[LMB] LQ #30: Laisa as Empress
azurite at rogers.com
Tue Sep 9 05:12:52 BST 2008
--- On Mon, 9/8/08, Tony Zbaraschuk <tonyz at eskimo.com> wrote:
> Gregor is Vor first and foremost, and that's a
No, he's emperor foremost. He's Vor because emperors come from the Vor class - the ruling class. Doesn't mean there's any kind of equality anywhere. In an absolutist state, no one is the equal of the emperor - not even his siblings (or especially not his siblings). An emperor is pre-eminent in everything.
Now, exactly what socio-political historical models (or philosophies) Lois is following isn't entirely clear, and I think she intends it that way, for wise reasons - including allowing herself space for new ideas. But I see nothing that implies egalitarian notions regarding the Emperor of Barrayar by any of his subjects, counts or otherwise.
> Rulers have vast power... so long as people are willing to
Well, yes. Any Emperor can be assassinated. But that doesn't mean there's any commonalty with his subjects. Some Emperors are first among equals; many are first among the aristocrats; others are the only true power and everyone else must obey them.
> And they obey because of common interest, common loyalty,
> common habits.
Or for any number of reasons: Laws, fear of retribution or divine wrath, reverence, respect, all sorts of things.
A wise ruler nurtures and understands those
> > commonalities, and does not seek to extend his power beyond
> the point of obedience.
No, but that's not a limitation on this power by others. That's self-imposed. Not all Barrayaran emperors have been wise.
> Those who come to believe that obedience of subjects is a
> law of nature like unto the law of gravity... eventually
> discover that it isn't.
My point is entirely the other way around. It isn't that either Gregor or Laisa is power-hungry. It's that Barrayaran custom and law makes them pre-eminent and the choice is theirs to rule with a heavy hand or a light one - no one else can make that choice for them. They can treat their Imperium like a democracy if they wish, but no one else can legally force them to do it.
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