Examining Light Novels: On Rebellion

When it comes to the question of rebellion, Church doctrine and action usually favor the government.

I’m now reading the fourth volume of Slayers: “The Battle of Saillune.”  If memory serves me right, the original three seasons skipped over this story arc.  The novel concerns a palace intrigue to slay Prince Philionel in order to stage a coup d’état.  Lina, Gourry, and Sylphiel sneak into the city of Saillune in order to render assistance to the royal family.  From what I’ve read of the volume thus far, it promises to be a fun read.

At any rate, I highly encourage fans of the anime to pick up the light novels.  (Volumes 1-8 have been published by Tokyopop in English.)  Besides giving some stories not included in the anime series, they also give you an intimate experience of what’s going on in Lina’s head, since the novels are told as a first person narrative.  There are also highly amusing exchanges like this between Lina and Gourry (my translation):

“…the current situation’s as I said.  Do you understand?”

“No, I don’t well understand it.”

“DEUDAAAAAAAAAAAA!  YOUUUU!”

“Waaaah!  Calm down!  Lina!  It’s a joke!  This time’s a joke!  I understand the situation!  I understand it well; I beg you!  Don’t be violent!”

“Huff…huff…”

I somehow got my breathing under control.

Gourry and Lina make for two of the most enjoyable pairs to observe in anime.  (The exclamation in line three is transliterated exactly, by the way.)  Before I rattle on more about how amusing Slayers is, let me turn to the post’s theme of rebellion.  The case of revolt in the novel concerns aristocrats vying for power against each other, and the current ruler, Prince Philionel, obviously has justice on his side.

And a strong left straight.

When it comes to the question of rebellion, Church doctrine and action usually favor the government.  (For example, Catholics in Syria support Assad’s regime over a coup d’etat.)  The two causes which can justify rebellion are 1) suppression of the Faith and 2) living in a state of chaos/lawlessness due to misrule.  Naturally, rebellion must meet the standards of just war theory.  The revolutionaries are also ideally guided by men of authority (government officials or aristocrats): few forces are crueler and more violent than an uncontrolled mob.

As for the Church supporting a rebellion, there is the famous case of Elizabethan England.  On Queen Mary I’s death in 1558, Elizabeth assumed the throne over the other serious claimant, Mary, Queen of Scots.  Following in the footsteps of her father, Henry VIII, Elizabeth began a Kulturkampf against Catholics by purging them from places of influence and authority and fining all dissidents from the Church of England.  This led to the “Rising of the North” in 1569, pitting the Catholic supporters of Queen Mary of Scotland against the Protestant adherents of Queen Elizabeth.  The revolt failed in January of 1570.  In the next month, Pope Pius V proclaimed the bull Regnans in Excelsis, which released British citizens from allegiance to Queen Elizabeth.  Essentially, the Church justified rebellion because of Elizabeth being illegitimate (Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage was not recognized by the Church) and because of her suppression of the Catholic Faith.

In comparison, the causes of the American Revolution might appear weak in comparison.  People jest that a 3% tax rate caused Americans to revolt in the eighteen century, while many Americans now willingly pay 33% of their income in taxes.  But, there were even more grievous offenses than taxation without representation: like inciting American Indians against the colonists and threats of causing a slave revolt in the southern colonies.  (All these grievances and others can be found in the Declaration of Independence.)  The British government’s program of disarming the colonists was the final straw and led to the shot heard around the world at Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775.  Despite military aggression, Americans hesitated for more than a year before declaring independence on July 4, 1776.

Still, many will argue that the American Revolution bears neither the marks of religious suppression or lawlessness.  (No where near the level reached in Syria, for example!)  One will even find American monarchists (rarae aves indeed!) who argue that there was not enough justification for rebellion.  But, many acts of Britain’s government crossed the line for the colonists, who felt deprived of their rights as Englishmen.  I myself believe that my patriotic Catholic ancestor made the right choice in fighting for independence.

What is our dear readers’ opinion on the justice of the American Revolution?  What about just grounds for rebellion in general?

Medieval Otaku is essentially a bookworm. His greatest loves are writing, anime, literature, history, religion, and foreign and ancient language, especially Japanese, Latin, and French. He hopes to become a full-time novelist one day, though each day offers endless ways to distract him from this happy goal.
8 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • Bob Fritchey
    29 March 2017 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve also read a couple of the Slayers light novels, and would love to read more (in English, as I don’t read much Japanese)!

