The highest ideals to which the subjects of Lord Kurita can aspire are Purity and Harmony.
By Purity is meant freedom from all that might come between the citizen and their duty to their Lord and government.
[Commentary: Purity does not mean avoidance of bodily functions such as sex. Rather, it refers to using those functions to increase one’s contribution to the Dragon. To combine with one of the opposite sex to produce a child is therefore praiseworthy if the new life is dedicated to the service of House Kurita. Purity does not mean all avoidance of uncleanliness. If one must immerse oneself in uncleanliness in work or combat for the Lord Kurita, this is praiseworthy and no violation of Purity.]
—Dictum Honorium, v. II, 17–20
Can I be brutally honest? This sourcebook was exceptionally difficult to write. It wore me down, dulled my brain, and provided a healthy dose of angst in trying to complete it. (As I was told by two other CGL authors: welcome to the pain and misery of the Handbook series.) Once the writing was completed, I took a long hiatus from writing BattleTech for a while. (Some may argue I’m still on it.)
As difficult as it is to slog through, however, writing this particular book has also been eye-opening. It’s given me insight into the depth of story contained within this universe. I’ve had so many ideas spin off to the side, I have way too many story and plot ideas than I know what to do with. Perhaps serials or even a novel? Maybe that’s in my future…but that’s down the road.
My current thought process with this blog is to post an entry roughly every week to ten days, teasing out small segments of already-written material to build up anticipation. This isn’t like Wars of Reaving, however – no “original” storyline here. But I’m confident not a lot of fans of the BattleTech universe are familiar with the true history of the Draconis Combine – aside from the long-suffering fans who’ve bought and read every sourcebook ever written about the universe. So while some of this may be “old hat” to a few, I’m hoping it’ll be “new” for a lot of people. If anything, it provides continued depth and context about this very complex and much-maligned Great House – and maybe swing a few noncommittal fans into the Dragon’s sway.
Today’s peeks deal with the Pillar of Ivory, one of the five fundamental pillars of Combine society. This pillar describes the Kuritan ideals of philosophy, providing the shell for Kuritan perspectives on religion, honor, conduct, and…vendetta. There may be some slight changes before publication. Note that not all of my posts will have this much sneak material; it will vary on my mood and time commitments elsewhere.
-Ben H. Rome
Assistant Line Developer
The Doctrines of Shiro
Less than ten years after Shiro Kurita became First Coordinator, he had taken the role of spiritual and governmental leader of the Combine. Once he had demonstrated that strength of character could achieve sweeping victories over formidable enemies, his people responded enthusiastically. They believed Kurita’s successes owed much to a sustained effort and a certain set of mental attitudes—something Shiro actively implied—and his followers could produce similar, if less spectacular, results. His ability to capture the people’s imagination was no accident. Shiro had learned as a talented, young kendo student that the strength of the sword came from the ki of the fencer extended through the length of the blade. His intention was to weld together the people of Yamashiro Prefecture, then all the people of New Samarkand, and eventually all the people and resources of the galaxy into one mighty weapon. The ki controlling that mighty blade would be his own.
To control and channel the people, Shiro realized that he must mandate a person’s ideology, his view of the universe, and how he related to it. Shiro laid down the fundamental values that would inform all of Draconis society: Purity and Harmony. These principles appeared, in one form or another, as part of Shintoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism—the religions of ancient feudal Japan. Though purity and harmony may seem benign and transcendent in the abstract, what they came to mean in Draconian practice was harmony with the interests and intentions of the Kurita state and purity from any thoughts that contradicted those of the First Coordinator.
“On the Relations of Citizens with Enemies”
Citizens of the Draconis Combine are prohibited from having personal relations with enemies. To do so would deteriorate the moral fiber and strength of conviction that is so crucial to House Kurita. The Coordinator is the sole authority on defining the Dragon’s enemies. For a time and purpose, forces that have been in strife with the Combine may be declared a neutral power due to non-aggression pacts. While contact with such neutral powers is allowed, citizens are encouraged to refrain from relations unless they are vital to the Dragon’s welfare.
“On Proper Behavior of the Warrior”The proper business of the warrior is death. The warrior cannot enter a contest with any thoughts of his own survival. His only concern must be to destroy the enemy or else die fighting, unless his death would bring further harm to the Draconis Combine. In such situations where actions such as a withdrawal is deemed necessary to the continued honor and survival of the Dragon, the warrior must choose to uphold the Combine’s honor and postpone his death until a later time.
Draconis rulers are particularly attentive to the ideological state of the middle classes. Even if some faction within the nobility or the military were to seize control, the result would be a continuation of Kuritan society with new faces at the top. However, if the trading class, with its devotion to accumulating capital, were to gain control, a revolution in Draconian mores would take place.
An intensified Confucianism, defined during the hectic days of the Age of Colonization, is established for the middle layer of society. The merchants, manufacturers, and moneylenders find this satisfying because it reinforces their positions as the heads of families and corporations. In this way, the focus on the chain of loyalty passes up through children, wives, and employees to themselves at the top.
Professionals and intelligentsia among the middle classes also tend to be drawn to the “one God” religions or to cults that reinforce individuality. As a rule, these types will give public lip service to the required beliefs while rummaging privately through a wide range of ideologies until they find one that suits them. They will then meet in secret, hiding away by themselves or with a few friends during their off hours.
By Kuritan law, a man is supposed to spend a year in seclusion at the time of his father’s death, which usually occurs sometime in the son’s forties or early fifties. This obligation is customarily waived, usually for a bribe. If a middle class individual gives evidence of being drawn to some unauthorized ways of thinking, this year requirement will be strictly enforced. He will spend the year at a government center so he may rededicate himself to the principles of filial piety.
If an individualistic cult takes root in the middle class, the leaders of House Kurita will spare no pains to eradicate it. These things are not tolerated in the middle class the way they often are among the Unproductives. A popular (and true) tale demonstrates their intolerance. In the late twenty-ninth century, a scholar of ancient Terran gaming practices, Professor Gerald Gore, wrote clandestine science fiction material based on scenarios from early strategy games. He invented a fictional “Maximum Universal Personality,” claiming a simple combination of computers and microwave cookery could determine and enhance each person’s “MUP Quotient.” When the authorities on Luthien realized an interstellar cult had grown up around Gore’s notions, the professor was microwaved and hundreds of his believers were either executed or sent to Filial Piety Centers.