Sunday, 17 January 2016

Emperor Or Archon

Since in our timeline there is neither a Terran Emperor nor an Archon of the Domination of the Draka, let us settle instead for the Seal of the President of the United States. In SM Stirling's The Stone Dogs (New York, 1990), the Archon does converse with the President.

I had thought that it would be a good idea if Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry were to become Terran Emperor - all the way from Ensign Flandry to Emperor Flandry. Poul Anderson either did not consider or discounted this option. After a lifetime spent defending Imperial power, how would Flandry have wielded it?

Four men - McCormac, Molitor, Cairncross and Magnusson - planned or tried to seize the Throne by force during Flandry's lifetime. One succeeded. Flandry wound up serving a usurper, with legitimacy gone and the Long Night brought nearer, like the Ragnarok by the death of Balder. Flandry would not have seized power but might have been appointed by the Advisory Board if there were no surviving heir?

Archon Eric von Shrakenberg smiles wryly when wondering why he does not just retire to his estate, immediately after the US President has ventured that he seems to be both intelligent and empathetic. The wry smile is not good enough. An intelligent and empathetic man should be wondering how to end the Domination, not just to retire from leading it. Eric, quoting his "'...fathah...'" explains that:

"'...yo' nation is like yo' children; loved because they are yours, not necessarily because they deserve it.'" (p. 345)

Usually true but what if one of your children were guilty of genocide?

Privately, and using communications technology beyond ours, the Archon and the President can speak frankly about basic issues and even identify common problems while remaining irreconcilable enemies:

either would initiate the Final War if they believed that that was the right decision;
neither wants to be rushed into that decision prematurely;
both sides have vested interests pressing for intensification of the Protracted Conflict;
one common interest is to prevent the instruments of policy from setting the policy;
neither wants to destroy the planet;
the Domination must maintain border tensions in order to restrain the dynamism of the Alliance for Democracy;
both sides have military secrets that could upset the balance.

Are they incapable of ending the Conflict? Yes, the Draka are incapable.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Interesting, using the US coat of arms and Presidential seal for an illustration. But, we do have some idea of what a major Imperial symbol looked like more than a thousand years from now. Chapter 1 of ENSIGN FLANDRY plainly describes the banner of the Terran Empire: a stylized sunburst on a royal blue field. And a stylized sunburst is more than once mentioned as a symbol of the Empire.

What you said about McCormac, Molitor, Cairncross, and Magnusson was true, they were usurpers or would be usurpers. But Hans Molitor was by far the best of them, not only because of his abilities, but because he was a reluctant usurper, assenting to being proclaimed Emperor only because the legitimate line of succession had irretrievably collapsed.

And it would be fascinating, wondering what kind of Emperor Flandry might have been. But I think it would have needed a virtually unanimous Policy Board BEGGING him to accept the crown before Flandry would agree to ascend the throne. His entire life had been dedicated to defending either legitimate authority or at least a tolerable usurper.

And I don't think Eric von Shrakenberg COULD have ended the Domination. It had become far too big and with far too many vested interests with big stakes in it for any one man to bring down. Eric would have been dead within an HOUR if he ever dared to say or try such a thing. Recall how Magnusson told the Merseian messenger he could not simply decree the Empire surrender to the Roidhun, HE would have been dead in an hour after saying such a thing.

And another problem for Eric von Shrakenberg was that his "children" did not think it was wrong to commit genocide on non Draka (no matter how much that disgusted Eric).

Yes, I agree, the Draka (and a Merseia dominated by a very similar ideology) were irreconcilable enemies of the Alliance and the Empire.

Glory to the Emperor! Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Granted that Eric could not have ended the Domination. As we discussed before, defection to the Alliance would have been a good idea.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree that ethically speaking, the best thing Eric von Shrakenberg could have done was defect to the Alliance a few years after the Eurasian War. By then it should have become plain to him how UNLIKELY it was that he could bring about major changes or reforms within the Domination. It ended with him both loving and despising his own people.

One big factor AGAINST defection would have been the fact Eric could not truly hope to rise very high within the Alliance, despite his very real abilities. Some would not have been able to look past Eric's Draka origins, others would probably have wondered about him possibly being a Draka double agent, etc.


David Birr said...

As I expect you already recalled, that was part of the problem John Hosten faced in *The Chosen*, the book Stirling wrote to David Drake's outline -- which was basically "What if a technologically advanced third party had been secretly advising those opposed to the Draka?" John opposed the Chosen, but he had to overcome a measure of distrust in Santander, the U.S.A.-equivalent, because his father was one of the Chosen's leaders. If he hadn't had an obvious reason for holding a grudge against his original homeland, that distrust would likely have been greater.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Actually, I had not thought of Drake/Stirling's THE CHOSEN, but I like your suggestion and agree with it. Yes, there was a certain "ambiguity" about Hosten which made some in Santander uneasy about him. The difference, of course, was how the downloads of Raj Whitehall and the ancient battle computer Center were advising John. Their assistance enabled him to overcome the suspicion he had to face in Santander.

The "Chosen," of course, were analogs of the Draka in that book. And John Hosten's adopted sister was a formidably able and competent Chosen mid ranking leader.