(urth) Watchmen, fascism, feudalism and Wolfe

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 21 18:27:11 PST 2005

Well this is another piece that plays into the scheme. Severian was raised 
with a duty/job, like that of a soldier, which did involve harming people. 
And this background is an important factor in why *he* in particular gets 
the job of being the Conciliator.

But let's not allow the Torturers to go unexamined here, especially since 
this job would be morally repugnant to most of us. What makes it OK? Well, 
the Guild has a sort of credo, a way of banishing personal doubts, and this 
is revealed to Severian when he joins: Torturers obey.

And here again we return to this apparent lack of free will. Torturers are 
not to be judged (or are not to be judged themselves), because in their 
official capacity they are just *instruments* of the Autarch. They make no 
decisions, it is not for them to question the rightness or wrongness of 
their actions, they just fulfill their duty. Is this a correct explanation, 
does this justify Severian and the Torturers? It's an awfully tempting 
argument from a certain perspective, especially if you were raised with such 
ideals. But I think we are meant to ultimately consider and *reject* any 
such argument. Wolfe writes from a context where "we were just following 
orders" is a tragically misguided excuse.

Given that Severian tries to get rid of the guild altogether when he gets 
the chance, I would expect him to reject such a notion as well.

>WRT Severian's guilt or otherwise, I think his viewpoint is that of a
>soldier doing his duty -- which inevitably involves harm to others.
>Similarly, in the world of the (virtuous) Knight, and of the Soldier (of
>arete).  Their duty is something all Wolfe's characters have to work out
>for themselves, but then have to act on regardless of consequences to
>themselves or others.

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