Decadent Imperials, Stoic Solomani

An interesting comment appeared in the Drugged-Up Reich article:

If the Solomani party associates recreational drug use with the Imperial nobility, then it almost has to ignore any problem in it’s own society. After all, the Solomani aren’t decadent the way the Imperium is, so they would hardly indulge the same vices.

True enough.

Now, what is now known as the Solomani Confederation was actually part of the Imperium until the mid-late 900s. But then again, the Imperium was never a truly unified society: the Confederation, on the other hand, can indeed be considered a proper ethnocultural polity: a.k.a., “a nation composed of a single dominant race and culture”. I would also argue religiously as well, split between the Abrahamic and Dharmic religious groups.

Actually, there hasn’t been any canon breakdown of vices within the Imperium and the Confederation. There is a fundamental difference in the definition of “vice”, with Vilani loathing of innovation taking the place of Solomani loathing of sexual deviancy.

Being a more strongly ideologically-driven (and, I would claim, religiously-driven) society, the Solomani would have more political and religious import on their vices. On the other hand, the Vilani are essentially at war with change per se: anything that violates Tradition is a vice.

(I prefer the Solomani view myself: “The Commandments/Law bans certain sins, some of which is punishable by the State, and everything else is permitted.”

This is in contrast to the Vilani position: “Certain things as Traditionally permitted, and everything else is punished by the State/Corporation/Community.”

But then again, the Solomani have always been portrayed as basically individualistic, and the Vilani as seriously collectivistic.)

Finally: unlike the Confederation, the Imperium is in (small) part shaped by her nonhuman inhabitants. What the Bwap and the Vargr (maybe the Droyne as well) view as vices will have a slight but real effect on Imperial culture.

They might have to make an occasional example to reinforce this, but ignoring problems most of the time lets them pretend they don’t have a problem – except with people who, infected by Imperial decadence and probably Imperial sympathisers need to be purged.

Well, the Imperium was never canonically seen as decadent (despite the Noble behaviour depicted in GURPS Traveller: Nobles). On the other hand, something was seriously wrong, for the death of a single Emperor to lead to the violent destruction of the Imperium and the death of trillions.

(And note that this titanic disaster occurred in the ‘forgiving and tolerant’ Imperium, and not the ‘controlling and intolerant’ Solomani Confederation!)

So a combination of condemnation of the decadence of the Imperium compared to the virtue of the Solomani and an opportunity to threaten/remove people they want out of power.

Military use of performance-enhancing drugs is entirely different, with Solomani soldiers being issued those which are useful and permitted to use them on a voluntary basis – and you wouldn’t want to let down your comrades by not using the drugs that keep you in battle would you. The Imperial military of course would compel the helot-soldiery to take drugs, making them addicted as another way to compel them to follow their aristocratic officers.

I’m not so certain of the foot soldiers: it depends on how unified you think the Imperial Army is. I myself have felt that the Imperial Army would be a mere organizational artifact, a catch-all term for the soldiers the Emperor was able to hire/bargain/force out of the worlds near the zone of conflict.

(Especially the critical high-tech/high-pop systems!)

The Imperial Marines, on the other hand, would be really tough hombres: really good at killing, really good at ferocious offensive operations in all sorts of conditions, and utterly loyal to the Emperor (as in, ‘never involved in treason — at least, not above the individual level — despite a thousand years of existence’). And if you’re going to create the best of the best, you’re going to use upgrades.

(Comparing the Imperial Marines and the Confederation Marines — canonically, fanatically loyal to the Race — will be a very interesting exercise! Especially as the Solomani are ahead of the Imperium in the field of genetics…)

The official Canon is laid out in Ground Forces, which I view with suspicion. Much too centralized I’d say, for a government that takes months to send a command from the Throne to the men in the field. The glorious snarl in the chain of command as depicted in MegaTraveller’s Rebellion seems both more true to life (no organization will remain simple to navigate, after a millennium of history, jurisdiction fights, emergency precedents, etc.) and more rife with storytelling possibilities!

It occurs to me I’m starting to see the Solomani as successors ‘in spirit’ to 19th century European/American imperialism. I wonder how the descendants of Africans, Asian and others would feel about that?

