First, a few quoted words on behalf of individualism:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” Ronald Reagan said in his inauguration speech as a governor of California; but the principle applies to everything, not only freedom. Not only is freedom never more than one generation away from extinction, the horrors of tyranny – the GULags, the gas chambers, the Holodomor, the prisoners skinned alive, the Christians burning as torches for the Emperor’s parties – are never more than one generation away from re-appearing, if we forget God’s Word and Law.The Destructive Nature of Collectivism, by Bojidar Marinov
I am confident that Vilani collective tyranny has its own unique horrors, with personality rewrites and a preference for efficient genocide being the most famous… but not the only one.
We have mentioned collectivism before in previous Axe to the Root episodes. I have mentioned it in other places, especially in relation to the doctrine of Biblical individualism – namely, the concept that before God, the individual is a legitimately independent moral entity.
The meaning of “independent” here is that man’s covenantal standing before God is not dependent in any way of his belonging to a human group or collective – family, local church, genetic, ethnic, or national entity, social stratum or status, professional guild, political party, etc. While belonging to or membership in any such entity or collective may be an important secondary or inferior cause (to borrow Calvin’s terminology) for a man’s willingness to obey God, or for his training to good works, in the final account, God deals with man according to man’s individual standing before God, without any regard for any collectives he may have been part of. This understanding of the moral value and significance of the individual has been central to the ability of the early church to break from the pagan relations or the Jewish traditions of its immediate culture – all early imperial edicts against Christianity accuse Christians of abandoning the traditions of their clans or ethnic groups or ancestors.The Destructive Nature of Collectivism, by Bojidar Marinov
Interesting, that last bit: “all early imperial edicts against Christianity accuse Christians of abandoning the traditions of their clans or ethnic groups or ancestors.”
A VERY Vilani way of thinking, I would suggest. “Tradition above all!”
It is for this reason the movement for Christian Reconstruction, from the very beginning, has recognized that Christian Reconstruction must be grounded in personal conversion and conviction, and in individual sanctification and purpose, for any other project of Christian Reconstruction to be successful. Men can’t get their families to be in covenant with God unless they are individually in covenant with God. Institutional churches can’t be in covenant with God unless the people in them are individually in covenant with God first, and only through that covenant, in covenant with each other. A nation can’t be in covenant with God unless there is a critical mass of socially and politically active people who are each individually in covenant with God.The Destructive Nature of Collectivism, by Bojidar Marinov
The Solomani are traditionally portrayed as individualists, compared to the Vilani. If so, then they have certainly lost their way, trusting in the power of men — secret police, centralized governments, etc — rather than in the power of God.
Shall we then be content to err — merely because the Church errs? Will our company be any excuse for our error? Will our erring in company with the Church remove our responsibility for our own souls? Surely it is a thousand times better for a man to stand alone and be saved — than to err in company with the Church, and be lost! It is better to “prove all things” — and go to Heaven; than to say, “I dare not think for myself” — and go to Hell!The Destructive Nature of Collectivism, by Bojidar Marinov
The Solomani Party – much like the Communist and Nazi parties – are basically parodies of the Church.
And if the Church errs, believing Christians are expected to demand a correction, or even just cut the ties to the institution. Being a party to evil brings death and hell, even if it waves a cross about and spouts a lot of God-talk.
This legitimacy of the individual as an independent moral agent has always been a serious problem for all pagan religions and philosophies – and for many heretical teachings in the church as well, including the modern churches in America, including the majority of those who pass for “Reformed.” To be more precise, the serious problem is this: “How do you allow the individual to be a free, independent moral agent with his own will, aspirations, and individual purpose, and yet keep your people together, obedient to the same common will, pursuing the same common goals, and willing and capable of sacrificing for causes that are greater than any individual himself?” Biblical Christianity has no such problem; it has the Holy Spirit Who can work both as one and as many; He can have one overriding plan for history, and yet, He can figuratively “split” Himself (humanly speaking) into an infinite number of abiding places in the hearts of an infinite number of believers, and guide them to serve His plan while keeping each individual a free and independent moral agent, acting on his own free – but redeemed – will. But pagan and heretical religions and ideologies have nothing like the Holy Spirit that can ensure a shared cause and common action across large groups of people over long periods of time, while allowing for the freedom of the individual. Once the individual is given the freedom to be an independent moral agent, from a pagan perspective, chaos follows.The Destructive Nature of Collectivism, by Bojidar Marinov
When you turn away from the Holy Spirit, you are left with the force and fists of men to guarantee unity. “The gods you can see, not the God you can’t.”
But the arm of flesh will fail you, sooner or later.
