Some excerpts from Critical Mass – Part 8: The Necessity of a Plan:
I own a copy of the movie Gandhi, which I regard as the greatest government-funded propaganda film of all time. I also regard Ben Kingsley’s performance as the finest movie performance of all time. I watch it every year or so, just to remind myself of what one man can do if he is willing to sacrifice everything for a just cause, and yet not deliberately leave the day-to-day affairs of this world unattended to.
Gandhi accomplished this because he had a long-term goal: the political independence of India. He also had a long-term program: non-violence. He never wavered from either. And because he was dealing with the British, who were public defenders of legality and bureaucratic form, and who had been weakened by two world wars and a lack of vision, he succeeded.
Most Travellers haven’t truly met such a dedicated opponent to the Imperium. And there are some good reasons for doing so: Gandhi built his life opposing small Imperial regulations at first, eventually building support for the largest regulations (the critical salt trade, up to the very existence of the Imperium). In quite a number of ways – especially in granting most worlds sovereignty – the Third Imperium is explicitly designed to foil such attempts to be drawn into low-profit/high-risk local conflicts.
Moreover, his tactics an strategy was shaped by his enemy on the one hand, as well as his goal. After all, it was his revulsion of having his own people being treated like African blacks that powered his war: after all, Gandhi’s tactics in South Africa, which was to have the Indians be recognized as equals to the Whites, even serving in the British Army at one point. (A hostile essay on the political saint can be found in the Commentary article The Gandhi Nobody Knows: for an anti-Imperial perspective, see Churchill and Gandhi. )
Aside: Note that (Traveller universe here) Imperial Law early on had nonhuman lives held to be the equal as human ones: as the pure Solomani Emperor Cleon I ruled in 17 Imperial. From one of Traveller’s most beloved supplement, MegaTraveller’s World Builder’s Handbook, page 13:
In Imperial Year 17, Cleon Zhunastu declared, “Any sentient lifeform within the Imperial borders, regardless of its origin, is a protected being, and this a citizen o the Third Imperium.”
But never mind claims to sainthood: it is effectiveness and results that matter in today’s pragmatic, secular, and disintegrating Western World. So, to continue:
He spent years in jail. His family survived because he had benefactors who were willing to finance him. Every successful revolutionary needs such supporters. As he says in the movie to Margaret Bourke-White: “Some of my friends say it takes a fortune to keep me in poverty.” But he never gave up. For over 50 years, he never wavered from either his goal or his program. He lived to see India’s independence.
Interesting. If a cause is deeply believed in by the population, there always will be such supporters. Take the various Arab secular dictators: they attacked Islamic fundamentalism with great ferocity and gave their security services a free hand to do what they pleased for decades: but when they fell, guess who instantly rose to fill the void?
At the other strategic extreme was Lenin. He was driven by a personal motive: revenge for his older brother’s lawful execution for revolutionary violence. He had a long-term goal: the capture of political power. He had a strategy: political organization. He had an ideology: Communist revolution. He never wavered from any of these. Even among Communist fanatics, Lenin was regarded as a fanatic. Lenin was filled with care.
Dealing with a widespread Communist insurgency is something that I haven’t seen in the Third Imperium. Interesting, especially as Communists tend to do their best in taking over ancient massive autocratic monarchies, like China and Russia…
Gandhi had worried about the kinds of leaders that would be thrown up — the correct verb, the correct voice (passive) — by revolutionary violence. This was why he opposed violence. He kept looking beyond the day when the British would leave. He wanted decent men in power. He also wanted the British to be friendly after their departure. Once Pakistan and India were divided, he got his two wishes. India did not wind up as China did. The Communists never made serious inroads into India outside of the state of Kerala — and even there, they were elected to office.
The revolutionary band may well have a greater say over the future than the Imperial power and its armies. The kind of victor – and how victory was gained – tells the tale.
(Restrains himself vis-a-vis that vacillating & waffling Archduke Dulinor.
Well, one quote:
“In the founding days of the Imperium, great men dreamed great dreams… and achieved them. In the last days of the Imperium, petty men dreamed petty dreams… and achieved them too.” – MegaTraveller: Rebellion Sourcebook.)
Back to the Critical Mass article:
Who inherited in Communist Russia? Stalin: the man Lenin warned the Party not to put in his place after his death. His warning did no good. Lenin could not control who would succeed him because of the inherent logic of the system he built: one based on raw power and the guilt-free willingness to shed blood.
The point is, both Gandhi and Lenin succeeded because they had long-term goals and long-term plans. They both had strategies from which they did not waver. Gandhi’s legacy to his followers was far better than Lenin’s, for Gandhi had adopted a more decent strategy.
The Vilani seem to be the only ones with an effective long-term plan, managing to break the power of the Solomani Party at Court in the 600s. But having achieved their goal, the simple fact is that – in Canon Traveller – there just isn’t enough pure Vilani to truly retake the Imperium, or enough power to again reimpose cultural conformity. Corporate power is great, but it just wasn’t enough to remake the Imperium – raw wealth can fail to achieve political goals, just as high technology, raw numbers, and ideological purity can fail.
Their opponents had no long-term strategy of defense. This was because they no longer had a long-term strategy of dominion. They had become bureaucrats who reacted to events rather than exercised leadership. The Czar had no vision. Like Louis XVI of France, Nicholas II was dominated by a narrow-minded wife and bad advisors. He had no desire to lead. Like Louis XVI, he lost his throne because of it. We are told officially that he also lost his life. in any case, he disappeared forever from public view.
Similarly, the British government by 1900 no longer had a vision for the Empire. Better put, whatever vision England’s elected rulers had was being supplied by a group of self-appointed humanist conspirators who were, in the British phrase, too clever by half. From 1890 to 1948, they surrendered the Empire.
Without vision, empires perish as surely as people do.