Just in case anyone didn’t get the gist of my earlier statement, I want to avoid burying the lede here. That’s also why I’m making it into its own topic, rather than putting it into Off-Topic (and wanting to not derail your own thread any more than it has been): Gaven Lok’ri, you and the rest of PIE leadership are cowards. Every one of you who unquestioningly adheres to whatever whim the Throne or your individual Houses decree, regardless of how it contradicts what has come before, you are cowards. You are cowards, and you betray the very lords, ladies, Empire, and God you claim to serve.
Service, and loyalty, are not the same as obedience. They are similar in nature, and often go hand-in-hand, but they are very much not the same. A loyal servant has an obligation to look after the needs and interests of their superior, whether that superior styles themself an employer, owner, liege, or simply occupy an oversight position in the shared hierarchy. They also have this obligation toward the greater organization and hierarchy that they serve. Often, the terms of service include an expectation of obedience, but that should never be mistaken for an overriding obligation. To do so is to fail the actual obligation service brings.
As an example: A man serves his lord. The lord is prone to fits of depression and self-harm. If, in the throes of this depression, the lord orders the servant to bring him a firearm so that the lord can commit suicide, should the servant obey? The stance taken by the Exubitoris would see the servant do exactly that, and the lord then kill himself.
This is not service. This is not loyalty.
Service would demand that in such a situation, the truly loyal servant must have the courage to risk his lord’s wrath with disobedience. He must have the courage to say ‘no, sir, I cannot. If refuse out of concern for your welfare’. And it may be that this act will result in discipline. It is entirely possible that by disobeying, he enrages his lord and is punished and/or harmed for his insolence. That does not change the fact that his act was the loyal choice, and the choice of faithful service, rather than mere obedience. It simply highlights that true service often requires courage.
Questions Without Answers
I posed two questions in my earlier statement. Those questions have gone unanswered. I have very little doubt, given the number of times Aldrith began to reply and then stopped, that he has answers for those questions, and was told something along the lines of ‘for the love of God, man, don’t give her the opportunity!’ by those he obeys. I’m not going to call his obedience there cowardice, however. Aldrith is not a great fool, and as he is not a great fool, he would have known that my eventual response did not need his answers. So clearly, he had no need to disobey.
But those questions do illustrate the problem with blind obedience, and PIE’s leadership knows it. That’s likely at least part of why Aldrith would have been told not to give me an answer I could use—that fear of having their precious righteousness questioned. Well… too bad.
The First Question
First, I asked if the occupant of the Imperial Throne is infallible. The answer is obviously ‘no’. Anyone who attempts to claim the Emperor or Empress is infallible much immediately answer ‘then how did Karsoth become Chamberlain?’ and similar questions. Why attack the Jove, and give the Minmatar the chance to rebel? Clearly, infallibility is off the table.
This is often ameliorated by claims that the Emperor or Empress interprets the Divine Will through consultation with the Theology Council. And that’s fine. That’s even a reasonable approach: get a whole lot of smart people together, and approach consensus. Very democratic of them, I say.
Mind you, I can’t stand democracy. Terrible system of government, all that mob rule. But I digress.
Heir Degrees of Separation
Let us, for the moment, stipulate the possibility that the Empress, speaking after consultation with the Theology Council, might be infallible. Not being omniscient, I can’t say that it’s impossible, after all. But does this edict come from the Empress, speaking after consultation with the Theology Council?
It does not. It comes from Lord Sarum. Lord Sarum, of course, has been granted “supreme command authority within their military circuits subject only to commands of the Imperial Throne” by the recent reorganization. However, this still does not grant Lord Sarum any degree of infallibility. He has the authority, the Empress says, but he’s still capable of making mistakes with it, even of doing things that are directly and catastrophically detrimental to the well-being of the Empire as a whole.
I wonder: if Lord Sarum were to attack Dam-Torsad, would his obedient vassals be serving the Empire by remaining obedient to him? Would service to the Empress require disobedience to their lord? Or, because they are his vassals under Holy Imperial Law, does it require obedience to him in rebellion? How are they to judge this?
It seems a stupid question, doesn’t it? And yet… PIE’s stance would mean they cannot judge it, that they cannot even then make the determination on their own. PIE’s stance would indicate that, as Chancellor Karsoth was legally the highest authority in the Empire at the time, even when unmasked as a Blooder, he should have been obeyed.
Question Number Two
This brings us to my second question, which was just as obvious: of course the Empress didn’t make anyone. She didn’t give anyone their toes, or anything else. For the faithful of Amarr, God did that. And God calls them all to service to God, through service to the Empress, the Empire, and their lords.
As Garrulor rules the skies; as Frisceas rules the sea;
As Emperor rules Holder; as Holder rules Serf;
Yet all under Heaven serve Me;
So shall Amarr rule the worlds of the Heavens.
