Revolution and Marxism, Teckla and Phoenix

Wed Feb 26 02:01:21 PST 2003

Pre-warning: This is an *extremely* long post. I was bored when I wrote it 
earlier today and what started out as a little message became more or less a 
book-report/sociological type essay relating to the above topic. I hesitated 
sending it earlier because of its length, however now it's 1:30 a.m. and I'm 
in my "can't sleep, play on the internet mood" and feeling froggy so why 
not...For anyone interested read on and everyone else who doesn't care just 
skip it over.


Background Information:

I don't know how many of you are or are not Marxists or know anything about 
Marx's ideals, so I will try to make this as simple and as explanatory as 
possible from my own perspective on revolution. Note, I have read very 
little Trotsky so I do not have a very good understanding of the idea of 
permanent revolution, thus I probably cannot give an accurate portrayal of 
Teckla or Phoenix. However, I recently I have been reading a lot of Marx 
because my own ideals very closely correspond and my SO finally told me 
after several years that 1) There is no such thing as an Orwellian 
Socialist, or a person that closely follows the ideals of Orwellian thought 
and shares Orwells concerns about society but with a stronger emphasis on 
anti-capitalism, anti-fascism and anti-stalinism (*turns her head rolls her 
eyes and leers at the author as something just occurs to her "humph, 
Blackchapple. But then maybe you were just doing that Joyce white=black 
black=white thing, and if you were then I am surprised every section wasn't 
predominated by *the feeling* of a color"*); that such a person is just a 
Marxist in denial (so far he's right *shrug*) and 2) he hates Marxists, 
collective socialists and communists, but he felt I should truly take a look 
at these ideas because the stigma around the name doesn't mean it's not what 
I have been contemplating and explaining since he met me. His claim was that 
I looked stupid to other people when I explained ideas that had already been 
made, though I didn't realize they had already been made because I came up 
my ideas on my own and had never looked into what they truly are. (Note: my 
SO is teeters between history and psychology major so he's very informed 
about these things, he just hates them.)

Okay, so with that back-ground, which says I basically know nothing though I 
have an *extremely* small amount of knowledge, I will try to explain my 
thoughts on the idea of revolution in Teckla and Phoenix which was written 
by someone who has much knowledge from the view of a 'Pure Marist' theory. 
If the author cares to put down all my arguments and tell me I am full of 
crap, well then it is always welcomed as I have heard it from my SO 
constantly for the past 6 mo's or so, and lately though Teckla wasn't my 
favorite book, I am starting to feel like Cawti in it.


Teckla and Phoenix -- A comparison of Kellys Revolution with the 1917 
Russian Bolshevik Revolution in connection with The Cycle: Comparison based 
on World History and "Teckla" and "Phoenix" by Steven Brust.
(or, in alternative my book report of the day :)!)

My understanding is that much of what has been contemplated on the above 
topic so far has to deal with a) Verra believing Kelly would have done 
something different than he did and b) the realization that the Cycle was 
not ready for a Teckla revolution because the phase of the cycle is not in 
the phase of the Teckla. In essence the Teckla cannot end their suppression 
and rise to power because they are not ready for it, their society is not 
ready for this change. I will make an effort to compare these points to the 
Bolshevik revolution and Marxist thought yet only in relation to and as 
necessary as it is to compare to these things to Teckla and Phoenix.

In order to have an understanding of what pre-empted the October Revolution 
it is necessary to have an idea of Marx's theories on economy. To take on a 
full analysis here would be beyond lengthy and without point. Therefore, I 
will try to condense and summarize the main points as I see them relating to 
the topic above, as such vital theories such as the circuits of capital and 
commodities will not be explained. This will be very basic.

My current understanding of Marx's ideas come from reading some of his 
earlier works, Capital, and reading others writers works on their opinions 
of what these pieces mean. So far my deduction is that Marx as a philosopher 
believed in the following regarding economics (though this is lengthy, in 
order to understand the logic it is necessary to follow the logic. It 
wouldn't be reasonable to say A->B->C->D->E->F=A and begin a discussion on C 
without explaining A):

An economic structure is only as good as its laborers, the product they 
produce and the technology that comes about by their increasing production. 
[1] As technology develops and labor divides the infrastructure under which 
a ruling class exists begins to collapse because the infrastructure cannot 
support the technology and changes man is imposing upon it by his labor. The 
infrastructure cannot support this change because the lower levels, which 
are holding the basis of the technology begin to rise and become equal with 
the ruling/elitist classes.

