The Love of War
The King of Prussia, Frederick II (“the Great”), confessed that he had seized the province of Silesia from the Empress Maria Theresa in 1740 because, as a newcomer to the throne, he had to make a name for himself. This caused a war with Austria that developed into a worldwide war (in North America, the French and Indian War), and went on to 1763. Of course, many tens of thousands died in that series of wars.Why Historical Revisionism Matters by Ralph Raico
Very, very Imperial.
Note the need to ‘make a name for himself’. Quite a lot of Noble maneuvers are tied to building up the name of this or that man.
In general, though, states have been much more circumspect about revealing the true reasons for their wars as well as the methods by which they conduct them. Pretexts and evasions have proliferated. In democratic societies, these are endorsed—often invented—by compliant writers and intellectuals.
The bought-out babbling bureaucracy expands.
Even Rome herself – generally unconcerned with moral justifications – felt the need for a pile of statues of the Divine Caesar (and stamped on all the coins), as well as sophisticated, elegant propagandists (see: Vigil).
In today’s democratic world, a wall-to-wall mass media noise machine is preferred, to direct the masses to Proper Thinking.
The Imperium does use noise machines sometimes, but indifferently and without any great art or sophistication. Of vastly greater interest in an aristocratic society are the social networks of the elites, mainly the interstellar military, economic, and cognitive elites… and the points where they intersect each other.
“Why waste energy beating and bribing the horse, when you can just give a precise little tug at the bit that governs the horse?”
“Or – even more elegantly – direct the exact cluster of neurons that govern a particular horses’ action?”
The Imperium is simply indifferent when it comes to the opinions of the ungovernable and disorganized masses, heavily divided as they are on race, history, lifestyles, natural/supernatural religions, environments, and wealth.
But immense skill is shown when a particular clique wants to persuade a powerful corporate board, the governing elite of an important world, a certain ruling family, the leaders of an influential academy, or the ruling clerics of an important religion.
Who Cares About the Masses
All that being said, there are certain groups who still value the opinions of the masses:
- Corporations and business, working in the mass market. They don’t want to sell a few expensive items to the top of the economic period, but instead they make their money selling low-cost but useful goods to the masses.
- Planetary governments remain quite interested in controlling the thoughts of the masses.
“Poor, angry workers can’t spontaneously cross hard vacuum during a riot. But they can storm a planetary palace or parliament!”
- Aggressive cultural and religious causes that seek to convert a population to their way of thinking remain committed to the mass media. (See: Gutenberg and his printed, cheap Bibles.) Aging, tamed, broken, and gelded beliefs and ideologies… not so much.
The Love of War, Redux
Castigating the aristocracy for its alleged war lust was standard for liberal writers of earlier generations. But Cobden’s views began to change when he observed the intense popular enthusiasm for the Crimean War, against Russia and on behalf of the Ottoman Turks. His outspoken opposition to that war, seconded by his friend and co-leader of the Manchester School, John Bright, cost both of them their seats in the Commons at the next election.Why Historical Revisionism Matters by Ralph Raico
And it isn’t just a Ruling Aristocracy that loves the use of power.
Instead of a Leader Building His Name, it’s Our Tribe against Their Tribe, the Believers against the Heretics, the Intelligent against the Ignorant, The Superior against the Inferior, the Humans versus the Subhumans.
The older ways were less destructive to the wealth and lives of the masses.
Interstellar Elite, Planetary Elite
The Canon Imperial government is repulsed at the cost of trying to bribe trillions of Imperial Citizens with welfare money. And the cost, power, and size of the massive bureaucracy that will be needed to manage the bribes.
(…The Solomani Nobles give a wary look at the grinning Vilani Nobles…)
But what the Interstellar rulers see as destroying their power and authority, some Planetary rulers see as a great opportunity to extend their control over the masses: be they classical Chinese-style (or Vilani-style) bureaucrats, Bismark-style ‘unite the nation!’ welfare/warfare-state types, the Red Star Aristocrats, or “Soak the Rich” populists.
And of course, just as there are expensive time, space, and cultural complexity costs that cripple the drive of the Imperium to directly rule more than the starports and a few worlds (those under Imperial Occupation, some Nature Reserves, and a few Administrative Centres), the masses can neither unite for a single purpose, nor cross hard vacuum, without a Guiding Hand to lead them.
Finally: note that this only applies to the Third Imperium. The First Imperium had no hesitation in enforcing a seamless Universal Conformity across her domain, regardless of cost. The Second Imperium was not nearly as controlling, but also sought to “shape the thinking of the masses”, attempting to break up the Vilani caste system and various widespread cultural practices.
The Third Imperium just couldn’t care less, so long as the worlds keep sending their tax monies, and don’t challenge the Imperial military.
“My money stays in my pocket, while the masses shoulder their own responsibility for their own lives. Just as it should be.”