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Everyone hates the Seanchan but me?


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I want to preface this with the statement that I don't endorse the type of slavery most people immediately imagine (back breaking labor). And I definitely think it is wrong to allow anyone to be "born" into slavery.

 

At the same time, I don't think the Seanchan should be hated for their practices of da'covale or damane.

 

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On Da'covale:

 

I don't really see a societal problem with da'covale (maybe I have a problem with automatically making their offspring also da'covale). Some people just don't deserve freedom, and if their super egos allow them to be made into productive members of society, then that is a good thing.

 

The bigger question is, how can anyone that would accept being made da'covale do something in the first place to force them to be made da'covale. I would think that anyone that would go against the grain of society enough to be made da'covale wouldn't put up with it. I guess if you use Suloth as an example it is mostly people that have been caught doing backroom scheming and the children of those offenders trying to redeem their ancestors.

 

But look at how the da'covale are treated. Some are forced to hold cups and assume weird positions, but it isn't like they are worked to death. The Deathwatch Guard are all da'covale, and they are treated pretty well (the highest of the bodyguards/military?). The only da'covale we see mistreated are the locals that are taken when they resist. And they were taken because they either denied the Seanchan (and didn't try to fight to the death) or because they were scum (Liandrin).

 

Da'covale seem like a much more efficient way of dealing with undesirables than the American system of "rehabilitation" (prisons).

 

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On Damane:

 

But channelers do represent a threat. That much personal power does make it too easy to seize power. The Aes Sedai do treat everyone else as second class citizens at best. Using sul'dam and a'dam is a solution that allows society to benefit from channelers without any risk of them taking over. Unfortunately, who knows the potential being squandered among the sul'dam. Do channelers deserve to be treated as pets? No, but they can't also be allowed to just rule. That happened in the Age of Legends, and the channelers' desire for a new power source resulted in the Dark One being freed.

 

I am not saying channelers should be leashed just because they can channel, but there is no denying that the practice has worked for the Seanchan (and it has worked well). It was pioneered by an Aes Sedai as a way to handle women that were out of control (they left the "Oath Rod" back in the Westlands). In fact, for the Seanchan born damane, they want to be leashed because they are raised on stories of channelers that have ruined things in their quest for personal power, they want to be free of the fear of hurting the world.

 

The worst thing that could happen to the Westlands would be for all of the channelers to form a union (again*). The fact that the Aiel and Athan'Miere are now disenfranchised with the Aes Sedai is a wonderful thing. They (and the Asha'man) serve as a check against the Aes Sedai being the exclusive provider of channeler services (which the Aes Sedai don't really provide anyway). An Aes Sedai union wouldn't be something good, like a union for coal miners, it would be like the big eight banks (which is now down to like four, right?). It would be a self-serving thing (which the White Tower is for the most part, but this could also be because the White Tower isn't all that unified in reality).

 

But Egwene wisely wants to attach every woman who can channel to the White Tower (my only real confusion is why she doesn't try to attach the Asha'man too, but I can understand that oversight because she is misandrist*). Why do I say "wisely" when it would be bad for the Westlands? Because while it is bad for the Westlands as a whole, it would be good for the White Tower, and since Egwene is the head honcho of the White Tower it is good for her. An argument could be made that Egwene is a bigger threat to the Westlands than the Seanchan.

 

*Misandry, Misandrist: (1) the hatred (or contempt) of men or boys. (2) The belief that rights should be denied to men or boys.

 

Now the argument becomes, "Why not leash the Asha'man as well?" Well if the "male a'dam" were as effective as the regular a'dam, I would be for it, but while it allows total control, it does suffer the weakening of control over time. I don't think the Asha'man are immune to the "channeler complex" (in fact, you see it among Taim's lot). They just haven't had the chance to be spoiled rotten yet. They may avoid it (especially if they stick to Rand's "we are soldiers, we are to protect the people of the world" mission statement). In some ways male channelers are more vulnerable to the "channeler complex" because saidin has to be dominated they are mixing "alpha male" with "power to move mountains."

