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Aretism is an synthetic ideology that incorporates elements of spiritualism, fundamentalist religion, and totalitarianism. Due to its breadth and multi-layered nature, Aretism cannot be classified through traditional political or even religious means. However, it does encompass a broad array of earlier philosophical thought and can be seen as a culminating amalgamation of multiple ideologies of the 24th century.
Aretism as an ideology emerged in the late 2360s in Solentia as a strain within the Axis Neopanterran Solentia Party. A group of ambitious young scholars, lead by the charismatic Inner Party leader Immanuel Young, proposed an alternative to the secular and in their view intellectually bankrupt doctrines of Panterranism and Archonism. In Immanuel Young's manifesto, The Tribulations of Man, the group laid out a philosophy proposing a new moral imperative and rationale for totalitarianism. The name "Aretism" comes from the Aretist School of Panterranism, which Young's disciples took many of their initial ideas from.
Immanuel Young initially regarded Aretism as a political movement attempting to reform Panterranism, but it was the first Aretic "miracle" that transformed Aretism into a religio-political force. During an evening group prayer session at Immanuel Young's mountain chateaux in Solentia, the assembled disciples observed Young, during a moment of intense ecstasy, become consumed in blood-red flame as he rose into the air, his eyes transformed into a shade of radiant yellow. After a blinding flash of light, Young collapsed to the ground, unconscious. He spent the next several weeks in a coma, during which his body appeared to age and deterriorate significantly. He reawakened at noon of the 25th day, and described his experience as a direct interaction with some cosmic force, which he termed the "Theos". Despite his physical decay, he described himself as spiritually enlightened and filled with a spirit of Arete. From this incident, he quickly formulated the modern philosophy of Aretism and the movement spread rapidly. Due to the length of his coma, Aretists regard the number 5 as a sacred number.
Calling itself the "First Avataric Covenant," this group quickly gained clout within disenchanted members of the ANSP but encountered fierce resistance from other members of the Inner Party. In 2371, a concillium of the ANSP's Inner Party issued an official ban on The Tribulations of Man and the Covenant. The ban would have destroyed the fledgling movement had it not been for a defector in the Outer Party, Claudo Juilar, who allowed the Covenant to go into hiding in Metapontum.
After nearly 5 years of silence, the Covenant re-emerged more powerful and intellectually matured under the banner of the Deific Aretist Movement. Its tremendous support from the populus quickly persuaded the ANSP to merge with the new party, leading to the current Solentian organization, the Axis Solentian Deific Aretist Party.
However, Solentia was lost to a rebellion among the enriched technocrats, and the Aretists fled to Sekowo. Here, they quickly rose to power under the avatars of the Anarcho-Capitalist Revolution Party and the Democratic Equality Party. Soon, both parties revealed their true nature and the Aretists took Sekowo.
At the heart of Aretism are four key notions. The first is the concept of Αμαρτία(Amartia), or "failure sin." Aretism holds that every human being from birth is marked with amartia, condemming mankind to a state of barbarism and futility. This, according to Young's The Tribulations of Man is the central failing of all previous political ideologies-- they failed to recognize the inability of any human to govern another human. Aretism addresses this concept through its second central idea, which is the Θεός(Theos). The Theos is the universal, sentient, spiritual entity that binds the universe and all its inhabitants together, an all- pervading force endowing life, action, thought, and existence. It is what marks human beings with amartia, and to the Aretist, demands that every man and woman strive to elevate themselves from their state of failure to a state of Αρετή(Arete), the third tenet of Aretism. This process is known as the Ascension. Arete is the ideal condition of man where he is purely inhabited by the Theos, bringing ultimate happiness and enlightenment. Such a transcendental state, however, is not something that can be accomplished voluntarily. Unadulterated arete is only accessible to certain individuals, known in Aretism as the Αυαταρ(the Avatar), though usually Αυαταρ. The Avatar is a human incarnation of the Theos who elevates man from his state of sin and acts as a direct intermediary between the human race and the Theos.
Aretism believes that there existed a state prior to world industrialization known as the ειρήνη(eirini, or the Peace). In it, man was at harmony with the Theos and existed in his righteous state in the world. However, since the industrialization, man has distorted the world and begun to ponder questions of science and philosophy that have tarnished the supremacy of the Theos. As such, man has fallen victim to malaise and a sickness of the soul that can only be remedied through the creation of an Aretist state, which Aretism seeks.
Political and Social TheoryEdit
The process of implementing Aretist doctrine on a political and social level, termed the ἔσχατος ("Eschatos" literally "last"), begins with the union of the Aretist Church and the State through the Aretist movement. During this process, the future Aretist state is referred to as the Terminus, or the end of human political evolution and the dialectic of history. Once this phase is completed, usually through a political takeover, a period of pennance begins. This is called the Confession, or ὁμολογιἀ, in which the people, or the demos, admit to their amartia and seal their Covenant with the Avatars. Once this Covenant is sealed, an Aretist state can be said to be in existence. All power of the Avatars inevitably stems from this Covenant and justifies whatever actions they may take in to facilitate the Ascention of the demos.
