The Let's Play Archive

Civilization 4

by Zoolooman

Part 25

A Four-Method Analysis of the Final Period of the Great Renaissance Era

The Great Renaissance is generally divided into four periods: The Early Period, the Changing Century, the Late Period, and the Final Period. These periods are separated by key events. Here is a short timeline:

The Final Period is of special interest, because the story of the Industrial Era is rooted firmly in the death throes of the Renaissance. What follows are four histories of the last 100 years of the Great Renaissance, broken down along ecological, sociological, technological, and political lines.

Part II: A Sociological Analysis of the Final Renaissance Period
by Gustav Kafka

Before you read this essay, memorize these instructions and follow them.

In a few seconds, put down the newscreen and walk to a window. Look outside and find a street vendor--she'll be female--and observe her. When you're finished, come back, pick up the newscreen, and read on. You'll be amazed.

You saw an urban railway bordered by a drivewalk. It was morning, before 10 AM. There was a pretty young lady within view, and she was selling breakfast to the blue-collars. You observed her face. Her eyes had a distinct shape--a morphological combination of the so-called almond-eye with a double-eyelid--but you would call them liuli eyes. Her olive skin glowed like gold in the morning sun. She smiled energetically, and when she turned in your direction, you stepped back from the window even though she couldn't see you.

Was I right? It's probable, since the demographics are on my side. This article is published in the MSJ morning file; 99.7% of MSJ readers are premium newscreen subscribers; 74.7% of subscribers are white-collars; 94.1% of white-collars live in a city home; 84.2% of those in a city home live beside a railway; almost everyone beside a railway can see the street vendors on the drivewalk; there are an average of 4.3 street vendors per a block, and 2.89 street vendors per a block are female; your focus unconsciously gravitates towards a person's face, unless you are one of the .07% of prosopagnosia sufferers; 86.3% of all urban residents are Russangxi and have liuli eyes; and as a matter of human nature, a spy fears the embarrassing recognition of his otherwise unwitting victim.

As this parlor trick demonstrates, I don't need a crystal ball or a smoke-filled tent to predict your behavior. I only need a sufficiently large sample of data and a good estimate of your demographic. When I can anticipate your woes, measure your satisfaction, and even extrapolate important trends into your future, I can ask, "Who needs superstition?" and answer, "Nobody."

In this article, I seek to dispel a particularly dangerous piece of magical thinking. There is a divisive myth that because we are ubiquitous, we Russangxi are inherently superior. Many Russangxi believe that we are the pure race of original humans descended from some ancient Tethys Islanders. The truth is far more humble. We are mutts descended from some of the very ethnicities that we defame. To be blunt, until the Final Renaissance period, the Russangxi didn't even exist.

The Geographic Distribution of "Races"

Left to right: An Agyptis Terreplat, a Russian Moskva, and a Chinese Yangtsen.

But where did the Russangxi come from? Who preceded them? On the broadest scale, they are the direct descendants of Northland protohumans, but more specifically, they are the hybrid-ethnicity of historical Russia, China, India, and Spain.

There are six major races of Homo Sapiens Sapiens. The races are not defined by visual characteristics, though it is undeniable that there are mild physical differences between them; rather, the races are defined by the presence of genetic markers in mitochondrial DNA, which prove that at one time or another, geographic barriers divided the human race into six separate and isolated populations.

These six major branches are further divided along thirteen ethnic lines, seven of which have nearly vanished, and two of which are "hybridized" from other ethnicities. These ethnic identities, which are mostly social in origin, still find their roots in the six races.

For your benefit, I present a list of those races and their associated ethnicities:

