Isaac Asimov's Foundation - Cycles of History

Isaac Asimov's Foundation - Cycles of History

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Isaac Asimov's Foundation - Cycles of History

Foundation is a novel throughout which the cycles of history are present. Isaac Asimov's peculiar notions on how change in the environment affects the nature of historical change are present throughout this novel. Asimov uses principles of Marxism to fabricate his future history. Asimov also creates a future political structure modeled on the Roman Empire.

According to Jean Fielder, one of the greatest influences on Asimov's Foundation novel is Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This parallel is most discernible as Foundation depicts the gradual disintegration of a great empire, the concomitant rise in regional trade, and the eventual consolidation of political and economic power in the trading city- (or planet-) states. And, like a history, "[Foundation] focuses on mass movements rather than on individual actions"(Fiedler 59). In Foundation, the Galactic Empire is the gradually disintegrating great empire, just as the Roman Empire is the disintegrating empire in Gibbon's work. And, as in Gibbon's history, the Foundation builds a trading empire that later unites the planets together.

Many popular histories seem to focus on the empire-builder's military conquests. However, in Foundation, Asimov's history of the future "makes the cogent point that the true tools of empire-building are economic and socio-political development" (Fiedler 57). This principle is shown through the use of the Seldon Crises. Most often, the resolutions to these crises are a unique mix of psychological manipulation and technological usage. For example, the Galactic religion provides a means of psychologically manipulating the people of the galaxy to become dependent upon the technological sophistication of the Foundation.

Much of Asimov's Foundation is based upon Marxism and the Marxist principle of historical materialism. In Charles Elkins's opinion, these Marxist ideas include the

old puzzle of historical inevitability (predestination) versus free will, which itself flows out of the often unsuccessful yet desperately necessary-and therefore always repeated-struggles of men to control their personal futures and the futures of their societies.(Elkins 100)

These ideas are shown throughout Foundation, and in fact are the basis behind most of the heroic characters. Characters like Hober Mallow, Salvor Hardin, and Limmar Ponyets epitomize men who struggle to control their futures (Elkins 105). These men devote their lives to doing their part to help Seldon's Plan to be a success, but in reality, they are a planned part of Seldon's plan to help the Foundation succeed.

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The "random" choices these men make are all predetermined by Seldon's mathematical computations. Thus, these men try to control a future which has already been determined for them (Elkins 105).

In conclusion, the element of history provides the foundation of Foundation. The history of the Roman Empire and the principles of Marxism are all used in this novel. In addition, Asimov's ideas on historical change are present in the novel.

 
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