The specific policies of an Aretist state are not firmly established, but it is widely accepted that puritanism, primitivism, collectivism, and militarism follow from the Imperatives, as they are called, of the Aretist state. While the strongest Imperative is the Ascension of the demos, the second strongest is the export of Aretic ideas as Aretism is an evangelical ideology. To facilitate the governance of the demos, the Avatars usually raise those in the demos closest to the ideal of Arete to the position of an Acolyte, who play a pivotal role in a functioning Aretist state. This is the final phase of the Eschatos.
Structure of the Aretist StateEdit
An Aretist state is a caste society comprised of three groups.
- The Dema. This caste contains the Demos, over 97% of the population. It contains all professionals, workers, and minor proprietors.
- The Acolya. It contains the acolytes, who are usually between 2-3% of the population. Acolytes are selected usually between the ages of 1-3 from both the Acolya and the Dema, and are raised and educated in special academies for their responsibilities as an adult. The Acolya are the administrators of the Aretist state, running the judiciary, prisons, education, the military, and various other bureaucratic functions. The legislative body of the Aretic state, known as the Aretic Conclave (or simply the Conclave), is comprised of Acolytes selected by the Avatars and is lead by a figure known as the Acolya Prima, or the First Acolyte, who is also selected by the Avatars.
- The Avatara. The size of this caste is unknown, and its members, the Avatars, are never seen in public. They do adress the Conclave in person on occasion, but they are always hooded and masked when they do so. The Avatara are revered almost as gods by the Acolya and the Dema, but they are never equated with gods as this status is reserved for the Theos itself. The Avatars are seen more as the lieutenants of the Theos on Earth, and their will is ultimate and unquestionable.
The Aretist State in its entirety is termed the Theocracy (θεοκράτια), or literally "rule by Theos."
Schools of AretismEdit
These schools deal with the political aspect of Aretism and the Theocracy
All schools of Aretism recognize the Imperialist Imperative, which is the duty to spread Aretism across Terra, but the Imperialist school takes this view further. It seeks to establish a world-wide Aretist Theocracy, called a Dominion, but one with a single Avatara connected to a single nation (so far only Solentia).
While Aretism was initially a nationalistic phenomenon, some within the Avatara believe that in order to achieve universal Ascention believe that a pan-Terran Theocracy is needed to fulfill this objective that superseeds all national boundaries and divisions.
The Nationalistic School views the Imperialist Imperative as a necessary tool of Aretist doctrine, but refrains from advocating the existence of a single Avatara. Instead, Nationalists believe that independent Avataras should govern individual nations without any supranational governing body.
These schools represent different views of Aretic doctrine and theology
Universal in Aretism is the belief that the Avatars are representatives of the Theos and act as Its lieutenants on Earth. However, the Deific school believes that one Avatar must be the εντολή από Θεός(Entoli of Theos), also known as the Mandate of Theos or the First Among Equals. This Avatar holds a special place in the Avatara as both a source of reverence by the Dema and the Acolya and the leader of the Avatara. In a Deific Theocracy, It holds the place of the Head of State. This school is considered the most politically practical, and is almost universally accepted to the point of orthodoxy.
Theology and LiturgyEdit
In contrast to Aretic doctrine and Aretic political theory, Aretic theology uses a special term to refer to the worshiper, Σοδειά(Sodeia), literally meaning "yield." This symbolizes the supplication of the Sodeia to the will of the Theos as transmitted through the Avatara, and applies to any worshipper regardless of caste. The terms Acolyte, Acolya, Avatar, and Avatara are shared.
Aretic religion is dualistic, that is, it believes that the body (σώμα or soma) and the spirit (ψυχή or psychi) are distinct entities. It is the psychi that must redeem itself and must be saved in Aretic religion.
Aretic theology revolves around two central concepts: duty to the Theos and duty to oneself. The first, the idea of the Θεόλογος(Theologue), is usually dealt with in services at an Aretist church. Services usually are composed of prayers, meditation, atonement, and resolutions for the second concept, the Μονόλογος(Monologue). This aspect of Aretism is an ongoing process in which the Sodeia commits itself to good works, reflects on itself, and becomes more pious and righteous person.
The Theologue is not so much a two-way discussion with the Theos as it is a conduit for Theos sent through the Acolya and the Avatara to the Sodeia. For an Acolyte, their Theologue comes directly from the Avatara. In this conduit, the Theos dictates duties to the Sodeia and recognizes the efforts of the Sodeia, while the Sodeia expresses its reverence and submission to the Theos.
The Monologue is an extension of the Theologue but one that does not directly contain the Theos, though the Theos specifies the content and defines the Monologue. While an individual process, Aretism emphasizes the collective nature of the Monologue as the Monologue is often referred to as one voice of the collective Sodeia. This theme of collective suffering is omnipresent in the Theocracy and in Aretist theology, and the idea of an individual Monologue is used exclusively in terms of a part of a larger whole, rather than a whole comprising of a multitude of parts.
