QUOTE(Destri Melarg @ Sep 1 2011, 12:25 AM)
That's funny because the more I think about it the more it is beginning to make sense to me.
Well, the more I think about it the less it makes sense to me, so I guess we're even
BTW on re-reading my original post, I realise it sounds really obnoxious - sorry about that. This is a genuinely interesting discussion, I agree.
Okay, Iíll concede the point. Letís assume you and Helena are right and the shift from agricultural to mercantile is too large to complete in six years. The decision
to make such a shift is not. I could very well imagine that such a shift is not an ongoing concern by the time of the Oblivion Crisis. The Pocket Guide states that House Dres are 'embracing the new traditions
.' Dres, to my knowledge, is still the major producer of saltrice. They just now have a structure in place whereby they also trade in the substance (presumably through an agreement with the EEC who enjoys favorable tariffs and regulations). This agreement may have been brokered by their associates in House Hlaalu, who have the machinery in place to conduct effective trade throughout the Empire. Dres doesnít have to invent the wheel here; they just have to get on the wagon!
OK, firstly: I'm pretty sure Dres are already trading in saltrice. It's highly unlikely that the massive harvests they produce are purely for domestic consumption (if so, why are they consuming so much while the rest of Morrowind consumes so little?) If they're not already trading, it's going to be vastly
more difficult for them to make the changeover - how can you shift your entire economy to a mercantile footing when you have no trading experience whatsoever?
You seem to be slightly missing the point about the transition from agricultural to a mercantile economy. A mercantile society is one in which a significant proportion of the population is involved in buying and selling goods, rather than producing them. If the Dres don't trade at all, there's no logical basis for this to happen. If they do already trade in saltrice, then even if they manage to expand the trade, someone still needs to produce the saltrice - and if slavery is the only economically viable way to do this, they're still going to need slaves.
Let's put that aside and assume that the shift is possible, somehow. Why the heck would they make that decision in the first place? Not only is it a huge undertaking for little obvious benefit - apart from a shaky alliance with Hlaalu - but the people in charge, i.e. the landowning aristocracy, would be by far the biggest losers. You're basically going to see a massive transfer of power and wealth from the current rulers to the nascent middle classes. "Shooting themselves in the foot" doesn't begin to describe it.
Even assuming they did make that decision, there's still a whole lot of issues that have to be resolved before the transition could be made successfully. To wit:
- What are they going to trade? We've already been through the problems with saltrice. I guess they might have other natural resources that could be exploited, though if that were the case, I can't help thinking they'd be doing it already. Either way, you'd almost certainly still need slaves to do the farming/mining/fishing/whatever. If paid labour was cheap and plentiful enough that slaves weren't needed, they'd already be using it on the plantations.
- Or they could manufacture goods. This is a very tall order for a people who've spent the past several-thousand years doing nothing but farming. They'd need someone to sell them the raw materials, as well as huge initial outlays of capital, and a good deal of technical know-how which they definitely wouldn't have at the start. And again, of course, they'd need cheap labour to do the actual work of producing the goods.
- As Kazaera pointed out already, who are they going to trade with? It's no use just saying 'the Hlaalu' or 'the EEC'; they need to find someone who'll actually buy their goods. Unless they're lucky enough to come up with something that no one else can offer, they'll need to find something they can sell more cheaply or at a higher quality than anyone else. The only area where they appear to have that kind of competitive advantage is saltrice, which takes us right back to where we started.
- What about the disruptions to the saltrice supply chain, and its effect on the rest of Morrowind? I've already mentioned this in my previous post. If Dres reduce the supply of saltrice because they've switched to producing and selling other goods, the price will go up, leading to shortages and possibly even famines. This is going to make them very unpopular with the common people and with the other Houses; it might even lead to war in itself.
- If they end up in competition with Hlaalu because they're trading the same goods, not only is it bad for both Houses, but they're not likely to remain allies for very long. Just look at the way Hlaalu and Redoran bicker over the ebony trade.
- Then there's all the social and political issues which I touched on in my last post. I won't go into them in detail, not least because SubRosa's already done it; I'll just point out that this kind of economic development inevitably leads to massive social change, and usually political change as well.
It might be possible to overcome these problems successfully, given a century or two. But if you agree to abolish slavery, you have to actually do it; you can't just say "well, we'll think about doing it sometime within the next hundred years." What's more, the dialogue from Oblivion indicates that the slaves have already been freed: "They say that slavery has been abolished in Morrowind. House Dres and Hlaalu have renounced the slave trade, and freed the beastfolk from servitude."
1) Dres serves as Hlaaluís foothold for commerce on the mainland. Or, if their holdings on the mainland are such that they don't need a foothold . . .
2) Hlaalu needs to ally themselves with one of the Great Houses or they risk going into the conflict over slavery alone. They arenít going to be able to ally themselves with Indoril, and Redoran is their sworn enemy. Besides . . .
3) Dres territory borders the swamps of Black Marsh. If we go by the timeline (and there really is no reason that we shouldnít in this case), we know that the Argonians invade soon after the eruption of Red Mountain. It isnít hard to imagine that relations between the two provinces are strained at this time. Hlaalu benefits from having an ally at the border in case the lizards get jumpy.
The thing is, pretty much all the Houses are sworn enemies of each other (Redoran and Indoril possibly excepted, but even they are not exactly best friends). Hlaalu is known as the most progressive of the Houses, while Dres is the least progressive - heck, even the Temple
is a bit new-fangled for these guys - so I would hardly imagine Hlaalu's relationship with Dres is any better than their relationship with Redoran. They don't need a foothold for commerce since they already share a border with Cyrodiil, and have virtually no trade with Black Marsh anyway (apart from the slave trade). And I find it very unlikely that anyone in Hlaalu would predict an Argonian invasion (which I think is total bullsh*t anyway, but I'm not going to discuss that here as it's a separate argument). If they considered it at all, they'd probably assume that Dres would bear the brunt of an Argonian attack anyway, as they did in the Arnesian War.
I think that Redoran and Indoril would have more than just the nebulous concept of Ďtraditioní as their main argument. It would be safe to say that both Houses would engage in a war if they felt that their way of life was being usurped by Imperial rule. Hlaalu is an Imperial proxy; I think we can all agree on that. The call for the abolition of slavery is not being made strictly because it is the morally Ďrightí thing to do. Hlaalu is currying favor with the Empire. I think they see that, in the long run, the loss of profits from Argonian and Khajiit sweat are more than made up by the profits received from good ties with the Empire. If we buy into the idea of Hlaalu and Dres coming together in alliance then I think it is safe to assume that Dres' longtime stance on Temple doctrine has shifted. It's also safe to say that Indoril and Redoran would go to the mattresses before they would allow Morrowind to exist under the yoke of Imperial law.
Morrowind already exists under Imperial law, so I'm not quite sure what you mean there. But in any case, if Redoran and Indoril would go to war over their 'way of life' being threatened, then Dres certainly would. I have to stress that in direct opposition to Oblivion lore, MW really does portray Dres as ultra-hardcore traditionalists - more so even than Indoril in some respects. Redoran, by contrast, is relatively liberal - they accepted the Armistice, and are making at least some attempts to adjust to Imperial rule and modernise their economy. I can see Indoril going to war over slavery, but I find an alliance of Indoril/Dres vs. Hlaalu/Redoran far more likely than Indoril/Redoran vs Hlaalu/Dres.