From: D M McNamara (D.M.McNamara@durham.ac.uk)
Date: Tue 21 May 1996 - 12:13:51 EEST
Thanks to Loren Miller for replying to all my annoying questions! (and
in such an entertaining manner)
I must confess that my own perspective on the lunar empire is coloured
strongly by what i know of the romans, so blame it on that. Certainly,
there is the danger that one may draw groundless uniformitarian analogies
on this issue, but in Glorantha, as in the real world, certain things
tend to remain constant.
For example, you may have noticed my emphasis on economy. All
societies have economies of some sort, even if it only involves symbolic
capital. However, with the case of the lunars they make use of extensive
trading networks, are spreading their cash economy over the conquered
territory (eg. replacing pennies with lunars in sartar), etc.
Certainly, the glory of their gods is enhanced by expansion, but there
are easier ways to expand rather than using military force, such as by
using religion. Therefore why must they expand, why can't they just rest
on their laurels and heroquest instead? The ultimate answer surely must
be for economic reasons - any cash economy must expand if it is based on
profit, or else it will eventually collapse if it does not revolutionise
itself. Surely, spiritual concerns feed the soul, but everyone
(especially the lunar ruling classes) needs to purchase the things they
like to enjoy - food, shelter, clothes, bribes, army maintenance, wall
maintenance, sumptuous feasts, etc. Therefore - expand or die in this
case. Certainly, from evidence it does appear that the lunar empire has
an 'extensive' rather than an 'intensive' economy. ie. lack of internal
economic development, expansion, acculturation process at work, etc.
The lunars show no
signs of developing a more advanced economy eg.
feudal, like the west. Why doesn't the west need to expand? Presumably
because it is internally stable (well, sort of), at least at the moment -
large amounts of the population effectively 'live forever,' even peasants
in some parts, technology is extensively and rationally used to maximise
profits, and they trade extensively with their neighbours in a highly
competitive manner (one may imagine an analogue between the west and the
lunar empire, and charlemagne's europe and mohammed's empire - forget
Pirenne, he's bang out of date).
Also - slavery. Slavery in the lunar empire isn't exactly the same as
being a worker in the contemporary west, is it? Certainly in a vague
sense, we are all slaves to something (power networks -foucault, etc.).
However, if 'power' was always repressive, why does one obey it? The
point with being a slave is that one is forced against ones will to do
things for someone else, but that it isn't considered necessary to see
you as a human being (or just a 'being' in glorantha's case!). Certainly,
there are far better things we would wish to do than go to work in the
office, and i am sure the peasant trudging towards his fields in the
morning felt a mere fraction of the gloom we feel in selling our labour
in the city everyday.
The point is that with slavery there was no need to create a power
network which coerced them to work. In the west of glorantha and europe for
example, the peasant works because he/she knows that they are part of a
god-given social hierarchy; it is the peasants lot and duty to toil in
the fields....perhaps one day some social mobility is possible, but it is
very unlikely ( especially if you live for ever). For the slave, the only
rationalisation of the duty of the slave is proliferated among the upper
classes that use them, because obviously, slaves do not normally get the
chance to read expensive philosophical tracts while they are picking
grapes. There are always 'plenty more slaves where that came from,'
because you can just raid them from a neighbouring country (it is
obviously unwise to raid your own citizens, who presumably have
priviliges over 'barbarians'). In the west today, we work because we have
no realistic alternative, and because if we are nice and civil we can go
and spend our money on designer trainers, drugs, drink coke, and watch
cabel tv when we are not selling our labour. Sadly, most of us are
'content' to live this way, mostly because we are plain stupid and have
told ourselves that there is no alternative.
Hence the importance of history and archaeology, in showing that there
is no such thing as 'human nature' or 'human needs.' and that some
cultures in the past were relatively egalitarian, for example, proving
that 'sex' and 'gender' are different things.
Certainly, relatively barbarous cultures in Glorantha take slaves, and
probably mistreat them, some even sacrifice them to their vile god
(tuskers), or even chew their legs off when they are peckish (Uz).
However, none of these use slaves on quite the same scale as the lunars
do ( i suspect). I do not have my runequest materials up here in durham
with me, but from what i can remember (from articles in 'tales of
reaching moon..' too), the lunar empire does use large numbers of slaves.
Of course, there are free labourers too, but why use a free labourer when
you can use a slave? furthermore, the work of slaves devalues the work of
all but the most skilled of free labourers (just think of a modern
parallel - british wool industry collapsing due to cheap imports from
sweatshops in asia).
Fzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt. (sound of fireblade being extinguished in
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