The following is a transcript of speech delivered on 15th March YC120 at Federal Navy Academy, Elore, by Rafal Vausienne (Specialist, Federal Marines, ret.) on invitation by the Elore Strategic Studies student club.
Reproduced on the Intergalactic Summit in the interests of the public and further discussion.
n the modern Federal political and cultural milieu it is all too common for many of our fellow citizens to fall into the trap of as the philosopher Jurien Suvicou once put it, “Living without remembering the past; nor looking towards the future; there exists only the here and now with all its perils.” While I shall leave the moral perils of such to the esteemed Suvicou, such a myopic worldview presents its own perils in the realms of Federal security policy and foreign affairs. The issues impacting both Federal security policy and foreign affairs are heralded as, “Unprecedented,” by our politicians and bureaucrats, which divorced from both past and future, are to be considered as a never-ending series of isolated incidents without causal relationships.
Only the most proximate events are proffered as explanation for current Federal security challenges: Why are we at war with the Caldari State (limited as it might be by militias at present)? Because of the Luminaire Incursion of YC110 by the State Armed Forces might be the most expedient answer. However, finding only the expedient answers as to the reasons for the present conflict in such proximate events risks ignoring the underlying structures – economic; political; cultural; and historical – and their pressures which served as the preludes to war, and consequently of which a Leviathan over the Caldari Homeworld in Luminaire was its coda.
The present dynamics between the Federation and State and the challenges we now face should not be considered in isolation. They are not unique. The historian, Galis Ammiens, writing at the time of the wars between Garoun and Morthane identified the dynamic we now face: “It was a rivalry for hegemony and the fear instilled in Garoun by the rise of Morthane which made war inevitable.” Just as an ascendant Morthane threatened Garoun’s already established predominance; so too has an ascendant Caldari State threatened the Federation’s predominance – both in the past and in the present.
However, despite the insight of Ammiens, the consequences of such Hegemon Rivalry do not always have to result in war. My objective today is not to instill a sense of fatalism on the inevitability of war, nor to imply that wars are simply the product of a historical determinism. Rather, the historical confrontation between Garoun and Morthane should be regarded as a parable for the current confrontation between our Federation and the State.
//Garoun versus Morthane
A millenia and a half ago the Garoun Empire and Seven Armies of Morthane found themselves embroiled in the First Garoun Morthane War; a war their leaders did not desire but which in the end they nonetheless felt compelled to fight. Some observers at the time pointed out the differences in religion or political structures, and the ethical issues surrounding slavery as the factors which lead to war. They should not be ignored as contributing factors, but they emphasize the more proximate factors between the Garoun Empire and Morthane. Galis Ammiens primal insight that, “It was a rivalry for hegemony and the fear instilled in Garoun by the rise of Morthane which made war inevitable.” Alludes to a more fundamental cause.
The severe structural stresses in a hegemon rivalry such as existed between the Garoun Empire and Morthane, when a rising power threatens to overthrow the established power creates an environment in which it does not require extraordinary or indeed unprecedented events, but even the most mundane of international flashpoints risk igniting an all-out conflict. In this case, a rising power such as Morthane will feel it deserve recognition and respect and become resentful that its ambitions are being curtailed by the established Hegemon; and in the case of the established Hegemon, such as the Garoun Empire, the rise of a new power instills fears of losing their predominance and the destruction of the status quo they have created in their own interests.
Such structural stresses do not only exist in the realms of affairs between nations. They can exist in the financial and business spheres, such as when a new competitor utilizing new disruptive technologies threatens to usurp already established companies and industries. Or to take a look at current Federal politics, such as when the worldview and ideologies of Solitude threaten the establishment of the Core systems. It is in the affairs between nations in which such competition must be regarded with particular care for the consequences can be so particularly destructive due to their access to the instruments of force and violence.