Well, non-whites can be strongly oriented into race’n’kin. Not in the same way as Europeans & White Americans — different justifications, different history, different grievances, etc. — but not that far off, either. Remember the attempted Tutsi genocide by the Hutu of Rwanda? Mexican allegiance to La Raza? Blatantly racial policies (anti-Chinese, in this case) in Malaysia?

With a vast empire serving as an threat, it’s surely possible to get the Tribes of Earth united into a single front against the alien threat!

I have always imagined the Solomani being a largely non-white people — due to the (absolutely unnecessary) willful self-destruction of EuroAmericans in the post-WW II era. It’s really easy to cut down your wealth by 50%: but doubling your wealth is a lot more difficult. Same thing with populations on a large scale…

The Solomani Party is deeply influenced in all sorts of ways by the old European (near the end, EuroAmerican) Supremacy of 1500-2000 or so, just as we are influenced by Greece and Rome.

Even when we rebel against our spiritual and intellectual forefathers, we rebel against them in a manner that is itself shaped by our forefather’s influence. And make no mistake: the core of the Solomani Party has a “mid-20th century European” ethos, as opposed to a Chinese, Arabic, or East Indian driving spirit.

As for the old line European peoples itself?  Few in number, I would say, but generally respected: mainly by Solomani “brothers look out for brothers” policy, but also because they simply are too small to be much of a threat to anyone. Small peoples with a taste for entrepreneurship — which Europeans (including Jews here) have historically proven quite capable of — at least have a chance to make up lost ground.

I guess it really depends on if you think the white men of Europe will decide to return to faith & family (and some form of patriarchy) before AD 2200. I doubt it myself — death spirals are really hard to break, and State Power can only go so far — but I cannot be certain if their self-destructive decline is permanent or not.

Only the locals can make that call.

About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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2 Responses to Decadent Imperials, Stoic Solomani

  1. Tim Newman says:

    “With a vast empire serving as an threat, it’s surely possible to get the Tribes of Earth united into a single front against the alien threat!”

    It didn’t unite the Greeks against the Persian empire, even when the Persian invasion was happening.

    I bet it was a lot easier after the Rim War, when the Solomani had discovered that they weren’t their Terran Confederation ancestors facing the declining Ziru Sirka, to persuade people that the Imperium was a huge threat. Before that you might have the propaganda of Hitler’s Germany, convinced it was superior; afterwards, Stalin’s USSR, convinced it was being threatened everywhere. Though it’s hardly difficult to find other examples of both the former and the latter.

    In my personal canon the Imperial Army exists as a result of various worlds providing units to Imperial service. Initially that might be a temporary assignment for a local crisis, with the possibility that they’ll be returned with thanks to their homeworld with the Imperial Crest on their banners and some battle honours that are a little unusual. Then over time, because they’ve been in Imperial service for a few decades, the homeworld gradually sends less people to the unit, it recruits from whichever worlds are nearby directly into service with only an occasional draft from the homeworld. And then suddenly there’s a crisis, and the 7th Sufren Chasseurs is available when they need troops to fight the Ilelish revolt, and after a few generations there’s really only the name and a few traditions that remind people where the unit is from. Now it’s an Imperial Army unit, equipped with the gear the Imperial Army wants, and nobody thinks it’s worth sending a contingent of recruits from Sufren across half the Imperium to it’s new location in Corridor Sector. Then there’s another major crisis in the Rim, and local Imperial officials start the process of making deals with worlds to provide some troops that can support the Imperial Marines and the existing regiments that are part of the Imperial Army.

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  2. Alvin Plummer says:

    Thank you Tim, for the reminder of that distinct lack of unity among the Greeks! My knowledge of history sometimes skips over the minor details…

    (And I am amazed that I had to find out about the Persian Wars by myself, because it was never taught at school!)

    I wish that there was a site where Travellers could set up their own canon up on the Internet: I find yours a good deal more interesting than the Official Canon. If you ever set up a site on your own views and ideas of the Imperium/Traveller, let me know!

    It’s a big universe out there…

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