In feudalism, the last infrastructure, there were three main classes. These 
were the elitist (kings, lords, etc.), the semi-elitist (owners of 
businesses -- a distinction from the workers since it required special 
permits by the elitist) and the working masses. With the invention of the 
technology that led the industrial revolution, that caused a division of 
labor and an increase in production, the economy which was only available to 
the elitists became available to the semi-elitist. The reason for this was 
because the semi-elitists controlled the business in which this technology 
was used. As such, the foundation of the elitist/semi-elitist world began to 
shake and break down (this was an economic revolution in that the production 
of man could no longer be supported by the infrastructure; a natural result 
of mans allowing his creations to control him and become larger than him. 
Man must grow, and the economy change to keep mans creations in check). With 
this economic revolution two major things happened: 1) The semi-elitist were 
rasied to a similar economic level of the ruling body; and 2) as the 
semi-elitist gained wealth, the ruling body was down trodded to a similar 
economic level as the semi-elitists (they became economically equal). 
However, this wasn't enough, in order for a total revolution to take place, 
and a new governing power to come into place there had to be a social 
revolution as well. In feudalism this revolution occurred as the 
semi-elitists with their new found wealth rose up against the aristocracy 
and demanded less taxation on their product (particularly corn in England). 
The semi-elitist won this battle (as the ruling body had to cave or be 
without production which was in the hands of the semi-elitists) and the 
ruling class was left with less bargaining power and lowered status. 
(Reminds me much of the taxation on wheat in FYA).

Anyway, we now have capitalism. We also, consequently have only two classes; 
a new found elitist class (which is a combination of the prior two classes) 
and a working class.

During the invention of capitalism, the working classes were not raised in 
status but rather were suppressed even further (or at least this is my 
personal take on it). The reason they were suppressed is because 
*everything* depended on money. The new-elitist/capitalists could pay the 
working class as little as possible in order to get them to work, there was 
nothing to govern over this. Jobs were scarce and the need to survive was 
great, the working classes had to work for what was offered or starve. [2]

Without going into the great lengths of a larger Marxist style history 
lesson I will say that my interpretation is that Marx believed the 
infrastructure on which capitalism is based would eventually begin to fall 
on its own accord, he thought that at one point it could no longer hold the 
technology which humans were producing. He believed this would happen in his 
life-time (though it seems a little premature to me, especially as I look at 
the reign of feudalism). As I understand it, he believed it would occur 
naturally because our economic structure, a man made structure, could not 
contain itself any longer as our production increased to points beyond the 
ruling classes control(our product starts to rule us we have to maintain 
control of it, our economy changes). So, he believed this 
production/technology would start to break down the infrastructure and we 
would again have an economic revolution.

My understanding, is that he believed with the next change of 
infrastructure, so long as the working masses united and did not allow 
themselves to be ruled and controlled and manipulated by the elitist, the 
working class would lead the social revolution (because they are the only 
ones suppressed they would have to be the one to revolt) and the two classes 
would combine again to create one universal group wherein class no longer 
existed. Once class was taken away people would once again feel a sense of 
community and would be humanistic with each other; this because 
discrimination was no longer in place. He believed that it would begin with 
the formation of more technology, and the uniting of the working classes 
coming together against the ruling bodies. As such, there would be another 
economic revolution and another social revolution. This would in turn create 
a communism, which is his ideal society.

However, a problem with this (or so my understanding of it is) that if the 
society is not ready and both revolutions do not take place, then another 
elitist class takes control and becomes the bureaucratic rulership that the 
society is already under (or worse). In short, there must not only be a 
social revolution but a *natural* economic one as well.

