The Republic

K. J. Pedersen

Part II

Chapter Four

Toby Beorcleah

RUSSIAN CONSUL VASILI Kondratiev Pskovski expelled our ambassador to the Rus this morning at 6:30 Nova Anglia Standard Time,” said Second Consul Villum-Karl Andersson of the AFR in a formal, even tone. His expression was grim though. Consul Pskovski has charged that this government has provided technical and material support to the Sinæ Republic and Federated Asian States to facilitate alleged espionage operations against the Russian state. The expulsion of Ambassador Beorhtwinson — which Pskovski has termed ‘a punitve act’ — has been their most immediate response.

I sat in front of the television in the kitchen, ate breakfast, and watched this official government announcement to the press with mounting apprehension. The events of the last few days had me very worried, and this, this was the worst news yet.

This government denies these outrageous, absurd, and irresponsible charges. They are blatantly false. We have therefore called upon the Russian Consulate to retract these accusations and further to reestablish full diplomatic relations with the Anglian Federated Republic.

Two days ago — Sunday, November 4, 2074 — the Rus had expelled Sinæ’s ambassador because, they claimed, the Sinæ had stolen military and state secrets. The Sinæ vigorously denied this, and in turn, had expelled the Russian ambassador that same day. They charged the Rus with trying to foment rebellion in Sinitic Iakutia among the Slavic population there.

The Russian government then issued an official statement which reaffirmed that their only interests in Sinitic Iakutia were equal rights and access to the Lena River, and to reassert certain age-old claims eastwards to the Aldan River. The disputed area, the Rus said, was a triangular area between the Lena and Aldan — the area east of Iakutsk and the Lena to the west bank of the Aldan, and north to where the two rivers met — and nothing more.

The official response from the Sinæ said there could be no dispute because the Treaty of Irkutsk clearly drew the boundary between the two states at the Lena River, promising both equal access to the river and to Lake Baikal. The Aldan River and everything else east of the Lena belonged to the Sinæ following the war.

Nevertheless, the Rus and other Slavic peoples (particularly Ukrainians and Byelorussians) made up a little more than half of the population in the Sinæ Republic east of the Lena River to the Kamchatka and Chukchi peninsulas. The large number of Slavs in the ‘Far East’ was the result of massive settlement and development programs enacted by the Russian government in the 1930s through the late-1970s. The whole ‘Far East’ of the Republic of the Rus had been lost to the Sinæ in 1987, but now, nearly ninety years later, calls for ‘Pan-Slavic Unity’ and a ‘Slavic Brotherhood’ could be heard from east of the Lena, and apparently had the government in Shanghai scared.

With diplomatic relations between the Rus and Sinæ largely broken, matters worsened, and in protest, the Alemannians, Scandians, and Italians had recalled their ambassadors from Sinæ. (Francia, though a member of the Eurasian Federation, had so far remained neutral, and had not taken any action.) Then the Sinæ reciprocated and recalled its ambassadors to Alemannia, Scandia, and Italia.

Yesterday — Monday, November 5, 2074 — the Senate of the AFR had draw up and passed sanctions, including economic sanctions, against the Rus for violating federal treaties regulating atomic weapons. (This was done in addition to the acts passed by the Senate of the Terran Republic a few weeks before.) By dusk these sanctions were then signed by both our Liberal First Consul Godfrith Ceolwulfson and our Conservative Second Consul Villum-Karl Andersson. The act was swift — no, immediate.

In keeping with their allies in Moskva, the Alemannian government has recalled their ambassador to the AFR,” Second Consul Andersson continued. “We strongly urge the Alemannian government to reconsider. This matter is between the Russian and Anglian states and should not concern the Alemannians.

The Second Consul then opened the floor to questions.

Will the AFR expel the Russian ambassador as the Sinæ did on Sunday?” a reporter from the Liberian Tribune said.

This government has yet to respond,” he replied in the most noncommital manner imaginable.

I have just received word that the Senate of the Terran Republic has called for an emergency session to force the Rus, Sinæ, and this government into bringing their respective cases and grievances before the Terran Federal Court as mandated by the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. Are you aware of this, Second Consul Andersson?” a reporter from the Niew Dunham Morning Herald said.

