It is a turbulent age.
The twelve great empires that rule the world have acquired unprecedented wealth, unparallalelled splendour. Although it is truly said that nothing is beyond dreams of avarice, a king of olden days would need an excellent imagination, indeed, to dream of the life of a modern merchant. One might expect men living in such luxury to grow less warlike… if one knew nothing of men.
The fruits of industrialisation are not evenly spread; for nations and for individuals, the old adage remains true, “Them as has, gets”. Class envy and class warfare roil the smoke-grey manufacturing cities, and the heads of industry sit uneasy in their dividend-built mansions. Nor are the heads of state more secure; the price of long continuity is long history, and every nation has a grudge against every other, and new means to make it felt.
Hard problems often invite easy solutions; in China, in Finland, and in Africa, regimes elected by the newly united working class promise largesse to keep their cities quiet, and glare across their borders at those states which do not temper their capitalism – their oppression and exploitation, as it is more often put – with redistribution. In defeated Georgia, a violent revanchism has turned society upside down… and not all that floats to the top is cream. There are no class riots to spoil the unity of the Georgian nation. The regime would have you believe that there are not even any class resentments, that all such have been done away with by the corporate State; and as far as visible complaint goes, they are right. What the secret police finds in its night raids and basement interrogations remains a matter for the ever-growing archives at Baku.
Perhaps oddly, Norway has remained largely immune to this turbulence. Magnus Vidarsson’s rhetoric, very similar to the new policy of Georgia, has fallen on stony ground; his National Labour Alliance remains a fringe organisation, able to riot, but not to elect. It is hard to raise discontent in a nation un-invaded for a century, with ample land for anyone who can work it. As for the rhetoric of the Will’s Triumph, of taking joy in one’s own strength and the power to crush enemies, there are many in Norway who will nod in recognition, but few who will vote or fight to base national policy on it. There has always been a strain of the uptime Yngling ideology in Norwegian politics, and by long exposure the polity has become, if not immune, at least resistant. Ideas which are fresh and new – and soothing to wounded national pride – in Georgia have, in Norway, all the rousing electricity of day-old bread.
It is in some sense ironic that democracy should have such defenders; that the Ynglings, of all peoples, should finally learn moderation, only to find themselves fighting against the very ideas they have at last abandoned. But if there is irony, there is also, perhaps, comfort. Whatever their flaws – and they remain, no doubt, many; the ruling elite without flaw has not yet been raised to power – Ynglings are not given to appeasement, and they believe in paying attention to the words of their foes. If the empires of the east remain true to their current course, there will be war.