Ves didn't know whether he should be thankful or regretful to Lord Javier. On one hand, the Vesian noble generously filled him in on the Societal Vitality Theory. On the other hand, it also destroyed his faith in the higher ups of both states!
He used to think that even if the original reasons for the wars no longer applied, both states still warred over legitimate reasons.
The Vesians wanted to conquer the Bentheim System so that they would be able to gain an invincible economic stranglehold on all of the commerce and trade that passed through the surrounding regions.
Bright Republic simply wanted to maintain its territorial sovereignty and defend itself against the foreign aggressor.
Those reasons still applied, but in the backdrop of the Societal Vitality Theory, they rang a little hollow now. To Ves, this diabolical theory served as a force that pushed its proponents to action rather restraint, sometimes to disastrous results!
Ves figured out the reason why Lord Javier brought up this contentious topic. "The main threat to the peace talks is this theory, right?"
"Right! I don't know how many people among the Bright Republic supports the theory, but back in the Kingdom almost every influential noble has sided with it. We admire the Rubarthan way quite a lot!"
The New Rubarth Empire used to be a part of the Greater Terran United Confederation. The latter used to be the only major human entity in the stars. That was a different time back then. The Terrans proved to be too overbearing and mired in bureaucracy to govern their sprawling territories fairly and effectively.
After the Rubarthans declared independence during a time of turmoil for the Terrans, times had changed. The Terrans partially reformed the way they governed themselves, but it was too late by then. The New Rubarth Empire grew into such a substantial power in a short time that they pretty much rivaled the Terrans in might!
Perhaps the rapid but enduring success of the Rubarthans in their galactic rivalry against the Terrans gave the theory a lot of weight. Ves did hear that internal competition and political maneuvering there was rather brutal.
The founder families that eventually founded the Bright Republic used to be aberrant pacifists who tired from all of the infighting and warmongering at the powerful first-rate superstate!
"The constant wars between our states has pretty much enshrined the Societal Vitality Theory among our leaders." Ves speculated. "Proponents of the theory are able to take advantage of the wars to enhance their prestige and further their goals. Those who oppose it on moral or practical grounds won't benefit from the wars unless they give in, which pretty much turns them into hypocrites. I don't see any way we can forge an early peace if that's the case."
Lord Javier threw a patronizing smile at Ves. "You have to think a bit bigger than that, Ves. What is the ultimate goal of adhering to the Societal Vitality Theory? It's to strengthen the social vitality of our states! Why? To strengthen the efficiency, dynamism and military might of our states against other threats! We pursue strength because it is the only thing that keeps us safe against the threats of the galaxy."
As Ves recalled his recent talk with Senator Tovar, he started to gain an understanding of the need for peace. "Is there a greater threat on the horizon?"
"The senator didn't tell me, but I'm not stupid, you know. I'm a good observer, and from what I see the Brighters aboard this ship aren't worried about us Vesians. Instead, they're on guard against a different threat. A greater threat, as you said."
A grave silence fell between the two. The Remembrance's elegant and luxurious dining room didn't host many diners at this time, so hardly any noise interrupted Ves' contemplation.
The implications of this theory probably led to a lot of unnecessary wars. At least, unnecessary to the average people. To the proponents of the theory, war was a great tool to invigorate a state!
"Is there any proof that it actually works?"
"Sure." Javier shrugged. "First of all, the strength and prestige the Rubarthans gained in their early years against the stagnant and corrupt Terrans is a powerful historical case. The Rubarthans trounced the Terrans in almost every aspect because the latter have become so stale that they reacted like fossils to something they adequately planned against beforehand. Over the years, the rise and success of many other states over their more peaceful rival has given the theory strong support."
"I don't think it's that simple. Sure, a war might be able to invigorate a state as you say it, but it might also just cause them to suffer far more damage than they get in return. I bet the researchers aren't so eager to study the failures. Perhaps the survivor bias plays a huge role in making those determinations."
"Hey, what do you take them for? They're smart enough to take that into account. At least I think so." Lord Javier scratched his head. "Whatever. The point is that we've not only seen this kind effect among human states, but also among the various alien empires. Before humanity came along, most of the galaxy got carved up by the same old alien races. The balance of power largely remained the same and nobody powerful felt eager enough to fight because the super low birth rates of the Seven Apex Races makes any serious war too costly."
"Humans don't suffer from that problem." Ves remarked as he followed the logic of the Societal Vitality Theory. "Compared to those powerful alien races that depend on exotics to propagate their species, our growth rate as a species is enormous. All the setbacks we've suffered against the aliens during the Age of Stars and Age of Conquest never put us down for long. Instead, we bounced right back with our explosive birth rate."
