they don’t do the deed completely on their own, their role would be crucial. It doesn’t always happen that way in reality although in wars, it is always the leaders who are shown than the significant foot soldiers or agents in the field, other than the smaller acts of bravery in rescuing their colleagues under heavy fire. Very few of them are shown to have a significance in changing the outcome. Reality and fiction rarely mix. Granted people don’t read fiction necessarily for realty but it is unusual that there is rarely a semblance of a real truth behind it although having the little guy or gal beat the odds is something that strikes a chord with most readers and why it’s a prevalent plot.

One thing that is odd, at least with fictional organisations on Earth is recruitment. Granted the selection is like to be from the criminal classes and mercenaries but would you truly trust them to an organisation’s ideals without a large incentive other than money? Considering that word would have to get around that you would be killed fighting the good guys, it’s amazing if anyone would willing want to enlist, especially if their failure rate is known. An organisation like Thrush also has an interesting retirement plan, if you live that long, and bumps off their pensioners. Of course, they don’t announce it to their employees but it does seem off that UNCLE doesn’t use this as a means to fight them. Would the promise of world domination belonging to a vindictive ruthless organisation be enough to want to belong to them? Maybe it’s the call of wearing a uniform, three square meals a day and allowed to kill people from time to time be enough of an incentive. It might not always bring the best people to your organisation which might account for their persistent failure. Assuming you succeed in your aims, what then? I doubt if you would offer mass redundancies. You’d need your organisation there to keep everything under control. Any world domination would ultimately be a fight to stay at the top all the time.

Maybe it’s just a matter of world domination that is the key and those who join up see it as a means to be on the winning side. However, it wouldn’t just be manpower you would need. That would probably explain why organisations like Thrush have an advanced technological division to give them their edge. For that to be effective, you would need to recruit scientists and they would have to be pretty unscrupulous to do what you demand of them. Even so, you would still have to question their own motivations. Giving them the necessary facilities to do something when government funded projects aren’t available is one thing and indeed, the opportunity to do field tests is another incentive but they can always turn against their employer or even have plans to take over themselves. A lack of scruples allows that to happen. They are less likely to be idealists or just after the money. It’s no wonder such organisations keep their scientists under ‘protection’ or see them as an expandable asset when the project is complete. Likewise, it doesn’t stop such organisations from kidnapping either them or their relatives to keep them in line neither.

Ideology, as proven in our world, is a strong motivation but its aims have to be fanatical to keep the fervour up. Fanaticism can also lead to recklessness, especially for upcoming team members who feel they have to prove their worth. We should be grateful that the fictional versions never went too far down the religious route. Ultimately, you would need a balance of both types of people to keep them in check.

It should be pointed out that that because other organisations see you as being the bad guys doesn’t necessarily follow in that is the way you see yourselves. There’s no easy way to measure this and it can be a sticky wicket of morals and ethics. If the aim is to remove too much free will from people or make things worse for the average person then even they will classify you as being the bad guys.

The other consideration is money. You might want to take over the world but in the meantime, your employees would like to eat and have some leisure time, and pay is still a good incentive for loyalty. Is it then any wonder that such organisations have a detail employed for extortion and theft? It also keeps them in training and busy. The last thing you want are idle men. They get funny ideas of their own as to what they want to do next. The potentially really troublesome ones or slackers can soon become cannon fodder in such activities without anyone really wising up on the matter.

Considering all the various wars that are going on all over the world, would you really want to be running the world and putting a stop to it? It’s a major headache for our reality right now. If you succeeded in world domination then you would have to either have something in your possession that would ensure everyone behaved or you’d have a lot of bloodshed in maintaining your sense of order. You certainly couldn’t expect it to work using the same tools or weapons that everyone else has.

In a logistical manner, a lot of people don’t actually like war and are just grateful to be allowed to get on with their lives as long as the taxes are not too high and they have a comfortable level of living. Ergo, if you chose to rule the world and could do it bloodlessly, you might even get away with it. Then you would have to address why did you would want to do it in the first place? Even the lofty aim of world peace isn’t going to last. All you would be doing is become a target by everyone instead and become the common enemy.

If I was running such an organisation, I think to keep my overheads down, I would be planning to rule the world in as short an interval as possible. Five years at the most. How would I do it? Ah! That would be telling. Perhaps I’ll make a story of it.




© GF Willmetts 2013

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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