The Great Game: Discussion

I respond to comments about the previous post, giving more detail about the internal organisation of Yngling Norway.

Ah, the organic system. Much beloved of empires through the ages. Have there been any attempts to revise this situation and standardise matters?

Quite a devolved system, if I’m reading correctly. Presumably this means that there is quite a variation in the laws and local institutions within this region?

Well, any attempt to impose an internal tariff is going to get you in serious trouble. The Storting is quite at liberty to set your taxes much higher than the neighbouring regions’, since after all now you’ve got this lovely tariff to help you pay it; and where otherwise an infringement on local privilege would see your neighbours helping you, here they’ll be gloating all the way to the bank. So there is some standardisation on any issue that affects neighbouring regions. For internal matters, standardisation efforts have largely foundered, over the years, on the united opposition of the local tings; but the boundary between what is internal and not does tend to shift a bit over the centuries, especially as the regular army becomes more powerful with respect to the militias.

Fair enough – those are certainly the three responsibilities usually considered the bare minimum for a national government. With this level of devolution there are often arguments over what exactly constitutes a tax, however…

Right; that’s what the army is for. 😀 Really, the army is the unifying institution, here.

Layered on by whom? The Storting? Also I count a two-fold split :p

Yep, the Storting deals with the strils. And you quote a two-fold split because you didn’t quote the parts about the military organisation, with a local militia plus the regular army. 🙂

Interesting. This implies that the civil infrastructure in Yngling Germany is either non-existent, managed by the army (seems unlikely given the reaction of a Yngling officer detailed to oversee roadworks) or entirely in the hands of the industrialists. Corporate feudalism?

Well, industrialists and officers do tend to overlap, being drawn very much from the same class. I don’t see why an Yngling officer shouldn’t build roads, though – sure, you wouldn’t use hird troops to do it, but you can’t very well keep your stril conscripts drilling all the year; they might get good enough to fight the Ynglings. A bit of labour detail will be good for them. Also, this makes it easy for an industrialist to build a new railroad, should he need one; if he can come up with the materials, he just needs to ask the local army commander (who is likely a relative who owes the industrialist a favour for getting him the position… nepotism isn’t a vice with the Ynglings, it’s a way of life) for labour.

Strange. I would have expected areas settled directly from Norway / Scandinavia to be structured more like those areas than the conquered lands further east. Does this mean that the local Tings in North America are also ‘unofficial’, and if so does this cause much resentment across the Atlantic?

Respectively, yes and no. There’s a limit to how ‘unofficial’ a body can be that has sat continuously for four hundred years, is the only recognised civil power in the area, and probably has the power to secede if it wants to. (Tempered by the fact that a small nation in the Americas is quite a bit like a tasty, cooked pig, running about squealing “Eat me! Eat me!” As witness the fate of the US when it actually did secede.) Norway is like Britain in this respect; it doesn’t have a written constitution, but certain customs have the force of law. ‘Unofficial’ just means they don’t send direct representatives to the Storting (basically impossible at the time they were formed), but they certainly have ways of making their displeasure known, starting with tripling the price of supplies to the army garrisons. (In other words, they can get their taxes back if they want to.) Nobody would dream of imposing taxes on them without quite a bit of consultation and representation.

As always, just because the checks and balances are not written in law doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And, to be sure, Norway does have the ultimate balance: If you really, really piss someone off, he can challenge you to a duel, which goes right across the boundaries of Ting jurisdiction. The formal protection of Tingsmenn against being challenged only lasts until they lose an election; and anyway, you can always challenge a relative. It’s risky, of course; duels can go both ways, and often end with even the victor wounded or crippled. That’s why they’re rarely used. Still, the freedom to duel is one of the reasons Ynglings give for considering themselves the freest people in the world; as important to them as free speech is to modern Americans.

Do the guerillas have any form of organisation or ideology? Or is it very much a ‘kill the interloper’ knee-jerk situation?

Hum. Let’s see. We know they are being supported with weapons by other empires; there would presumably be no ideological strings attached at this time, unlike the Cold War – this is just straightforward colonial rivalry. Such support would be limited, though, by the possibility of retaliation, just as blacks were kept out of active fighting in the Boer war of our timeline. The revolt needs to be kept to a simmer, enough to engage Yngling attention, but not enough to force them into death camps and other nastily effective solutions. It would certainly be possible (well, not in game terms, except accidentally) to end the problem by just depopulating the area, but it hasn’t been necessary yet. The trick is to keep the flame of resistance just sufficiently alive that you can fan it into a real firestorm when the next big European war comes along. Conversely, the Ynglings are getting blooded, experienced troops. It’s a bit of an open question who really benefits the most.

There may or may not be Marxist, Anarchist, and even Liberal and Christian cadre/organisers/missionaries among them, but there’s no native leadership educated in Europe and picking up those ideologies from there, as happened in our history. And white people are not exactly popular in Norwegian Africa at the moment. So I’d say that the closest thing the rebels have to a unifying ideology is Islam – sub-Saharan Africa is one of the last remaining bastions of that religion, what with the Crusades being so effective.

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