A comparison between different human states did not yield any drastic differences. However, when Ves compared human civilization to the previously dominant alien civilizations, their traits diverged enormously.
The birth and growth rates central to the logic behind the Societal Vitality Theory formed one of the most powerful advantages of the human race! No major alien race at the time could keep up with the constant growth and expanding population of the upstart humans!
Of course, with the Five Scrolls Compact acting behind the scenes, humanity's rise could not solely be attributed to these reasons alone. Ves did not think any further in this direction because he hardly knew anything about this line of questioning.
"It's a different time now, you know?" Lord Javier said as a couple of bots started to deliver his dishes. He came to the dining room to eat, after all. "During the Age of Stars and the first half of the Age of Conquest, we humans largely pointed our guns outwards against the aliens. We took their stars, their technology, their resources and repeated it over and over again as we gobbled up the galaxy. What a great time to be alive back then!"
For various reasons, the exponentially-accelerating conquest and expansion began to stall halfway into the Age of Conquest. The surviving alien races no longer remained complacent against the humans that threatened to gain complete control over the galaxy. They set aside their long-standing rivalry and animosity against each other and presented a somewhat united front against the galactic threat that was humanity!
At some point, the various human states that made up human civilization found it increasingly difficult to fight against the aliens. Eager to fight but with no alien opponent in reach, they instead began to turn their weapons against each other!
"Is the Societal Vitality Theory an attempt to go back to the glory days of humanity's rise?" Ves asked.
"Kind of." Lord Javier nodded. "Well, it's more of an attempt to prevent our society from backsliding. If we all grow too fat and happy of our current accomplishments, the aliens staring hatefully at us will give us a nasty surprise. Life must constantly be a struggle if we are to stay strong. This applies to both humans and aliens. Now that we've dethroned the Seven Apex Races and chased them out of their ancestral territories, they're holding a lot of grievances against us. You can bet they aren't relaxing while they're plotting our race's demise."
Ves had difficulty seeing the relevance of looking at humanity from so far above. "All of this sounds very high-minded. We're not the masters of the human race. Is there any point for us to think that way?"
"Why not?" The noble shrugged. "At least it's essential for me to be familiar with the arguments if I want to fit in with the rest of my class. It's also useful for you as well, you know. With all the wars, skirmishes and other fights taking place throughout the galaxy, a lot of mechs are used up. What fuels the mech industry? Battle! The more battles taking place, the more mechs you can sell! Doesn't that sound like a good deal?"
This observation caused Ves to feel a bit troubled. He couldn't refute this logic. The mech industry would have been a lot less dynamic and a lot harder to participate in if battles rarely broke out. Mechs lasted about five years with intensive use and ten years with moderate use.
However, if the amount of fights in the Komodo Star Sector decreased by ninety percent, then most mechs would be able to reach their full nominal lifespan of twenty years!
On top of that, the vastly reduced fighting pressure would also prompt many forces to delay the acquisition of newer mechs. Why waste money on upgrading their mech lineup when their existing mechs already did the job? With good maintenance, a mech could conceivably last up to forty years without any marked degradation in performance!
The longer mechs survived on average, the lower the demand for new mechs. This all reflected back to the mech industry which would be forced to shrink and lower their production in response to the anemic amount of activity in the mech market.
Put simply, mech designers like Ves enjoyed good times as long as there was a lot of fighting going! While Ves was already aware of this simple truth to an extent, when looking through the lens of the Societal Vitality Theory, he became aware that it was advantageous for him to be one of its proponents!
However, his shock at these revelations hadn't faded yet for him to make up his mind about the theory. While a strong part of Ves pushed him to agree with the theory, he instinctively felt he'd become an abhorrent person if he did so. What made him any better than the likes of Lord Javier and Senator Tovar if he started to believe in their common ideology?
"Surely not everyone agrees with this radical theory, right?" Ves pushed back. "It sounds very controversial and its implications are incredible massive. There are bound to be critics to what appears to be a justification for warmongering."
Lord Javier rudely flipped his fingers while he ate. "Sure. Not everyone agrees. But they don't last very long. A lot of states that emphasized peace and other happy stuff grew weak to the point they got conquered by other states that actually invested in the strength of their military and society. Hippies and peace-loving idiots make for awful leaders because they don't understand that those who don't share in their beliefs are always stronger and not afraid to flex their power."
It sounded like a sad state of affairs, but every person who grew up in these times became used to the constant warring between the human states.
Right now, the Societal Vitality Theory sounded like a justification more than anything else. What was so bad about giving to humanity's darker impulses when all the despots and warlords could draw upon the theory to excuse all of the death and suffering they engendered?
Ves equated the Societal Vitality Theory to a rationale for death!