(More often sooner nowadays, in this time of technological acceleration and the destruction of the information gatekeepers.)
The freedom of the individual to be an independent moral agent can lead to only two social outcomes: either individuals filled with the Holy Spirit produce a society of righteousness and justice for all, where the social order is based on mutual respect rather than institutional tyranny, or unredeemed individuals following the lusts of their own hearts bringing the society to collapse in lawlessness. Both outcomes together are a powerful testimony for the superiority of the Christian faith over all other faiths and ideologies. Thus, any ideology and religion that wants to rival Christianity, will have to ensure that the individuals in the society do not have the freedom to make their own moral decisions or even identify themselves as free individuals. Every pagan ideology and religion will have to chain individuals to a group or to an institution, and only allow then to define themselves in the context of that group or institution; otherwise there will be no effective means of control.
And that’s what the real covenantal meaning of collectivism is: an ideology which subjects individuals to the moral dictatorship of human collectives and/or elites, with the purpose of re-educating them into obedient pawns.The Destructive Nature of Collectivism, by Bojidar Marinov
Even the Third Imperium – a fairly free government, as it does not actively rule (most) member worlds – has issues with dissolving into lawlessness (see: pirates). The other direction, tyranny, costs real money… in time, too much money, as greater oppression lays the seed of more effective and profound resistance.
I will look at several main techniques here, taken from a book by Bruno Bettelheim, titled, The Informed Heart: Autonomy in a Mass Age. Bettelheim was an Austrian Jew. He graduated in philosophy and history of art from the University of Vienna in the 1930s. Since in that period, art was viewed entirely from a Freudian perspective (as an expression of the unconscious), a degree in history of art included multiple courses in psychology – heavily Freudian – and was naturally considered also as a degree in psychology. When the Nazis invaded Austria in 1938, he was arrested and first in the Dachau, and then in the Buchenwald concentration camps. Less than a year later, in a very rare gesture of amnesty, Hitler ordered the release of several hundred concentration camp inmates for his 50th birthday. Bettelheim was one of them. He knew the amnesty would be short-lived, and he immediately got on a ship to the US, to join his wife Gina who had already emigrated. In the US, we was able to build a career as a psychologist and write several books, among which was The Informed Heart. The book is a scientific study into the conflict between human personality and mass collectivism, drawing from the 10-month experience he had as a concentration camp inmate in Dachau and Buchenwald.
The following is a summary of collectivist techniques of killing individuality. I have not done that summery myself; I am using the work of other authors who reviewed Bettelheim’s book. Nevertheless, the summary is correct and it agrees with my assessment after I read the book, so you can take it as something I agree with. When you listen about the techniques, notice their perverse covenantal nature – they are all about the ethical-judicial nature of man, and they are all trying to either destroy that nature, or to completely pervert it to its opposite. Bettelheim was a Freudian psychologist, which means, he believed that human behaviors is not self-consciously ethical but only subconscious. And yet, when he observed real-world interactions, he couldn’t help but see the ethical nature of human behavior.The Destructive Nature of Collectivism, by Bojidar Marinov
If you want to protect your individuality, you need to know how others will attack it.
The first and most basic technique of any collectivist government is to make people engage in pointless work. Or, work of no value at all. Work for the sake of the work, not for the sake of results.
[…details & examples…]
The second common technique of all collectivist governments is the introduction of a multitude of mutually exclusive rules so that violations become inevitable.
[…details & examples…]
The third common technique of all collectivist governments is the introduction of collective responsibility.
[…details & examples…]
The fourth common tactics of a collectivist government is making people believe that nothing depends on them, their conduct, their moral actions, or even their obedience and allegiance.
[…details & examples…]
The fifth common technique was to make people refuse to see and acknowledge injustice.
[…details & examples…]
Once a person is trained to not notice injustice, they then develop a new insensitivity to injustice. From there, the step is very small to the sixth common technique of all collectivist governments: make people transgress all their moral boundaries and commit injustice themselves.
[…details & examples…]
Knowing these techniques is crucial for the modern Christian. Not so much because we want to remember the gory details of the past; but because, in one form or another collectivism continues raising its ugly head today, trying to brainwash individuals and lead them astray. Whether collectivism in the state, or collectivism in the church, or collectivism in the family, we are still fighting the same beast that is trying to control the actions of every individual (Revelation 13:17). As Christians, we ought to be capable of discerning that spirit and its manifestation in our society, and actively work to purge our society of it.The Destructive Nature of Collectivism, by Bojidar Marino
And, now that the Referee knows the main outlines of a Vilani Occupation, he can both create it for the PCs to experience, and perhaps (by the use of NPCs?) help them learn how to fight such tyrannies.