SIM: The Leveller Manifesto

31 Aug

A little bit of background for later books <grin>

The Leveller Manifesto

Historian’s Note

The Leveller Manifesto was first delivered as a speech, by ‘Common Man,’ at the First Leveller Conference, held at Heart’s Eye shortly after the Zangarian Civil War.  It was transcribed by ‘Working Girl,’ then printed, bound and distributed right across the Allied Lands.  It was, naturally, immediately banned by every kingdom and the majority of free cities, despite which copies can be found almost everywhere.  Precisely who hides behind the nom de plume of ‘Common Man’ is a mystery, with speculation ranging from Lady Emily herself (despite the claims in the speech) to a wealthy merchant or magician from Cockatrice.  We simply don’t know.

The Speech

Who decreed the order of society?

We are told that the kings and princes were placed above us by the gods, that their power was granted by divine fiat, that they have a divine right to rule.  This is, dare I say, awfully convenient for them.  We are not permitted to question their right to rule. 

But question it we must.  Who decreed that they are set above us?

Some kings and princes tell us they rule by divine right.  Some tell us they rule because their ancestors preserved something of civilisation in the wake of the empire’s fall and therefore they have an inherent right to rule.  Yet this cannot possibly be true.  An inherent right would be unchallengeable, yet history records no shortage of usurpers who have successfully taken thrones and then had themselves retroactively decreed the rightful rulers all along.  We are expected to believe they were the rightful kings and thus they won?  Or is it more reasonable to suggest they won because they had superior force?

Their rule rests on force.  It rests on the ability to deploy superior military force against enemies both inside and outside the kingdom.  When that force is unable to cope with challenges, the kings – despite their claim of divine right – are weakened or overthrown by their enemies.  And it is achingly clear that those who assert the loudest claims to divine right are the least convinced by it.  The aristocracies are forever wearing away at their king’s power. 

They are, at best, parasites.  They take from those they consider to be chattel and give nothing in return.  Not even protection.  Where is the law, when a powerful man’s interests are threatened?  It simply does not exist.  They tell us, those glorious kings, that they are the fathers of their people.  They want us to believe that they are in ignorance of the terrible crimes perpetrated by their nobility, that – if we should bring those crimes to their attention – they will deal with them immediately.  But this is a lie.  They will do nothing for those they claim to rule.

This might be bearable, perhaps, if they were better people, if they were good at ruling.  But they are not.  Those who inherit their power from their fathers are often challenged or overthrown, if only because they don’t understand the limits of power.  Even when they are not, are they good at ruling?  They are not.  They pick fights with other kingdoms, treating war as a game even as the poor folk suffer and die at the hands of opposing armies.  They eat their seed corn and ask themselves, in honest bemusement, why their kingdoms are getting poorer?

And, when someone like me dares to tell them why, they lash out.  They are strangling the lifeblood of their kingdoms and yet refuse to take their hands off their own neck!

Why should we honour them?  Why should we respect them?  Why should we let them lead us?  Who set them above us?

Ah, you say, but what about the magicians? 

They have power.  A magician can kill a man, enslave a woman, blind a child … all with a wave of his hand.  Yes, they have power.  They claim they have a fragment of the divine spark within them.  And yet, are they better people?  They have the same failings as the kings and princes, only worse because they have access to perversions that the mundanes cannot even imagine!  They bathe in the blood of peasants to keep themselves young; they fight endless duels for petty little scraps of power, never heeding the commoners trampled underfoot.  They may have power, but there is nothing divine about them.  They are not gods.

The order of society is not decreed by divine right.  It is decreed by naked force.

Those who rule us are not smarter than us.  They are not more capable than us.  They are born with power, aristocratic or magical, but that does not make them better than us.  They are so decayed that they are unable even to look after their own interests, which makes them dumber than the average parasite.  They build an edifice of lies, resting on priests and bards and soldiers to maintain it.  And yet, for all their fancy words, their arguments boil down to ‘might makes right.’ 

And they’re killing us!  They’re killing themselves!

There is a better way.  I was born in Cockatrice.  I am old enough to remember the Old Baron, the one whose name is now forbidden, and how he ground us into the dirt.  I am young enough to remember Baroness Emily taking the land for herself and how she turned the barony into the richest barony in the kingdom.  She was no parasite.  She only ever took a tiny fraction of what we made for herself.  The rest, we got to keep.  And it made us all the more determined to make more and more and more!  Craftsmen who never bothered to innovate, when the wretched parasites would steal all they made and leave only scraps, became masters of industry, turning their vague ideas into money!  It worked for everyone, even Baroness Emily herself.  She took a tiny piece of the pie, but it was a very large pie indeed. 