- The Scriptures, Book of Reclaiming 3.19 - 3.21
All serve God, the Scriptures say. They do not say all serve those above them. They declare that the Emperor rules Holders, and the Holders rule serfs… but the serfs do not serve the Holders, and the Holders do not serve the Emperor. They serve God. And how should they serve?
“I will not hesitate when the test of Faith finds me, for only the strongest conviction will open the gates of paradise. My Faith in you is absolute; my sword is Yours, My God, and Your will guides me now and for all eternity.”
- The Scriptures, Prophet Kuria, Paladin’s Creed
There is, of course, a counterpoint, ready to hand and quick to the lips of those Amarr who seek to justify their cowardice:
"The Wrath of God is Immense. His Justice is Swift and Decisive. His Tolerance is Limited.
Be Careful. Pure Thought is the Instigator of Sin.
Be Watchful. Free Thought is the Begetter of Disorder.
Be Respectful. Uniform Thought is the Way of Life.
The Mercy of our Emperor is Limitless. His Rule is Benign and Righteous. His Love is Perpetual."
- The Scriptures, Book I, The Code of Demeanor
And yet… what is often overlooked when using this verse as a defense is the source itself: The Code of Demeanor. Outward bearing. Be careful, watchful, respectful. Uniform thought, the defensive say, is the Way of Life, but who is it that has strayed from that? Who is it that has introduced non-uniformity, if not those they say must be obeyed?
An Example of Loyal Disobedience
It is possible to dissent without disrespect. Samira Kernher’s recent treatise is a good example. It is unflinching, and it is critical, but it is not disrespectful. It is, in fact, careful, and watchful, and, as presented, it is guided by what the author believes God’s will to be.
That, of course, is where the defenders of obedience will say the error lies: Samira should not be thinking for herself. And in larger matters of the faith, of the structure and direction of the Empire, on matters where the Empress and the Council come together to issue an Edict, that is a perfectly consistent position to take. But again: The Empress issued no Edict on the enslavement of civilians within the warzone. That is a military decision of limited scope, even if its ramifications may be far, far more wide-reaching.
Are we to believe, then, that PIE’s leadership will insist that no-one within PIE should make military decisions on their own? That might make it a little difficult to fly their ships, to lead their fleets, to choose which complexes should be contested. And indeed, PIE makes no such claims. PIE’s upper echelons—what was their admiralty before they were yoked to the Order of the Sacred Throne—regularly take orders from those of lower rank in fleets. Individual pilots are trusted with a range of latitude including, in many cases, the discretion to choose who lives and who dies.
And that’s good. That’s right. The pilots in question are skilled, and highly-trained adults who take responsibility for their decisions. Because that’s what adults do: they make difficult decisions, and they take responsibility for the choices they make. PIE’s position urges their pilots to deny that duty, as adults, as Amarr. It orders their pilots, and exhorts their allies, to be children. Let mummy and daddy make the hard choices, kids, all you have to do is what you’re told.
Any pilot who would accept that proposition should not be flying a combat ship. Any pilot who would endorse that position should not be allowed to lead the crew of a garbage scow.
Growing Up Is Hard… and Scary
It’s easy to simply ‘obey’, to be the child, listening to mummy and daddy. It’s safe. Adults make difficult decisions. Adults take responsibility for their own lives. And adults accept that their decisions have consequences. It often takes courage to face those consequences. It takes courage, being an adult, especially in difficult or trying times, times of upheaval. It takes courage to be the loyal servant who, as an adult, is willing to say ‘this is not right, and this is not in your best interests, my lord. I will not obey this command.’ It takes courage to be willing to dissent out of loyalty and love for those you serve. It takes none to preach unconditional obedience.
That’s not to say, of course, that PIE’s stance is unreasonable. After all, they have reasons. The former Admiralty have all been granted titles, adding on to the ones each and every one of them already had. Lords and Ladies, Holders and ennobled aristocrats, all of them have something to lose. Aldrith, for example, has his children to think about. It’s not unreasonable to want to protect them. It’s not even wrong to want to protect them, no matter the personal sacrifices he needs to make.
But it is not courageous. It is not brave to remain silent and compliant, huddled in fear of losing what you have.
Capsuleers are great for talking about courage, about honor. We fight over… everything, really. Wealth, power, station, love… these are the things so many immortal capsuleers fight for, risk… well, nothing… for. After all, they’re capsuleers. They believe themselves immortal. They casually throw around the wealth of whole worlds. And they fight, and explode, and do it all again, over and over. They do it all, chasing these things they want, and risking nothing. But courage requires risk. There is no courage to be found in those who take no risks.
As there is, it seems, no courage to be found in PIE.
Feel free to ignore this. Feel free to respond however you like. It will not change the craven nature of putting obedience above true loyalty and service.