Friday, 24 July 2015

Aristocracy And Humanity

Rome was a monarchy, then a republic, then an Empire. The world still contains monarchies, republics and accusations of imperialism. Poul Anderson presents a future Terran Empire modeled on the Roman Empire. SM Stirling presents a New British Empire in an alternative timeline where:

"The physician stared in appalled wonder at the work ahead of him, then darted forward, ignoring the King-Emperor for the more seriously wounded behind him and calling for his assistants and their supplies.
"Charles glanced after him. 'I like that chap's priorities,' he said."
-SM Stirling, The Peshawar Lancers (New York, 2003), p. 454.

Charles is the King-Emperor. I also like the MO's priorities. In Britain today, if a Duke and his valet are trapped inside a burning building, then, to the Fire Brigade, they are two living bodies, both to be rescued as quickly as possible. Physical danger removes the distinction between nobility and commoners. It is good to see a King-Emperor who knows that, when others are in greater need of medical treatment, his rank counts for nothing.

Civilization can, of course, be reorganized without such ranks. But, as long as the ranks exist, they must be recognized as social conventions and nothing more.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

While I agree Manuel Argos was inspired, at least in part, by the Roman Empire in designing the state he planned to found after the collapse of the Solar Commonwealth, that could not have been its only inspiration. Christianity, Western civilization morphing into Technic Civilization, the existence of, and participation of non humans taking part in human affairs, etc., also helped to form and shape the Terran Empire.

And I agree with you in approving of how the King-Emperor Charles II declared it was right of the Medical Officer to focus first on those who were more seriously injured before tending to the Emperor's less serious wounds. That is simply what GOOD leaders DO. Sort of how, ideally, the captain is the last to leave a sinking ship.

And it's my view that all civilizations, past, present, and to come, will have ranks and social stratifications. Because such things will inevitably arise simply from human beings being DIFFERENT from each other in abilities, intellect, moral character, fortune, etc. What matters, to me, is that they should not be too rigid, that it should not be too impossibly difficult for able and ambitious persons to rise and get ahead.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Correction, I should have referred to King-Emperor Charles as the THIRD of that name, not the second. Drat!