Trope-a-Day: Obstructive Code of Conduct

Obstructive Code of Conduct: The Imperials would certainly argue that the Fundamental Contract, with its insistence on protecting people’s life, liberty, property, and contracts would be one of these.  (Of course, some non-Imperials would point out that, given the very large number of societies in the Galaxy that aren’t nearly so fond of those, the Contract also lets people like the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic set the war-drums to beating any time they feel like it; which is unfair, but not completely unfair).

Also to be mentioned here are the Code of Alphas (the rather detailed Eldraeic honor-code with specific sub-codes for each daressëf), the Five Noble Precepts (entropy is bad, and here’s how not to feed it), and, for military purposes, the Ley Accords (the basic rules of “civilized” warfare – although since they’re mostly reciprocal rules, anyone who prefers uncivilized warfare will find their challenge happily taken up.  Less happily for them, usually.)

Trope-a-Day: Well-Intentioned Extremist

Well-Intentioned Extremist: Plenty of them.  The Empire’s (and Rim Free Zone’s – not that they’re really coherent enough to spend much time dealing with them, unlike the Empire, which understands that they’re both staggeringly counterproductive and vaulting merrily across the Moral Event Horizon) principal embarrassment in this department are the dark side of the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic (see: Fictional Political Party), the mostly-Renegade Blood of Tyrants, who take the view that literally any violent action is justified if the people you take it against represent a non-consensual government, or advocate a non-consensual government, or tolerate a non-consensual government, or are standing a bit too close to… well, you get the picture.

Other examples elsewhere in the Worlds that at least someone can evidently appreciate if they just hear the friendly version of their aims – and not the details or the methods – include the Enforcers of Mortality (who object to immortagens for a variety of reasons, from the philosophical to the purely self-interested), the biochauvinists of the Biotist Alliance and their slightly more justified digital-supremacist counterparts in the Electron Reign, the deep ecologists of the Ecoprimacy System, Parents for Natural Children and other less-friendly-sounding genetic purists, and the assortment of baseline-über-alles groups united under the Never Last umbrella.  And, of course, any number of species supremacists and other more classical whackos.

Lunacy. Lunacy never changes.

Trope-a-Day: Utopia Justifies the Means

Utopia Justifies The Means: The motivation behind any number of Renegades – usually inspired by some form of Post Historical Trauma who have plans to “bring order/freedom to the galaxy”.  Reminders that the “order” in the Empire’s “Order, Progress, Liberty” motto is supposed to be emergent order, or just how very paradoxical it is to use the kind of Means which have to be Justified to bring about a shiny utopia of freedom rarely help all that much.  (See also, literarily, A Good Man.)

Also the thinking behind such branches as the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic, whose plan for bringing about said utopia are only slightly more nuanced – say, the mentioned branch’s “kill absolutely everyone everywhere who entertains authoritarian ideas”.  Fortunately, somewhat less idealistic thinkers generally prevail.

Trope-a-Day: Gondor Calls for Aid

Gondor Calls for Aid: Played rarely, but straight, on the responding end by the Empire as a polity, which has a firm policy of avoiding entangling alliances, but sometimes just can’t help itself. (Played straighter on this end by volunteer groups like the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic.)

Random Thought of the Day

“What makes the Blood of Tyrants and the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic extremists is that they divide the entire population of the universe into two categories: people who respect the principle of consent, and people who need to be shot. This eliminates the two additional categories the rest of us use: people who might learn better given time and information, and people who it’d be more convenient to shoot later.”

– Lorith Amanyr explains an important distinction

Trope-a-Day: Fictional Political Party

Fictional Political Party: Actually, a remarkable number of them – which has a lot to do, I suppose, with the cyberdemocratic/sortitive (random selection) nature of the Imperial Senate and most local assemblies making running a conventional political party a giant exercise in futility; they function mostly as debating societies, influence brokers, old-boys’ networks, and direct-action organizations, although the larger ones do manage to coordinate a few votes among their members who are conscripted into the legislature.

As such, they tend to be organized around a single issue they care about, or at least a philosophy, rather than being the corrupt and incoherent conglomerates of a dozen disparate positions that we all know and presumably love.

A few of the many, many examples would include the:

Above All, One Imperium Movement (consolidation of the entire rest of the Galaxy)

Alliance for Balance (avoidance of extremism, ensuring that what is done is done well)

Bricklayers of Utopia (mostly direct-action, but a general policy of utopia through innovation)

Party for Efficiency (minimize overhead, run the Empire like a successful business)

Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic (still fighting the old-time revolution; destroy all non-Societies of Consent, everywhere)

Status Quo (professional devil’s advocates; ask difficult questions to challenge all change because the status quo is already pretty damn good)

Universal Indifference Society (isolationists; barbarians are disgusting and we don’t want any on us)

And so on and so forth…

Trope-a-Day: Eagle Squadron

Eagle Squadron: The Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic often play this role for various libertist movements in one part of the Associated Worlds or another, strictly freelance, of course, as do some related groups for more specific issues (AI freedom, for example).  They are relatively picky about who they support (given the number of times people want to overthrow the oppressors in order to become just as bad, oppression-wise), but still, it happens enough.

