The difference between concepts of loyalty

( To clarify this: Cowardice and the Amarr Empire )

For me, in my native tongue, the words for [translator: loyalty, trust, constancy, (non-romantic) love | patriotism, tribal affiliance] and [translator: ally, associate, affiliate | colleague, brother/sister-in-arms] are primarily words for emotions. They mean something you feel for people. There are proper and improper targets for such feelings and sometimes, it is proper to act as if you felt loyalty towards someone even when it is hard to really feel it - say, a difficult child of your clan, or a superior officer in the military. Still, in the end loyalty is something you cannot command.

In some other languages, the translations of our loyalty are subtly different. For example, [translator: loyalty, fidelity, obedience | duty, dedication] has the subtext of following orders, of respecting someones position rather than feeling loyalty to them as a person. Or [translator: loyalty, love, fidelity] has the nuance of staying loyal to a romantic partner, though it can also be used otherwise.

The Minmatar concept of loyalty - as I have learned it - stems from organization around kinship and around other status networks. Who you know, who feels loyalty towards you, is what public life is based on. One feels loyalty to one’s tribe, of course, but a lot of that loyalty goes through individual loyalty - to local managers of government, to my clan leaders, to my Chief. When one of them changes, the loyalty is not expected to simply shift to the new official based on their position alone. The position brings them some of it, but the rest they will earn. Or not.

It is often difficult for us free-born Matari, I think, to understand the Amarrian concept of loyalty to a position, rather than a person, and the concept of loyalty as obedience - implicit rather than earned trust. And I hesitate to speak of those, because, well, they are hard for me too. I can get loyalties to tribe or nation, but to a person based only on the position of that person - I have been raised into self-reliance and using my own judgment in a way that makes it hard to even think about such concepts.

I hope this clarifies. I am open to further questions.


You know, despite having similar, if not the same concepts of loyalty, reading through them and being forced to actively think on the implications puts alot of our disagreements into perspective.


I think loyalty is impossible without trust built on a mutual framework: just as the led have obligations to a leader; so does a leader have obligations to the led. Without such a framework of trust there is only disillusionment and potential corruption or abuse of power.


I have never heard of a concept of loyalty that did not acknowledge a duty of the leader to their people - though obviously the contents of that duty vary, as well as does how strongly society objects if it is not met.

I believe myself that feelings of kinship and loyalty are universal to humanity, even if not all people have words for them.

Firstly the implicit fidelity to one’s superiors is born of loyalty to and trust in the Empire, it’s certainly not a dispassionate obedience to a position.

As for duty, I do not remember a time before I knew it is to those who will one day owe me fealty as certainly as to my liege.

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Your discussion of Matari loyalty is interesting to me. You mention that the position gives someone some of the loyalty. What, for you, justifies that portion of loyalty that is directly connected to position?

What you are missing in your comment on the Amarr concept of loyalty is that it all stems from a single divine origin. The absolute core of Amarr Faith is obedience to God. Everything else that someone Amarr must obey comes from that requirement to obey the divine will.

I do not speak of loyalty to the position of Emperor just because it’s the position of Emperor. I speak of loyalty to the position of Emperor because God ordained that the Emperor be the person whose job is to be the ultimate authority. God has declared that it is the role of the Emperor to harness good and punish evil, and so on.

Any true Emperor, therefore, must be obeyed because God must be obeyed. It’s not about who they were as individuals before becoming Emperor, it is about a divine rite that demonstrates God’s will for Amarr at a specific moment in time. Obeying a properly appointed Emperor, then, is obeying God.

But our loyalty is not to the chair, someone sitting on the throne who has not been appointed by the divine rite is not the Emperor and does not breathe the air of authority. At that point, it is not the duty of Amarr to obey without question, as the story of Saint Tetrimon demonstrates.

But, this brings me to something that is not quite loyalty or obedience but is closely related to it, and that is a concept of proper procedure. Staying within our assigned roles is absolutely vital if we want to prevent one problem from metastasizing into many.

Let us say that I do not approve of how my neighbor runs their estate. If it were my estate and I saw a problem, I could just order it to be changed. But if I go to their estate and fix the exact same problem by ordering it to happen, I am now a second problem. The original problem still exists, but now we have a new, and bigger, problem on top of it. I need to, instead, appeal to our mutual liege lord who can then order my neighbor to fix the problem. If an entire society ignores procedure in times of trouble, it will collapse. This is true even if every problem that each individual sets out to fix was in fact a real problem that needed to be dealt with.

Thanks to the strangeness of CONCORDs programs, capsuleers have a lot more freedom than most and few constraints on our ability to cross boundaries that even Holders would consider uncrossable. I believe this causes us to view ourselves as the ultimate solution to problems and that even the most good intended capsuleer will cause many more problems than they fix, because they have lost sight of the correct course of action for operating in non-capsuleer society.


That is a very good question, and not one I have given very detailed thought before, so the audience will maybe excuse me if I miss something essential…

But I think that depends on the position.

Some of it is transferred from others: I trust a new member of the Sundsele Circle of Chiefs for Security, because the rest of that circle approved of him or her. I trust the Chief of an allied clan because that clan follows him.