How then did these two great powers of the classical world find themselves consumed in a catastrophic conflict which ultimately proved fatal for both? Even as their leaders recognized their differences in culture, religion, and politics would lead to robust competition, but equally recognizing that a war would prove disastrous and sought to take steps to avoid it. The deep structural pressures in the relationship between the Garoun Empire and Morthane caused by their rivalry over hegemony between a rising and established power led to successive standoffs pushing them to the brink. Demagogues on both sides became more passionate; populists within each political system became more inflammatory and bellicose, their claims of the dangers posed by their adversary more sharp, decrying those leaders who sought peace or accommodation as unpatriotic at best or traitors working for the enemy at worst.
The leaders of both Garoun and Morthane rapidly succumbed to a domestic political and social situation in which their own people saw the other as an existential threat to their sovereignty and interests, and which saw any failure to stand up to the other as shameful, dishonourable, unpatriotic, disastrous, and a weakness which the other side would try to exploit. Morthani assertions of their rights grew into arrogance. Garouni anxieties over their own position as a continental Hegemon metastasized into fear and paranoia. The ability for a nation to make sovereign decisions and conduct affairs in what they consider their own spheres of influence without any outside coercion is vital to discussions of national security. In that regard, both sides increasingly saw the other as intolerable and encroaching upon what each considered their own vital security interests.
As each new crisis and standoff raised the stakes; so too did the risks for an egregious miscalculation. Objective facts and conditions must be perceived by human beings, and these perceptions can be distorted by human emotions and feeling. The anxieties in a ruling power can misinterpret events and exaggerate the nature of threats just as much as they can intensify an ambitious self-confidence in a rising power as to their own abilities leading to unrealistic expectations and encouraging risk. In both cases, they lead to an increased likelihood of outright conflict as both sides feel war is their only option – even if it is contravention of objective realities.
The structural pressures in the rivalry between Garoun and Morthane led inexorably towards war. As it grew, so too did a confrontational domestic situation between both sides fuelled by fears, resentment, and suspicion, in which the populace increasingly began to see war as the least terrible option available despite the caution of wise statesmen like Doule dos Rouvenor I who recognized war’s destructive potential.
The First War between Garoun and Morthane would later claim the life of the Garoun Empire, Doule dos Rouvenor I, and even though it is widely considered to have ended in a stalemate the structural pressures of their Hegemon rivalry would persist resulting in the even more destructive Second War. When the results of that Second War contributed directly to the collapse of the Garoun Empire and the dissolution of a weakened Morthane into its Successor States unable to defend itself from the predation of new powers in the coming eras, the leaders of both might lament how foolhardy they had been in hindsight.
We would do well to learn from this period of Gallentean history, given the striking resemblances to the current rivalry between the Federation and State, lest we again repeat the mistakes of the past.
//Gallentean and Caldari Civilization
The past and present relationship between the Federation and State bears parallels to that of the Garoun Empire and Morthane: The cultural, political, and economic ascendancy of Caldari Megacorporations threatened the established cultural, political, and economic hegemony of those worlds whose progenitor was Old Gallentia and which would later form the Federation. To paraphrase the words of Galis Ammiens, “It was a rivalry for hegemony and the fear instilled in the Federation by the rise of the Caldari which made war inevitable.” The revanchism over Caldari Prime on the part of the State and its Patriot Megacorporations in particular, or the rise of nationalist reactionary movements such as the UDI or the Templis Dragonaurs should not be considered as solely the causes of current conflict and confrontation. They remain important issues that must be addressed, but they are proximate causes, symptomatic of the more fundamental structural stresses caused by competition and rivalry – culturally, politically, economically, and finally militarily – in our shared past, and in particular the Colonial Era preceding the formation of the Gallente Federation and the secession of the Caldari State.
