A Dark Mirror

A picture of a cloudy mirror on the wall
Thanks to Paul Keller on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulk/136795301)

I am very fond of the phrase villains are the heroes of their own stories.

When creating the background of my Storium game called “For Honor Among The Stars,” I decided to have a go at a “People’s Republic of Haven” analogue, so I created the Guaranmian People’s Republic (GPR).

It’s clear from Weber’s writing that the PRH is a model of socialism writ large, a huge welfare state where most people are on the Dole, and the government is in a constant state of expansion to be able to accommodate its tax base.¬† I have no comment about Weber’s politics here, except to say that he was holding up a mirror to what he saw as the world’s evils and showing us how bad he thought it could get.

I did something similar with a more behavioralist approach.

It’s a lot easier to take a culture that you do not like and make it a villainous one, but a little harder to make a one out of a culture that you agree with at least partially.

The GPR are rationalist, tech-savvy, believe in helping everyone to be the best individual they can be, want people to be truly happy and mentally healthy and most live in such wealth and plenty that their basic needs are met and they have very little life stress. Of course they are absolutely convinced that their way is the right way and they are on a mission to spread their way to everyone, everywhere.

Where the GPR and I differ is that I would have a serious problem with the way the GPR does social manipulation. I think it’s dishonest. I think that constantly training their people to fit into a nice tidy pigeonhole is not a good idea. I think that, somewhere amongst the GPR there are camps of people who don’t fit in, who have to be “retrained” and “rehabilitated.”

In short, they practice eugenics but not for race. They practice it for intelligence and social conformity. If you happen to be an unhappy person in the GPR you’re a second-class citizen. If you’re chronically depressed, there’s something wrong with you and they will send you away. No sad people allowed here! We live in paradise after all.

But I gotta hand it to the GPR. They feed their people, clothe them, give them health care, assist them in learning, growing, getting older.

They practice advanced work behaviors that make them more efficient and allow everyone to contribute with their own special talents. They have just enough competition to keep everybody sharp, but pay a lot of attention to the overall community as well. Making sure their genetics lines continue. Making sure their contributions are noted and remembered.

All with a ruthlessness that comes of a lack of attachment to the material world.

This is what makes for a scary group, and therefore a good dramatic antagonist. They’re one of those that make you say, “But what if they’re the good guys?”