The Sage and the Student is an essay written by OPArsenal to help explain the Francoist concept of Autocratic Democracy. Of the piece he said: "I feel like I must confess that this story is not entirely my work. It is an adaptation of a thread I found here on the NPO boards. The Sage is adapted from Vladimir's responses to the questions of WalkerNinja of the ODN, who is the Student."
The essay has been split into sections to make it easier to digest. This was not in the original.
The Sage and the StudentEdit
One of the most prevalent methods of communicating history has always been through the relation of legends. Such legends exist here in the Orders, and it is my great pleasure to tell you all one of the oldest and most revered legends of the Ancient Times. It is a tale of how our Orders are governed, how our system works in practice. The origin of the two characters has been lost to the swirling mystery that is time and the fog of fable. However, their words serve to educate and inform still. Please relax, Comrades, warm yourselves by the fire and remember Francos himself as you hear the story of the Sage and the Student.
Part I: Ascent of the MountainEdit
It had been a long, tough climb for the Student. He had heard the stories for years. He had heard of those that had died scaling Mount Unlimited. He had heard of the sudden snowfalls and the avalanches that threatened even the most experienced of climbers. He had heard that even if you survived and made it to Poskrebyshev Peak, the Sage might dismiss you and refuse to answer your question; deny you a higher knowledge of the universe and a greater understanding. The Student had even heard from a few sceptics that the Sage did not exist.
As he hauled his weary body over the last of the cliffs, he grasped a rock, tested it’s hold and then pulled himself up when he found his grip to be true. Rolling his exhausted frame over, he fixed his eyes on his goal: the Temple of the Sage. Relief that it was real washed over him. Anxiety that the Sage would refuse him buzzed through the numbing cold. Steeling his resolve and drawing upon his desire, his thirst, his need for knowledge, he drew his exhausted frame up on to feet he could not feel. He began the trudge to the Temple. He swayed, his vision blurring. His legs buckled. The Student fell, his face landing in a patch of snow. He tried to use his arms to pull him closer to his objective, his understanding. His arms would not respond to their master’s will. As darkness descended on him, he caught sight of blue and black clad figures descending upon him. He tried to hail them, but his voice would not come. The Student faded into the deep sleep of the frost, just as he sensed that he had been saved.
The Student was aware of warmth before he even awoke. His eyes fluttered open and he saw torchlight flicker on ancient stones. As the Student sat upright, he felt light-headed. As the room spun, the Student laid back down. As the room slowed its circular motion, realization dawned on the Student. He had achieved his goal. He was inside the Temple. After a few minutes of rest, the Student swung to his feet. He placed his bare feet on the cool stones below. As he stepped out the door and into the hall, he noticed the soldiers that lined the halls. Some wore blue and black, some wore blue and white. The Student realized that the myths were true. The Temple was guarded by the combined elite soldiers of the Orders: Franco’s Fist. The Temple was silent except for the Student’s footfalls. The Student advanced down the hall, and found that he was on his way to see the object of his quest.
The Sage sat alone in his chamber, a fire burning in front of him. He saw the Student approaching from the hall leading in, and smiled to himself. He thought of all the previous students that came before, and he knew that this one was different. He could sense it from the way his eyes wandered from stone to stone, the way his features reflected a joy in knowledge. This one was not here to be able to brag to others that he had been in the presence of the Sage. This one was here to actually learn, to improve himself, and his Order. As the Student made his way inside the chamber, he bowed to the Sage, awe rushing over him. He knew that seeing the Sage face to face was an honor that few achieved. The Sage watched the Student and saw the emotion in the eager man’s face. As legend dictated, the Student picked up a log from the pile to his left, and added it to the fire “For Franco,” he solemnly spoke. He picked up a log from the pile to his right. “For Ivan,” as he added it to the flames. The Sage motioned towards the empty seat in front of him, and the Student was graced with what he had traveled such a long way to hear: the voice of the Sage.
Part II: Overview of FrancoismEdit
The Student did as the Sage bid and sat. The Sage spoke again. “Student, I am aware that you have endured much and asked little on your trek to sit with me. I have seen you on your odyssey. You have spoken with my agents. It is due to the connections you made with them that I had the Fist bring you in from the cold. I sit with you, Student, because I wish to have this conversation. You have impressed me, Student.”
The Student sat, shocked. The Sage actually wanted to speak with him? He felt both honored and humbled. “Ask what you will ask, Student,” said the Sage. The student cleared his throat and fulfilled his destiny.
“Sage, if you would hear me, I have a question! Both of the Orders base themselves on "Francoist Ideology" and honor the "August Revolution.” I know as much as the average citizen of the Orders, but I wish to increase my knowledge. Will you please further my understanding?”
The Sage chuckled, slightly. “That’s quite a question, Student. I could spend a year with you discussing the finer points. I’ll give you a brief overview, and if that sparks more questions, feel free to ask. The event of the August Revolution took place on August 28th 2003, when the Pacifican Nation -- its strength and will channeled through Comrade Franco -- overthrew the old regime and took over the reigns of power itself. Thus, for the first time, The Pacific was self-ruled and sovereign. However, the Revolution is an ongoing event, as Pacifica constantly evolves and improves along those first foundations.