It’s still disappointing an annoying amount of the time.

By Their Own Words

“Order, Progress, Liberty”

– official, Charter-enshrined motto of the Empire

“Secure against Eternity.”

– corporate motto, Crystal Flame, ICC

“All debts must be paid.”

– official motto of the Curia

“Because enough… is never enough.”

– corporate motto, Decadence, ICC

“Through reason alone, we ascend.”

– motto of the Eupraxic Collegium

“Every coin Our given word.”

– carved above the main doors of the Exchequer

“Knowledge is its own justification.”

– official motto of the Fellowship of Natural Philosophy

“We do what we can, because we must.”

– very unofficial motto of the Fellowship of Natural Philosophy

“Between the Flame and the Fire.”

– official motto of the Imperial Military Service

“Civilization has enemies; we kill the bastards.”

– barrack-room paraphrase of the motto of the Imperial Military Service

“Until no man dares command another.”

– motto of the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic

“The truth that sears away the Darkness.”

– corporate motto, Telememe, ICC news division

“When all else fails, we stand ready.”

– corporate motto, Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC

“[redacted for reasons of state security]”

– motto of Imperial State Security, Fifth Directorate

Trope-a-Day: Benevolent Alien Invasion

Benevolent Alien Invasion: Well, sort of.  It’s almost never an invasion (although there are some groups, like, say, the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic, who don’t mind holding Blast The Shit Out Of The Oppressors And Bugger Off Again Day from time to time).  Much more common is the First Contact Whose Aftereffects Are Pretty Benevolent, But Really, All They Had In Mind Was Entering A New Emerging Market.

You Can’t Save The Worlds

“If you’ve come here to save the Galaxy, my innocents,” I said, “if you’ve come here with the illusion that you can save the Galaxy, or even so much as one single world, leave here right now. Cross the road, find the recruiting office, and join the Navy. They get to save the Galaxy from the kind of easy threats it’s possible to save it from.”

“Yes, the easy threats.  We all know what to do with pirates and slavers and tyrants and wanna-be conquistadors and misbegotten seed AI demon-gods. Give ’em a taste of the railgun, dust ’em lightly with relativistic antiprotons, and the problem is solved. So if you want to be a hero, head over there – or go see those maniacs at the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic – sign up, and shoot some bastards. Then you can go home and feel good about yourself.”

“That’s not what we do here.  We have to wrestle with rather less tangible problems. And we are the absolute worst people in the entirety of known space to try and fix them, because we, gentlesophs, have our shit together.  We have fixed our problems. We think poverty is defined by insufficient bandwidth.  We can’t empathize with poverty and disease and oppression because the rawest immigrants aside, we’ve never seen it and can’t imagine it.  Disabuse yourself of the notion that you can right now, if you please.”

“And even more so, you are used to how things work. In a civilized environment in which you have millennia of institutions backing you up, in which discussing things in a calm and rational manner virtually always works, and in which no-one would dream of treading on anyone else’s prerogatives, never mind anything else.”

“If you come to work for us, you are going to spend your career wrestling with every kind of shit the backwaters of the Worlds have to offer.  You will hear so much insanity that you’ll wonder if there’s any reason left in the universe.”

“You’re going to see worlds in which they think they can become rich by robbing the rich.  Hell, you’re going to see worlds in which they think they can become rich by robbing the poor.  You’re going to see worlds where they look at cornucopia machines, self-replicating machines that can make anything from micros-worth of feedstock and power, and demand that they be banned because they’ll cause mass poverty!”

“You’ll come to know species whose xenophobia makes them hate all offworlders. Whose xenophobia makes them hate their own species if their scales are a shade off-color, or whose bones are a little differently shaped, or who are the disfavored sex or clade or caste. And you’re going to meet some of those who hate some of their own but love offworlders, and if you’re anything like me, spend weeks wondering how the hell that makes sense.”

“The back-Worlds have it all. A million different kinds of perversion commanded in the name of a thousand gods.  Ephemeralists for naturalism, or social stability, or inheritance.  Democrats who think justice is defined by headcount. Baseline supremacists demanding the right to be inferior. Egalitarians who think free will is a small thing to give away for equality. Major political movements fighting over who people can have sex with.  People who, in an age of pervasive automation and roboticization, keep it out of their worlds because it pleases them to lord it over their fellows.”

“And even the ones who want what we have hate the ways that we acquired it, for not fitting into their notions of how the universe ought to work – and of their exalted planning position in it.”

“In short, you are going to spend your life pointing at the one big shining example of how things can work, and have people tell you, to your face, that they’re impossible!

“And unlike the Imperialists of old, you can’t make that change!”

“You won’t save the Galaxy. You’ll work, the way the rest of us have worked, for decades on end and probably not even save one single world.  But you might nudge their path a little, and you might help a few people along the way.”

“If that doesn’t scare you – and if that’s enough for you, because it will have to be – come back tomorrow and get to work.”

 – Valëa Andreth, introductory lecture at Golden Suns Benevolent Association