Off-Topic Thread vol. 2

[ 2020.09.30 21:45:54 ] Aldrith Shutaq > Holy lands do not become unholy when occupied by an enemy.

I want to thank you for bringing this insight to my attention, Lord-Consort. It comes at a difficult time, and has impressed upon me, through meditations on the Scriptures, a reminder that the stars belong to God alone. No matter what the next weeks bring in this apparent suspension in hostilities, the stars of Holy Amarr and beyond will not cease to belong to God’s domain.

It is for this reason that I feel God’s commandment to witness His glory in light, and here I will remain, nearby to the stars that the invaders believe their own. May the faithful recall the Code of Demeanor and the Book of Missions, and may they allow God’s hope to fill them, and light the way.

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Does it? I mean, isn’t that the very essence of the feudal model in the first place? Each level commands a certain range of armed forces, and the highest levels use the collective pressure of their combined might to keep each of the lower lords in line.

I mean, sure, ‘I RULE, I AM STRONGEST’ on its own breaks down pretty quick when people gang up on Mr. Strongest, but once you start cloaking it in ritual and pomp… it’s sort of the basis for every authoritarian system of government, ever.

Yeah, you and I are going to disagree on that, Arrendis.

A feudal system is ultimately a sort of hierarchy of favors and duties. It’s very top-down, and power does tend to influence one’s place in the hierarchy (though it’s easy for that to get out of control, which is one reason the Amarr are so slow about handing out hereditary promotions), but structurally it’s less about who can crush whom than who has been granted what by whom and who owes duty (fealty) to whom. Often it’s all bound together by familial bonds as well as formal hierarchical ones, with allegiances cemented by marriage.

Of course, as in any system, there are those who will use the rules only as suits them and otherwise ignore them. But criminals aren’t all that rare anywhere you go, and real loyalty in a feudal system is both expected in theory and enormously valued in practice.

There’s a huge difference between all that and a state of “might makes right,” which would be basically what the Sabik live with: a society in which “truly loyal subject” is synonymous with “pathetic fool.” Just because it doesn’t look fair to you (and by your standards it definitely isn’t) doesn’t make it such a merciless melee of drawn knives.

Eh, that’s after long periods of repetition and formalization, though. It starts off as ‘you will oversee these lands for me and collect their taxes. In return, I will give you this power and let you marshal forces, but should you fail to serve, I will remove you, and I have the force… to enforce that.’

That’s your hierarchy of favors and duties: ultimately, the ‘favor’ is ‘I will let you hold power’, and the ultimate duty is ‘and you will obey, and come when I call so we can crush opposition to that power with our massed forces’.

Like I said: you wrap it up in pomp and ritual. But underneath it all is the ‘I have the power to harm you, so you will obey.’ Be it physically, socially, or economically, that’s still ‘might makes right’. It’s still ‘obey or it’ll come down to fighting’. That’s why Khanid made sure to steal enough of the Empire’s military to make the fight one the Empire couldn’t really afford to have. That was the only real check on the Emperor’s power: steal that might.

Look at the Empire’s history of dealing with outsiders: The Khanid were brought into the fold and exalted for their military power. The Ni-Kunni forced to submit at gunpoint. The Minmatar, openly attacked for no other reason than “because we can”. And what stops the Amarr program of expansion-by-violence?

Someone they don’t have the military force to do it to. The Gallente. The Jove. They make common cause (sort of) with the State only because let’s face it, they couldn’t afford a war at that point. And now, they’re right back to pushing the ‘reclaiming by the sword’… because they can.

Might makes right. They just do a really good job of controlling who in their society gets to be mighty.

You seem to be taking your sense of current Amarrian foreign policy from Ms. Yassavi. House Sarum was given authority to try a thing. It doesn’t mean that thing has the weight of the Empire behind it, not yet (much to the frustration of certain persons).

Every society maintains an underlayer of “I have the power to harm you, so you will obey.” It’s the subtext of law, especially criminal law but also a lot of civil administration. What you describe isn’t “might makes right,” but an attempt to introduce a pattern of “right makes might,” where the loyal and virtuous prosper.

It doesn’t work perfectly. So what? Nothing ever will. And you’re not so naïve as to believe that even “the (alleged) consent of the governed” functions without coercive teeth behind it, so what are we talking about this for, Arrendis? Just to illuminate the violence inherent in the system-- to a greater or lesser degree, in every system?

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Actually, that’s exactly what that means. Just because the Empire isn’t leaning in, that doesn’t mean the whole thing wasn’t done with the Empress’ authority under-writing it.

And I might believe your viewpoint that it’s trying to assure ‘right makes might’… except that funnily enough, ‘right’ doesn’t enter into it. There’s never any mandatory checks on the power of the mighty in order to assure systemic protection of the powerless. Holders, for example, can be as abusive as they want, and it’s merely a ‘tut-tut’ in polite society. Murder thousands of people who were already victims of a terrorist attack? There won’t even be a condemnation! You’re more likely to get promoted. The oppressed attempt to even raise an issue about their grievance? Guess they gotta die!

Right never makes might. Right can only restrain might.

Do bottom-up systems also include an element of coercion? Sure, but again, that ‘coercion’ is the aggregate will of the members of society… not the will of a handful of petulant, spoiled potentates.

Permission is a little different from support. That House Sarum was allowed to try an experiment they’ve been lobbying for for decades is a sign that the Empress was at least considering adopting their preferred policy, but so far that broader policy hasn’t shifted to fall into step with Sarum’s preferences.

As for justice within the Empire, Aritcio Kor-Azor is deceased or I’d have a very famous living counterpoint to hold up.