 

But look at what happened when the Seanchan came to the Westlands. They took Aes Sedai as damane and no one tried to save them (except maybe their warders). They took other women (that didn't know they could channel) as damane and while their husbands and families got upset, they accepted it. Why? Because of the general distrust of channelers. I imagine if every conquered nation had objected to the capture of "benevolent channelers" the Seanchan would've paused and wondered why channelers were valued despite not being in power. But the Aes Sedai basically prevent any sort of "benevolent channeler" movement because they wouldn't allow any other saidar tradition to knowingly exist, so the Kin had to be low key. And the Knitting Circle was only a few dozen of the Kin (and they were all evacuated out of Ebou Dar before the Seanchan arrived).

 

I'm really trying to keep this from being an "Aes Sedai suck" rant.

 

Personally, I think proper use of the binders (Oath Rods) on "channeling offenders" is a better solution. But given their options, it is natural that the a'dam-sul'dam-damane relationship arose in Seanchan, and it is hard to undo a convention. But even the use of binders isn't perfect. You would need enough of them to have them on hand to restrict channelers, but too many binders means it is easier to remove an oath. And this doesn't even factor in the White Tower's sacred cow view of the Oath Rod.

 

But the Seanchan method works for them. It keeps a dangerous minority of a minority (say 1 in 20+ channelers is a danger, well channelers are like 1 in 100 people) from assuming all power. And the Seanchan better utilize their channelers. How many people do the Aes Sedai seem to heal (look at the rebel Aes Sedai attitude of not healing soldiers--if nothing else it was a practicing opportunity for the Novices/Accepted)?

Edited by Cut Strand
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well I like how tightly regimented the seanchan use of channellers is. It would have been infinately more difficult for the BA to keep their movements up if AS comings and going where documented and questioned (although then moraines quest wouldnt have been as easy also).

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Da'covale seem like a much more efficient way of dealing with undesirables than the American system of "rehabilitation" (prisons).

 

Seriously, this is a silly line, i almost stopped reading after seeing this. Prison ISN'T Rehabilitative in the first place. it's not a process designed to reform prisoners so linking rehab and prison in the same sentence shows a lack of insight.

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Cut Strand, you sound like an apologist for the slavery that existed before the Civil War. Slavery in any form is unacceptable because you are enjoying the fruits of hard labor without his/her consent and without paying fair market value for that fruit of labor. It is a very destructive form of economic system. Slavery in any form is a crime.

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Why did people accept that channelers were taken as damane by the Seanchan? Even husbands and families? Well, either people that objected were killed, or they saw that others that did so were killed. A massive invasion of people that use the OP as a weapon with an extremely well trained and zealous military pretty much make their own rules. They made the Panarch of Tarabon into da'vocale. They killed the King of Amadicia. They use channelers primarily as weapons, other than ones with a few specific Talents.

 

Their 'order' comes at the price of basic personal freedom to minorities. Unacceptable. Plus, things were fairly stable in the Westlands until the Forsaken broke free. One Forsaken on their entire continent decides to do something, and suddenly the entire continent is in utter chaos. How stable.

 

Tuon considers herself 'open minded' for accepting Beslan's oath of fealty in the words of the most binding oath that anyone ever says in the Westlands rather than the 'correct' way out of seemingly innumerable Seanchan levels of nuance that whatever level of hierarchy would make to whatever level of hierarchy in whatever situation. Wow, way to bend on a King's oath of utter obedience. Sheesh.

 

I don't think we're meant to like the Seanchan, the way this series is written. I never will unless they start getting more open minded like Egeanin (screw the acceptance of someone deciding that your name is different suddenly. honestly!) is. I hope it happens before the end. I think it will, at least somewhat, but not enough for my tastes.

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The Seanchan society is a nice adaption by RJ of elements drawn from several pre-industrial empires (Turkey, China, India, Japan, Mongols).

I like it as an intellectual exercise -

It has a rigid caste system but not so rigid that deserving people cannot be raised to the blood.

It has a consistent and rigid legal system that is universal - everybody and anybody who breaks the laws is punished.

Slavery in this case, is an omnibus term like it was for the cultures RJ drew from.