In today’s Federation it would be widely considered in many circles impolitick or censurable to discuss the differences between civilizations due to the ideological prevalence of thought adhering to Progressive neoliberalism and its antecedent philosophies and ideologies derived from the successors of the Garoun Empire, which seeks to minimize as much as possible any distinctions between cultures and civilizations in service to the cause of a political correctness which asserts the commonality of humanity to universal values – such as individualism, democracy, human rights, liberty, the free market, private property rights, and liberalism – which should be accepted by all of humanity as a whole.
If one were to describe the nature of civilization as the broadest apex of cultural association of peoples whom share objective qualities such as language, history, customs, government, institutions, religion, and the more subjective self-identification to said civilization by the individual, then one can say there exists a definite Gallentean civilization and a definite Caldari civilization. While the boundaries between civilizations can be blurred – such as with pre-globalization Gallentia – the differences between Gallentean and Caldari civilization are stark. Whereas Gallentean beliefs in individualism, liberty, equality, and democracy champion the causes of opposing authority, distrusting the government, ensuring individual liberty via the checks and balances of the competing branches of a limited government, individual entrepreneurship, and the sanctifying of human rights as inalienable, Caldari civilization is markedly different and even inimical to such beliefs.
At the time of first contact between Gallente and Caldari, the Caldari nation-states were noted by the anthropologist Maivelle Iviens as, “…in terms of governance they prefer a defined hierarchy, and the authority of a strong centre usually under a single person. The prevailing emphasis culturally, is on communal consensus and the social protocols of ‘saving face’ to preserve a harmony in which individual subordination to society, and in turn the subordination of society to the primacy of the State is to be regarded as the ‘Greatest Good’.” These observations made at the time should be considered sweeping, but they do touch upon elements of Caldari culture and civilization which persist to the present day in the modern Caldari State.
If the ruling maxim of the Garoun Empire which later became the civilization of the Gallente Federation was, “Liberty and Equality,” Then it should be recognized that the ruling maxim of the Raata Empire which later became the civilization of the Caldari State was: “Know Thy Place.” This commandment reflects a Caldari cultural ethos in which order and stability, both politically and socially, are valued as the Greatest Good, the only alternative to which is chaos. Order is created through the establishment of a hierarchy in which everyone has a place, and more importantly, knows what their place in the hierarchy is. Gallentean conceptions of liberty and freedom as presently understood would disrupt the established Caldari conceptions of social order and hierarchy – inviting chaos.
Gallentean culture and civilization emphasizes the necessary evils of government – to protect the rights of the individual from foreign threats abroad, and violations from criminals at home – in which the fundamental dilemma caused by recognizing that a government with sufficient powers to perform its necessary functions will tend towards tyranny is resolved by the sharing of power between institutions: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, designed to create constant struggle, competition, and even dysfunction so as to prevent arbitrary exercises and abuses of power with effective checks and balances.
In contrast, Caldari culture and civilization emphasizes the necessary good of government. The Caldari cultural ethos of ensuring social order and stability makes a strong government indispensable in achieving such aspirations. The historical legacy of the Raata has left an imprint on Caldari civilization: When there existed a strong central government in the Raata Empire under the authority of an Emperor and its social hierarchy the Caldari experienced centuries of peace and prosperity. When this central authority was weakened and later abolished upon the collapse of the Raata Empire there was the chaos of internecine warfare between the warlords of its successor states.
Modern Caldari Megacorporations display these tendencies towards the authoritarianism of a strong central government embodied by the Raata Empire in which significant Executive power is invested in their ersatz Emperors – the Chief Executive Officer – whom govern via the instrument of a hierarchical and meritocratic corporate bureaucracy. Strong central governance by the Megacorporation is regarded by the Caldari as the principal agent through which social order and stability is maintained and advances their beliefs in a Greater Good both at home and abroad.
