Effecient destructive Technologies- dynamic Nation builders

jedion357's picture
April 15, 2011 - 1:17pm
thinking about how gunpowder technology made nation building possible on a wide scale on planet earth.

Question is does the advent of new and effective destructive technology become the catalyst for nation and empire building?

Yes there are examples of nations and empires pre gunpowder (Inca's and Chinese etc) which would seem to indicated that these destructive technologies are not neccessary for nation and empire building and you might make a case that the lack of a credible oponent facilitates some of those empires.

My basic premise is that a technological edge facilitates empire building- Roman empire a good example here but then the advent of wide spread gunpowder use changed the dynamics in Europe and brought in a period of nation building

having stated that; whats the impact in alien societies? Is gunpowder a key tech that usually brings about nation and empire building and usually results in a global government withing a few centuries? Certainly other industrial technologies that facilitate faster travel, and communication also aid this.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Sam's picture
April 15, 2011 - 1:39pm

Interesting. But you should also include a cultural/sociological component. The Roman example actually illustrates a social disposition toward empire building. Alien cultures demonstrating hightened "empire building" periods would likely be expansionist even if their technology matched their conquests. The development and exploitation of high tech weaponry would give non-expansionist cultures the ability to expand.

So, talking through this, looking at the Roman model again -- Rome's technology matched its neighbors during its all important expansionist stages (at least its military technology did, for the most part -- they may have had better spears, armor, and swords, in some cases, but their foes had them too) ... societies/cultures begin nation building once the right social pressures are in place (i.e. ROME -- population pressures; the need for young males to join the army, acquire financial rewards, land, and prestige within their culture so they could grow to be the next generation of leaders of the nation). The advent of gunpowder or other destructive technologies seem to have allowed more rapid expansion of some nations and/or allowed one nation to subjugate another of equal size (American frontier expansion in the face of Native American resistance). In this example, the weapons and technology gave the edge to the US settlers. 

Technology itself doesn't necessarily indicate an expanisonist phase would follow. A sufficiently advanced technology (weapon OR defense) may make encourage pacifist nations expand and conquer a world or more.

jedion357's picture
April 15, 2011 - 5:55pm
I didn't fully explain myself on the Rome example- yes everyone had spears, chain mail, shields, and swords, though not every one had the lattest development in torsion powered artillery.

but what the Rome had in military tech that no one else had was not the individual bitz of equipment but military traditions and inovative strategies that put a lot of things together into a juggernaut, which while it was not unbeatable in individual battles but rather unstoppable over the long run.

Their spears (pilum) were unlike anyone's spears- a long metal shaft head to a long wooden shaft fixed to each other by 2 pegs, one peg was brass and the other was wood or soft iron. when the pilum struck a target (usually a shield) the wooden/soft iron peg would break allowing the two shafts to jack-knife at the pivot point provided by the brass peg. This created an awkward weight weighing down the sheild causing it to be discarded. All of this is significant as its a layered offensive strategy. Once the target has been forced to cast aside his primary defense he comes up against the legionaries that are trained to maintain a shield wall and strike in quick stabbing motions at unprotected areas. Throw in the whole maniple replacement system (however it was accomplished - I think what they showed in the HBO series Rome was probably the way it happened) where a legionary  fought on the front line for a limited time then rotated to the back for water, a breather, a bite to eat (some battles went all day) a new pilum and waited till the natural rotation of front rank to back brought him to the second or third rank where he would chuck the pilum to weigh down the shield of the front ranks for the legionary in front of him. Then suddenly he had his short time at the front rank. (note I speak more of the imperial legions though most of this still applies to the legions of the Republic and even the punic wars)

All things being equal in areas of moral, leadership and experience and I'd bet on Rome every time even if they are outnumbered.

Could go on about the gladius and how revolutionary it was despite being smaller than other swords. Dispite the fact that it was smaller, how it was used was the superior military tech. In the case of Rome the tech edge was about how they put everything together. You could almost say it was a superior philosophy about how to wage war but then philosophy is a science and science leads to better tech.

history is very slow in tech change for centuries up until the time of the gunpowder age (I name gunpowder simply because its a stand out tech other things are certainly in play too) but anyhow man's ability to kill his fellow man only changes slowly over the course of millenia with exceptions here and there. Still the change is slow. Also during this time the progress toward nation building is also slow. Sure there are empirers. The difference is that in antiquity there are only ever a small handful of empires that are rubbing shoulders with each other. During the period of nation building, how many nations were rising out of the ashes of mideval Europe? All of them pouring money whole hog into weapons and science looking for an edge.

Again the proposition is that in general terms a tech edge; be it a weapons system or a military strategy or philosophy will drive nation building or empire but in particular I believe that at a certain point, certain technologies jump start this into high gear. empires happen throughout history but come the age of gun powder and industrialization the process goes into major high gear. In fact the development of even better tech no longer takes centuries but just decades and eventually it only takes years. (toward the end of WW1 and airplane design would be on the drawing boards one day and flying in combat in as few as 30 days- the pressure of combat drove innovation that fast)

This of course if a very broad brush stroke theory but I believe it can be used as a principle to guide us in creating the back history of an alien race whith due allowances for the differences between the aliens and humanity
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Sam's picture
April 15, 2011 - 11:02pm
Well aware of the pillum and gladus and Ancient Rome, just pointing out that Rome was surrounded by nation states with similar capabilities.

I believe the case of alien technological advances leading to empire building is fine, though it need not be a high technology that leads any society to do so.