Reliance on authority. Stagnation. From Isaac Asimov’s Foundation

Maximilian Rehn
3 min readJan 18, 2022


“And don’t forget this. Even though he could foresee the problem then, we can see it equally well now. Therefore, if he could foresee the solution then, we should be able to see it now. After all, Seldon was not a magician. There are no trick methods of escaping from a dilemma that he can see and we can’t.”

“But, Hardin,” reminded Fara, “we can’t!”

“But you haven’t tried. You haven’t tried once. First, you refused to admit that there was a menace at all! Then you reposed an absolutely blind faith in the Emperor! Now you’ve shifted it to Hari Seldon. Throughout you have invariably relied on authority or on the past never on yourselves.

His fists balled spasmodically. “It amounts to a diseased attitude a conditioned reflex that shunts aside the independence of your minds whenever it is a question of opposing authority. There seems no doubt ever in your minds that the Emperor is more powerful than you are, or Hari Seldon wiser. And that’s wrong, don’t you see?

For some reason, no one cared to answer him.

Hardin continued: “It isn’t just you. It’s the whole Galaxy. Pirenne heard Lord Dorwin’s idea of scientific research. Lord Dorwin thought the way to be a good archaeologist was to read all the books on the subject written by men who were dead for centuries. He thought that the way to solve archaeological puzzles was to weigh the opposing authorities. And Pirenne listened and made no objections. Don’t you see that there’s something wrong with that?

Again the note of near-pleading in his voice. Again no answer.

He went on: “And you men and half of Terminus as well are just as bad. We sit here, considering the Encyclopedia the all-in-all. We consider the greatest end of science. is the classification of past data. It is important, but is there no further work to be done? We’re receding and forgetting, don’t you see? Here in the Periphery they’ve lost nuclear power. In Gamma Andromeda, a power plant has undergone meltdown because of poor repairs, and the Chancellor of the Empire complains that nuclear technicians are scarce. And the solution? To train new ones? Never! Instead they’re to restrict nuclear power.”

And for the third time: “Don’t you see? It’s Galaxywide. It’s a worship of the past. It’s a deterioration a stagnation!”

He stared from one to the other and they gazed fixedly at him.

Fara was the first to recover. “Well, mystical philosophy isn’t going to help us here. Let us be concrete. Do you deny that Hari Seldon could easily have worked out historical trends of the future by simple psychological technique?”

“No, of course not,” cried Hardin. “But we can’t rely on him for a solution. At best, he might indicate the problem, but if ever there is to be a solution, we must work it out ourselves. He can’t do it for us.”

Fulham spoke suddenly. “What do you mean ‘indicate the problem’? We know the problem.”

Hardin whirled on him. “You think you do? You think Anacreon is all Hari Seldon is likely to be worried about. I disagree! I tell you, gentlemen, that as yet none of you has the faintest conception of what is really going on.”

“And you do?” questioned Pirenne, hostilely.

“I think so!” Hardin jumped up and pushed his chair away. His eyes were cold and hard.



Maximilian Rehn

Change is good. Writing too slowly wastes your time, while writing too quickly wastes your ideas. Writing too long wastes other people’s time, while…