I am,” he said. “This effort is being led by senators from the various states of Iberian Terra Nova — particularly by Senator Ovinus of Catalonia Nova — and has the support of senators from Sinonesia, the Christian Republic of Abyssinia, and the Federated Arab and Islamic Republics.

Does this government have an official response to the invocation of the 4th Amendment?

Not yet.

The military incident between the Rus and the Sinæ, which occurred on October 10th, prompted the Consulate of the Terran Republic to launch an investigation into its causes. The findings of that report have yet to be released to the public. However, it is widely speculated that the Sinæ were, in fact, spying on the Rus, and that their attempts to physically alter a Russian military ‘command and control’ satellite prompted the incident. Have you any comment on this matter, Herra Second Consul?” a reporter from the Red Republic pried.

As you said, it is a matter of speculation. I do not wish to comment on speculation,” he said. “Next question.

And that was where the situation stood when I finally left for school. I was twenty minutes late.

* * *

“Let’s talk, Kalli.”

She jumped at the sound of my voice. Granted, it wasn’t fair of me to sneak up on her like that and spring a trap, but we needed to talk. I was tired of being ignored. She wouldn’t answer the phone and so I hunted her down between classes and cornered her in front of the Administration Building.

“Listen, girl,” I said, “you’ve been avoiding me for way too long — weeks. I know you’re angry — ”

“You have a gift for understatement.” She walked away from me.

“Don’t be this way!” I fell into step beside her.

“What do we have to talk about?” she demanded. She stopped, turned, and gave me a fierce look. Her dark green eyes flashed. “I mean, really? What? Jesucristus, Toby, you’re gay!”

Ssshhh! Girl, please,” I said urgently and touched her lips. “Not so loud!”

“Stop calling me ‘girl,’ Toby!”

“Kalli, please, we have to talk.”

She lowered her voice so our wandering classmates would not be privy to our conversation. “Honestly, I don’t have anything left to say to you.”

“Why not? Is my sexuality really such an — ”

“It has less to do with your sexuality than it does with that fact that you led me on and used me!” she spat.

“You have to understand that I did not intend to hurt you,” I said. “Things moved too far too fast. Before I ever thought about how far our relationship had gone, it was already upon us. We were boyfriend and girlfriend. It felt right to me on one hand — our friendship — and completely wrong on the other — our physical relationship.”

“Did you ever even stop to think about how I felt?”

“Of course!”

“Then why did you persist?”

“We broke up, didn’t we? I told you we should slow down and call it quits. And you agreed.”

“It was always the same though. We were on-again and off-again, Toby. We’d break up, and then suddenly we’d get back together again. And every time your penis demanded attention — ”

“That isn’t nice,” I said. “That isn’t fair.”

“But it is essentially the truth, isn’t it?” she said. “You wanted to get your rocks off and my hand was good enough for that!”

“You didn’t seem to mind whenever I touched you — ”

That was the wrong thing to say, as I quickly learned.

“I’ve never had a boyfriend before. You were the first to kiss me passionately. You were the first boy I ever touched. You were the first to touch me. I would have even given you my virginity, had you wanted it! And yet none of it mattered to you. That’s why I hate you.”

Her words cut me right to the heart. “You hate me?” I managed to say.

“No,” she said after a moment. “No. Not really, Toby. I don’t think I could ever truly hate you....”

I touched her; she didn’t want to be touched. I moved my hands from her shoulders, and let them fall again to my sides. Then I said, carefully, “I knew, in the end, I’d just wind up hurting you. I didn’t want that to happen. My feelings for you are real. But like I was trying to explain to you that day, my feelings aren’t those you wish I had.” I paused. “You don’t understand what it is like for me ... being gay.”

She watched me carefully. Did I see empathy in her expression, or was it just wishful thinking? “Are you ashamed?” she asked finally.

“No! I am what I am, Kalli. Even if I could change, I wouldn’t. My sexuality is essential to my personality. And I like who I am.” I sighed. “Look ... I can’t explain it.”

“You’re right; I don’t understand.” She looked at me, into my eyes, like she was trying to search the depths of my soul. Finally, she sighed. “You said you loved me that afternoon ... when you told me you were gay.”