We had our freedoms.  We had our rights.  And those who worked hard earned much for themselves. 

We demand the levelling of society.  We demand an end to hereditary privilege, excessive taxes, to monopolies and the never-ending exhortation that kills innovation and wealth.  We demand the rights of man.  And we demand these rights apply to everyone; male or female, magician or mundane, human or demihuman.  For if one person is denied the rights, and it is allowed to stand, the rights of all are lost.

To everyone, the rights of man!  To everyone, the fruits of his labours!

And to those who stand in our way, give us our rights or give us death!

15 Responses to “SIM: The Leveller Manifesto”

  1. Jared August 31, 2020 at 12:04 pm #

    Wow that was awesome!!!!

  2. Eric August 31, 2020 at 12:05 pm #

    N

  3. PhilippeO August 31, 2020 at 12:32 pm #

    Radical !!!

    Good Speech that modern conservatives need to read. What Rights President Trump, whose grandfather is immigrants to refuse immigrants now. What Justification Police has in shooting black man, other than naked force. What have modern “captain of industry” capable of, other than their parents or grandparents is successful, and they inherited stocks, patents, copyright, property and corporation. What “hard work” do Ivy Leaguer do in finance or law, to justify they have higher income than “essential worker”.

    Level Society, Redistribute Wealth, Eat the Rich !

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard August 31, 2020 at 3:37 pm #

      The last sounds great until it’s your wealth the mob wants. [Sarcastic Grin]

      Oh, I’m an American Conservative who’ll tell you that you’re completely wrong about what’s happening in Democratic Strongholds and about our opinion of immigration. (IE Legal immigration is good, Illegal immigration is bad.)

      • Timothy A Schmidt August 31, 2020 at 5:07 pm #

        And I am an American Liberal who who’ll tell you you’re spot on. Pick your own .poison

  4. Jacqueline August 31, 2020 at 5:23 pm #

    Poor Emil here is another thing she will be blamed for.

  5. Danna Rasmussen August 31, 2020 at 8:35 pm #

    sounds vaguely like the Magna Carta,

    • stephen August 31, 2020 at 10:17 pm #

      I think the Magna Carta was only for the 10%, it’s just now we have Spin Doctors to trick you into beliving that the problem is other people who are poorer than yourself. Long live the levellers

  6. Dale Switzer September 1, 2020 at 5:49 am #

    As I’m sure that Christopher Nuttall knows, this document is all wrong. It’s not wrong in that the propositions are false (Divine Right is easy to disprove, as this document shows) but it is wrong because it is purely destructive without any creativity. It asserts a Hobbesian natural rights position that “all men are created equal” without the Jeffersonian coda “that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men”. Without the new governmental structure, then the levellers will produce a Hobbesian life in a state of nature — “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

    I suspect the next books will explore what happens when aristocratic rule fails. Our history proves that it can go 4 different directions.
    Jacobin/stalinism/communism,
    Fascism/totalitarian,
    Prussian-like oligarchy,
    Or preferably republican democracy- balancing majority rule with minority rights.

    Republican democracy is incredibly hard to form and maintain. In our world it only happened by accident because the New World colonies were neglected for a century while we came up with some representative forms and even then it has taken us centuries since then to work toward improving it.

    I don’t know how the author is going to get a “soft landing” out of this. The only hope that I see is if Lady Emily imposes a republican form in Cockatrice and defends it with superior magical force. Killing her (as the reactionary forces are going to try to do in the next book) would be disasterous for the Unnamed World .

    • Jared September 1, 2020 at 9:39 am #

      I agree with you for the most part. Without a government chaos will soon follow. In fact the American revolution wouldn’t have come about so smoothly if the colonies didn’t already have a form of government established.

    • BobPM September 3, 2020 at 9:31 pm #

      I think your sequence compresses centuries of development. The printing press led to the enlightenment that fueled the American and French revolutions. The exploitation of the workers coming off the farms by the industrialists of the day led, after almost a century of displacement, to the rise of anti-laisse faire capitalist thought. And, while you site communism/stalinism/totalitarian-fascism, you ignore the development of liberal social democracy in Western Europe and the US.

