I’ve always had what you might call an ambivalent relationship with the Empire. I mean, it’s my home nation; it’s where I was born (while Exioce was still a subject world; and since then I’ve lived — when I’ve had a fixed home — in Dvorsi). I’ve been raised with Imperial values, such as they are, and I’ve travelled enough to know that many of those are considered a bit weird, if not evil and wrong, by the rest of the Galaxy.
But there’s no question in my mind that much of what the Empire does works; and it works well.
Though all that said, it does some things stupidly wrong. Denton Patreus, for example. And the Empire’s most recent screw-up, in the view of this humble count, is its ridiculous embrace of dangerous populism in the form of ‘Nova Imperium’, a ludicrous — and ludicrously dangerous — group of power-hungry charlatans pushing a malleable nobody called Hadrian Jansen as the supposed lost grandson of Hengist Duval. Bullshit, of course — but it’s getting the faction and their real leader, the asshole calling himself ‘Imperator Mordanticus’ (FFS) noticed. It’s getting them attention from the Senate, and a number of senators have actually come out and declared support for this scam.
I mean, ‘Imperator Mordanticus’. Time was — not that long ago — you’d have been flayed alive for presenting yourself with a royal title you’re not, well, entitled to. And just presenting it in Old Latin wouldn’t have been enough to save you. I’ve never been big on authoritarianism in general, but just occasionally you kind of want to see standards upheld, hm?
Like all populists, the group plays on the fears of the people to stoke discontent, warp anxiety and insecurity into hate, and to direct that hate where Nova Imperium’s chief agitators want it targeted: against minority groups, migrant workers and foreigners in general. Nova Imperium advocates an ‘Empire First’, jingoist position that does not bode well at all. They claim that only by severing all cooperative interactions with the rest of the Galaxy can the Empire regain its former strength and glory and yaddayaddayadda bollocks. Only by entirely abandoning internationalism can the Empire make itself great again and withstand the threatened Thargoid onslaught. That is, the Thargoid onslaught with which Nova Imperium is threatening the people.
Personally, I suspect that if the Thargoids do advance further still towards the Bubble — and it’s possible they will — then the nations best placed to weather the storm will be those that have put aside ridiculous prideful ideas and undertaken to work together as Humans against an existential threat. Humanity’s survival, in that scenario, is directly endangered by the withdrawal of one of the Galaxy’s three Human superpowers into its own frightened little shell.
But, and you can call me shortsighted, the bigger concern for me right now is on the home front: what is Nova Imperium going to turn my empire into? I despise nationalism. I hate populists and I abhor self-serving chancers who throw ordinary people under a bus in order to gain power or wealth for themselves. Worse, I despise those particularly evil self-serving chancers who convince people to throw themselves under a bus, and that’s what Nova Imperium seems to be all about. It’s about throwing superficially appealing words and angry nostalgia to frightened people, persuading Imperial subjects to surrender their rights and freedoms, and ultimately maybe their society itself, to serve the interests of the so-called ‘Imperator’ and his corrupt and avaricious cronies.
Well, I won’t have any part of it. I have a ship and the freedom to go where I will. I am a loyal Imperial, born and bred, but I’m loyal to Humanity before all else. I won’t place myself in thrall to populists. If the Empire wants to withdraw from the Galactic stage in the name of Making Itself Great Again — at least until Nova Imperium take over and have the chance to start the next war — it won’t take me with it. For now at least, I must renounce my rank of Count of the Empire, and relocate somewhere more favourable.