Some of it is tradition: the new Chief of Rhiannon gets my loyalty because he is who our established ways of doing things say the next Chief should be. He is very young for the position, so he will have hard time living up to the position, but that Fate is by tradition his until it becomes very obvious it will not work.

Some of it is necessity: experience has taught me that a capsuleer alliance needs a final say-so, that committees will just ■■■■ it up in actual situations. So I have to give that loyalty to whoever has the position (or replace them, or leave), for the system to function.

So you are basically saying that obedience is related to or follows from jurisdiction? That’s something I think I have to think about. I thought I understood it on the first reading, but trying to formulate a response makes me unsure.

Being a capsuleer is the ultimate testing ground of “loyalty, freely given”. It took me some time to understand this, and I dare say I made many mistakes in how to organize a capsuleer organization in the beginning of it all.

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Related to. But it’s less that jurisdiction applies to my personal obedience to the divine order and more that it applies to my options when confronting someone else’s disobedience to said order.

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Would it be proper, in that example, to go and talk to the neighbor directly? More or less proper than applying to the lord without doing so?

My loyalty to a peer would require that I try and solve that issue without involving their superior… though depending on the issue, my loyalty to my superior might require that I alert them to the problem in any case… I fail to apply the word ‘obedience’ there.

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It could be, it would depend on situation. I wouldn’t consider it more or less proper so much as that the former is an informal attempt to get them to take responsibility for their jurisdiction themselves, while the latter is a formal escalation that asks liege to discipline them for neglecting duty.

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That makes perfect sense and I can see that the lines of loyalty matter there - what you would choose to do depends on the strength of loyalty between you and the cousin, and you and your chief.

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A place where it would become disloyalty/impiety to God might be a situation where they both fail to act after I informally bring the issue up with them and I out of loyalty to them then fail to bring it to attention of proper authority.

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Or if you do bring it to the attention of that proper authority… and that proper authority does nothing.

I am struggling with it, but the concept of hierarchy being inherent to loyalty is fascinating.

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If I brought it to the attention of the proper authority and they did not act or told me that I was wrong, then my acting personally on own judgment to rectify the situation myself would be impiety.

Their lack of action may also be impiety on their part, but adding more impiety to the equation does not help anyone. At that point I might appeal to other authorities, but I would never have a right to vigilante actions.



Can you have conflicting loyalties, in this sense of loyalty? Or does the divine origin mean that there is always a hierarchy that lets you to figure out which one wins?

For the sake of the exercise, just leave out the possibility that the top level of God and Emperor themselves are corrupt. I am trying to understand the idea, not to argue the politics.

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There should always be a correct hierarchy, though in cases of rampant impiety it can be difficult to see your way through.

There is also a possibility of having multiple loyalties at same time, though they should not conflict so much as operate in different contexts.

For example, I am a Chapter Master of the Excubitoris Chapter of the Sacred Throne Order. This has rights and obligations that specifically go with it. I am also the Holder of the Lok’ri Valley on Oris, which is in the Emperor Family hierarchy, and again has specific rights and responsibilities. Which of those two is primary depends entirely on the context.


Alright. Thank you for that explanation. Trying to enforce such a strict order on natural feelings sounds like asking for trouble and heartache to me, but no doubt it feels less so to someone born and raised under those restrictions.


I certainly can understand this notion.
After all, the organizations are the people. Corporations are people, the State is the people, just as your tribes, as your kinship. They are society that gave us life, that educated us, fed us and protected us when we were kids. And now it’s our turn to protect them and to serve them. That’s why we in particular hate defectors and traitors that much: they’re ungrateful swines.

As for the question about position… I guess in that regard I don’t understand Imperial as well. We bring pleges of allegiances to the State as a whole, to our societies, corporations, but not to the CEOs, not to your managers - yet… total obedience to them is implied. Why? That is simple, because they are superiors. Because they got Merit to get into their position, and showing obedience is a merit itself. Soldiers will follow commanders who obey generals, just as kids will obey parents who obey their grandparents. If they are seniors in your society, you shall show respect and obedience, as in your family, as in your corporation, as in your military detachment.

If you are loyal to your society it is implied you should be obedient to your seniors, but you shouldn’t pledge allegiance to your senior, becasue… well, because someone more merited can easily take their place. Maybe even you yourself.

So in that regard I think that Caldari sense of loyalty in principle matches more Minmatar point of view (as loyalty to people), but in practices resembles more Imperial standards (with obedience to elders, merited people and superiors).


I find this is my difficulty in accepting the Amarr conception of loyalty. The belief that being born into a position, qualifies as being fit to rule by default. For myself, as a Caldari, this strikes me as anathema. Being fit to rule has to be continuously proven, tested, and displayed – otherwise those deemed unfit must be replaced to ensure the health of the whole for the Greater Good.

In Amarr however, even poor leaders can maintain their position even if they have demonstrated they are unfit to rule, by virtue of hereditary positions. Even if they fail in their duties to their people, they can retain status afforded to them by birth. This seems to create particular inefficiencies in their hierarchy and decision making process which can be seen for example at Vak’Atioth or during the Elder Fleet invasion when entire Imperial fleets failed to respond effectively.