Moskva: After the evolutionary Great Leap Forward, one portion of the sapiens sapiens population quickly expanded along the length of the Moskva River. Until the Egyptian expansion in 3000 BC, trade and genetic exchange continued to flow up and down the river, which kept almost everyone along its banks genetically unified as a single population.
Yangtsen: After the Great Leap Forward, one population traveled along the coast until it reached the Yangtse and Hai rivers. Expansion along these rivers was rapid, while the jungles discouraged lateral genetic exchange across the Continent. Over dozens of millenia, they became a genetically isolated race.
Terreplats: The name means "flatlanders" in Agyptis. The Terreplats traveled overland until they reached the Red Sea, the world's largest endorheic freshwater body and the world's only inland sea. The Terreplats expanded south and west along the coasts of the Red Sea and then along the Volga River. A small portion of Terraplats continued south past the head of the Volga and into the southlands, where they split off to become a genetically isolated population of Verloren known as the Khoisan. The rest of the Terreplats either remained alongside the Volga, or traveled overland through the relatively dry but mild middle-plains to find the Nile.
Tethysmen: The Tethysmen are those sapiens sapiens which sailed away from Spain around 33,000 BC and took to riding the Tethys Current around the planet. They settled along many of the world's coasts, fathering two ethnicities on the microcontinents of Southland and Northland, and colonizing Occidentum to become the Rantipoles.
Rantipoles: This group of proto-Tethysmen settled on the landbridge which once linked Occidentum to the Continent. During the Thaw, the landbridge sank under the rising ocean and the Tethys Current resumed its flow. Because the Tethys Current pulled most of the moisture out of the tropical air and dumped it over what we call Germany and Spain, the bridge became an uninhabitable arid island (now Salamanca), and the Rantipoles fled West into Occidentum.
Verloren: This name is German for "the Forgotten." These people were definitely of a different race, but their remaining numbers are too few and too hybridized to analyze with any certainty. They are both believed to be isolated descendants of proto-Terreplats.
If I look in the mirror, I look white; if I write my name, it sounds Russian; but if I look at my mother, I see her liuli eyes and know what I am. Recent surveys imply that the distinctive Moskva race has already vanished, and that the Russangxi might as well be called Russian, so don't let the size of this list fool you. The diversity is illusionary. In truth, a supermajority of the human race is genetically Russangxi, and of the remainder, most are Agyptis, Rantipole, or German--in that order. By 2050, it's expected that any remaining Russians, Indians, and Chinese will vanish completely.

The Cult of the Demon Warrior

The ceremonial mask of the Cult of the Demon Warrior.

The Spanish, as you know, are already gone. How they vanished, however, is a story that you probably don't know, but should. It is also the story of the Russangxi's birth.

Preceding the Russo-Spanish War, a new kind of economic belief slowly conquered the Russian Empire. Today we call it mercantilism, but at the time, it was simply the prevailing way of thought, born from sociological conditions and nurtured by various Denaturalist scholars.

Gold was the most highly valued commodity on the planet, and as far as the Russians were concerned, it was a zero-sum resource--no matter how you worked, you could never make more of it or make it worth more; you could only increase your share of it. The Denaturalist Dukes of the relatively new Grand Duchies of China believed there was only one way to increase their share: to maintain a positive balance of trade, where they exported more material than they imported, thereby encouraging gold to flow into their coffers. By the time the Dukes of old Russia adopted similar methods, protectionist policies introduced in parliament had already unfairly balanced trade in the favor of the Chinese Duchies, and wealth and talent slowly flowed from Russia to China.

The Russian Dukes were not completely ruined. China had all the trade advantages, but they had only a quarter of the production of Grozny and St. Petersburg. The Russians flooded their markets with cheap goods. If they couldn't export, they knew they could at least lure traders looking to invest in wholesale purchases.

The Denaturalists found this result unacceptable. Their philosophy sought to unite the state, rather than let it collapse from internal conflict of any kind. In the short term, they knew they had to find a peaceful way to bring the liberal Russians to heel. Their economic conquest would drag in the Indians as well, ultimately shifting the power of the government back into Denaturalist hands.

Utilizing their recently acquired fortunes, leading Denaturalists personally founded banks. Most people believed that these banks were simply professional loaning services. A few scholars saw a deeper purpose.

Cai Lun wrote in his journal, "There are thousands of men in the Duchy of Shanghai that can loan me a ruble for a week in exchange for a ruble and three kopeks, yet none of these men have formed banks. Instead, these men have loaned all their money to banks on the assurance that each ruble will pay a kopek in a year, and the bank will pay back the loan at any time. What a losing proposition for the bank! I can only imagine this insanity exists because the banker takes all the loans and uses that buying power on projects of a scale I can't really imagine. I will have to see an economicist in the morning."

Banks loaned their massive savings to local guilds, which used the influx of capital to compete with old Russia by improving infrastructure, buying materials, and producing products at a slightly higher price but so much closer to home that the shipping costs were negligible. They then paid back the bank's loan with interest, which the bank could use to pay back the interest on the savings accounts. Any extra money was put into the pockets of the bank's owner, or reinvested into new projects.

