Doctrine: Loyalty

Therefore a wise prince will seek means by which his subjects will always and in every possible condition of things have need of his government, and then they will always be faithful to him.

– Niccolò Machiavelli, “The Prince”, Datalinks

Machiavelli is funny, in that if you only ever read the Prince, you get a very specific impression of what his project was. If you read another book of his – it almost doesn’t matter which one, but the Discourses on Livy have the advantage of being available online – this impression shatters and becomes a source of amusement and confusion. Machiavelli extols the republican values of past eras and discusses ways of bringing them to life in the present – which is about the furthest away from the whole spirit of the Prince it is possible to be. A lot can be learnt by trying to figure out whether the Prince was merely a work written to keep his patron happy, or if it is actually a genuine treatise on political philosophy. My advice is to not settle on either position too soon.

Turning from the past to the future, this technology represents a turn to realpolitik in colonial development. Merely having ideals is one thing, but being able to enforce them coherently across an entire faction is quite another. Even without a political agenda, it still has to be done to keep factions cohering as a single political unit. Some unifying legal framework has to be adopted and enforced, and there has to be a routine in place for how to obey commands from faction headquarters. Disciplined obedience has to be maintained, less the whole situation deteriorates into a series of quarreling city states who all have their own rules, regulations and customs. The centralized state apparatus, as envisioned in this game, requires an extensive and far-reaching sense of loyalty to even be possible on a logistical level.

Of course, there are no politically neutral forms of political organization. Not even anarchy is apolitical, it is merely another form of governance, which is why the Data Angels can only exist in the form of a faction. On Chiron, survival as a politically relevant entity is inextricably linked to statehood, and thus some version of Doctrine: Loyalty becomes inevitable. The situation of humanity as a whole – succeed or die – is fractally mirrored in the political survival of ideologies. Mobilize enough survivors with sufficient ideological fervor and technical prowess to make your vision of what it means to be human manifest in the world, or go extinct. Loyalty is the name of the game.

The question is where on the spectrum between the Prince and the Discourses any given faction ends up. The Usurpers would destroy the universe in their blind loyalty to their leader, should it become necessary. The Pirates, on the other hand, are very likely to see breaches of the Code of the Sea as an offense worse than outsiders would initially suspect. Both are aspects of loyalty with a social order, and despite the vast gulf between these positions, the key role of a centralized command structure unites them. Even as it divides them and drives them to war with each other.

Much can be learnt by comparing the various modes of political organization with each other. My advice is to not proclaim any one position as the correct one too soon in your reading.


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