The Empire isn’t what you continuously seem to want to make it, Arrendis. It’s a civilization, and it’s mostly full of people, who, being people, are complicated in the ways people tend to be. Life is messy. Power is messy. Why do you so often seem to want to make it simple?

You have a realist’s understanding of many of the world’s realities, but you speak like such an idealist, like you think we live in a world of abstract concepts that function like parts in a clock, like you really think “right never makes might.”

Of course it can. There are many kinds of power, Arrendis. That’s one of the few merits the Sabik possess, that understanding. The kind of power you gain from a long-standing reputation for wise and just rulership is maybe more fragile than the kind you get from an armored fist, but it’s power nonetheless, and one type of power can often be traded towards another. Even if one’s followers’ affection for their just and equitable leader is not, itself, might, it’s not hard to transform it-- and that’s even assuming that it’s not recognized by one’s superiors, and rewarded, which isn’t a safe assumption.

You failing to recognize it doesn’t make it less real. It just pries your understanding away from What Is.

Of course, if you really do see but are just engaged in noisy propaganda because you need to devalue rival perspectives, that I can understand.

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Where are you taking your sense of Amarrian foreign policy from Jenneth? The Sarum Family acted that much is clear, they acted first independently, then in collaboration with the Ardishapur and Khanid forces who deployed in support of them. When half of the Royal Heirs commit forces, even in small number, that beyond any shadow of a doubt has the political weight of the Empire behind it.
What the Ardishapur, Khanid and Sarum forces did not have was the support of hypocritical capsuleers who pretend loyalty to them.

I will not, and others should not take their cues on the society of the Empire from a foreigner whose only apparent knowledge of its working is from the same toothless echo chamber who prohibited its members from doing in many cases what their oaths of fealty ought to have compelled them to.

The other foreigner at least has the competence to grasp the truth before attempting to distort it.

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Your position is noted, ma’am. Actually has been for months; it’s not like you’ve been quiet. If the Empire were backing your lord’s position fully I’d expect to have seen more movement that way by now. Instead, we’ve got other problems and other directives, explicit this time.

Lord Sarum got his shot, ma’am, and took it, even if it broke certain vassals’ hearts. But not all Amarr are bound the same.

We’ll see what comes of it.

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Didn’t he go on an unauthorized military expedition that put part of the Empire’s might at risk needlessly? I dunno, that doesn’t sound like a mandatory check on power to protect the powerless, it sounds like ‘BITCH, STOP WASTING MUH MILITARY’.

No, it can’t, because right itself distributes and shares power, leaving each person comparatively the same, and thus, not possessing ‘might’. Any concentration of power in the hands of the few is not ‘right’.

It’s really cute that you see that as a one-and-done, and not ‘Let’s see what they do, so we can be ready to counter it’. It’s like you think Arrach Sarum has less tactical sense than ARC.

Firstly, as I presently reside in his circuit I am duty bound to give any and all aid within my power to His Grace Lord Sarum, but for clarity the fealty of my family has for several millennia been to the Kador family. I acted in support when it became clear that with woefully few exceptions His Grace’s own vassals would not.

In support of their liege all Holders are bound the same, a detail I would have expected to be clear to someone who spends time with so many, and so self-assuredly explains Amarr society.

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Thank you for the clarification on your family background Ms. Yassavi.

I think you’re thinking of Uriam Kador.

… At least for this purpose, you and I have very, very, very different ideas of what constitutes “right.” I guess that might not be even a little surprising, but even so I’m a little surprised to hear a capsuleer express such a view of the proper order of things.

This world must be constantly disappointing to you.

You have no idea.

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Really?

That’s so sad, though. I mean, that kind of seemed to be Mizhara’s mistake, you know? Wanting-- even expecting-- even demanding that things be better than they possibly ever could be?

It’s why I often think of idealists as kind of sad people, always wanting the world to be something impossible. Sometimes they might make some progress in places, but it’ll never be enough to satisfy. And the costs. . . .

I hadn’t really thought of you that way, but maybe that was because Mizhara was always so much more-so.

I’m sorry.

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What a fascinating discussion. I always knew rocks and walls having a conversation would be interesting.

Not to mean any involved are dim-witted, but rather each being immovable.

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Now that’s an interesting question to ask those annoying philosophers who trot out nonsense like “the unstoppable force stops, the immovable object moves” to questions like “what happens when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object?”

“What happens when an immovable object meets a different immovable object ?”
They’ll ponder it for some time, and come out with some nonsense or other, and then that’s when you spring it on them.

You say “Hah ! Bamboozle ! Immovable objects can’t meet, otherwise they’d be in motion !”.

Bonus points if you have one of those giant foam pointing fingers for sports events, when you bamboozle them.

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Basic worldviews usually don’t change heading easily, after all, my lord.

Come to think of it I did kind of know this about Arrendis, though. It’s just that it kind of got drowned out for a period where I wasn’t sure at all whether what I was arguing with was her real view of things or just sort of her hypothetical ideological position of the week, if that makes sense?

I’m still not sure, but I guess I’m more willing to just kind of assume good faith. Maybe a little time away did me some good after all.

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Well that’s where you are going wrong.

Maybe, but, it’s more fun than being suspicious. Besides, my lord, does it really matter?

I’ve been pretty angry for a pretty long time. It colors my perceptions, makes things contemptible or threatening. I don’t think I’ve shaken it completely (I still don’t have a lot of patience for the kybernauts for sure), but …

If I can, isn’t it better if I carry my place in this world lightly?

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If you really want to know what a society based entirely around “might makes right” could look like, well, you could look into the history of the Takmahl Empire, which as you should know by now, I have written extensively about.

I have prepared a concise version that should not be overly difficult to read:

A Concise History of the Takmahl

They died.

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