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Socio-political systems in Dune


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We all know that Dune is feudal, so much that we read once in a while that Dune is the past in the future. I know also that Frank said that feudalism was the natural form of government.

But I read in the Dune Wiki that the Bene Gesserit, post-Leto II, was ruling by democracy. Uh? I didn't remember that. Democracy following Leto II, how nice.

Someone knows what there is about this BG rule? And anyone knows what information there is about planets which were anything else than feudalism? I don't remember much about it.

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If we take feudalism as a strict term, there wasn't and couldn't be any feudalism after Leto II's reign because there was no Emperor, no supreme leader who could be the ultimate peak of the vassal-signor hierarchy. Although we do not know precisely what forms of government manifested on each planet, we can assume that the most powerful post-Leto factions (such as the Bene Gesserit, Bene Tleilax or Fish Speakers) had their spheres of influence and, presumably, planted their forms of government there.

As for BG, it is said in the books that they adopted/excersised democracy, however, I cannot quote the passages right now. I think there was some conversation about pros and cons of the democracy - Odrade was talking to someone (Duncacn or Bellonda most probably) about this, if I'm not mistaken, in Chapterhouse.

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Bg are ruled by a oligarchical form of government, but surveilled by a "council" that has power in electing or make falling down the oligarchy (remember the doubts and the votation regarding Odrade).

The peak is formed by persons like Odrade or Taraza, followed by persons (we can call it triumvirate) like Bellonda and the other 2 i don't remember :) All decisions are taken by this small numbers of persons and then executed by devoted specialized sectors (missionaria protectiva, BG spies, novice teachers etc...).

Regarding the rest of the universe i agree with MrFibble, here and there there is anarchy, but mostly there spheres of influence.

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Lucilla was killed by Dama when she accidentally let slip that the Bene Gesserit practiced a form of democracy, or so my oft-faulty memory informs me. Even so, there are different examples of political systems in Dune. The theocratic oligarchy of the Tleilaxu is one of the more outlandish examples. Certainly the Imperium pre-Leto II practiced a form of feudalism, but it was definately not a complete autocracy. The semi-democracy of the Landsraad could block the Emperor when it suited, after all, not to mention the capitalist (or possibly plutocratic? Nah) influence of the Guild.

I think it was Taraza or Odrade who mentioned that the Mother Superior is just as much a servent of the Bene Gesserit as she is a leader. She gives orders and makes decisions, but always under the watchful eye of her peers. And if the woman becomes more influential than the organisation, then the organisation will act. This is certainly democratic, in its way.

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Thanks, I've identified where it's written and it shows more of this world view. Tolerated democracy for its advantages. Great risks, great rewards.

And surprise... having something over that, this system actually looks like it's some republic. The democracy's decisions go on over laws, but by nature not going astray from the BG (which is no relativist but relies on its organization). Post-"Leto stagnation" leads to that, where the democracy aspect forms the living flow necessary for optimal "going on". The BG pragmatically follows the flow (population(energy) included).

That's my take on BG politics :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

'democracy' within a small society fades out with new members; rise in numbers demands institutionalisation and thus demands tend to raise over motives; supported by at first moral (what wouldn't you do for your beloved mother superior?), later legal oppressionĀ  ;)

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