Okay. So we shoot ahead 60 or so odd years and we have Trotsky, Lenin, and a 
bunch of dead guys who probably sound a lot like me to the SO though more 
radical and "in the minuet" type guys. (Note: this is where my understanding 
becomes even more pitiful but still I have some ideas on them). These guys 
see what is occurring in their society and they don't like it one bit. They 
start to read Marx who they agree with and they start philosophizing and 
they decide that they are sick and tired of the way things are and they are 
going to unite the working masses. They see war breaking out around them and 
they take this as a sign the infrastructure may break, they need to be 
ready. Then an actual economic revolution does take place after the February 
revolution which usurps the royal family and feudalistic-capitalism. The new 
regime exiles the revolutionaries but as war breaks out in Europe they are 
brought back.[3]

Again they, led by Lenin, begin rile the masses. As they do this they begin 
to see real change. They like this change and desire to force the revolution 
and force the fall of the now capitalist-democratic infrastructure (note: 
one economic and social revolution has already taken place, but the 
Bolsheviks want more, they want the full gambit). [4] They did this by first 
taking their already united working class and causing a social revolution. 
The revolution is forced as the masses rise up in an effort to take down the 
ruling body.

Here I make speculation that seems logical considering things to come though 
I might be wrong as I have not but briefly studied it. My speculation is 
that these revolutionaries are extremely well versed and truly believe in 
this stuff. They realize that they need not only a social revolution but 
also an economic one. Though they believe an economic one may still be 
taking place they are not positive. Certainly the labor and technology has 
not risen to a point where it can no longer be contained by the 
infrastructure as capitalism through democracy and not feudalism was 
completely new to Russia. So, they decide to not only force the social 
revolution, but to force an economic one as well.

My take on this maybe a little extreme, and therefore is probably off a bit. 
My thinking is that they either ignored the fact that an economic revolution 
had already taken place and the feudalism developed into capitalism (which 
will then have to exhaust its labor potential), or they thought of the 
capitalistic-feudalism which they were ruled under before the February 
Revolution as a capitalism, and thus believed the economic revolution was 
taking place and hadn't finished running its course; all that was left to do 
was for the social revolution throughly occur and the working class to rise 
and take control (which they did by first seizing seats in the first 
government and then by force and overthrowing the government in November of 

In sum, the occurrence went something like this: The people overthrew the 
tzar which created a magnanimous economic change, this was replaced by a 
capitalism as the semi-elitist (lawyers, landlords, doctors, whatever) took 
control. Quickly afterward, through the urging of the Bolsheviks the masses 
rose against this new economic structure by forming alliances with each 
other and the military which forced another economic revolution which was 
then accompanied by another social revolution as the Bolsheviks took power. 
(Phew! That is a mouth/finger full)

So they now have both revolutions occurring again, but as they take control 
of the economy and government they have to control the masses again. So, loe 
and behold, I know this is going to be a shock, they become the new elitists 
and begin to rule over the working class, except they place it under the 
guise of a communism. Like, emmm, Marx with a twist, like religious people 
that only choose to believe what they *want* out of a particular religion, 
good intentions-bad circumstances. So, now we have Lenin in power, who may 
or may not have become nothing more than a bureaucrat and an elitist himself 
-- consensus still out on that (though he does remain an idealist which is 
okay), then he dies and Stalin takes over and he truly *is* a bureaucrat and 
an elitist.

Stalin, in power, takes nice pleasant humane ideas of Marx, like that 
liberties granted by the state are worthless unless the discrimination of 
humanity falls, and only listens to the first part, that liberties granted 
by the state are worthless and gets rid of them.

Consequently, what happens is that some of these original revolutionaries 
become extremely critical in what is occurring. What they see is not the 
idealism of Marx, or what they were originally rallying for, or the 
foundation of what they were trying to do. They say "hey hey hey Man, this 
is not what we were struggling for, you're becoming just like them. You're 
becoming just like what we despised. Did you forget what we started out 
fighting for? Get an idea, hell remember some of your own prior thoughts, 
look at you in your big elitist mansion, damn man, what is with that?..." 
[5] (Now I'll leave a lot of stuff out, which shouldn't be so shocking since 
I have already left out so many crucial points.) Since these people are 
questioning the new infrastructure, they are deemed counter-revolutionary 
and cannot be tolerated. Not only can they not be tolerated but neither can 
anyone they are related to. So, first their children and families are 
assassinated and then they are hunted over the globe and assassinated 
themselves. Very tragic and very sad. Even sadder because connotations of 
the words Marxism and communism become to equal Stalinism, dictatorship and 
totalitarianism in the eyes of those that won't take the time to bother to 
understand. (In my humble opinion it's one thing to despise something you 
understand and simply despise, it's another thing to despise something you 
are completely ignorant about.)

