Sunday, July 12, 2015

CH3: Breakout, Part 8

The Campaign of the Vanguardists

The Vanguardists were a break-away faction of Zealots, who felt the Zealot leadership were insufficiently vigorous in their approach. The Vanguardist faction believed that, while the lower classes must necessarily furnish the mass and troops of the revolution, they could not move by themselves, but must be moved by a “vanguard” of professional revolutionaries. In order for that vanguard to secure the leadership of the lower classes, it must demonstrate its fitness for that leadership, by beginning the revolution before obtaining the leadership. To that end, they planned, prepared, and carried out a campaign of assassination and terrorism targeting the municipal aristocracy.

The Vanguardists never numbered more then forty members, even at their height, and might have passed into history as one of many irrelevant minor splinter factions. But, apparently by sheer luck, they avoided infiltration by the municipal IntSec, and in 5026 caught Prince Iskellus, a nephew of the Autarch and leader of the Autarchial faction, without his bodyguard. Two Vanguardist assassins put seven bullets into him and fled, eluding initial efforts by IntSec to capture them. The Prince died on the spot.

The ensuing outcry among the educated classes was vociferous and sustained, especially as one of the assassins was reported to have been a minor aristocrat, who had fallen in with the Vanguardists while studying at the Elysium Academy. All of the non-radical parties condemned the attack, and urged a strict police response. The Vanguardists waged a brief terrorism campaign, including a failed attempt to bomb IntSec headquarters, but the masses failed to acclaim them as leaders, and within two months the core of the movement had been arrested or killed.

Interrupt from Author: I'm not sure why this didn't make it into the history books, but a lot of people at the time – and not just radicals – thought that IntSec allowed the Vanguardists to kill Prince Iskellus, to ensure public support for the war with Amazonis and/or for a crackdown on radical groups. The Zealot underground was shot through with police informers – as, let's be honest, all undergrounds are – and it strains credulity that the Vanguardists could mount that kind of operation without IntSec knowing in advance. Especially since they mopped up the Vanguardists so quickly afterwards. And there were certainly elements within IntSec that were much more competent, and much better informed, then the idiots at the top. Nobody could ever prove it, of course, but I think it's the most likely possibility.

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