Slaves include criminals serving a sentence; it includes sad sack grunts doing brutal manual labour; it includes people who have huge amounts of wealth, influence and power but not much job mobility; Manumission and rescinding of sentences is possible.

In most respects, Seanchan society is way better than the arbitrary dictatorships of WoTland.

Edited by Sharaman
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well, it's the utter alien-ness to the reader that really magnifies the faults of the seanchan, imho. i mean, didn't the Roman civ, amongst others, grow on the blood of slaves? yet, you see a lot less hate towards them, because your average western person relates to them a lot better.

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No, but they can't also be allowed to just rule. That happened in the Age of Legends, and the channelers' desire for a new power source resulted in the Dark One being freed.

 

No it didn't. There was an independent, and for lack of a better word, "secular" government in the Age of Legends. The Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends were nothing like what the White Tower is today. For a start, they were not rigidly centralised. The ajah were temporary things only in existence long enough for the specific task at hand. The majority of channellers were not "professional" channellers as it were, but worked as lawyers, publicists etcetera. Only men and women like Lews Therin and Mierin Eronaile were channellers 24/7.

 

And also, the Drilling of the Bore was simply what happens when scientists screw up. Like in the future when the Large Hadron Collider creates a black hole in Switzerland that consumes earth. No doubt Mierin was power-hungry for social status, but not everyone on the project were necessarily the same. They were simply scientists studying the One Power view the lens of reason, logic and science and not the superstition of the modern Aes Sedai.

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In most respects, Seanchan society is way better than the arbitrary dictatorships of WoTland.

You're right on many counts, but not on those that really matter. The absolute brutality against malcontents, the secret police, the scheming and political murder at the high ranks... One can have a MUCH better life in Caemlyn, IMO.

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well, it's the utter alien-ness to the reader that really magnifies the faults of the seanchan, imho. i mean, didn't the Roman civ, amongst others, grow on the blood of slaves? yet, you see a lot less hate towards them, because your average western person relates to them a lot better.

The Romans had a fairly similar system of slavery with varying sentences for various crimes and manumission.

The Seanchan aren't particularly alien unless you're coming from a pre-conception of slavery=racism=Southern US plantation labour.

That's an attitude specific to US-readers, I suspect.

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The Romans had a fairly similar system of slavery with varying sentences for various crimes and manumission.

The Seanchan aren't particularly alien unless you're coming from a pre-conception of slavery=racism=Southern US plantation labour.

That's an attitude specific to US-readers, I suspect.

It's not. I consider slavery an abomination, and NOT because it's a 'destructive economic system'. It's a western thing, perhaps, but not an American one.

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I would like to keep Cut Strand as my pet. The idea has some merits. Meal twice a day and regular whipping. I like to keep them motivated.

Edited by WhiskyJack
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The Romans had a fairly similar system of slavery with varying sentences for various crimes and manumission.

The Seanchan aren't particularly alien unless you're coming from a pre-conception of slavery=racism=Southern US plantation labour.

That's an attitude specific to US-readers, I suspect.

It's not. I consider slavery an abomination, and NOT because it's a 'destructive economic system'. It's a western thing, perhaps, but not an American one.

 

It's a catch-all word used to describe a whole pile of things.

 

In the systems I'm talking about, a standard punishment for a criminal was slavery for a prescribed period.

I don't see that as being much different from being sentenced to jail and forced to repair roads, or sew mailbags, for a prescribed period.

 

It's also a word used in many instances for a high-ranking servant of the state - a very different thing indeed.

It's like a modern corporate non-compete agreement in those cases - the "slave" is somebody with an enormous amount of influence, power and access to confidential information. He/ she cannot be allowed to resign from the job and take up similar employment with a different boss. Again, I don't see that as particularly pernicious. How do you think the US would react if say, Hillary Clinton resigned and was promptly hired by Putin or Ahmadijinad as an adviser?

 

If you're going to look at Seanchan institutions with modern sensibilities, distinguish between those two cases where the word slavery means very different things.

 

If you're talking about damane, yes that is something that most people in WoT object to, because it is racism - people are being discriminated against, for something that is an inborn quality, and they cannot help possessing.