      The pressure from the anti-communist union movements in the US and the destruction wrought by the capitalist excesses that led to the depression set conditions for probably the most robust economies and the widest spreading of the franchise in history. Marx’ critique of industrial capitalism as it existed in the late 19th century was relatively accurate, his solution was not. Liberal (or Roosevelt) social democracy was simple. Tame capitalism with

      1) the regulatory state (SEC prevent market fraud, OSHA – insure worker safety, FDA – prevent tainted food and drugs being marketed, USDA – prevent dust-bowl practices, and finally EPA – prevent dumping waste without internalizing costs;

      2.) Create a social safety net to allow risk taking (impoverished people rarely become innovative entrepreneurs since failure can mean death to a family); and
      3.) Create a modestly distributive tax system to prevent accumulations of wealth ( See Thomas Piketty).

      The last point is where I fall out with libertarians. Accumulations of capital leads to political power, that leads to destruction of innovation, and effectively ends up with Russia style oligarchs – modern day feudalism.

      • Dale Switzer September 5, 2020 at 12:18 am #

        I intended republican democracy to include both classical liberalism and social democracy – these are almost the same thing with social democracy leaning a bit more toward collective action. Social democracy is also an outgrowth of Classical liberalism and cannot come into being without that intermediate step.

        While I agree that in the real world, these developments happened a bit more slowly , the key events even in our world were pretty close.

        The Gutenberg Bible is 1455, It takes awhile before things really started to move, but Luther nailed up his thesis in 1517, Diet of Wurms is 1521, German Peasants War is 1524, Munster Anabaptist rebellion is 1534 – so from the Luther until Europe is in full religious/social upheaval is between 7 and 17 years. It takes a century for the upheaval to be mostly resolved with the peace of Westphalia in 1648

  7. George Phillies September 1, 2020 at 2:19 pm #

    Reads like something paraphrased from several American historical documents. Was the speaker the other interdimensional transportee who was briefly rumored?

  8. ACYoung September 1, 2020 at 7:32 pm #

    Before Emily’s musketeers came along, armies were probably somewhat similar to medieval armies, i.e. formed of a mixture of poorly trained cannon fodder (or arrow fodder given the weaponry of the time) and well trained professional soldiers. The latter took a long time to train and were expensive to maintain.

    Assuming the validity of the above, this means that in order to have a reasonably powerful army, a country either needed a rich monarch who could afford the expense of a professional corps, some sort of feudal system that meant that the monarch could call upon the professional soldiers of his vassal lords, a large pool of labour that can be trained into arrow fodder, or a combination of the above. If a neighbouring state can field a powerful army, only those states that can do the same or have suitable allies or have geographical advantages that negate this power (e.g. Beneficence is protected by the river, meaning an enemy army will either have to cross the bridges or invade by sea) can avoid successful invasion.

    In practice, in medieval Europe this translated into the need to have powerful monarchs with powerful vassal lords to call upon. This appears to be the system in use in the Unnamed World. As long as the dominance of sword and bow remained, the nobility of each kingdom had an excellent self-serving reason to maintain the status quo – the alternative systems can’t maintain the same standard of armies.

    The existence of muskets mean that reasonably sized, powerful armies are now easy to build (the training requirements are a lot less) and maintain (lower class soldiers don’t need to be paid as much). This reduces each country’s dependence on the wealth and power of the monarch, and makes the status quo harder to justify. It also makes powerful vassal lords more of a liability than a necessity, so the feudal system is likely to come under strain as the monarchs seek to centralise power and strip their vassals of the right to field armies, and the vassals seek to protect their power and rights. Eventually feudalism will come crashing down.

    Historically there have been two archetypal mechanisms for the ending of absolute monarchical power: Revolution (as in France); or gradual handing of power from monarch to parliament (as in Britain, although aided by a Parliamentary victory in the Civil War). Given Emily’s gift to Alassa and influence in Zangaria I suspect that this Kingdom will seek to proceed down the latter route. How the rest proceed is unclear – and the Leveller Manifesto already proposes full scale revolution.

    • Dale Switzer, DO September 1, 2020 at 9:53 pm #

      I suspect that each area will take a different path – Bolshvism, Jacobin, Jeffersonian, Maoism, Facism, religious oligarchy (ie shinto), secular oligarchy (ie Prussia/Germany), etc, and then these different movements will have to face off.

      I expect Zangaria to follow the British example and Cockatrice to go the Canadian Commonwelth direction. The independent city states might go prussian oligarchhy One of the other kingdoms will go full Soviet and the levelers are going to pull a Robespierre. Will we get a Napoleon? Will we get a World War I? Mr Nuttall has a lot of material to work with in many books. He may end up with a 1642 ring of fire universe.

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