Okay though I could probably type a message on this all day, I'm sure 
everyone here is sick of reading it. I simply think at least the first half 
of it, up through the October Revolution, is essential to know in order to 
understand Teckla or Phoenix as anything but a good stories. [6] So we need 
to relate it to Teckla, Phoenix and Kelly & Co. [7]

So, now then this will be short and sweet because much of it can be inferred 
by having read the stories, I'll try to only put things in which I am not 
sure can be implied. So here is my take on the parts of Teckla and Phoenix 
*I am wanting* to discuss.

Kelly and his revolutionaries don't like what they are seeing in Dragaera. 
They want to revolt against the Imperialistic government which is 
suppressing them. The Teckla and Easterners are the working class. It can be 
possible to say that the Creotha and Jheggela are the middle class (which 
makes Dragaera similar to a feudalism) or that the other sixteen houses are 
all elitists (which makes it a capitalistic imperialism -- something like 
what we have today). I think the later is probably correct as the Teckla are 
who are attempting to rise and revolt.

So, Kelly & Co. decide to force a social revolution (sounds familiar 
right?). They start uniting the masses (the Teckla), combining forces, 
making speeches, sending out pamphlets, and all that stuff we see happen 
that gives to rise to the October Revolution. They also phamplet South 
Adrilankha and the Teckla conscripts in an effort to get them to turn on 
their side. Much like how Lenin & Co urged the soldiers to turn on their 
government and form alliance with the Bolsheviks. Kelly is the Lenin of the 
bunch of Dragaerans (or maybe the Trotsky as my understanding is Trotsky 
actually grouped together the first people and started the October 
Revolution). We have some other main players who take the place of the rest 
of the Bolsheviks, one of which is Cawati (though to me she almost seems 
like someone who would be your "normal" person who is rallying around the 
leaders, philosophers and idealists).

So the Teckla start to rally and unite and effect society and make small 
change. They are in essence creating a the social revolution, but have only 
succeeded to the point the Bolsheviks did before they decided to force 
economic change. Kelly and his idealists have not read Marx and therefore 
have a good grasp on what their desires are, but no philosophy to back what 
is actually required to entertain this desire.  They are like, emmm, acting 
but without real foundation. To them it does not matter that the production 
and technology that is important to their society (sorcery/agriculture?) is 
at a level where it may or may not be changing the economy. It is also 
unimportant whether the infrastructure is breaking down on its own, whether 
their labor and/or technology has outgrown the economy, or whether their 
economy needs to change at all in order to force social change. They only 
see a humanistic need (Marx also talks about need a lot, but even that comes 
down to labor, but then labor isn't what one would think it is unless one 
reads Marx) and this need is for a better economy and government which is 
more humane. The problem they forget is that in order to create this better 
economy the old one must break down first this must occur by the old 
infrastructure being out grown, and with the length of Dragaeran life spans, 
the length of the interregnum from the first government, the length of 
Dragaeran history, this probably hasn't occurred. [8]

(Hypothetically posed note to the author if he reads this or reads this far 
into this: So Mr. Brust, how am I doing in my analysis, right or wrong is it 
at least well thought out?)

So, now there is this social revolution beginning to develop and take place, 
as Kelly gathers more followers an actual social revolution begins to 
emerge. At the same time Vlad says in Teckla and Verra in Phoenix something 
to the effect of "The Cycle's not ready for it yet" or "it's not in the 

Now though this just reiterates my point, here's where I make another jump 
that is probably completely wrong, though I will present it anyway. I think, 
though I am not sure (and frankly am probably totally reading this into the 
stories), that Vlads words in Teckla, Verras in Phoenix, and the Cycle are 
all acting as a constant reminder of both Marx and perhaps Trotsky before 
Lenin and after Stalin, and the anti-revolutionist movement. They are in 
essence saying that in order for the infrastructure to collapse and have a 
socio-economic change, there must not only be a social revolution but there 
must *also* be an natural/true economic one, otherwise the populous/Cycle 
*is* *not* *ready* *for* *it*. What we see different in Teckla and Phoenix, 
I think, than what perhaps happened in Russia is that in Steven Brusts works 
the Phoenix Guards eventually fiercely fight back. At first they fight back 
in a similar manner to what happened in Russia (forming lines, etc.) but 
eventually they calm the storm in an extremely forceful militant manner and 
the social revolution dies and does not create the desired change (hummm, 
makes me begin to think on how in reality the desired change was not made by 
the Bolshevik party).

