Re: Glorantha Digest V2 #575

From: D M McNamara (D.M.McNamara@durham.ac.uk)
Date: Mon 20 May 1996 - 11:58:42 EEST


  Hello...
The question was asked, 'lunar empire, good or bad?'
Well, it does indeed depend where you stand. As far as i see it, there is
little difference between the lunar and the RW roman empires, in that
both ultimately serve particular classes or interest groups, and
legitimate the hegemony through various 'means'.....

For example, the lunar empire has so far followed an extremely similar
pattern to the roman....lunarisation through trade of luxuries like wine,
metals, books (creating a classic centre-periphery economic relationship
between the empire and desired conquest areas ie.Sartar), efficient and
coordinated troops, a religion which incorporates others into itself
(which in glorantha is backed by illumination, so it is almost
insuperable), etc.
However, the lunar empire is more powerful than the romans could have
ever been - it has weird and wacky 'equalisers' that can stomp any
problem the romans ever had. For example, the crimson bat, superheroes

like Jar-eel the Razoress (for a while anyway), horrible chaos demons of
various kinds, extensive heroquesting jiggery-pokery, lunarised broo,
RALZAKARK!!! (Ragnaglar?) etc
etc. How could the lunars fail? (i still can't believe they did - maybe
the parts in 'king of sartar' describing their doom was made up by a
wistful scribe, i dunno)

   For a great many people the lunar empire would not have been a good
place to live, life would have been (to paraphrase that old cliche) 'nasty,
brutish and short.' Presumably the lunars make extensive use of slaves,
and a slave-driven economy, although initially possessing immense growth
potential, ultimately sows the seeds of its own destruction. A constant

supply of slaves is needed, and without growth, the empire will die
through inflation and economic failure. The limits of the lunar empire
are far worse than it was for the romans. The invincible malkioni west
and Dorastor form an unbreakable buffer zone, and to the east there is
the huge unproductive wastes of Prax and Pent (and kralorelan loonies),
where an advanced
agricultural economy like the Lunar's will find it difficult to survive.
   We must also not forget the great meditteranean sea, the romans
friend. Apparently it cost far less to shift a cargo of grain by boat
from one end of the meditteranean to the other, than take a cargo by oxen
100 miles on land (at this point the ox will have eaten your profit!).

the ancient greeks found this useful too.... The lunar empire does not have
this, therefore it is doomed to soon reach its economic limit (unless it

fundamentally changes, eg. becomes feudal, but i can't see that happening
for a while).
  Therefore, i would argue that the lunar empire is more evil than good,
because it must expand and subvert other cultures to survive, and
possesses a maladaptive culture system which will doom its provinces as
well as itself. Also, the economy (i assume) is a slave mode of
production, therefore operates off the everyday misery and humiliation of
those that have been captured through slave raiding and warfare. however,
the romans had philosophies which represented the slave as inferior
(Varro - a 'speaking tool'), and predetermined to toil for his/her
master. Do the lunars have anything like this? I don't know.
  I do not believe that the lunar empire was a nice place to live. Unless

you were a rich senator, a merchant or a priest. The 'free' peasants will
be gradually being squeezed more and more for taxes as the empire reaches
its limits, and the reliance on slavery may also push them into becoming
outlaws, and eventually slaves themselves. I would have preferred
wandering through Prax on my trusty blue llama, with my tribe at my side,
the wind rushing in my face, and dealing with the everyday rituals and
problems involved in initiation, breeding llamas, having contests of
strength, marriage, drinking kvass, appeasing the spirits, guarding the
block, wiping llama spit off my
armour, etc. Hey, i would be very bandy-legged from all that riding, but

at least i would not be hewing an empire for myself, based on the misery
of others.
  I suppose there is a danger of viewing non-lunar,
technologically 'primitive' societies, in a 'noble savage' light here.
Certainly, every society in glorantha appears to contain misery, power
relations, and the like. Certainly, there must be an alternative, but the
greedy reaching moon of the lunars threatens to damage the uniqueness of
the rest of glorantha. This is a Bad Thing.

  Dominic.

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