Monday, December 1, 2008

Re: Chaotic governments

Subject: Re: [GREYTALK] Chaotic governments
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 18:50:50 -0500
From: The Watcher
Reply-To: The GREYtalk Discussion List

Haile and Fair Greetings All,

Oops. Sorry; I've been clearing out alot of back mail and missed this thread altogether until Keldreth edited my name to the page top.

Scott "Master Yakker" Volstagg writes:
>Now, where does that leave the Chaotic Good "Queendom" (?) of Celene?

Try "Olvenrealm" of Celene. I guess "Coronal" (in the stead of "Queen") is never going to catch on, huh?

>Celene's neutrality during the Greyhawk Wars may be inconsistent with
>what her neighbors wanted, but other than that, Celene does not seem to
>be very
>Chaotic at all. Any suggestions on how to make Celene seem more
>Chaotic? Dare
>I ask you, Watcher?

::Stifled chuckle:: Well gosh, I hardly ever think about Celene. All foolery aside, mostly it's a general problem with perception. I just can't quite figure why folks want to see CG as CHAOTIC(g). The kind of chaos where you sentence a prisoner to death and release him on his merry way is a peculiar (insane) form of CN.

I certainly can't speak for anyone else's view, but I've yet to find a problem with Celene acting out of "alignment" -- particularly since a nation doesn't have one. Do keep in mind that the CG ascribed to the olvenrealm is the majority (I won't say predominant) alignment of its populace, not necessarily how its gvt. is run. But that's a caveat.

Keldreth replies:
>Uh huh, and the CE drow...I have seen ugly flamewars over the vault of the drow.

The fact remains they do have a goverment with certain rules (laws, if you want) which must be followed else suffer consequence. Only, their's is predicated more on getting caught than the doing.

>I think of Lawful vs. Chaotic governments in part (well at least LG vs
>CG) as
>"the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one" ordered society,
>feudalism, yada yada. vs. a chaotic govt. that is more of a
>confederation or a real libertarian attitude towards society. [C]all me

Your crazy. But you do have the most basic elements in mind. In the case of Celene, the "leadership" doesn't function to mandate how all elves will floss their (lack of canine) teeth. I don't want to hammer down the specifics of political life in the Olvenrealm here (too many words that'd be better read in the context of next year's Pocket Guide to Celene), but let me see what I can do with a few (me -- a
few -- right) words.

Consistency of merit is likely more important than slavishness to law. Ok, which is to say, the olvenfolk realize there is no law which adequately addresses every situation and each being. There is a basic code of civil (*not* as in municipal) behavior, with punishments meeted out according to the "crime". One of the best ways to describe this is "situational ethics", but most folks seem to want to read those words with a negative connotation (usually because it was used against them).

On the whole, those in leadership achieve those positions because they showed merit for it -- and gain the respect of "follower", who are in turn more willing to follow the individual's lead.... Yolande and her kin have held the Coronal role because they proved most worthy to direct the interests of the olvenfolk with other realms, showed the capacity to identify with the needs and viewpoints of her peoples, etc.. Her words of wisdom (whichever ones those are) are respected (on the whole), so her olvenfolk believe her when she indicates some course is the best, and so

I suppose the best way of explaining it here, is to say that generally the "office" someone holds is not particualarly self-empowered. One does not secure or be assigned the post of coronal, chief constable (truth seeker, formost), or military commander; one becomes or is these things and is so recognized with resources and endorsement and so on. Yes, this is by far a simplistic representation of how it works in Celene, but I'm attempting to impart the basic concept at work. As humans, the "office" exists unto itself where for elves an empty post is nothing but for who fills it.

To read this, one might be inclined to conceive this "nation" one quite easily on the verge of collapse or disbandment from internal foment and disagreement. That's certainly a potential, but the practice ends up being opposite. What happens is because folks have the capacity to thumb their noses at a poor decision or ostracize an inept leader, it becomes incumbent for those parties to be worthy of their role. In turn, because they display (however) that worthiness, the inhabitants are more willing to help their fellows in the way suggested.

Each being (I could get lost saying "elf", but there are other races) brings from within itself the desire to support the homeland and society by what means at their disposal. The poet writes inspiring and lifting phrase, the craftman does his best, the weaponsmith forgest weapon for defense, the learned teach.... All contribute in the way they do and each with a mind for betterment, because without them there is no Celene. It exists not unto itself, but of its members.

Now, admittedly, this seems idyllic in explanation -- and just so. In my estimation, true olven society bears it's human counterpart as a pale shadow. In turn, they have their dissenters: the sylvan who only moderately accept the will of Enstad (but prefer the respect from there over humanfolk), the grugach (amid their number) who accept no rule but their own (but would yet see aid to fellow elves over others), folks who just disagree fundamentally with current practice, and criminal elements (you don't *really* think all the olvenfolk are goodly types, do you?).

Each are dealt according to their nature, not by their "crime". In the US, it's a crime to disagree with the government if that disagreement is one of legal demand. For the olvenfolk, there are codes of behavior based upon respect for fellows and personal honor, but few absolute laws as such. Clan/family affiliation is still important, for instance, to be dishonored in addition to oneself. Still, a dissenter
must (rationally) be given the opportunity to see the "error" of their way before condemnation. It's as possible the argument sways the "official" (not always so formal) gone to talk. Theoretically, this could change the way Celene deals with similar issues, not as a matter of law, but from a new wealth of experience. The clan could be wrong (ie., just because the majority believes/agrees doesn't make them correct in so doing).

Similarly, it no crime to (say) walk about naked, as it's hard to offend those who have the option of not looking, are bipedal themselves (sympathetic form issue), etc.. They may think you a fool, esp. if it's snowing around you, but their response is one of not dealing with you over "punishing" you for offending "them". If they don't like you, they don't have to sell to you, buy from you, etc.. But caution, the
olvenfolk are mostly beyond petty displays one might expect from humans under similar condition. As is well pointed out, they have both the years to learn that falicy and the wealth of their elders who've attained such wisdom (when they pay attention).

In final, "chaotic" in this case should be seen as "no interest in law for its own sake" over some non-ownership socialism. The "good" half of that alignment defines itself (gosh, I hope). Folks still buy and own, but of a mind for what they do (let's not cut down the 300-year oak to build a house *just* there). You're there because you want to be. It's easy enough to leave.

Look beyond the surface of what is seen externally. A realm, theoretically on the perpetual verge of collapse, which can be seen to react inconsistently to similar events, and chooses when it cares about issue -- that doesn't seem chaotic enough to y'all?

Soft Winter and Sweet Flowers,

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