Francoist Thought -- Francoism -- arose naturally from the August Revolution, and many of its pillars today (most famously the concept of Autocratic Democracy) can be traced directly back to it. However, as suggested by the idea of a permanent revolution, Francoism is not a static dogma; rather it is a material analysis of our current environment in the historical context of Pacifica. It is therefore through the tool of Francoism that we can look at the world around us and come to conclusions of the best way to advance: in short, the goal of Francoist Thought is the emancipation of the Pacifican Nation.”
Part III: Introduction to Autocratic DemocracyEdit
The Student reflected for a moment, looking into the fire. He pondered the words of the Sage. Finally, he decided on a topic. “You spoke of ‘autocratic democracy.’ I wish to learn more of this concept. Please, Sage, expound on this.”
The Sage smiled, the fire twinkling in his eyes. Snow, visible in the window behind him, fell gently. The Sage spoke. “Student, you will note that when I attack democracy I attack electoral democracy. That is because, however paradoxical it may seem to outside observers, the Orders are a fundamentally democratic entity. As I have previously stated, Autocratic Democracy is a principle that formed during the August Revolution itself. As simply as possible, it is the democratic will of the people being channeled through an autocratic institution. While there is no electoral vote the voices of Pacificans and Polars are nevertheless heard and acted on -- and in a far more efficient and effective way than in an electoral democracy. This is why, for example, Comrade Franco put down the claim that he was a dictator when called one in an interview, since such would imply that he stands above the people rather than as an integral part of them -- as the medium through which they act. The principle of Autocratic Democracy was formalized through the creation of the Senate – a meritocratic group of revolutionary leaders appointed to support the Emperor and carry out the tasks dictated to them by the people. Autocratic Democracy is a combination of many traits possessed by members of the Orders, developed as a consequence of the material conditions of the Revolution; and as such it is a principle unique to the Orders. At its simplest, this principle takes the democratic spirit and will of the citizens of both Orders and channels it through an autocratic institution, allowing it to be concentrated into a single, powerful action. During the August Revolution this institution was Comrade Franco himself, with the anger and hope of Pacifica funneled through him. As time went on, this responsibility was passed onto future Emperors, and while the institutions of Pacifica and, more recently Polaris, have changed around us, it is a principle that still shaping every move that we make."
The Student had never really given any deep thought to the system of governance used by the Orders. He had always voted once a month for Council, and followed the will of the Emperor. As he sat in front of the fire, he considered what the Sage had said. He watched the Sage add two more logs to the fire, one in memory of Comrade Unlimited, and the other for Comrade Tyga. The Student addressed the Sage once more. “I admit that I do not know as much as I feel I should about our autocratic democracy. My understanding of it is mostly based on inference. Of course, it is pre-supposed that the Emperor must bear the good will of the people whom he protects, leads, and serves. Rather than engaging in the minutiae of electoral politics, the Emperor rises to power by acclaim. By the strength of his personality he guides the masses toward achieving their own ends, and appoints ministerial leadership to achieve those ends. Such a system places the leader above corruption, as ultimate power belongs to him. He has nothing to become corrupted over. He does not have to run for re-election and so does not have to temper his action with the ebb and flow of public opinion. Rather he must focus on accurately representing the will of his people and working in their best interest. How accurate would you rate that assessment, learned one?”
Part IV: Role of the EmperorEdit
The Sage smiled as he regarded the Student.
”Comrade, it seems that from the language you used, you are falling into a number of traditional assumptions about autocracy; namely that an autocratic official must stand apart from the people and “lead” or “serve” them; usually through mechanisms (as you mentioned) such as personality and charisma. In the case of the Orders’ autocratic democracy this is inaccurate.
The Emperor should not be seen as being above or separate from the Pacifican Nation, and as such he does not “lead” or “serve” in the sense that one may assume through their experiences of leadership elsewhere. Rather the Emperor is a tool through which the Nation realizes its own strength, and as such it is not led, but leads itself—the Pacifican or Polar Nation sovereign.
To take this into a real world example that may help explain it, you may have heard your Comrades and others say in the past that "the Emperor is the Order," and this is often taken as an incredibly undemocratic thing to say; however, with an understanding of autocratic democracy and the removal of common assumptions it can be seen in a new light. To say that the Emperor is the Order is not to suggest that one man is the Order, but rather it is to say that the Emperor embodies the whole Pacifican movement, acting as a conduit through which an entire people can act.
Your more specific points regarding corruption and "bearing the good will of the people" must therefore be seen in this context rather than the traditional context of a leader on top and a people below. In this way, however much other states may talk of democracy and representation, Francoism and the Orders are unique in that they brush these illusions aside (no offense) and follow a path where the people truly rule their own destiny.”