It is the conviction of Garouni liberal epistemology that its principles – individualism, liberty, democracy, limited government, free markets – are inherently universal, and not a product of Garouni civilization, which is to be embraced by all of humanity creates a fundamental disjunct: in seeking to curtail the tyranny of political absolutism at home, it promulgates the tyranny of ideological and philosophical absolutism abroad. The concept of a, “Universal Civilization,” remains a Garouni invention that places it at odds with other cultures due to the tacit implication that those societies whom fail to adhere to, or practice its principles must be considered as somehow illegitimate. Predictably, such an attitude will be seen as parochial and diminutive towards those societies and civilizations whose cultural dictums view Gallentean liberal values as opposed to their own: fostering the resentment that they are perceived to live in an unenlightened political system awaiting only the dubious magnanimity of cultural “Uplifting” and enlightenment by Garouni tenets of liberalism.
The righteousness to spread the tenets of Garouni-style liberalism under the conceited moniker of the, “Cultural Deliverance Society,” was not well received by Caldari traditionalists who would later create the foundations of the State Megacorporations. The Gallentean belief that it is solely democracy, government of, by and for the people, that can be the only politically legitimate government through the consent of the governed was met with fundamental disagreement by many Caldari. For the Caldari, political legitimacy is derived from the competency and performance of those who are in a position of governance. A Caldari CEO whose decisions are regarded as incompetent or whom fails to deliver in the interests of corporate stakeholders risks being rapidly deposed from their position. This can be seen in recent State history: Tibus Heth rose to power during a recession in which corporate leaders were seen as having failed to perform due to nepotism and corruption; he maintained power so long as he was considered to be achieving national objectives such as meritocratic reforms; he was then deposed when news of the potential bankruptcy of Kaalakiota caused a loss of faith in his competency to manage the affairs of corporate governance. Questions of political legitimacy among Caldari find their answer in a ruthless consequentialism: performance justifies rule.
Rival conceptions on the matter of political legitimacy is not the only lasting point of contention in Federal-State relations, but it is one in which the differences of our diametrically opposed civilizational and cultural aspirations could be regarded as the most pronounced. Differences between civilizations and adjunct cultural values do not always have to lead to direct conflict, nor does conflict always have to mean the violent confrontation of war between rival civilizations. In the instances in which war does occur between rival civilizations they can become both intense and protracted. In a structural dynamic such as challenges to a hegemony, it is also easier to find a peaceful or non-violent solution to the stresses involved if groups come from within the same civilization. Accommodation to a rising power who shares the same or similar cultural values and beliefs by a hegemon is less difficult to make since it represents a continuation of the same culture and civilization. As the relationship between the Federation and the State has shown, when the cultural values of rival civilizations differ greatly, accommodations that have to be made to secure peace become more difficult and both rivalry and conflict are prolonged as a result.
//Federation versus State
The centuries between the colonial expansion outwards from Luminaire and the formation of the Gallente Federation would establish the structural stresses of a Hegemon Rivalry caused by the established predominance of Gallentean culture and civilization being challenged by resurgent and ambitious Caldari Megacorporations who would later form the Caldari State. The de facto status quo of a Gallentean interstellar order between its colonies (which had parallels to the liberal international system of the World Democracy League on Gallentia) and which would become further formalized under the Constitution and Charter of the Gallente Federation would be seen as intolerable by Caldari Megacorporations, which was to be regarded as nothing more than an attempt by the Gallente majority to impose their civilization through an interstellar system as described by some leading Caldari commentators at the time such as Kurivala Tuomoto: “…This new Federation is nothing more than an attempt to advance Gallente interests and business with noble pretensions of human rights and democracy,” and, “…the Federation and its Gallente government desires only these things: to coerce us culturally, to subvert us politically, to contain us strategically, dominate us economically, and divide us territorially.”
The dynamics of rivalry over economic and political hegemony between the established Gallentean power of liberal democratic colonial republics and the increased assertiveness and influence of Caldari Megacorporations would only become exacerbated by the pre-existing cultural and civilizational fault lines that existed between the competing systems – leading steadily and inexorably towards the catastrophe of war.