And though I am not sure, I am led to believe that the actions of the 
Phoenix Guards may come close to what might happen if our society was to try 
to revolt. We would be fought against very harshly by the suppressing regime 
and it would probably fail first because our economy may not be ready for it 
(then again it might be) and secondly because our ruling classes would fight 
back in such a way we wouldn't stand a chance. Our only hope is to perhaps 
change the system through the inside, but then we just become... well never 
mind (I have to keep of my tangents).

So, there is my analysis, in my poor reasoning, of why Vlad and Verra saying 
the cycle is not ready yet... the cycle has to be ready in two very distinct 
ways for revolution in order for revolution to work.

Next we have Verra saying that she thought Kelly would do something 
different. Though I may be wrong, I think she expected Kelly to have the 
sense of reason to realize that not only was the cycle not ready, but the 
populous was not ready either. It is like, emmm, if he had truly studied and 
taken to heart the knowledge he was granted, he would have seen this. Verras 
retreat is to try to create a war between the Greenaere/Elde Islands and 
Dragaera hoping that Dragaera will ban together. Of course, this doesn't 
work, because even in the wake of WWI the Bolshevik party and Russia still 
revolted, I think they simply emmm, tuned the war out for awhile and then 
when the time came that they had what they wanted, the engaged in the world 
once again. My consenses then, is that since the stories Teckla and Phoenix 
appear to follow the path of the Bolshevik Revolution, their paths must 
follow a similar route which they do indeed. However, though because 
Dragaera is fantasy the outcome can be different and such is how it was 
written perhaps as a reminder and perhaps a warning of the October uprising. 


[1]I won't even get into production and labor and what constitutes each and 
why it is so important in the world as this leads into big arguments 
regarding Hegel and Feuerbach and religion and atheism and we've all treaded 
down this path before.

[2] This goes into Marx's ideals on the human need for community and finding 
this in religion and then when religion breaks down the state supplementing 
this need with false liberties.

[3] This is a lengthy part of history that deals with treaties between 
Russia and Germany, I am not completely clear on it, however the SO says it 
has much to do with WWI and Germanies desires to make allies where it would 
otherwise have enemies.

[4] My understanding also is that Trotsky said something to the effect of 
"we're/they're not ready yet" though later changed his mind being convinced 
by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, though I am not sure on this and not clear if 
it means what I think it means. It is possible I have this completely wrong.

[5] eh, hem, I am sure several reading this statement will have a hard time 
imagining these people speaking like a cross between Dennis Hopper and Jello 
Biafra, but simply because they were great stylists (Lenin, Trotsky, et 
al.), does not mean my interpretation of their thinking was different 
(though I am not sure that I am right), I just, emmm, modernized it a bit.

[6]  For those that already are far more knowledgeable than I in these 
matters and therefore now know I'm full of crap, remember there are people 
out there that don't know these things because they haven't studied them.

[7] I hope I kept this simple enough without going into too great detail or 
using complex words that stand for entire ideas make little sense unless you 
have an understanding of the whole of everything. I also hope I was somewhat 
accurate in my understanding, if not then I can once again call myself an 
Orwellian thinker, which frankly suits me just fine considering the 
connotations with the other words, and I can say "well I guess I just don't 
understand Marx" After all, thwarting ignorance is half... emm, never mind.

[8] Being home and running this through spell check before sending it, I am 
no longer AFB. Consequently, though I don't really feel like rewriting this, 
I was able to look at Phoenix real quick, and I note that Mr. Brust so much 
as makes similar reference to this in Vlads discussion with Verra wherein 
Verra tells Vlad that Kellys policies on which he is building his fire has 
no basis in the Empire at that point in time, and that perhaps they would in 
10,000 or 100,000 years but not then. Furthermore he even wrote in this 
regard: "He is building a world of ideas with no foundation beneath them" -- 
so though I may still be full of it, perhaps I am just a little less.

[9] Don't make fun of my consensus, I had to come to something, this sounded 
good at the moment. :)

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