[LMB] : Political Discussion

Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Sun Jan 30 03:26:27 GMT 2011

I was re-reading Komarr yesterday, and came across a tiny part that
hadn't jumped out at me on first reading.
In Chapter 17: "The station had undergone modification and enlargement 
during the period of the Cetagandan invasion; Komarr had granted the 
ghem lords right of passage in exchange for massive trade concessions
 throughout the Cetagandan Empire and a slice of the projected profits of 
the conquest, a bargain it later came to regret."
Now, I was thinking that the Komarrans were paid a bribe by the Cetas
for passage through to Barrayar. But this puts a totally different complexion
on it all.

Komarr didn't take a bribe and stand back to allow the invasion to happen. 
Komarr was a partner in the whole event. Taking a slice of the profits puts
them right in it with the Cetas. The Ghem were the muscle, Komarr were 
the facilitators, and they split the proceeds. This wasn't just a bribe to look
the other way. They were part of it all, eagerly waiting for the profits to 
come in.

So Barrayaran control of their wormholes, and the profits from them, is
exactly the way Komarr was going to treat Barrayar. Taking a slice of the
profits from the invasion. Komarr can complain because they lost, but not
at the action - after all, they condone this kind of behaviour, it's what they
did themselves.

Apart from that, the part that really interests me is 'projected profits'. Exactly
what profits did they expect? Barrayar was still barely more than subsistence 
level. We've no textev about wealth pouring in from some sort of natural 
resources. Just what profits did the Ghem expect to make? So far we've
speculated in discussions here that the ghem wanted to show their skills off
to the haut, to earn rank and rewards back home. That wouldn't interest 
Komarr. Or that they needed places to colonise. Again, not a big-profit
enterprise to pull Komarr onside, although some land sales might yield a 
profit. If you disenfranchise the locals.

Otherwise, the only resource is the people. Slave labour, sent throughout
the empire.
There was a comment recently that the five million dead were due to 
Barrayaran resistance. If they hadn't fought back they wouldn't have died. But
what would have happened to them? At best, it seems, total loss of rights 
and no control over their land. At worst, many of them shipped off-planet as 
slave labour, distributed through the empire.

Komarr fared way  better under Barrayar than anything they had planned for
their Barrayaran victims. Complete on-planet rights, their own local government
systems still in place, and the right to lobby and complain for more federal 
funding without fear of reprisals. 

I can't see Barrayarans doing nearly so well as the Cetas and Komarrans 
gleefully split the profits.
The only remaining question is the degree of complicity of the Komarran people.
If you accept Duv Galeni's view that Komarr wasn't a democracy before the invasion,
but an oligarchy controlled by big business interests vested in a few rich families
who had the biggest share of voting shares, then only the top families are truly
implicated. On the other hand, we've been told on the board here that Komarr was
a working democracy which Barrayarn control has destroyed, so in that case all 
voters are equally at fault. And the projected profits must have been pretty large, 
to tempt Komarrans to vote to join in with the Cetas. 

It's interesting what you notice on re-reads.

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