The Mech Touch Chapter 1015
1013 A Rubarthan Theory
Back when the Flagrant Vandals raided the Detemen System and hunted Lord Javier down, the noble facetiously spouted words that painted him as a hero that stood up for the beleaguered citizens.
Now though, Lord Javier seemed to have aged a bit and lose some of his brashness during his time in captivity. While Ves thought that he was still very much a jerk, Javier at least seemed to be aware of his lack of power among the Brighters.
In fact, Ves somehow found it rather compelling to hear the opinions of a genuine Vesian noble. Perhaps desperate for company, Lord Javier freely divulged his opinions on matters that nobles never talked about to outsiders.
"Why have you been taken along?" Ves asked. "Is there something remarkable about you?"
"I already told you, Ves. I'm just a hostage that your pompous senator wants to use as a bargaining chip." He replied. "You might not know this, but House Eneqqin is a major force in the Imodris Duchy. My father is very powerful and influential. The only problem facing our House is that I'm the only heir that's qualified to take up his mantle. All the other Eneqqins who are eligible to become the new head of our House are all pansies who I've beaten up on a daily basis back when we grew up. Without me, House Eneqqin is doomed!"
"Even so, does the Duchess of Imodris favor House Eneqqin so much that she'll agree to a peace treaty just so that they get you back?" Ves asked with skepticism.
Javier chuckled. "It helps. My return can do quite a lot, you know. Not only will House Eneqqin's succession and continued dominance for the next half century or longer be secure, the Duchess will also have our undying loyalty for the foreseeable future. That kind of support will secure House Imodris' hold on the duchy. Those kinds of gains help compensate for the gains that House Imodris misses out if the war is cut short earlier than scheduled."
To Javier, the Bright-Vesia Wars was nothing more than a means for the Vesian nobles to jockey for power and prestige.
The adventurous young lords and ladies gleefully led their forces into battle in order to raise their status and win the struggle for succession in their noble houses.
The older generation on the other hand put their sights on other noble houses. Those that performed well in the war received more accolades and attention while those who did badly quickly fell in status among the noble circles.
Even the dukes and duchesses that ruled at the top of their own territories couldn't avoid this generational rat race. If their mech legions didn't perform sufficiently well at the frontlines, their share of the overall distribution of resources from collective revenue sources such as the Kingdom's two port systems would be cut!
All in all, to Ves it sounded like a costly but brutally effective way to keep everyone on their toes. Through constant competition, every Vesian, no matter how high their status, needed to fight in order to preserve their privileges!
"So us Brighters are just target dummies for you Vesians to show off your prowess?" Ves cynically remarked.
"For a soft republic ruled by duplicitous families, some of you Brighters can sure put up a mean fight! I had to literally fight for my life during my battles against your Vandal mechs! But yeah, we've fought against you so often that we've pretty much got the measure of your Mech Corps. Fighting you Brighters has become so routine that hardly anything surprises us anymore, your sudden raid on the Detemen System aside."
"Don't you think the war is kind of pointless then?"
"Nah. Who else are we going to beat up if not the Bright Republic? There's too much we don't know if we pick a fight against another state! Since we've never truly fought a war against another state, we don't know whether it will go well or poorly for us. On the other hand, waging war against the Bright Republic is a much better idea because you guys are strong enough to put a worthy fight but not too strong to the point of being able to turn the tables on us!"
In other words, the Vesians were so familiar with fighting against the Bright Republic that the risks and uncertainties posed by the Bright-Vesia Wars had been reduced to the minimum! The constancy and predictability of the generational wars allowed the Vesians to unleash their war fever without any major risk of suffering any catastrophic setbacks.
It depressed Ves a bit that the Vesian nobility regarded the Bright Republic as an easy target to bully. Even knowing this didn't help anything as the Kingdom was a bit larger and more populous than the Republic. This gave them an enduring advantage in manpower, industry and more.
"What would it take to end the sequence of wars?" Ves asked morosely.
"There's nothing you can do." Javier chuckled. "Too many of us have grown used to the benefits of the war to consider any alternatives. Bullying the Republic is so fun and it's a good outlet of our stress. It helps us reveal the strong among the weak and it keeps our fighting forces trim and effective. The only way for us to stop the wars for good is if we don't get as much benefits from them or if the cost of fighting you is too much to bear."
It all came down to benefits. The Vesian nobles kept periodically declaring war against the Republic like clockwork because they gained a lot more than they lost. The Bright Republic probably fell into a similar situation seeing that the Tovar Peace Delegation needed to move in complete secrecy.
As someone as powerful as Senator Tovar hadn't managed to gain the complete support of the Bright Republic for his initiative to negotiate a peace, that meant that certain powers and influences within the Bright Republic hungered for war as much as the Vesians did!
That seemed incredibly perverse to Ves!
Lord Javier noticed Ves' reaction to his words. He grinned even wider. "Are you mad?"
"I shouldn't be." Ves shook his head. "I just find it to be a sad state of affairs. Is it really profitable for both of our states to keep waging the same war over and over again? It's just so… senseless."
