Way of the Clans (Legend of the Jade Phoenix Trilogy, #1) [ePub]

by Robert Thurston

Battletech and the Orwellian present
29 June 2012

This is the first and only Battletech book that I ever read, and I am highly unlikely to read anymore of them, simply because I am not really interested in books that are little more than a spin-off from a roleplaying game (which is what this is, though Battletech is more of a wargame than a roleplaying game). I might have read more of them back in my dark days, if I was more intent on reading books, but now I am more interested in books that actually have some meaning behind them rather than some form of cash cow that suckers fans in to spending more of their hard earned money.
The Battletech universe is set 1000 years in the future where humanity has colonised the galaxy. However the empire has collapsed and has evolved into a group of five warring states with a fringe element on the outer edge. Earth is pretty much long forgotten, though still exists at the centre of the old empire. The numerous factions now fight with each other in an attempt to outdo the other and return to the glory days of the empire. However, in later editions, two of the warring clans formed an alliance, however the other clans still exist.
What seems to attract many to the Battletech universe is that people fight in huge bipedal vehicles called battlemechs. The highest honour is to be a mechwarrior, a pilot of one of these battlemechs. This seems to herald back to the 1930s where airplane pilots were considered heroes, though this is no longer the case. I doubt anybody could name any of the pilots that flew sorties over Iraq or Libya, but still everybody has heard of the Red Baron.
In a way it seems to be very Orwellian in development. The concept is that the world has devolved into three superpowers that wage a perpetual war with each other in the outlying regions. This is very similar to this universe where there is a perpetual war amongst the clans (though this is not correct terminology in the battletech universe as the clans exist outside the main sphere, the warring factions in the sphere are probably better termed as houses). Anyway, it is the concept that fighting a perpetual war is the best way to keep people under control. By having an external enemy we can direct people's hatred towards this external enemy and thus keep them under control. Anybody who thus criticises the government is seen to be in league with one of these enemies, and thus an enemy of the state, and deserves to be locked up.
In times of war, and revolution, the government can suspend the fundamental human rights we all have (such as Habeus Corpus, where one cannot be held in confinement for more that 24 hours without being charged with a crime) in the name of national security. In the end the concept of national security turns out to be a farce, as it just becomes a means of population control, and the best way to control the population is through war. While there may be very weak reasons for going to war, governments will look at exaggerating those threats (such as Bush's Mushroom Cloud) so as to bring the population on side, and thus go to war. It is even easier if there is an ongoing external threat, such as the Soviet Union. In a way it was better for the United States, in terms of population control, for the Soviet Union to have lasted much longer than it did, because once they are the lone superpower, and have no means of declaring war against everybody, the whole concept of population control becomes a mute point. That is why Islamic Fundamentalists have now taken the spotlight as the new enemy, as well as China.

22.11.2012

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