    The American Revolution, though, was not about overthrowing a government, but separating from one. None of the American revolutionaries questioned the King and British Parliament’s right to continue ruling in England. Also, they had tried several times to appeal to King George II for redress, and had been branded as traitors and told they would be hanged after their final ‘olive branch’ proposal.

    I’d recommend the book “American Gospel” by John Meacham, especially the first section, for a good, easy to read discussion of some of the founding fathers’ religious justifications in founding our country.

    Then there’s always one of my favorite exchanges from the book “Shogun” by James Clavell, (very) loosely based on actual historical figures in feudal Japan, The would-be shogun Toranaga (A fictionalized version of Tokugawa Ieyasu) berates the English ship’s pilot John Blackthorne (A fictionalized version of William Adams):

    Toranaga: “There are no ‘mitigating circumstances’ when it comes to rebellion against a sovereign lord!”
    Blackthorne: “Unless you win.”
    Toranaga looked at him intently. Then laughed uproariously. “Yes, Mister Foreigner…you have named the one mitigating factor.”

    Leave a Reply
    • medievalotaku
      31 March 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Well, the American Revolution is still overthrowing a government. After all, colonial governors were appointed by the Crown, and Americans were getting rid of them and other British government officials. But, I do agree that enough causes existed to justify revolution. King George denying the Founders’ right of petition is just another example of how Britain was denying American subjects their rights.

      Thank you for recommending “American Gospel.” I’ve always wanted to delve deeper in the causes of the Revolution.

      “Shogun” is an excellent novel. Clavell gets into the Japanese mind very well–aided, no doubt, by his negative experiences with them in WWII. Winning a rebellion is certainly the only mitigating factor indeed!

      Leave a Reply
  • Samuru
    29 March 2017 at 7:13 pm

    I am excited to know that you wrote on Slayers, one of my favorite anime of all time. Not because it has amazing animation (which it doesn’t even for it’s time, until the last two seasons and the Premuim movie) or award-winning, but for the comedy and how I can relate to the characters. I loved Zelgadis and Amelia’s relationship/character traits. They were the best, to me over Lina and Gourry. Lina I sometimes couldn’t stand, I wanted to strangle her a little.

    In regards to rebellion….if your talking about real life rebellion, not spiritual, then yes I do believe there is merit to it. For example, my family is from Cuba where there is communism from the Castro family. The country has been in poverty for like….40 years or something. It’s very difficult to live there and there’s barely any freedom (along with Venezuela as well). I am not an expert in Cuban history nor have I even visited to be honest (I want to one day!) but if the Cuban people did rebel against their communist ruler (at the moment, Raul Castro) then do it! He has oppressed the people on that island for far too long. It’s a matter of justice and freedom more than anything in my opinion.

    Leave a Reply
    • medievalotaku
      31 March 2017 at 3:25 pm

      I knew that you would enjoy this post! Hopefully, I’ll have many more of them to come on Slayers.

      I almost wrote this on spiritual rebellion, but I thought that it would be more interesting to cover the topic of political revolt. On rebellion, many thinkers can be too strict on what counts as a good cause for revolt. Now, Cubans seem to have the freedom to worship; but, many other human rights violations in the country would justify revolt, as long as it has a good probability of success and does not create worse evils than it hopes to fix. After all, similar injustices did induce the United States to go to war with Spain in 1898.

      Leave a Reply
      • Gaheret
        15 April 2017 at 5:24 am

        Similar injustices? I’m by no means an anti-American, but here I must protest. The Judiciary under the Castro brothers is a mockery; you can be incarcerated for 30 years with no lawyer and no proofs but the “moral conviction” of the Police about your “improper conduct”. This way they systematically execute their political adversaries. They impoverish their people, they support narco-terrorism and free prostitution for tourists, they have established a government of lies and even with that theoretical freedom of cult, priests, monks and nuns have been frequently and forcefully enlisted in the “Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción”. I would therefore support a rebellion or revolution against such unjust tyrants in Cuba with the presupposes of the just war theory.