"It fits with a particular theory the higher ups of both of our states ascribe to. It's a theory that originated from the New Rubarth Empire in response to the old and stagnant Greater Terran United Confederation."
"What are you talking about?" Ves frowned.
"It's called the Societal Vitality Theory. The Rubarthans came up with it when they studied a large range of human and alien societies." Javier enthusiastically explained. "The theory states that the strength and health of a society is determined by how much they fight and how hard their people must struggle to live and prosper. In the early days of humanity's ascension into the stars during the Age of Space, we were some of the lowest species in the galaxy. Yet we somehow managed to outwit superior alien races and get the better of them. Do you know what those supposedly superior races all had in common?"
"They were weak?"
"They were strong. They benefited from greater numbers, larger military and technological superiority. Yet we beat them anyway despite our weaknesses! The main reason why we rolled over them is because they turned out to be weaker than on paper. The alien empires were stagnant and every alien leader gained their positions through taking advantage of their birthright and their political maneuvering. However, when confronted with actual war, most of them turned out to be incompetent when it came to the survival of their species!"
Ves knew the story wasn't so simple, especially in light of the recent revelations about the Five Scrolls Compact guiding humanity from the shadows. Still, Lord Javier's explanation sounded oddly sensible.
"So a state that's been peaceful for a long time is weaker than a state that's been through constant wars? What about the losses and all of the destruction that ensues whenever a war is waged?"
"That's a valid concern. It's difficult to find a war that doesn't hurt yourself more than you can get back." Lord Javier chuckled again. "That's the beauty of the Bright-Vesia Wars, though. They're so predictable and regular that both sides know the overall score. The battles might change, but the outcome will always roughly be set in stone. To the adherents of the Societal Vitality Theory, the wars are the perfect vehicle to keep our states from stagnating into a bunch of paper tigers like the Reinald Republic! The more intense the fighting, the more our invigorated our states become!"
Ves suddenly gained a realization. All his wondering about whether there was a conspiracy behind the Bright-Vesia Wars turned out to be true!
It was just that the conspiracy took on a different form than he expected. It wasn't as if a small number of powerful people from both states met together in a shady, smoke-filled room and diabolically laughed with each other as they plotted to drive their own subjects to their deaths.
Instead, both sides ascribed to this weird theory and believed they would both become stronger if they waged a war every now and then! It was an open if unspoken conspiracy that required no explicit meetings or agreements to commence!
He didn't quite know yet how to regard this perverse circumstances. It seemed extraordinarily callous to him that war was being treated as a tool to shape societies.
"In fact, the Societal Vitality Theory also caught on with the MTA and CFA." Lord Javier boldly claimed. "Do you think they like it that the various human states in the galaxy focus so much on fighting each other instead of the aliens? They probably don't, but they think it's necessary to keep the space peasants busy and on their toes. If they relax too much, not only will their star systems become too overpopulated, their birth rates will also fall below a level that is sustainable if the state ever meets a crisis."
Ves looked up at that. "That sounds contradictory. How can a stagnant state be overpopulated yet find it problematic that their birth rates fall? Isn't that a natural response to overpopulation? Can't states just terraform new stars to settle on if they need more space?"
"It doesn't quite work that way, Ves. Terraforming is an investment and not every planet or star system is valuable enough to exploit. Just take the Reinald Republic again for example. Because they're part of the Frozen Leaf Alliance, no one wants to pick a fight with them. The lack of wars not only lowered their war readiness, they are also suffering from headaches on what to do with their crowded settlements. They're greedy for money for a very good reason, you know. They need money to pay the terraforming companies to make new terrestrial planets habitable to human life. However, these new colonies are mostly a net drain to Reinald's treasury."
"I see." Ves replied. "What about the overcrowding and the lower birthrates? How does that affect the Reinald Republic?"
"The overcrowding and lack of threats makes the Reinaldans complacent. They don't birth as much offspring, they marry later in their lives and generally don't feel any urgency in living their lives. This also means they don't work hard enough to excel in their lives. They have less expert pilots and less Senior Mech Designers than a state of their size ought to have!"
"Is that true?" Ves asked.
"Oh, I'm not a numbers wizard, but all the scientists who studied the Societal Vitality Theory all said so. They say that a society's life pattern adjusts itself to the predominant circumstances. Peace begets a slow, peaceful life pattern because that is the most optimal way the people are able to live their lives. War on the other hand forces people to grow stronger, fight harder and live their lives to the best of their abilities. All the deaths also eases up the overpopulation issue and sustaining high birth rates is seen as the key to sustain a state in the even of a major crisis!"
Ves had mixed feelings about this supposed theory. Lord Javier obviously appeared to be a proponent of the Societal Vitality Theory, and Ves did have to admit that the logic sounded plausible.
It explained some of Senator Tovar's policy decisions. To a shepherd of a state, leaders like him constantly worried over how to strengthen a state and retain its dynamism. Perhaps to Senator Tovar and his ilk, a regular, generational war sounded like just the right answer to maintain the liveliness of the Bright Republic!