Old Russia competed for a time because of age and scale, but in the long run, the Chinese banks simply wielded more power. They could buy and sell on volumes hundreds or thousands of times larger than the Russians could.

But the real kicker came when the banks suddenly invested in politics. In the 1480s, some extra gold fell into the pockets of Parliament, who spontaneously supported taking action against the Spaniards in Crimea. Coincidentally, the pamphlet "The Hedonist" was released by a Crimean Jew, and any remaining trepidation on the part of the People vanished like smoke in the breeze. With both the people and the crown backing the war, the conflict began.

As the Denaturalists had forseen, the war adversely effected the economy of Old Russia. Because most of the Empire's production was in Grozny, St. Petersburg, and Crimea, all the infrastructure used to produce cheap goods instead produced equipment, supplies, and weapons for the freshly raised armies. The Chinese, on the other hand, sent only a few troops, and could only contribute a little production to the cause. In other words, they paid almost nothing while their competition was crippled. Furthermore, their privately invested businesses were more resilient to the war's deflation, and as the Empire's economy declined, they rose up by comparison.

As the Russo-Spanish War drew to a close, the balance of trade slipped even more deeply in favor of China, and Old Russia found that they had little spare bullion to use to reverse this trend. One might say that China had a monopoly on trade. The Russians made several half-hearted attempts to buy their way into power in the conquered Spanish cities, but as the new markets opened, the reconstruction contracts, goods and supplies were all bought from China's incomparably large companies.

Couple this trade imbalance with the massive ecological exploitation of the Yangtse Jungle, and you can see why China easily outcompeted Russia. By bribing corrupt officials, bank owners convinced the managers of the Russian Civil Service to simply sign over public funds to the improvement of Chinese infrastructure. Skilled laborers and merchants seeking a better life moved North and integrated with the Yangtsen society, while poor Yangtsen moved south in order to exploit the dirt cheap prices of the economically depressed Moskva River Basin.

Because of these exchanges, the pidgin language of Russangxi, which had been developed almost five hundred years before and refined throughout the Renaissance, became the unofficial language of the Russian Empire. Citizens had to learn it in order to speak with their trade partners--and in some cities, like Shanghai, St. Petersburg, or Grozny, Russangxi soon became the primary language on the streets. For example, the first Russangxi plays are written in this era, as well as Russangxi literature. These things foreshadowed the arrival of the new ethnic identity.

How does this relate to the end of Spain? Shortly after the war, most of the Spanish nationalists fled west to Germany, where they formed a government-in-exile north of the German city of Cologne. These Steel Buddhists were mostly members of the apocalyptic sect known as the Cult of the Demon Warrior, and they believed that at the end of the 1000 years of the Path of Blood, Sabino Arana would return from heaven in the form of the Demon Warrior. Their job, as they saw it, was to maintain the Steel Buddhist tradition so that when Arana arrived, he could receive the Steel Dadao, which the Cult believed was the weapon Arana would use to conquer the world.

Eventually, the Cultists managed to purchase a fleet of boats from Germany and set sail onto the Tethys Current. However, they had abandoned the rest of the Spaniards in the process. In order to buy the fleet, they had stolen the bullion of Spain and sailed out of Seville with it.

This made Spain the poorest part of the Russian Empire, and therefore it had the cheapest labor. Towards the middle of the Final Renaissance, some Denaturalists were investing so heavily in the region that many unskilled Chinese workers picked up their belongings and moved to Spain in order to find a job. By 1560 AD, 22% of Spanish citizens were Chinese, and their common language with the Spaniards was Russangxi.

The First Russangxi

An oil on canvas by the Russangxi artist Viktor Yushchenko, entitled, "First Flower of Spain."

The sudden influx of Russangxi speakers and their subsequent integration was not smooth. Especially in Spain, there was a severe backlash against the social and economic changes, which led to vast cultural conflicts. The Spanish were known to spit on the Chinese workers, and in the labor slums that were growing around the Spanish cities, ethnically aligned gang violence came down hard on the Chinese. In fact, a naive analysis of the situation implies that the Russangxi should not have been born in such a hostile environment. However, the economic pressures to integrate were tremendous, since work was only available from Chinese employers, and the hybridized Russangxi leaders were seeking political unification.

