[LMB] : Political Discussion

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Mon Jan 31 21:52:35 GMT 2011

On Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 12:36:21PM -0800, Elizabeth Holden wrote:
> --- On Mon, 1/31/11, Damien Sullivan <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:

> > While benign rule might lessen the most urgent grievances, 
> > they also have steadily increasing
> > trade and cultural influence from galactic society.
> Wouldn't that influence be against democracy?  I'm not sure how many
> planets we've seen the governance of; and of those we have seen, I
> misremember many, but of the ones I can think of offhand:
> Beta Colony - democracy
> Jackson's Whole - consortium oligarchy
> Kibou-daini - consortium oligarchy with democratic elements
> Cetaganda - oligarchy/caste system
> Earth - mixed; I don't think we're told what the mixes are
> Barrayar - feudal monarchy/aristocracy
> Komarr - consortium oligarchy, followed by colonization by Barrayar
> Sergyar - unknown, though subject to the Barrayaran Imperium
> What is the government of Escobar like? Do the Quaddies have democracy?  

I started a "democracy census" thread back in December:

Worlds known to be at least nominal democracies:
Beta, Quaddie, Komarr (everyone has at least one vote), Kibou-Daini,
Vervain (_Cetaganda_)
Worlds that feel democratic, even if we weren't told outright:
Escobar, Kline Station, Earth (in various pieces)
Worlds known to not be democratic:
Barrayar, Cetaganda, JW, Athos.

Lairouba's Baba is the hereditary head of state but that needn't mean
the government is entirely undemocratic.

Note that the clearly undemocratic worlds are all multiply exceptional:
backwards Barrayar, freakily weird Cetaganda with freaky bioweapons,
criminal nexus JW, extremely isolated male-only Athos.  No "this is a
perfectly normal world that happens to be an absolute monarchy".

Escobar is a close ally of Beta, has citizens instead of subjects (Rowan
in Mirror Dance), noisy politics, and a Federal building.  Lois never
came out and called it a democracy but it seems a stretch to assume it's
something else.

Gwynne noted there's an Imperial Kshatrya out there, about which we know
nothing but the name.  Nuevo Brasil was military junta IIRC but I think
that information is 200 years old, could be wrong though.

Quaddies are probably at least as direct democracy as Beta might be,
filtered through work-gangs.

Komarr is an oligarchy but it's not one where the oligarchs tell you
what to do, it's one where you all vote and then the winners, likely the
same set of oligarchs, tell you what to do.  But they expect to vote.
As Tel said,

"Mmm... yes, but what I see is voting shares being treated as
meaningful by Komarrans themselves. The rebels set up voting shares in
their revolt and abide by them. Local politics seems to be
competitive. Venier, at the low end of the totem pole, sees acquiring
more shares for him and Ekaterin as not pointless."

> Looks to me as if there aren't many true democracies around in the
> Vorkosigan universe.

I'd disagree and more importantly say that being true democracy is
irrelevant for the purpose of breeding desire and activists.  What
proportion of Earth today is "true" democracy?  I'm not sure.  But the
vast majority of countries today at least pay lip service to democratic
forms; it is accepted, even if hypocritically, as an ideal, and ideals
inspire other people to try to make them real.  Democratic activists are
pretty common today, limited by how much they get shot.

That's why I count Komarr as a democracy *for these purposes*.  Even if
it's a total oligarchy in practice, it's not one because of an
aristocratic class, but because certain families win regular elections.
It's a de facto oligarchy of some degree, not a formal one; formally
its a shareholder democracy, where all citizens are shareholders.

> > But they don't have any formal share in Barrayaran
> > decisionmaking, and there are all those Barrayaran women
> > moving to Komarr and staying there, and witnessing if not
> > participating in voting -- with female suffrage.
> ...Female suffrage?  Emigration?  I didn't remember that.  Which
> book's that in?

I don't remember the emigration textev but people have been mentioning
it on list repeatedly recently.  Female suffrage -- _Komarr_!  The
rebels have a vote, imitating their society at large, and the women have
equal status.

> I haven't been convinced that the Komarrans are democratically inclined yet.

Like Tel says above, that's how the Komarrans we see self-organize, via
shareholder democracy.

> > From their point of view, it's a chance to be the initial shareholders
> > and future oligarchs of a new world.? Cordelia wouldn't be big on
> > that, but still, it's colonists who expect to vote.
> I'm totally confused now.  Why do you think there are shareholders on
> Sergyar?  Are you saying that Komarran businesses are expanding to
> Sergyar?  It might be so, but I don't recall any textev about Sergyar
> to that effect.

I'm not saying anything about Komarran businesses.  I'm saying that
Komarrans on Sergyar will probably try to recreate the society they're
familiar with, which per Cryoburn is one where everyone has at least one
vote, supplemented by shares earned by public-minded effort.

-xx- Damien X-) 

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