Home Humor & Satire A State of Fiction: The Do No Harm Party

A State of Fiction: The Do No Harm Party


Fiction is awesome, in my opinion. Reading fiction isn’t just about escapism, it’s about expanding the mind and considering that maybe, just maybe, anything is possible. Writing fiction allows the author to express him or herself in ways that defy conventional wisdom. With the passage of time, many of the ideas and technologies presented in works of fiction have inspired individuals to shoot for the stars. Through that process they disprove old theories of how life, the universe, and everything work, while bringing revolutionary new technologies into reality. But what happens when fictional idealism is taken out of the pages and institutionalized in political ideology?
When crafting fiction, authors have a tremendous amount of freedom to craft the past, present, and future to fit whatever reality they want. Like it or not, libertarianism is largely inspired by one particular fictional author who did just that. As part of a thought exercise at Alaska Commons, we consider the social and political implications of breathing political party life into some of our favorite works of fiction.
The “Do No Harm” Party
The Do No Harm Party takes their idealistic cues from the Three Laws of Robotics found in Isaac Asimov’s famous Robot series of science fiction novels. They are a shining example of the problems encountered when you boil down the complexity of social and political issues into an easy to follow dogmatic ideology, no matter how logical and rational those ideals may be.
The First Law
The first rule of the DNH Party is “The Party may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” This rule alone is a major source of controversy within the political rank and file. What did Asimov mean by “injure” and “harm”? For the DNH extremists this means all forms of harm: physical, mental, emotional, etc.
The only logical way for a political party to enforce this rule is through complete totalitarianism. At birth, all citizens should be issued a Kevlar armored onesy to protect them from all of the bumps, scratches and bruises that they would otherwise occur. As they grow physically, the onesy would be upgraded in size accordingly.
All high-risk jobs should be illegal to humans and performed by machines. There are no welders, security guards, police officers, firefighters, fishermen, soldiers, or anything of the sort where people might get harmed in the line of performing their duties. At least not in any traditional manner of thinking. Instead those people would have “proxies”, automated robots that the citizen controls to perform their respective duties. The DNH Party believes that much of society and GDP should be dedicated to the manufacturing, repair, and reclamation/recycling of proxies.
War is outright, and all military actions rely on non-lethal weaponry and advanced crowd-control techniques.
All resource management should be handled by complex super computers. Since all humans are implied to be on equal footing, resources should be distributed evenly, according to basic individual needs. Avoiding social wide excess also cuts down on trash and pollution, leaving more resources intact and in better shape for future generations.
The Second Law
The second Party Law is “The Party must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.”  While the DNH Party believes that the government is the absolute authority and should have total control, this law ensures that they are ultimately at the hand and will of the people. Think of it as a benevolent dictatorship of The People, By the People, and For the People. Party affiliation and participation is open to anyone, provided that their ultimate mantra is “Do No Harm” and that they follow the Three Laws to the letter.
The Third Law
The final Law is “The Party must protect its own existence as long as such existence doesn’t conflict with the First or Second Law.” Here is the Achilles heel of the DNH Party: at any point in time, should someone rationally and logically prove that the existence of the party is in and of itself a threat to human beings, then the Party collapses and society plunges into anarchy.
Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics were revolutionary in Science Fiction. Most authors before him used robots in antagonistic roles. They were often a metaphor for the industrial age gone wrong, terrorizing humanity instead of helping it. With the Three Laws Asimov introduced a new trope, the robot as a rational and helpful actor, mans mechanical best friend. A system of governance built on such rational and utilitarian ideals would, under perfect conditions, also be humanities helpful best friend. Unfortunately, those perfect conditions don’t exist. While the ideals of rational robotic laws governing society make for a great narrative, they’re also unrealistic. Such is usually the case when we take simplified ideals and try to mold the complex world we live in around them.