“I meant it,” I said. “Isn’t friendship love?”

She nodded. “Of a kind.”

“I want us to continue to be friends, Kalli,” I told her, put my hands on her shoulders gently, and then, when she didn’t push me away like I thought she might, I touched her cheek. “Please, Kalli. I don’t want what we do have to end.”

“I don’t want what we have to end either,” she said finally. “I want to be your friend too.”

* * *

Herra Eadweardson, stylus in hand, scribbled on the classroom computer screen for a second. He wrote on the board — in large, capital letters — the words: THE FOURTH AMENDMENT.

“You are all aware that the Rus expelled our ambassador this morning,” he said. “You are also, no doubt, aware that the Terran Republic is now attempting to assert its authority in order to calm a very anxious public and to mediate the varied contentions between the AFR, Sinæ, Rus, and certain other European nations. So I ask you: What does the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the Terran Republic call for?”

Ælfred Wurthingas quoted the 4th Amendment from memory: “‘The Senate, by a simple majority vote, may compel constituent states of this Republic to resolve internecine disputes before the Terran Federal Court. The ruling of the Court is to be final and shall be respected by all national parties involved.’

“Okay ... why then is this necessary if the Terran Republic has already political jurisdiction over its members?” the teacher asked. “Doesn’t Article V, Section 1 already grant the Terran Federal Court the authority to mediate ‘disputes between republics’?”

“Yes,” Ælfred said.

“So why was the 4th Amendment needed? It would seem redundant.”

Shane said, “The 4th Amendment was passed right after the Anglo-Indian War was concluded to strengthen the Republic’s authority. The war proved that the Republic was ineffectual in dealing with international crises. And the funny thing is that the Republic was founded for just that reason, to handle international crises, to avert war, and to regulate weapons of mass destruction, particularly atomic weapons.”

“The Republic is fulfilling its promises today,” Ælfred said. “It censured the Rus for violating weapons treaties. It’s dealt with the Sinæ. The Fourth Amendment is a powerful tool which the Republic’s using now to make good on its promise.”

“You know, right from the very beginning, the Senate passed sanctions against the AFR, Sinæ, and Indians in order to stop the Anglo-Indian War. It drew up numerous ‘treaty resolutions,’ and the Court declared the war illegal because the Constitution forbids the republics to wage war independently. Unless invaded by a foreign power, or to put down insurrection, the Republic’s constituents may not use military force. Well, every nation on earth is a member of the Republic, and every nation on earth ratified the Constitution in 2035 when the Republic was founded, so there are no foreign powers,” Shane said. “None of this mattered — the AFR and Sinæ continued with their invasion of India. They simply ignored the authority of the Republic, just as the AFR and Sinæ ignored the old International Council in ‘34, and war broke out between them despite the resolutions passed by the Council. I see no reason to believe that Republic has suddenly become effective just because they amended the constitution following that war, Ælfred.”

“The International Council was a debating society,” Ælfred said. “It had no authority. It lacked ‘teeth’.”

“For all intents and purposes that is what the Terran Republic appears to be as well — a debating society,” Shane replied.

“Look, there is a delicate balance that must be maintained. The Constitution not only establishes the legal authority of the Terran Republic but upholds simultaneously the sovereignty of its constituent republics,” Ælfred replied. “This is the essence of the federalism.”

“How can there be, in truth, a hierarchy of sovereigns?” Shane asked then. “Either the Terran Republic is sovereign, or the member states are. If the federal republic is sovereign, then the members of the federation enjoy only partial autonomy, not sovereignty. And, on the other hand, if the constituent republics are sovereign, then the federal government cannot act without the consent of the various state governments. In other words, the Senate of Terran Republic cannot compel its constituents to do anything regardless of the what the 4th Amendment — or any other clause within the Constitution — says.”

“That’s a good point, Herra Mac Cormac,” the teacher said.

“The sovereignty of the states is preserved precisely because they may secede,” Ælfred said. “Article II, Section 5 of the Constitution reads: ‘The constituent republics retain the authority and right to secede from this federal union according to the will of their respective governments. The federal government shall not attempt to prevent such secession, neither by law, nor by force.’

