from Justification of the Imperium by the Imperial Princess Justinia Flavia
The Terran Imperium is a hereditary oligarchy. This is the single most important statement I can make concerning the phyle ruled by my father, Emperor Aurelian II. In a Sol System in which the idea of centralised government is anathema, the often vehement opposition to the Imperium (and indeed to the other centralist factions of the Belt) is predictable, but unjustified.
Opponents of the Imperium widely claim that this phyle is more abhorrent even than our radical transhuman neighbours in the Astarte Collective: we are, after all, essentially a monarchy, an archaic form of government that is generally considered obsolete. Many of these objections depend, however, on seeing the Imperium as isomorphic to the old monarchies of Earth, which have quite rightly been scrapped. A monarchy we may be, but we are far from the traditional model. Others see us as trying to produce some form of authoritarian dystopia. Let me view and counter each of these objections in turn:
The design of a specific governmental class elevates
the concept of government to an unnecessarily important level
Governance is vital: this is true for a planet-based society and even more so for one based around artificial space habitats. Without governments, civilisations would descend into chaos, for anarchy (in its true sense) is the least stable of social systems. A true anarchy, without any form of coercive power structure, would collapse into rule by the sword, with the strong dominating the weak. Earth knows this, hence the phylai (which are mostly little more than highly decentralised nations); Mars denies it, and its system (based as it is almost purely on altruism) will not endure. All others across Sol System have governments, some highly sophisticated and subtle. Only we are entirely honest about this need.
As I have said, government is more important in space than on a planet. This is simply because a planet is a fail-safe environment. In contrast, a period of turmoil and revolution in one of our habitats would risk the degradation of life-support and perhaps the deaths of all inhabitants. Within such a habitat we are forced to work together or die. For long-term stability, cooperation requires coordination and planning, which in term leads inexorably to the need for a government. Once the necessity of government is accepted, the only argument is the form that it takes.
When I speak of government, I use the term in its widest sense: a method of collective decision making which is respected or at least obeyed (perhaps under coercion) by all citizens. In small populations this may naturally approach the ideal of anarchy, but in larger populations there arises the need for a force to support the chosen policies. I will argue that the best form of decision-making apparatus is an oligarchy of specifically designed and trained people, and the natural form of coercive power is a military and security service under the authority of the oligarchy. We are thus lead to the basis of the Imperium.
The Imperial system of government is fundamentally undemocratic,
and as such devalues the rights and beliefs of most of the population.
Three wolves and a sheep vote on dinner; and democracy is the only truly free and fair form of decision making? The problem with democracy is that is forever on the verge of descending into rule by mobs. History shows that, in general, the larger a group becomes, the less humane its actions when it is acting as a group.
Those great nations of the past that we call democracies were nothing of the sort. The Eurasian Federation, the United States of America, bastions of freedom and democracy, were nothing but oligarchies in disguise. For all the pretence of directly representing the will of the people, the decisions were made by small groups of people in control of the political parties. The process of electing members of the national assemblies was almost totally disconnected from the actual legislative and executive powers of those bodies.
I would assert that this separation was largely beneficial, for it allowed the important decisions to be made by those with the knowledge and time to weigh carefully the consequences of those decisions. Government by oligarchy is more likely to be government by reason, in contrast to the shallow thinking and emotional voting that plague plebiscites.
The problem with representative democracies is that the people who reach positions of power are not those of vision and intelligence, but the power-seeking, the self-interested, the greedy. The systems seemed almost designed to produce incompetent, short-sighted, dishonest and secretive governments. Furthermore, the distance between governmental policies and elections means members of the governing body are, for all practical purposes, not bound in any way to respect the wishes of their electorate.
Representative democracy thus embodies few of the purported advantages of a direct democracy, and yet manages to simultaneously avoid the advantages of an open oligarchy. The blend of oligarchy and limited democracy within the Imperium is a substantial improvement.
Accident of birth is no basis for power.
The birth of a member of the Imperial House is far from an accident. My brothers and sisters and cousins and I are in a very real sense constructs of the Imperial system. The Imperium makes use of the latest geneering techniques to ensure that members of the House exhibit those traits desirable in a ruling class. This genetic preparation is further enhanced by the childhood environment and education of members of the court. On reaching adulthood a member of the Imperial House is highly suited to government.
I should take this opportunity to clearly state that this rigorous process does not make the Imperial Family in any way innately superior to its subjects. We recognise that we have been designed to rule the Imperium, and we are superior to an average citizen within the boundaries of this role. That is the entire point: beyond the realm of statecraft we may or may not possess the qualities required for a particular task, but within that realm we assuredly do.
If the effort invested in raising a member of the Court
were expended on any other citizen, then that citizen would also be suited
This is clearly the case; it is also entirely beside the point. If all citizens of the Imperium were raised in the same manner then we would have a society in which all are innately suited to government, but not to excel in any other task. Such a situation would clearly be absurd. I reiterate: the Imperial Court is not innately superior, merely well adapted for its niche.
Producing people to order is an affront to their basic
The issue of genetic engineering itself cannot be used as an argument against the Imperium, as geneering is common across Sol System. What is particular to the Imperium is that its citizens are designed from the moment of conception for some specific role. Many have objected to this as an attempt to transform humanity into a collection of specialist sub-species. Others have compared its citizens to insects, even using the language of workers, drones and hives. I strenuously object to being characterised thus, as would any of our citizens. My being engineered to possess certain qualities and abilities required for a pre-designated role in society does not make me somehow less than human.
We value the quality of humanity more highly than any other: the evolution of the Imperium into a hive of specialist castes (of presumably reduced or focused mental faculties) may be a danger, but it is one that we are working to avoid. Our intentions in 'designing' our citizens, removing the haphazard results of natural genetics and natural caprice, are to increase personal security, confidence and happiness. Any suggestion that Imperial citizens are merely components in a machine is deeply offensive: our principle aim is maximised well-being, happiness and satisfaction. To this end our geneering and education programmes are dedicated to the moderation of such undesirable characteristics as aggression, greed and introversion.
Even in the Imperium it is possible for individuals to
be adept in fields for which they were not intended
This is, of course, true; and we are glad that it is. If there were never any surprises then life would become dull. Nevertheless, such surprises often result in people wasting their potential, or not achieving their state of greatest satisfaction. We thus try to control those factors whose manipulation is within our power.
The Imperial system has been built with the capacity to make best use of any unexpected talents. Whilst I have said that the Imperium is a hereditary oligarchy, this is only true to a very good approximation. The reality is that all the posts and positions of real significance (as opposed to those of purely ceremonial value such as my own title of Imperial Princess) are open to anybody within the Empire. Candidates are put forward by the Emperor, or the Archdukes (taking considerable account of public opinion) and are elected to positions by the Moot. We thus retain many of the advantages of democracy, with few of its difficulties.
In principle even the position most simply designated as 'Emperor' is the concentration of many of these posts on one individual, and the Emperor's power may be split or even dissolved by the Moot. Our programme of geneering and euphenics ensures that many of the positions that become available are predictably filled by members of the Court, and usually of the Imperial House itself. There are, however, often exceptions. To allow a proven talent to go to waste simply by accident of birth would be inexcusable.
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