Currently in the modern Federation with our encounters of the Jin-Mei, Amarr, Minmatar and past history with the Caldari, the idea that Gallentean conceptions of civilization such as human rights, individualism, democracy, liberty, and liberalism are universal values that should be embraced by all of humanity remains a question open to vigorous discussion which must accept the objective reality that we are the sole society that embrace such ideals as our own. However, in the centuries of colonial development prior to the establishment of the Federation, the conception that not only should, but that there could exist in fact a truly universal civilization according to inherent precepts of liberalism did not meet with serious contention.
Initial Gallentean advantages in technology, industry, finance, and population would be leveraged in colonial development to create an interstellar Gallente colonial majority in which the cultural narrative that the universal values of Gallentean civilization were to be embraced by all mankind was for all intents and purposes unchallenged. Instances of direct challenge to the prevailing narrative of a benevolent Gallentean hegemony would only require a bit of a culturally imperialistic nudge in the right direction (such as with the Caldari and the Cultural Deliverance Society) in order to uphold and maintain.
Prevailing attitudes at the time was that of a unipolar Gallentean cultural hegemony in which liberal beliefs as understood by Gallentean values were taken for granted as the sole and only trajectory for human development, and which was backed by a Gallentean hegemony industrially, economically, territorially, and demographically as regards colonial development. With the rapid rise of Caldari Megacorporations in the decades prior to the advent of the Federation due to the growth in GDP, industry, population, resources, and territory from their secret colonies, the structural stresses of competition and rivalry over Hegemony would be established and both Federation and State would fall into the same trap as Garoun and Morthane a millenia and a half prior.
The growing power of Caldari Megacorporations in which they were able to leverage the productivity of their secret colonies into an outsize political and economic influence would foster increasing resentments among Caldari leaders and populations at what they saw as their subordinate position in interstellar colonial affairs. The increasing confidence of Caldari Megacorporations would have them assert that new arrangements would have to be made to reflect their newfound status and the changing realities of power. In contrast, Gallentean colonies would regard Caldari corporate demands as unreasonable and ungrateful – after all, who was it that gave the Caldari the technology and knowledge to be a spacefaring civilization, as well as the stability of the interstellar market systems they profited from in the first place? – which would only foster Gallentean colonial resentments and an entrenched desire to defend the status quo they had created as a cultural, economic, and political hegemon.
Rising tensions and resentments between Caldari Megacorporations and Gallentean colonies would reach its crisis point with the advent of the Gallente Federation. One of the contributing factors as to the formation of the Gallente Federation that should be regarded is as a direct result of the ongoing hegemon rivalry between Caldari Megacorporations and Gallentean colonies. With the establishment of the Federation, Gallentean colonies would move from the more confederated and ad-hoc basis of interstellar relations between each other into a system more able to impose their will collectively against the encroachments of Caldari corporate interests and the Megacorporations regarded as their rivals for interstellar hegemony.
Kurivala Tuomoto already described how many in the Caldari Megacorporations viewed the creation of the Gallente Federation as: “…the Federation and its Gallente government desires only these things: to coerce us culturally, to subvert us politically, to contain us strategically, dominate us economically, and divide us territorially.” The birth of the Federation was seen as nothing more than a metaphorical slap to the face of Caldari Megacorporate ambitions to revise the already established Gallentean status quo. A clear signal that Gallentean colonies would defend their predominance and interests against the rising power, and in their eyes, threat of Caldari corporate influence in the domains of the Federation and its Gallente majority colonies.
Contributing to the escalating animosity between the Federation and Caldari Megacorporations would be the inimically opposed cultural and civilizational values between Gallente and Caldari. The crux of which would be centred on questions of political legitimacy of government when the secret Caldari corporate colonies were discovered by the Gallente Federation. While both Gallente and Caldari colonies would be founded and financed by private companies, the differences in cultural values would mean that whereas Gallente corporate colonies would tend towards the handing over of local corporate governance to the self-rule of an elected liberal-democracy in accordance with Gallentean liberal precepts at a certain self-sustaining stage of population, infrastructure, services and industrial maturity, Caldari Megacorporations did not. For Caldari colonists if the Megacorporations were able to provide effective local governance in addition to infrastructure, industries, jobs, and essential services then the lack of any democratic rule was not regarded as illegitimate so long as the Megacorporations continued to display performance and competency according to Caldari values.