The Aretic theory of the afterlife is based on the idea of Judgement, where the psychi is judged based on its actions during its life. Following this evaluation, it is either destroyed, called the Utopia, placed in an intermediate state of waiting, called the Schitopia, or rewarded by becoming part of the Theos. This final condition has no word in Aretic religion because no human has ever achieved it, even before the downfall of man. The term used is the simply the negation of Utopia, Autopia. However, by advancing mankind toward a state of Arete, it will be possible to move those psychi trapped in Schitopia into this ideal ultimate state.
Purification is considered the most vital part of both the Theologue and the Monologue, as it deals with the amelioration of the amartia inherent in every psychi. Under Aretism, the sodeia is expected to commit themselves to righteous thought and action as well as self-punishment for their amartia. Only then can the Ascention take place.
Sodeia will often engage in hard manual labor, self-flagellation, spartan lifestyles, and other physical and mental manifestations of cleansing through Purification.
Services at Aretic Churches are held daily at sunrise and sunset, and usually last between 1-2 hours. A Sodeia wears a special religious habit to service, made of heavy black cloth symbolizing the expectant psychi awaiting cleansing. The Sodeia generally sit on red mats in the main hall of the Church, with the Acolyte Priest, called an ιερέας(iereas), in a pulpit at the head of the room. Prayers and chants are done from The Aretia, a compilation of holy texts believed to have been assembled by the first Covenant itself. . A sample service:
- Opening Prayer
- Invocation to Theos
- Three-seven excerpts from The Aretia
- This is followed by long, sustained intonations of single musical notes, symbolizing Theos' omnipresence.
- Meditation session
- This lasts for 30 minutes and is intended to purify thought and the mind so that the Sodeia may engage in its Theologue
- Sermon on preparation for the afterlife.
- Second Meditation session
- This lasts for 45 minutes and includes the Sodeia assuming various physical poses designed to calm the soma and the psychi.
- The Sodeia self-flagellate as pennance for their amartia.
- The Sodeia reflects on the necessary steps in its process of Ascention.
- Closing Prayer
This area of Aretic religion is not definitively established by any one body. Collectively, it is termed the νόμος(nomos), "principle, law." Presently, it is determined and formed by the Avatara, who exercise complete discretion over its content. Generally, however, it includes mandates for simple, spartan living, purity of thought and action, and both collective and individual suffering as a fact of life.
In 2402, the Aretists took control of Sekowo applied their power structure to the nation. Immediately, some peculiar behaviors arose in the administration and culture. The installation of the power system was not ideal and The Avatara became absolute rulers through manipulation of the monetary and military resources of the nation. During the transition from Solentia to Sekowo, the brightest and most ambitious Acolya were purged from the movement. The modern Acolya were mere servants and the Dema was insignificant.
The King in YellowEdit
The Avatara was as reclusive as ever. Hidden from the public eye, they began to use a psychoactive drug known as "flavian" in order to "connect with the Theos. Flavian is a type of rare mushroom that releases fumes when heated over a flame. The Avatara were known to sit around the flavian fumes and enter catatonic states for days on end. Perhaps on account of these practices, their perception of the Theos moved from an abstraction to a physical being known as "The King in Yellow." The King in Yellow has never been completely described, but he is known to wear either a marble white mask or a yellow veil, or both; he represents the excess and abuse of wealth, the ruin of power, the pain of contact with the Theos, and the decay of the physical self with the ascent of the spiritual. This represented in many ways the current state of the Avatara. Flavian causes rapid physical deterioration that includes the yellowing of flesh, the rotting of teeth, the loss of hair, and various skin conditions.
The Rise of the AcolytaEdit
Flavian is the rarest of all sought-after substances. It takes thousands of tons of an especially bitter wheat grain to grow just an ounce of the dried mushroom extract. The Avatara, in their addiction, require vast amounts of the substance; this is something that only the Acolya can provide. Thus, the administrative class has an ever-growing power over their rulers. This influence has grown recently, with the Acolya taking their places as overlords of Sekowo. A feudal system has arisen in which the Acolya rule farmland areas centered around a fortified residence. Here, they harvest the grain needed for the flavian and rule in their own right as lords over the weak Dema.
- "All self-proclaimed paths to enlightenment hitherto the Aretist movement have failed... because they failed to recognize that a sinful man cannot hope to gain from any wisdom offered by a man marked by the same sin" --from The Tribulations of Man
- "What is Aretism? Aretism is the human being in its rightful state" --from The Tribulations of Man
Rasaul, 1rst Acolya PrimaEdit
- "Suffering is the necessary antidote to the toxicity of modern existence" --at the First Aretist Symposium.
|Radical-Leftism||Communism - Anarchism - Lindenism - Collectivism - Federal Collectivism - Endrinism|
|Upper-Leftism||Socialism - Nuncirism - Federalism - Unionism - Panterranism|
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|Upper-Rightism||Capitalism - Czarism - Logarchism - Pan-Dundorfianism|
|Radical-Rightism||Aretism - Axism - Phalangism - Radical Nationalism - Victorieuxism - Thallerism - Fascism - Frankensteinism|