[LMB] Bujold vs. Pratchett worldviews

Andrew Lambdin-Abraham a.abraham at mail.utexas.edu
Sat, 21 Dec 2002 00:25:49 -0600

On Friday, December 20, 2002, at 11:34 PM, K Kuhn wrote:

> Oh yeah - Jingo is why I think Vetinari is a much smarter overlord than
> Gregor.  He doesn't have power because he controls the armed forces
> (what armed forces?), the cops (Vimes doesn't even like him much) or 
> the
> Guilds - it's just that he's arranged things so that the major interest
> groups think he's a better choice than the possible alternatives, and
> has shown the Guilds that working for the same slice of a bigger pie is
> better than a larger slice of the same pie with a knife in it.  And
> getting Vimes to arrest him for treason was brilliant - if people
> generally like things to stay the same as they were, future Patricians
> will have to govern by keeping the interest groups convinced that
> they're doing a better job than the posssible alternatives, the lack of
> serious armed forces makes coups hard, and the cops are set up to be
> independent and headed by an honest man.  And he's added newspapers as
> an independent check - while there's no sign that Gregor has bothered 
> to
> get rid of press censorship, much less encourage the press to go for
> investigative stories on what the Vor are doing with your hardearned 
> tax
> money and control of the judiciary.

You're noting, among other things, a few options Gregor absolutely 
doesn't have.  Namely, Vetinari can get away without a real military 
because the Author chooses to allow him to.  If Gregor tells his people 
that they aren't really under a threat, and major cutbacks are a good 
idea, he will be (rightly) hung from a steeple.  Cetaganda has given 
dramatic evidence that they are willing to do some very not nice things 
to that planet if they have the chance.  They appear to have backed off 
significantly since then, but to paraphrase Chris Rock "A nation is a 
honest as its options."

As far as censorship goes, it doesn't seem to be striking too hard, if 
the Opposition papers are drawing caricatures of Aral during the 
Regency, let alone into Gregor's rule.

Finally, there's something seriously dangerous about setting up a 
society without a strong force or two.  Vetinari manages to balance the 
Guilds and other factions against each other such that they remain 
convinced that working together is more effective than cutthroat 
competition and violence.  What happens when the Patrician chokes to 
death on a fishbone and the Guilds and factions become violently 
unconvinced?  There seems to be a concept in the Western world that 
rule of law falls from the heavens like rain and is the natural state 
of people.  I take a very different view, at least in the 
short-enough-to- matter-to-us-as-people-term.