Thursday, 6 April 2017

Two Ways

Observing the defences of a town that he wants to attack, a Protectorate commander reflects:

"It looked more formidable to the naked eyeball than he thought it would be from the reports and sketches, and he was surprised the near anarchy of the Clan Mackenzie had managed to put so much labor into something with such a long-term payoff."
-SM Stirling, A Meeting At Corvallis (New York, 2007), Chapter Thirteen, p. 335.

Surprised? Then he needs to reflect. The Protectorate way is to build castles using forced labor that will turn against its masters at the first opportunity. The Mackenzie way is a community of farmers with freedom and mutual respect, families who have something to defend and who therefore do not hesitate to cooperate for defence. Near anarchy, yes. Mere chaos, no.


David Birr said...

In Terry Pratchett's *The Truth*, highly-intelligent tyrant Lord Vetinari asks newspaper publisher/editor William de Worde not to upset City Watch Commander Vimes "more than necessary." William, who's discovered it's possible to more-or-less cooperate with Vimes and get good things done, replies that he's sure he and the City Watch can pull together.

"Lord Vetinari raised his eyebrows. 'Oh, I do hope not. I really do hope not. Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.' He smiled. 'It's the only way to make progress. That, and, of course, moving with the times.'"

Vetinari is the sort of tyrant who gives tyranny an otherwise undeserved good name. He has SOME despotic quirks; for instance, street mimes get chained upside down in a scorpion-infested pit facing a sign reading, "Learn the words." But the citizens agree he has BAD qualities, too.

One of his actions led to the narrative line: "There was a thunder of applause. There had to be; even if you hated Vetinari, you had to admire the timing."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul and DAVID!

Paul. Basically, I agree with what you said about the Mackenzies. However loosely organized, even anarchical they looked, things still managed to get DONE. But, one of the things I don't agree would be practical is how the Mackenzies had so many women soldiers, for the reasons I and David suggested.

But watch out, I think you will be surprised by how the Protectorate changes or evolves!

David. Very amusing, this quote from Terry Pratchett! Lord Vetinari reminded me of Norman Arminger, except somewhat nicer and with a sense of humor.