Still, unification would not occur until a catalyst was introduced. His name was Pobisk Kuznetsov, and with the assistance of the Denaturalists, he published a pamplhet in 1563 entitled, "The People of Russangxi." In this case, he wasn't directly referring to an ethnicity, but rather the politically minded population which spoke Russangxi for economic reasons.

Kuznetsov was not a particularly adept author or thinker, and it is believed that a ghost writer authored most of his works. He was a very powerful speaker, though, and he spoke Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and Russangxi with great fluency.

"The People of Russangxi" called for all speakers of Russangxi to set aside their personal pride and work together for the greater good. Mercantilism, he said, had led the Empire into conflict with itself, but it didn't have to. If they pooled their resources and stopped the infighting, then all citizens of the Empire could share in the wealth while taking bullion from foreign sources. He claimed that seeing oneself as a speaker of Russangxi first and a Russian, Chinese, or Spaniard second could provide that one unifying thought that they needed.

Initial responses were lukewarm, but deep pockets backed up Kuznetsov's charisma, and approximately a month after the paper's publication, a Denaturalist banker paid out of his pocket to throw a Sunday celebration hosted by Kuznetsov. The simple offer of free food and drink brought thousands of men to the celebration outside of Barcelona, and there was only one requirement: Kuznetsov asked that when men spoke to one another, they spoke in Russangxi.

The sociological effect was immediate. Even with the incomplete data of the records, we know that ethnic crime began to decline, and the use of the Russangxi language rose in correspondance. Why? Recent speculation suggests that the party cracked the ice, so to speak, and caused Spaniards, Chinese, and Russangxi to mingle socially. During such a celebration, business deals were likely brokered between drunk men, and those deals were held even after the party was over. In effect, formerly isolated groups were mixed, and when they made contact, they discovered that integration was economically lucrative. If a businessman spoke Russangxi and traded with other Russangxi speakers elsewhere in the Empire, he could bypass the local monopolies to buy and sell at competitive prices.

For most poor Spaniards, national pride and cultural protectionism took second seat to prosperity. Integrated Russangxi-Spanish businesses formed in less than half a decade, and these businesses proved even more effective than those based in China. Throughout the Empire, Russangxi was quickly adopted as the only language of business, and everyone who wanted to join the new mercantilist movement had to learn the language as well. In effect, Russangxi was immediately adopted because it unified the Empire economically, and a unified Empire was far more productive than one competing within itself.

Waxing Russangxi

An example of a Russangxi girl with liuli eyes.

So far, you may have begun to believe that the Russangxi were engineered by the Denaturalists. It is true that those philosophers and businessmen consciously aided the growth of the unified Russangxi identity, but they could do nothing to make it grow if the conditions were wrong--like a good gardner, they still depended on the right soil or nothing would bloom.

In fact, the most important elements in the rise of the Russangxi were wholly beyond the control or even observation of the Denaturalists. Specifically, the population dynamics which forced interbreeding and eliminated the "pure" populations could not be controlled by any level of society. These were the results of technological and sociological progress following the decline of feudalism.

During the Medieval Era and the Early Renaissance, most of the money had been in the hands of the nobility and the crown. As the crown lost power, most of that money simply filtered out to the Dukes, Lords, Counts, and Princes of Russia. This distribution fractured the government and weakened the state, but it prevented the early Empire from splintering under its own scale and lack of infrastructure. In other words, it had to be run in pieces to survive. As infrastructure improved with the pace of technology, the liberal revolution reversed much of this splintering and weakened the duchies by stealing political power and giving it back to the people and the Tsar; but ultimately, the Dukes still had all the gold.

Mercantilism in the Final Renaissance further reversed the splintering of the early Medieval Era. As trade and business increased in scale and volume, a Duke could no longer manage or organize his region of society as a total autocrat. The economy became a thing of its own, and as people earned their own money out of the Duke's control, they gained power. Eventually, the Dukes themselves were reduced to fighting against an emerging merchant-class for control of the local trade, and because the merchants outnumbered the Dukes, the merchants were winning. Many Dukes had to sell much of their property in order to keep up, and the property falling into new hands became less organized, more dependent on society, and easier to control with the government's military.

Since the majority of merchants were Chinese or hybrid Russangxi speakers, this shift of power slowly handed the political reins of the Empire from the nobility to the Russangxi populace.