Perceptions on the issue of the secret Caldari corporate colonies would diverge along such polarized cultural and civilizational lines. For the Federation, demands to accept the rights of Caldari Megacorporate colonial governance was seen as not just an unreasonable demand but an impossible one. Acceptance of what was viewed as autocratic, authoritarian, and dictatorial corporate government would mean the cultural narrative that had developed for centuries, that the end-state of human society is in liberal-democratic government according to universal Gallentean principles, and which had been taken for granted for centuries was to be in question. The rejection on the part of the Caldari corporations to democratize along the lines of the Luminaire Model was to be considered as yet another attempt to challenge the liberal interstellar rules-based order of the Federation between its member-states.
On the other hand, for the Caldari Megacorporations, the demands by the Federation to democratize their colonies was to be considered by corporate leaders as an attempt to usurp their control and curtail their ambitions. Having been founded by Caldari traditionalists in the aftermath of the Cultural Deliverance Society on their homeworld, Caldari corporate leaders would view the Federal ultimatums to cede their governance of their colonies to elected liberal-democracies as a redux of the humiliations of the past when they were unable to resist the cultural impositions of foreign Gallentean “barbarians” during a period of their history when they were technologically and economically weaker.
While leaders on both sides between the Federation and Caldari Megacorporations recognized the destructive potential of a war between them in lives, material assets and economic loss due to the deep integrations of trade and finance, the ability to manage the conflict arising between them would become increasingly untenable. Federal attempts to maintain a benign Gallentean hegemony would fester into paranoia, anxiety, and mistrust of Caldari intentions. Caldari attempts to assert what they believed to be their rights, command respect, and revise the established status quo to better reflect their interests would manifest into arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity towards a Federation seen as keeping them down.
Attempts by leaders on both sides to reach some form of compromise would see them overtaken by domestic politics as tensions mounted. The rise of populist and nationalist sentiments on both sides would give increased influence and sway to groups such as the Ultranationalists on the side of the Federation and the Templis Dragonaurs on the side of the Caldari, whom even though on opposing sides of the crisis shared:
An ethnic particularism breeding discriminatory racism which viewed the other as “inferior”;
A desire to make their civilizations “Great Again”;
Pride in the exceptionalism of their own civilization in which the civilization ruled by the other was the primary obstacle in realizing future greatness;
The belief that only force would be able to confront the other and deter them from attempts to thwart national ambitions
As was with the case of Garoun and Morthane during their own period of Hegemon rivalry, such domestic elements would with each successive standoff decry their leaders who sought accommodation or compromise as unpatriotic or traitors; their claims of the dangers posed by the other side fuelled by misperceptions and suspicion; their demagoguery demonizing the opposition through unsubstantiated propaganda more passionate and pervasive, distorting facts through fear; and their calls for war as the only solution to an intolerable situation created by their rivals ever more sharp.
In the end, paranoia, fear and misperception by the hegemon would lead Gallente Ultranationalists to label the Caldari corporate colonies as military bases being used as the vanguard for a full scale invasion of the Federation. Resentment and a patriotism established in a sense of victimhood and humiliation by a rising power would lead Caldari insurgents of the Templis Dragonaurs to commit the bombing of Nouvelle Rouvenor. Pretexts established, the Ultranationalists would usurp the Federal government in the name of security against the Caldari threat, and upon the bombing of Caldari Prime trigger the formation of the Caldari State by its Megacorporations in response. Thus, the structural pressures created by hegemon rivalry would claim new victims just as with Garoun and Morthane, resulting in over a century of interstellar warfare and claim the lives of millions as a result.