Friday, October 17, 2014

CH2: Homecoming, Part 5

Conditions for the Martian Revolution – Cultural

The new wealth from trade and industry supported a corresponding cultural explosion. Subsidizing artists, scholars, and educational institutions became a mark of prestige and affluence among the upper nobility, guildsmen and mercantiles. The Elysian Academy, founded in 4,881 AD, was a key center of this new intellectual ferment. Originally intended to provide a scholarly gloss to noblemen not rich enough to afford private tutors for their children, over time more and more children of the new middle classes were sent there.

The new scholarship focused initially on the political and economic history of Mars, a surprisingly neglected subject – most historical courses continued to focus almost exclusively the period before 4,000 AD. This eventually expanded into a harsh reevaluation of received political and philosophical wisdom, particularly after several scholars were granted official access to the Elysium deep archives in 4,921 AD. The access was limited to material from well before the Vigili regime; in all likelihood municipal officials expected the results to vindicate their own policies by vilifying their predecessors. The material retrieved before the permits were revoked included uncensored diplomatic correspondence and transcripts of Municipal Council meetings, and put the lie to much of the noble gloss on prior history. But scholars were quick to point out the similarities between the public justifications of the current rulers and their predecessors, and to speculate as to the real reasons behind their decisions, leading to a revocation of the permits in 4,923 AD. The damage, however, had already been done.

Historically, the theoretical role of the Autarch was to ensure the safety and prosperity of the city's people, with the ultimate aim of retaking Earth – though obviously considerably more emphasis was placed on the first task then the second. The scholarly underground produced numerous critiques of their performance in both tasks, circulated in underground networks or handed from person to person in encrypted memory sticks.

One of the most important of these new historians is known to this day only by his pseudonym, Lee Ven. Ven published the short file Historical Development of the Martian Autarchies some time around 4,940 AD. HistDev, based heavily on the archival files, argued the guild-feudal system deliberately suppressed the growth of the Martian industrial base, so as to maintain the relative position of the guilds and nobles. The author called for a revolution to overthrow the Autarchs, abolish the Guilds, and establish a classless state. This was followed by a second, shorter paper, On Human Destiny, calling for a global Martian revolution, unification of the planet, and freedom of thought and speech. Unlike later authors, he did not acknowledge the need to ultimately retake Earth, which he viewed as impossible for the foreseeable future. Despite this deplorable Neutralism, he became a favored author of the early revolutionaries, and the basis for the writers who followed.

Reminder: Neutralism is a level five memetic hazard. If you feel inclined to neutralism, consult a qualified psychoneurologist for assistance. Fighting the Long War is the duty of all humanity.

Interrupt from Author: Ah, Ven, Ven, Ven... Quite a mystery, that one, a mystery I never did solve. My own hypothesis is a disaffected minor noble, Gerset Iskarus, who died in 4,942. Of heart failure, allegedly, despite being only sixty years old. Much later, “heart failure” was a favorite technique of the Elysium IntSec, but the first verified assassination by that means wasn't until 5,029. For the better part of a century I spent a weekend every month or two going through the old records, trying to nail down who he was. But to no avail, and I eventually gave up. Sometimes, the past keeps it secrets.

By 4,950 AD, the Elysium MuniDef launched the first recorded crackdown on subversives inspired by the new history. Almost nothing is known of this first group, except their name: the Zealots. They would lend that title to their successors.

The Zealots, as they called themselves, agreed on very little beyond the need for drastic, revolutionary change. The proposed programs ranged from the complete elimination of all hierarchy, to the displacement of the Autarch by a new “enlightened autarch”. But they would prove fertile ground for the recruiting efforts of the emerging Republic.

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