[LMB] Ezar - - the hand he was dealt

phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Sun Sep 18 01:59:36 BST 2011

On Sat, Sep 17, 2011 at 05:33:52PM -0500, Elizabeth McCoy wrote:

> That's not necessarily a logical leap, really. Aral -- whatever the
> realities of his culture -- believes in the whole oaths and honor thing.
> The chain of fealty that binds responsibilities both ways. So, naturally,
> if there was corruption in the Ministries, the Counts would be the
> people who should fix it, right? Except they legally can't...

And there is a political theory that hereditary rulers have an incentive
to take the long view and make investments to pass on to their heirs,
vs. temporary governors with an incentive to loot what they can while
they can.  (A possible problem for Cetaganda and its 5 year satraps.)
I'd expect defenders of the High Vor to take that view.

I'm not sure it's a well supported theory on the historical evidence,
especially in the face of countervailing factors like heir regression to
the mean or feeling of entitlement, and all the wars and civil wars
kings get up to.  Though the looting by temporary autocrats with low
accountability is certainly valid.  I don't know if historical movements
from election (as in elected kings) or appointment to inherited office
come from any actual public advantage or just the ability to secure

Though I wonder what corruption even means on Barrayar; they run on
nepotism.  I guess for us corruption is directing public bids or
projects to your relatives; for them that'd be normal, and corruption
would be not even fulfilling the projects.

> Also, no matter what Aral thinks he's saying, the heart of it goes
> deeper: Checks and Balances. With no one to check the power of
> the Ministries, corruption cannot be rooted out. With no one to check

Well, they're supposed to answer to the Emperor...

> So even if one disagrees with Aral's choice of people-to-do-the-
> checking-and-balancing, the heart of it is that too much power
> concentrated in one place will tend to attract the power-hungry,

I assume the issue is exactly with the choice of balance.

It'd be interesting to know something more about the Ministers.  There's
15 of them, they seem comparable to Auditors in power, they get a
vote equal to Counts which seems odd if they're simply appointees of the
Emperor, but there's no hint of their being elected.  I'd guess
appointed by the Emperor to run the government for him, but approved by
the Counts, or by the Counts-and-other-Ministers, and perhaps hard to
casually remove, though the Prime Minister at least would have to be
closely responsible to the Emperor for the system to make much sense.

-xx- Damien X-) 

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list