Things were unfolding for the Student, becoming more clear. It was as if they Sage knew exactly where his concerns lay, and further, he knew when the Student had concerns inside of concerns. Metaconcerns. The Student thought about the limited time he still had with the Sage. He looked at the flags of the Orders that hung from the rafters. The giant banners suspended side-by-side were a sight to behold. Pacifica’s blue and black, her yellow star in bold contrast to Polaris’s interlocked outlines. He thought of what he knew of the world outside of the Orders. It was a dark and terrifyingly chaotic place, a void that only the bravest Vanguards chose to venture into to spread the word of Comrade Franco. He thought of a comparable outside analogy that applied to this line fo discussion. Realizing his connection, he revealed it for the Sage to review.
“In a sense then, Great Sage, our Emperor is less of a conventional emperor and more an Avatar, a physical manifestation of the divine spirit that we have come to know as Pacifica. Continuing with my probably clumsy analogy, I think it is sufficient to say that when the Emperor/Avatar speaks or acts, it is not he that speaks or acts, but Pacifica that speaks or acts through him.
The concept is phenomenal, and I can certainly see how our system has sustained itself once it was initiated. I think that it is the initiation that probably confuses me most.
In a traditional democracy (or even in a less traditional one) such an individual would be selected by election/acclaim.
In the Orders’ autocratic democracy... The Emperor reveals himself?”
The Sage smiled as he heard the Student’s analogy. He knew that foreign concepts cannot be applied to the internal material realities of Pacifica. And he knew that he had the answer to the student’s question.
“If my admittedly cursory knowledge Avatar concept is correct, then it would seem somewhat accurate, if you want to look at it that way. Although, of course, the Pacifican Nation is not mystical in nature; it is very much grounded in material reality.
Part V: Rise of the EmperorEdit
You are quite right to point to the initiation of such a system as an especially confusing area, and I won't be able to go into it as deeply as I might wish, since, as I alluded to earlier, autocratic democracy ties into a number of other important Francoist principles which formed alongside it in a mutually reinforcing manner and our time together grows short. However, in order to gain an understanding of how it developed, and thus how it still functions today, you have to first understand the nature of the August Revolution.
Prior to the Revolution The Pacific was ruled by an oppressive regime that passed power around its small circle of insiders. This regime was what we back then referred to as a 'userite' regime; that is, in simple terms, that it was ruled by those whose interests lay with foreign entities—entities whose interests were antithetical to those of The Pacifican and its many nations. So it was that an entire people sat silenced and isolated beneath this apparatus. However, as time went on there were small changes that gradually brought about a consciousness in these oppressed nations, Comrade Franco among them, and it was when this consciousness reached a tipping point that the Revolution occurred. Through its movements and desires the Revolution eventually found its focus in Comrade Franco, who, channeling the energy and power of The Pacific in its entirety was able to do what few dreamed possible and overthrow the old regime.
It was through this process that autocratic democracy came into being, and it was institutionalized with the creation of the New Pacific Order five days later. It is often said that a revolution is a powerfully autocratic thing, but so too is it one of the most democratic imaginable. The Emperor did not reveal himself, but rather the great masses of Pacifica revealed him through their actions—the Emperor did not choose himself, but was chosen by and from the ranks of the Revolution. And so it is today, though by different mechanisms. No longer do we have Revolutions that propel one into the seat, but rather we have structures that move comrades forward based on merit. It is obviously then down to the Emperor name his successor, and this is done in the same manner that all previous decisions throughout his terms—through the principle of autocratic democracy.
I do expect that this can all be quite difficult to get your head around if you have not given it much previous thought. However, our time grows short, and this old man needs some time to think on the words we have exchanged today. Please, Comrade, feel free to remain in the Temple as my guest until you are ready to depart. It has been a pleasure, Comrade. Now please, leave me to my fire.”
Pact VI: Descent from the MountainEdit
The Student rose and took hold of two more logs. One was added for the legacy of Comrade Dilber, and one was added to honor Comrade Electron Sponge. The Student turned back to the Sage, bowed, and thanked him. He then took one more look into the fire, averted his gaze, and then walked back towards the Great Hall. He looked in awe at all of the relics left behind from retired Emperors, and he realized the significance of the Temple once more. It was home to not only the foremost source of knowledge in the Orders, but also a complete and tangible historical record. His fortune struck him once more, and tears sprang to his eyes. He was seeing things that the average Pacifican or Polar would never even dream of seeing. His step faltered momentarily, but the Student was aware of the Sage’s piercing gaze following him down the passageway and he continued forward. The Student had to get to bed soon. A full night’s rest was in order to prepare him for his descent. He was even more resolved to make it down the mountain than he was to make it up. After all, he had a purpose, a duty, and a responsibility. His time with the Sage separated him in a different way. All who were granted an audience with the Sage were tasked to improve their respective Order.
The Student would be no different.
|Important People||Francos Spain - Vladimir - Sir Paul - Cortath - RedCommunist|
|Important Events||August Revolution|
|Alliances||New Pacific Order - New Polar Order|
|Literary Works||Proper Francoist Thought - The Meaning of Freedom - Five Days that Shook the World - Francoist Papers
An Introduction to Francoism - The Sage and the Student - Principles of Pacifica Weekly Address Series