Another unrelated sociological event occurred during this period, which bolstered the rapid reproduction of the hybrid populations. The population exchanges between China, Russia, and Spain generally occurred only in the outskirts of the cities, while a kind of cultural nepotism reserved the city cores for the "purer" locals. Ironically, the conditions in the city cores were less healthy than the conditions of the hinterland slums, and the "purer" locals suffered from a decisive 17% higher death rate than the hybrids who were forced to live in the hinterlands or adopt an agrarian lifestyle. Over a paltry four generations, this difference lead to a majority population of hybrids in both Russia and China, most of which adopted the Russangxi language out of need by the 1570s. Furthermore, since the Russangxi almost completely dominated the agricultural industry, they formed the reproductive base of society. On average, a Russangxi farming couple had nine children, compared to the 4.3 and 4.8 children of the Russians and Chinese urbanites.

The First Cultural Revolution

This 1978 mural is entitled, "The First Revolution."

By 1581, the Russangxi identity was beginning to emerge. They wouldn't call themselves the Russangxi for almost a century yet, but they did see themselves as a unified economic interest whose greatest cultural symbol was a common language.

In 1582, they famously and spontaneously organized to dismantle the Russian Civil Service. The details of this event are better left to a political analyst, so it will suffice to say here that the sociological causes were fascinating.

Because of one decade of unified business and prosperity, an entire generation of Russangxi speakers had developed a unified political interest. Their movement, known as Russangxi Nationalism, represents an usurpment of Denaturation which was then turned against the nobility and the scholars that originally created it.

Despite what others say, I don't believe that they had any reason to choose the Civil Service as a target. It was no longer necessary for the Empire, that is for certain: private contractors were quickly replacing government contractors, and they could afford to build better roads for less money. Still, they singled it out and brought it down in a single year.

This is really amazing. I don't think anything like this has ever happened before, and I doubt it'll happen again.

For an entire year, every Russangxi speaking businessman worked at a loss in order to undersell even the mostly wildly underbid Civil Service contract. After nine months of pointless existence, parliament finally agreed to drastically reduce the organization of the Civil Service until it served as little more than a tax collector's office, and the Tsar approved the measure. By the end of that year, almost every function of government services was handled by a private company. After that, the Dukes had no official power whatsoever, since their power structure had always consisted of locally funded guilds and the Civil Service; and the guilds had been bought through mercantilism; and the Civil Service had been destroyed through obsolescence.

The rise of the Russangxi was really the end of the Duchies, wasn't it?

The Social Fallout

The unifying influence of the Russangxi was not the only effect.

1. Their unified culture would precede (and make possible) the Great Taoist Revival.

2. The price of labor was forced so low that the social costs of slavery were considered more than the fiscal costs of hiring servants. Eventually, Russangxi unification would lead to emancipation.

3. Most importantly, Russangxi unification would lead to true Russian nationalism, and the Russo-Egyptian War.

But I think these subjects should be saved another article, as they happen at a later time. For now, we have to wonder, could things have turned out differently?

Time For One Last Parlor Trick

Close your eyes and imagine the opposite of everything you saw outside that window. It's night out on the farm, and you're looking out over a cultivated field. The full moon is out, and you can see the deer picking at your crops. You could get up another time to chase the beasts away, but you're too tired. You lay there and watch precious pounds of food drop down the gullet of a pest. The year is 2010, and you've heard about the internal combustion engine, but you're too poor to travel to town to see one in action, let alone buy one to harvest all the crops before the animals get them.

Was I right? Probably not. But if the Russangxi were not united; if the World State had not been formed; if the Denaturalists had been defeated; if the ethnic Russians had held onto the seat of power; then in that case, all technological progress would have occurred much slower than you can imagine. Sociologically speaking, the numbers imply that without the World State, progress would come approximately three times slower. Technology we utilized in the 1700s would be common in the year 2000, and the first technologies of the Industrial Era would just be invented.

The myth is wrong; the Russangxi are not superior; but we are necessary. If we hadn't been united, sociology implies that like the Rantipoles or the Germans, our Empire would have fallen into barbarism.

So far...

I think this update is rather boring by comparison to some of the others, but it's a billion times more exciting than the previous versions. The technological and political updates should be far more interesting to write and read. I ended this one a little short in order to keep it from dragging on forever.