        But the 1898 war with Spain? That’s different. The U.S. had economic interests in Cuba since the Independence War: there are secret negotiations between President Jefferson and Governor Sorneruelos as soon as 1805 and justification for ruling Cuban economy both in both the ‘ripe fruit theory’ and the Monroe doctrine. None of these referred to any injustice but to the political and economic influence of the States. Using the discontent among rich Cubans which followed the abolition of slavery in 1868 and the growing influence of American capital in Cuba (sugar and tobacco, mainly), the U.S favored revolts (José Martí) against Spain. Secretary of State James G. Blaine made it evident in a letter dated 1 December 1881. When the final revolt began, the U.S. sensationalist press (Pulitzer and Hearst) endorsed it wholeheartedly. The atrocities they denounced, though false (see Joseph E. Wisan contemporary analysis) where believed and created an hostile opinion against Spain.

        Then there was the explosion of the USS Maine, sent to Havana with a provocative mission to “protect American interests in Cuba” during the revolt. The Navy Court at the time was not able to find “any person or persons” responsible. The American Congress and the American public did. The war started. Due to the U.S superior Navy, it was short. What followed was the political independence and the economic and military protectorate of Cuba by the U.S. which lasted for many years.

        I can’t tell about the American War of Independence. I don’t know the details. But I don’t think that the 1898 war meets the requirements for just war under the Catholic teaching. Nor I think it’s fair to the honor of Spain to compare the Spanish domination with the cruel tyranny of the Castros. This is an example of war of aggression which caused a great harm to the country it was declared against. Toranaga may find mitigating factors here; I certainly do not.

        That said, I fully agree with your essay: the Government has a strong case in a rebellion, the injustices and illegitimacies must be great and there must not be less violent means of reestablish justice. Then you can start to plan a just war if you have the means…

        Leave a Reply
        • Medieval Otaku
          15 April 2017 at 2:40 pm

          You’re right that lumping together the Spanish government of Cuba with Castro’s communist government was very lazy thinking. As you wrote, the main driving force for the Spanish-American War and the Cuban revolt prior to that conflict was economic: the United States began to have more economic interests in Cuba than even Spain itself. (Ninety percent of Cuban exports went to America compared to the 6 percent going to Spain.) That and other Spanish colonies gaining independence fueled a growing desire for Cubans to become independent also, and the American government was more than happy to assist this–especially because relations between Spain and America were often strained. The accidental explosion aboard the U.S.S. Maine was a very poor excuse for war. The Virginius Affair of 1873 was a far better reason for war, but Grant’s Administration accepted money for reparations, and the matter was settled in that way.

          Most of the atrocities attributed to the Spanish occurred after the Cuban revolt with the advent of General Weyler’s reconcentration camps, which gave Spain a lot of bad press. I can’t find any reliable numbers on the deaths caused by famine and disease. Every number from “hundreds” to 400,000 has come up in my searches. But, this says nothing about Spain’s administration before the rebellion, and Spain appears to have been a decent administrator of the colony in the time prior to that.

          Self-interest or greed often plays a greater role than justice in whether countries go to war. Spain does have legitimate complaints about U.S. intervention in Cuba, but the history of what happened has a certain air of inevitability about it.

          Leave a Reply
          • Gaheret
            15 April 2017 at 4:53 pm

            Thank you.

            Yes, I think Spain was in that time “the ill man in Europe”, as the Ottoman Empire and France had been and Russia was soon to be. Meaning that the Empire was decomposing due to internal factors prior to the war, and rising powers tend to take advantage of that situations (War of Crimea, Franco-Prussian War, Russo-Japanese War). And I am myself confused about Valeriano Weyler. Well, both Spain and the United States have their wrongs, and also their exaggerated “black legends”, opportunistically created or endorsed by their rivals and competitors, which means that we both have to defend our ancestors sometimes.

            Concerning the American Revolution, I´m currently reading Democracy in America by Tocqueville, which hopefully will enlight my view on the matter. I think the “English traditionals freedoms” argument may suffice as a cause for just rebellion, although I´m not sure yet. I also tend to agree with Syrian Christians about Assad, although that matter is becoming blurring these days. As example of unjust rebellions, I would point to Lohengramm´s and General Greenville rebellions in LOGH, which are against institutionalized and (sufficiently) stable orders and mere vehicle for personal ambitions.

  • Examining Light Novels: On Rebellion « Medieval Otaku
    5 April 2017 at 7:03 am
  • Get Social!
    Facebook By Weblizar Powered By Weblizar
    Recent Comments
    %d bloggers like this: