The Komneniad: The Inner Circle, part 1

Roman government in the twentieth century is worth an essay in itself. There is the Forum, the assembly of representatives who hold proxies for large numbers of voters. (In principle any voter may show up for Forum meetings and cast his own vote, but in practice this almost never happens.) Then there is the Senate, the small class of men who are eligible to actually serve in the government; technically their hereditary right to do so is not enshrined in law – any voter can stand for election – but the custom that only those whose father or grandfather was a Senator can get elected is as strong as the two-party structure of the OTL US, and much older. Naturally many Senators hold voting proxies and are thus also eligible to vote in the Forum – indeed it’s unusual to be elected without holding a large number of proxies. Thus the Senate as an institution does not hold any legal power, indeed legally it is no more than a private club; but in practice the Senate’s grasp on executive office is unshakeable. Legislative power, on the other hand, is held by the Forum. Judges are appointed for life by the executive – in peacetime, two Consuls are elected; in this time of war there is a single Dictator – and then serve for life, thus forming a nominal third branch; but in important cases their decisions can be overruled by the decision of the Forum, which is the legal sovereign. The Forum can also withdraw its confidence in a Tribunate, although not in a Dictator (well – at any rate, it’s a nice question who the army would obey if this were tried) at any time. Legal sovereignty, therefore, rests with the Forum, and the separation of powers is less clear than in most Western countries of OTL.

All this is by way of introduction to my Cabinet, which does not really fit into the OTL-centric (and democratic-centric) model of HoI. They do not have collective responsibility in the manner of a British Cabinet; only the Head of State is elected (for values of ‘elected’) and he appoints the rest at his pleasure. Some, therefore, are Senators and some aren’t; a few are not even Komnenoi.

Cabinet 1941

Konstantin, the Dictator (Head of State, Resigned Generalissimo): The means by which he came to power were certainly technically legal; the Forum had a quorum, by a margin of three proxies. If it was also packed with his supporters, some of his opponents were delayed by carefully-arranged riots in crucial streets, and even so the margin of his election to the Dictatorship was almost the slimmest possible – nu, in view of five years of internal peace following the civil disorders of the early thirties, the Romans are prepared to forgive. Catch phrase: Pour la canaille, la mitrailleuse.

Ioannes, Master of the Knights (Head of Government, Old General): The two-man structure of the Consulate is not formally required of a Dictatorship – but every Dictator has appointed a Master of the Knights, a near-equal in power if not in formal authority. Ioannes is an old army comrade of Konstantin; they both graduated the Penchisky Cadet Corps in the class of 1912, and served together as Centurions and then tribunes in the I Komnenoi in the war against Russia. Catch phrase: Sometimes you gotta triage.

Georgos, Overseer of Barbarian Territories (Foreign Minister, Great Compromiser): The oldest man in the government is of another political generation than his nominal superiors. Leading the pacifist Peace Party is not a route to great popularity in the Khanate, where (apart from the revanchist Komnenoi) only veterans of the Legions have the vote, and the appointment of Georgos to so prestigious a position was unexpected; Konstantin was attempting to demonstrate that he would not rest his rule only on those of his own faction, but would work with all men of good will. Additionally, while the Overseer of Barbarians has great prestige, Konstantin was initially primarily concerned with the internal affairs of the Khanate, restoring the rule of law after the near-anarchy of the early thirties. The Ministry of Barbarians, then, was relatively cheap: Konstantin had no particular foreign-policy initiatives in mind, and indeed thought that if Georgos’s omnidirectional peaceful diplomacy could produce peace while Konstantin rebuilt the army, so much the better. Indeed, the appointment has proven very successful, in a sense; two losing wars with Japan has led to nothing worse than the cession of some Chinese cities and worthless Tibetan wastelands. Catch phrase: Of course we don’t have mind-control rays. Has also been known to mutter “fucking Lysandros” under his breath.

Ts Yesugei, Industrial War Coordinator (Armaments Minister, Administrative Genius): One of the few non-Komnenoi at high levels of government. The laissez-faire Khanate does not have a tradition of governmental interference in industry, and Konstantin’s creation of such a ministry is an innovation; but within the constraints of having very limited powers to order people around, Ts Yesugei has done an excellent job of bringing the Legions’ industrial support up to date. Catch phrase: Of course it’s only a suggestion. I hear Penchisky is very nice at least two days a year.

Arkadios, Chief of the Tenth Bureau (Minister of Intelligence, Industrial Specialist): One of Konstantin’s less successful appointments, Arkadios keeps his position by virtue of being a loyal party member, having a large proxy powerbase, and Konstantin not having any better candidates. Under his command the Tenth Bureau failed signally to detect the Japanese intention to attack, and also completely missed the large buildup in Korea preceding the breakout that led to the near-conquest of New Byzantium. On the plus side, he’s got a really good network in the Japanese R&D community. Catch phrase: We’ve recently become aware…

Whew, I was going to write ten 50-word thumbnails and this thing is already a thousand words. I think I’ll come back to the rest of the Cabinet some other time.


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