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Dacovale: you say they aren´t treated all that bad. What the? Their spirits are broken (the Deathwatch aren´t quite as bad. They´re soldiers, they need some mental faculties left), but the cupbearers and other types are totally broken. Their personality is slowly killed. What´s left is a zombie. Nothing but a bloody tool. I´d rather die. About back-breaking work- Whitecloaks and Sea Folk?

 

Damane. So the Seanchan are afraid that people will use their channeling to take control of them and then rule in an oppressive manner. So what´s going on now? Damane are broken and turned into tools. Their channeling was used to take control of the seanchan continent and is the base of the Seanchan military strength. So instead of the Empress wielding the OP herself, she wields it through a buffer and that somehow makes it alright.

 

 

And that social etiquette of theirs. Loose quote from when Turon is having a chat with Beslan: "if he keeps meeting my eyes i´m going to have to have him beheaded". And her musing to Tuon about how no Seanchan peasant would know her face because they knew their place and groveled on the ground when she passed. Randland nobles are a bunch of rear-end heads too, but come on.

 

Sometimes the seanchan piss me off so much that i forget that they are not actually real people (yes, i know they are based on real cultures).

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I agree with what others have said: no matter the dangers of letting channellers roam free to do as they please, the Seanchan method of dealing with them is simply slavery. They have no identity, indeed they are regarded as people but as valuable tools. Sure, it could be said that they are fed, clothed adn sheltered, but they are also beaten, isolated and tortured. I believe at one point Mat mentions talk of recalcitrant damane having their hands or feet removed by owners who weren't skilled enough to bring their property into line. There is also a subtle hint that damane can be sexually assaulted by Tuon when she refers to "sick" men who take damane to their beds.

 

Da'covale fair slightly better, but the fact that even an evil person like Liandrin can be beaten simply for not fetching a pair of slippers quickly enough is indicative of a cruel society that needs to change. In addition, things like using suicide as a way for officials to apologise for not doing a job well done is again cruel, overly servile and unneccessary.

 

If the Seanchan modernise their overly harsh ways, I wouldn't have a problem with them. But the casual acceptance of slavery and treating people like property just (hopefully!) isn't going to fly in the later books or a post-Dragon world.

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Cut Strand, you sound like an apologist for the slavery that existed before the Civil War. Slavery in any form is unacceptable because you are enjoying the fruits of hard labor without his/her consent and without paying fair market value for that fruit of labor. It is a very destructive form of economic system. Slavery in any form is a crime.

First, I appreciate you jumping to the conclusion that I approve of working people to death (I don't by the way, I even said so straight out in the very first line of text). But this is the internet, where people write for shock value (or just troll), so I am not all that offended. I am sure you read the title and the preface and just got a self-righteous hard-on and just had to respond that I am a "pro-slavery asshole" "slavery apologist." This paragraph was more of a response than you honestly deserved.

 

Second, being made da'covale is a punishment for certain crimes (not that different from having prison inmates make license plates for cars, they aren't paid for that). People aren't made da'covale for jaywalking or littering, it was because they (and generally they were already highly placed in society to begin with) did something offensive to the high blood (like trying to kill them, or mocking their authority by branding themselves with the mark of property of the Empress). For perspective, historically speaking, lesser insults to nobility would get a commoner executed. So why am I a monster because I am not particularly sympathetic for someone who got caught trying to plant a knife in the back of another person.

 

FYI: Seanchan punishments (from least to most severe): (whatever is less severe), "lower your eyes", "ordered execution", "ritual suicide", "being made da'covale"

 

Third, I don't remember seeing the da'covale do anything all that productive. I honestly don't remember seeing "slave farmers." If my memory is correct, no one is "enjoying the fruits of hard labor without his/her consent and without..." blah blah self-righteous blah. They were basically decoration (cup bearers and performance artists). Being da'covale (again, other than the Deathwatch Guard) seemed more about being shamed. And the Deathwatch Guard seemed to be made up of da'covale that were born into it. So perhaps my concern for 2nd+ generation da'covale is unfounded.