Markus spoke up, “Actually — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — I think Shane is right.” He lifted up computer notepad. “It says right here, Article II, Section 1: ‘The Terran Republic is a federal republic. The member states shall retain their autonomy within this federal union, but shall otherwise abide by this Constitution. He put the tablet down again. “The Constitution is the fundamental law of the Terran Republic, and the members states, as a condition of their membership, must abide by it. That makes the Republic sovereign.”

“The Republic is sovereign technically,” Shane said, “but the constituent republics — or more precisely, the powerful constituents, the AFR, the Sinæ, and the Europeans — do not ‘abide’ by the Constitution except at their own convenience. They behave as though they are wholly autonomous. They only stand behind the authority of the Republic when it furthers their agenda against the weaker members, like India, or the Federal Republic of Africa, Sinonesia, Iberia Nova, and so on.”

“I don’t agree,” Ælfred said. “The right of constituent republics to secede guarantees that the government of the Republic will not abuse its powers. And the federal principle further acts as a restraint on the more powerful states.”

The teacher pressed Ælfred for more: “Why is federalism so important?”

“Because the centralization of political authority is dangerous — ” he said.

Can be dangerous,” one boy in the back of room interrupted. His name was Werner Baugher, and his father was an AFR navy commodore. “I certainly don’t agree with Shane’s red internationalism, but he is right about one thing: The federal government is weak and ineffectual. Many of the states are governed by scofflaws! I mean, this is ridiculous, all these republics expelling and recalling ambassadors. They act like spoiled, squabbling children. All of them! The federal government needs to take decisive action like the Liberian government took with the labor unions. The federal government needs to act! The censure of, and sanctions against, the Rus and Sinæ were strong actions, but not strong enough. The federal government needs to strictly regulate the armed forces of both states.”

“That’s unconstitutional,” Markus cried.

Werner shook his head. “Article II, Section 7: ‘Each constituent republic may raise, keep, and otherwise maintain its own armed forces, but the Senate may regulate state militias, standing armies, armories, and arms in the public’s interest and to maintain peace and civil order. Then he added, “Both the Sinæ and Rus have proven, by their past actions, that they cannot be trusted.”

“Look,” Ælfred said, “we may have a Terran Republic today, but if the principle of federalism was to be undermined — and the federal government regulating the national militias certainly would undermine it — we might be looking at a Terran Empire in fifty years or so.”

“Alarmist,” Werner scoffed. “The AFR has a strong central government, regulates the state militias, has a standing army, and still operates according to the ‘principle of federalism.’ In fact, its constitution says nothing about its member states having the right to secede, and has it become an empire?”

“I’d say so,” Shane said.

You would,” Werner replied.

Shane rolled his eyes.

“Ælfred’s right, Werner,” Markus said and turned in his seat so he could look Werner face to face. “But I’d go further than that. The Terran Republic is an internationalist monstrosity. It isn’t the AFR and the powerful states that are using the Republic to keep the weaker nations down, but just the opposite. I think the AFR should secede. The federal government in Damascus has not the best interests of the AFR in mind.”

“That’s nationalism plain and simple, Markus,” I said.

“Call it what you will, Toby,” Markus said, “but the AFR doesn’t need the Republic.”

“You’re wrong, Marky, on both counts. The role of the Republic is neither to advance the interests of AFR, nor those of any of its other members. Nevertheless, we do all, in fact, need it,” Ælfred said. “The Republic exists to maintain civil order at the international level. There needs to be an international standard so that the nations of the world may operate together, as one, according to the rule of law. E pluribus unum.”

“The‘rule of law’? What a joke,” Shane said. “About twenty-five years ago, in the late-‘40s and early-‘50s, the World Market was on the verge of collapse, but the Indian government had no intention of letting the market dictate economic policy during a phase of utter failure. They were not going to let one-hundred-years of economic progress be destroyed by a failure of the price mechanism. So they acted while the rest of world watched their economies slip from recession and into depression. When embargoes were placed against the Indians by the AFR and Sinæ, they declared they were enforcing the ‘rule of law,’ and upholding the Constitution. After all, the Constitution calls for a Free Market and Free Trade, and the Indian government had enacted a variety of protectionist measures.”

“Both of us — the AFR and the Sinæ — had significant investments in India,” Ælfred said. “You know the Indians had threatened to nationalize several industries, don’t you?”

“Do you really believe that they would have?” Shane asked. “Who called for nationalization? The Indian government? No. Not the government. The Conservatives were in power at the time, as I recall.”

“The Red Republican party was very strong in India,” Ælfred said. “Their union was strong. Both the party and union were calling for a state-directed economy. They pointed to the old Ægyptian socialist model from the 20th Century. It was to be their template. And the depression was the crisis they were looking for.”

“But the party had only two percent of the seats in the Indian diet,” Shane said. “How, with only two percent of the seats, could the Red Republicans nationalize Indian industry? How?”

“It was a very real threat,” Markus said.

“So you say,” Shane said. “And the government of the AFR said so at the time, but how was this to be accomplished?” He waited for a moment. “See? Silence! And the government was silent on the matter as well! There was apparently no need to answer ... just build up a scare in the public’s imagination that India was about to become a ‘red republic’. The threat of nationalization, above all else, was the justification for invading India. It was all a lie.

“And if the Indians had nationalized their industries — ”

“You’re the one who thinks the AFR should secede from the Republic, Markus, so obviously you are yourself a nationalist,” Shane said. “And so I say, in keeping with the nationalistic sentiments you’ve voiced, if the Indians had acted as their own sovereign, too bad! That was their prerogative! Such sovereignty, whether you like it not, includes the right to nationalize industry which sits within the boundaries of the nation-state.”

“But that would have violated the Constitution in the very worst way,” Ælfred said. “It was bad enough that Indian Capital was infected by the disease of protectionism to begin with.”

“Waging war against India violated the Constitution in the very worst way, Ælfred. To even compare the threat of nationalizing the economy to waging war in fact is ridiculous,” Shane said. “‘We’ll shred the Constitution in order to save it!’ That was the mentality of the government in the AFR at the time. Like I said, the ‘rule of law’ is recognized and enforced only conditionally. And that, Ælfred, has nothing to do with federalism.”

“The Indian government was going socialist,” Markus insisted. “They were going to nationalize the economy.”

“A lie repeated ad nauseam, Markus, does not become the truth. India was not going socialist. The Red Republican Party of India may have had a large following with the working-classes, but they were not in power, and could never have achieved state power because of the restricted franchise,” Shane said. “Furthermore, the nationalization of industry does not equal socialism. While it may establish public property, a prerequisite for socialism, it cannot achieve the free association of labor. Socialism requires association. What is achieved without the free association of labor — and if it may be called an achievement at all — is state capitalism. Under any scheme of nationalization it is the State which organizes the administration of capital — and perhaps even according to a democratically-devised plan — but labor is still employed, albeit by the State rather than by private Capital.”

“Nationalization violates private property rights,” Markus protested.

What irony! What hypocrisy!” Shane said. “My father was drafted to fight in the Anglo-Indian War. What did that amount to? My father was personally nationalized by the AFR. He, his very person, became the military property of the State.”

That Shane’s father had been conscripted was a very sore spot with him. Cormac had witnessed things during the war that had haunted him for the rest of his life, things Shane was aware of, but would not speak of.

Shane went on: “Unlike members of the enfranchised-classes, my working-class father couldn’t ransom himself from the State, and purchase an exemption, or buy a commission.”

“You two — Shane, Markus — stop it,” the teacher said. Then he sat on the edge of his desk, and said suddenly, “We have two main political parties represented in the Senate — the Liberals and the Conservatives — but there are other matters important today that do not fall cleanly within the Liberal-Conservative nexus. You’ve touched on them already, perhaps unknowingly. What are they?”

“I saw a news report a couple of days ago filmed in Iakutia, in Sinitic Iakutia,” I said. “It was a story about the Slavs living there. You know, they’re the majority, if just barely. One man, a Russian, was interviewed. He said the ‘yoke’ of the Sinæ Republic was ‘not particularly heavy,’ but rather that the government in Shanghai didn’t understand its Slavic citizens, neither their culture, nor their heritage. He said there was a ‘natural Slavic Brotherhood’ which the Sinæ didn’t understand, and that all the Russians, Byelorussians, Ukrainians should be united.”

“Pan-Slavism,” Ælfred said with a nod.

“Well,” I said, “nothing quite so grand, I’d think. Just look: In Sinitic Iakutia, the Rus may look back on the past romantically, and call for ‘Russia, our Motherland, our Great Russia,’ from ‘Carelia to Kamchatka,’ but in the west, the Poles want an independent ‘Republic of Polonia,’ the Czechs are calling for a ‘democratic Czechia,’ and the Slovenes for a ‘free Slovenia.’ So, I’d say there are nationalistic sentiments around the world which are not being addressed by the Liberal or Conservative parties. And the blocs like the ‘pan-Slavic,’ and ‘pan-Germanic,’ and ‘pan-Arabic’ are inadequate because many people care not for the ‘ethnic complex’ to which they belong, but care rather for their specific ethnicity: Rus, Pole, Lombard, Saxon, Ægyptian, Syrian, or what have you.”

“Then there is the resurgence of parties like the Hindu Nationalists, Islamic Republicans, and Christian Nationalists,” Shane said. “In the Federated Arab and Islamic Republics, in Syria Palestina, among the quarter million Judæans in and around Jerusalem, a militant political organization called Bene-Ya’akob — the ‘Sons of Jacob’ — has formed recently calling for the restoration of ‘David’s Kingdom,’ while the Palestinians want alternately an ‘Islamic Arab republic’ or ‘Christian Arab republic’ fully independent of Syria.”

“Religious zealots, all of them,” Markus said. “Honoring God is one thing, trying to recreate His Kingdom on Earth is quite another.”

“The issue of nationalism goes far beyond religious zeal. For example, what of the National Patriots here in the AFR?” I said. “They have very little in common with the Christian Nationalists other than that they oppose the Republic, want the AFR to pull out, and the stench of authoritarianism, xenophobia, and racism fumes up from their literature. The National Patriot movement is secular — they aren’t calling for a theocracy. Nowhere do they speak of a ‘Christian Republic of Greater Anglia,’ as the Christian Nationalists do.”

“Federalism addresses the issues important to nationalists,” Ælfred said firmly. “But it also prevents nationalism from spiraling downward into isolationism, racism and militarism.”

“I would agree with that statement, Ælfred, if federalism was coupled with stateless social democracy, that is, anarchy,” Shane said. “But what we have, in fact, is a kind of corporatism.”

“I knew you were an anarchist!” Markus said.

I spoke over Markus, Ælfred, and Shane who were arguing now. “Listen! I think ideologically there is tension in the Republic right now between two factions that have not separated themselves from the Liberals and Conservatives, but which have adherents in both parties. Werner has stated one position; Markus has stated the other. See, there’s a struggle between ‘centralists’ on one hand and ‘nationalists’ on the other. And this can be seen not only in the Republic, but in all of its constituent states as well.”

Herra Eadweardson nodded with approval. “I think you have been paying attention to the news very closely, Herra Beorcleah. Why don’t you go on and explain what you’ve observed.”

“The ‘centralists’ are not satisfied with the present federalist system because they think its is too weak and lacks proper, effective authority. They want to expand and enforce the powers of federal government and thereby create a strong central government,” I said. “On the other hand, the ‘nationalists’ think that federalism is a ‘weasel word’ meaning ‘internationalism’ and it therefore interferes with the sovereignty of the various states. They want to see the Republic weakened, if not abolished outright.”

* * *

Before Othmar Múller became a revolutionist, a theorist, the “Father of Mutualism,” and co-founder of the Red Republican Party, before he became disenchanted with the Francian Republic, and the prospects of liberal democratic-republicanism, he addressed the Senate in 1821 and urged them not to emulate the ancient Roman Republic any further, but to act for Francia, and for their own epoch. He said: “The memory alone of past glories will entice kings, consuls, generals, and all kinds of magistrates to make the same mistakes again and again in a vain attempt to restore a Golden Age that never was. In this way, the cold, dead hand of HISTORY weighs heavily upon the living. The study of history should therefore serve a purpose beyond the retelling of battles fought and won, of empires, but as a signpost so that we may act in the present, for the future, knowing where we have been, and so that we may reasonably determine, for ourselves, our destination.”

In 1784 - 85 the armies of the newly established Francian Republic took their revolution into the petty kingdoms, principalities, duchies and city-states of the Alemannians much like the legions of the ancient Roman Republic spread their domain outward from the Seven Hills to subdue all of Latium, Etruria, Umbria, and, in fact, all of Italia. And just as Roman Republic was — from its inception — a patrician oligarchy, so the new Francian Republic was to be the domain of its merchants, bankers, and fledgling industrialists. Unemployment, uncertainty, fear, conscription — all the evils of the Francian Kingdom — were retained for the masses, save one. They, the plebeians, were no longer subjects, the Republic’s apologists declared, but citizens. Theoretical rights and empty stomachs.... These were the conditions Múller hoped eventually to rectify by addressing the Senate, for despite its failings, the Francian Republican Revolution too had a strong democratic undercurrent, so strong in fact, that it cannot be doubted that it, the threat of universal suffrage and genuinely popular government, was largely responsible for the reaction which snapped at Liberty’s heels.

Following the Great Republican Revolution, the wars in Europa, the strife between nation-states, the Church, State, and Society, the seemingly endless political upheavals, all of these, had been the conservative reaction to the liberal revolution, and to the emergence of anti-authoritarian and social-democratic sentiments which flowered in the fertile soils of liberal and secular humanism. The monarchial political order, the absolute authority of the Church in matters of the mind and spirit, these were things which persisted in the hearts of Royalists and Conservatives well into the 20th Century. It was only after the Social Democracies in Francia, Francia Nova, Frisia, and Iberia had been overwhelmed and defeated in the Great War that Liberalism had finally found its political supremacy secure.

With the threat of radical egalitarianism and democracy defeated, Conservatism and Liberalism gradually coalesced. And as the two political poles merged, Conservatism changed — it came to conserve new institutions, liberal institutions, such as the republic and capital. The revolutionary institutions of the late 18th Century had become the traditional institutions of the late 20th Century. Gone forever was the Conservative-Royalist axis. Gone were calls to restore the Royal Houses of Europa to their Estates, and the heirs of long-dead kings to their thrones. Gone too — for the most part — were calls to restore the political power of bishops and archbishops. For the Church, though united, had, in all truth, ceased to be a viable organ in the body politic. The angry thrashing and diatribes of theocratic politicians against ‘red libertines’ were merely the death-throes of the beast. Simply put, the real difference between Conservatives and Liberals since the middle of the 20th Century onward was that most Conservatives, though opposed to overt theocracy, wanted to uphold/restore the Church as the wellspring of social morality, and were willing to use the authority of the state towards that end, while Liberals were content with a secular morality secured by the rule of law.

I was myself Christian, of the Northern Orthodox tradition, and a member of the Scandian State Church, but what did that mean? There was no ‘state church’ in Scandia any longer, just as their was no state church in the AFR, or the Terran Republic. The Church and the State existed as two separate entities. All that remained was the name. Make no mistake, Liberalism had not destroyed Christianity, it had merely denied Christianity the sanction and authority of the State.

But recent events ... everything had been turned on its head. The authority of the State and national and global capitalism was being challenged by anarchists and ‘red republicans’. Nationalists of all stripes wanted the Republic replaced by wholly sovereign national-republics. The squabbles between international capitalists over markets in Africa and central Asia were driving a wedge between the Europeans, Sinæ, and the AFR. Threats of economic protectionism and political obstructionism were being raised. And worst of all, the Rus and Sinæ had territorial disputes which threatened to utterly breach the peace.

Múller’s words — ‘The memory alone of past glories will entice kings, consuls, generals, and all kinds of magistrates to make the same mistakes again and again....’ — had a particularly chilling effect on me. The events of the last few months, and of the last couple days in particular, had led me to think seriously about the history of the last three centuries, for this was our Epoch. Was history, the cycle of war and peace, revolution and reaction, freedom and oppression, about to be repeated ... or was the old cycle broken? Did we stand at the threshold between ages?

Had we yet to act for our time, for a New Epoch?

To be continued....