Wednesday, 8 July 2015


In SM Stirling's Conquistador (New York, 2004), the Commonwealth of New Virginia is kind of retro-feudal in that its territory is divided into domains belonging to economically and politically powerful lineages, the "Thirty Families," and there is a patron-client relationship between Family "Primes" and their employees. However:

there are no serfs bound to the land;
there is church-state separation;
there is multi-denominationalism;
there is a defense force for the Commonwealth as a whole, not for each domain as against others;
they have modern technology and can build their own aircraft.

The Families include:

"'...the Sanderses, farther up the river...'" (p. 429)

Nice one, Stirling! See here.

Would you emigrate to the Commonwealth if given the opportunity?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

You asked, "Would you emigrate to the Commonwealth if given the opportunity?" If I was younger, and thus had the TIME needed to adapt and start over, YES. Just as I would leave this rock for colonies off Earth on the Moon, Mars, asteroid belt, etc. (again, with the same qualifiers I gave above).

There is so much which is going terribly wrong in the US (ever since at least FDR's time) and the world that I would gladly leave it if I could. I don't see things improving before they first get FAR worse. The rise of the bloated administrative state and its inevitable encroachments on REAL liberty is merely one of the many bad things of our times. So, the decentralized "retro feudalism" of the Commonwealth looks pretty darn good by comparison!


Paul Shackley said...

Thank you, Sean. There are also the attractions of an un-urbanized, unpolluted environment. Anyone else?

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

True, the "un-urbanized, unpolluted environment" would also be a very real attraction. Albeit, a city boy like me would most likely end up living in either Rolfeston or New Brooklyn.

I forgot to add in my earlier comment that I would have been glad, to use Andersonian examples, to have lived in either the eras of the Polesotechnic League or the Terran Empire. Both of them, for somewhat different reasons and purposes, were also decentralized.


David Birr said...

"Would you emigrate to the Commonwealth if given the opportunity?"

No. The "patron-client" thing does not attract me. The line cited in an earlier post about history books that say the displaced Native Americans "got what they deserved" disgusts me. And if Wikipedia is to be trusted, acceptable immigrants to the Commonwealth included fugitive Nazis, and Native Americans accepted as permanent laborers are *sterilized so they can't breed*. Oh, HELL, *NO*.

An objection I've also expressed to David Weber's *Honor Harrington* stories: the colonists set out to make themselves landed aristocracy. I have a word for U.S. citizens who seek to be landed aristocrats. That word is "Traitors."

An unpolluted environment would be nice, but I grew up in the suburbs, more or less, and the rural life isn't for me.

Paul Shackley said...

Thank you, David. The blog thrives on differences of opinion. In just over two hours, I will set off on my travels, not to return until late on Monday. The blog will probably benefit from my absence for a while!

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Respectfully, I disagree with your characterization of John Rolfe VI and those of his colleagues and followers who were Americans as "traitors." This is how Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution defined treason: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving the Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

Exactly how was John Rolfe et al traitors? How were they levying war against the US or adhering to its enemies? The MOST you can say against them is that they EMIGRATED from the US to found their own nation. That is not treason if the territory they conquered did not belong to the US.

Btw, the US definition of treason was taken from British law, the Treason Acts of Edward III and William III.

As for how the land was taken from the Indians, well, I could point out, as did Adrienne Rolfe, the Americans were no better. They had no hesitation taking advantage of the plagues which devastated the Indians and taking over the land. Or simply using brute force to evict them.

As for the patron/client matter, I refused to get too exercised over mere words and gestures meant to show a certain minimum deference to whatever form the state might take in various countries. After all, US military salute the President as their commander in chief, the president and governors of US states are formally addressed as "Your Excellency," judges and mayors as "your Honor," etc.

And citing, again, British examples, I am not going to think less of the British if they bow or kneel to their king or queen on formal occasions like coronations or state openings of Parliament. Again, these are merely gestures meant to show loyalty to one's sovereign or country.

Btw, even on the first occasion they met John Rolfe, Tom Christiansen and Roy Tully bowed to him and kissed his hand as they were leaving. Gestures of that sort reminded me of what Chunderban Desai said in Chapter 7 of THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN, while discussing how a planet which had rebelled against the Terran Empire could reestablish its former relationship to the Imperium: "The loyalty I speak of does not involve more than a few outward tokens of respect for the throne, as mere essential symbols."

As for the ex Nazis, I think it's only fair to point out John Rolfe arranged matters that they could never take over the Commonwealth, that in fact they would be ABSORBED into the non Nazi majority.