 

And it wasn't like the da'covale had it super bad. I seem to recall it being taboo to harm a da'covale.

 

The Deathwatch Guard (at least) seemed to be paid. They were just "property," which definitely seems bad to us, but we see it out of context. I think the proper perspective is to liken it to your computer (or some other highly prized possession). You aren't going to go and needless expend your computer, and you definitely wouldn't throw away a loyal person. And you would definitely let that same loyal person live as full a life as possible so that they state loyal.

 

I don't really see too many important differences between Seanchan da'covale and the servants in the various palaces of the Westlands. And I certainly don't seem a significant difference between da'covale and gai'shain (yeah gai'shain are only such for a year+day but think of how often someone might be made gai'shain in his or her lifetime).

 

It is very easy for us to read these books and go "Seanchan are evil, they make people slaves and put leashes on women," but they don't really do that. They make some people da'covale (which is very different than being a slave) and put leashes on women they perceive as a threat to society because women who can channel have been threats to society. And we don't live in a world where there is a minority of the population that can throw fireballs or explode the ground beneath our feet; we (well some of us) live in societies that argue about gun control (and those are something anyone could potentially get and have taken away from them).

 

I remember reading a blog or other article defending the "Mutant Registration Act" in X-Men. It likened having a (hidden) mutant power to walking around with a machine gun on your back. You aren't threatening people with it, you are just wearing it. It makes people uncomfortable. And that is exactly what most "extras" in the Wheel of Time feel like around people they know can channel. "Oh ****, that [choose one: man | woman] could blow me up. I better be careful." Who wouldn't want to collar and control that?

 

I also understand that everyone (myself included) would want to be a channeler if they were in the Wheel of Time. But that is sort of like being asked if you would rather be an elephant or a mouse. So it is entirely natural to be unfavorable towards anything that limits channelers.

 

I probably do come across as rather heartless, but that is because I try to remain objective and unbiased (except when I clearly state my bias, even if it is fabricated).

 

I don't like the Seanchan. I just don't hate them either. I happen to feel that they are inefficient. They have at least one sul'dam for every damane (seems the ratio is probably closer to three to four per damane), so they could have as many as five times as many channelers to draw upon if they didn't use a'dam.

I would like to keep Cut Strand as my pet. The idea has some merits. Meal twice and day and regular whipping. I like to keep them motivated.

I lol'ed. Edited by Cut Strand
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"Slaves" have no rights. Criminals have some. Can they be compared?

Who says slaves have no rights in Seanchan?

 

 

Well feel free to tell us what they are.

Read Cut Strand above and the scenes involving Selucia, Bayle Domon and Furyk Karede.

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"Slaves" have no rights. Criminals have some. Can they be compared?

Who says slaves have no rights in Seanchan?

Well feel free to tell us what they are.

From Tuon's conversation with Karade (spelling?), it would seem that da'covale are allowed to keep their own property (I think I am just going to stop using the word slave because a lot of people seem unable to get over their personal biases). And by property I mean personal possessions, homes, families, etc. Da'covale can even have other da'covale (Suroth was made da'covale to the Deathwatch Guard until such time as her hair has grown out enough to be fit for sale).

 

Beating da'covale is taboo. And when it is to be done, it has to be done by certain people for specific reasons. Usually those reasons revolve around a person not accepting the shame of their station (and we only saw that among Westlanders that were made da'covale, which means they did something to earn the position).

 

Yeah Amathera's crime is laughable (I think she refused to accept the Seanchan, but lacked the conviction to die for that refusal). But Amathera was made da'covale by Suroth (a darkfriend and future da'covale herself).

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Read Cut Strand above, and read or reread the scenes involving Selucia, Karede and Domon.

Also compare to the treatment of commoners in Tear, and Arad Doman, for instance.

Andor is considered unusual in Wotland because it's much the only nation, which has a consistent penal system and treats nobles/commoners as equal under the law. By those standards, the Seanchan are way more evolved and civilised.

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We are not judging penal system of one nation over another. Besides laws for citizens don't apply to "slaves" unless I have missed something in the books. I did read what Cut Strand wrote. They are not rights.

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