A third post about the diophel, an alien species
Diophel primitive society survived a long period of time – unusually, many practices typically associated with more advanced societies, including metallurgy and writing, were first developed among primitive flocks. As a result, written records exist chronicling the birth of Diophel civilisation; however, this is of little interest to scholars, since the records are in long-forgotten languages that cannot be deciphered.
In any case, the status quo could not continue forever. In particularly fertile area, alliances of flocks became more long-lasting and solid – vendettas arose between rival alliances, which gradually were resolved through conquest. Within alliances, divisions of labour spread, followed by urbanisation. Flocks had many of their social functions usurped by new ‘super-flocks’ formed by binding and branching. In short, civilisation arose.
But the biggest change came a short while after the rise of the first small city-states: a total reversal in gender politics. As explained above, diophel society had previous centred on female-female relationships, which prototypically were fixed blood-relationships, or rigid emulations of blood-relationships. Females in primitive and early civilised society were fixed in a social network that was concrete, and highly local. Within the flock, and to a lesser extent the super-flock, females had strong relationships, but outside this territory they had little contact with others and even less a relationship with them. Males, however, enjoyed far more fluid relationships, as they moved between groups, and groups moved between areas. When cities arose, it was male relationships that came to the fore. One part of this was the arising of organised priesthoods, but of greater lasting significance was the development of trade networks, currencies, and commercial groups. Females continued to relate to others largely in their role as individuals enmeshed in social relationships; males found it easier to adopt new practices in which they related to others in more abstract and universal terms. The cities became dominated by merchants, all male – at first, in a liberal and mercantile fashion, but later with increasing authoritarianism. Rich males sought to control their poorer rivals; guilds and merchant syndicates sprang up to control access to wealth. Females were increasingly compelled to take the rich as mates, as the poor were prevented from seeking mating opportunities. Poor and young males were increasingly mutilated to signify their inferiority; polling of horns, and even castration, became common. Females were themselves eventually brought under direct control by the ruling males, entire flocks being claimed as harems by individual oligarchs. The greater physical strength and aggression of the females could do nothing to maintain their dominance, when opposed to the greater organisation of the males – a flock of a dozen female hunters could hardly be expected to stand against a mercenary army of a hundred or a thousand male warriors. Nor did these mercenaries confine themselves to dealing with local law and order issues (more or less equivalent to ‘controlling females’ – male diophel are generally peaceful and biddable, whereas females are prone to aggression when dealing with diophel from outside their immediate flock; this was made worse by the mass-production around this time of intoxicating substances); city-states would employ their male forces against neighbouring rural flocks and rival cities. Slavery was invented (though very rarely became widespread). City-states became empires. Some empires grew to envelope large parts of the globe.
This was the imperial age – a golden age in many ways. Science, arts and literature were advanced immeasurably, and for the most part, barring occasional border wars, peace and harmony prevailed across the planet. Population exploded.
However, the oligarchs could not ignore the potential of half their species forever. Females were increasingly elevated from the lowly position into which they had fallen – and in particular females were incoporated into the armies. This only stood to reason. Females were stronger, more vicious, and if deployed in flocks (or artificial flocks bred in the barracks) they showed greater loyalty and teamwork than the males. Gradually, females replaced males as the armed force of the oligarchs, and as a result bare financial systems of payment were replaced with systems of control more based on honour, kinship and loyalty.
This was the end of the imperial age. First cities and then empires began to experience revolutions, with the female armies seizing power from their oligarch masters. Not that the military revolutions should be seen purely in gender terms – many low-ranking males supported the change in leadership, and those who opposed the revolutionaries most strongly were typically the dominant females, as the new military hierarchies overthrew and subordinated the system of kinship and alliance between flocks that had always underlain the rule of the oligarchs.
What mattered most, however, was the impact on geopolitics. Polities ruled by female juntas quickly lost (largely through disinterest) their ability to orchestrate actions across large expanses – empires retained their names, but power devolved rapidly to the level of city-states once again.
The middle ages began. For diophel, the middle ages were a time of a literal war of the sexes: city after city experienced continual cycles of revolution, exchanging power between the female militaries and the male merchant elites. Now and then a polity succeeded in securing the primacy of one sex by destroying the power-base of the other – but in a world of many thousands of polities, a state that staved off internal revolution would eventually fall to external forces intent on restoring the basic rights of whichever sex had been disadvantaged. Other states experimented with liberalism, but fell victim in the same way to external aggression.
Finally, ‘modernity’ arrived, largely by accident. A particular form of political system – extreme female legal dominance combined with a great deal of liberalism in interpretation of the law – managed to secure itself on a small and neglected continent. Stability brought the implementation of many scientific advances (the middle ages had not been scientifically stagnant, but war and revolution and small polities made implementation of many advances impractical), which allowed population increases and military dominance that enabled these polities to spread their system of government around the globe. The victorious society was largely composed of C diophel, who rapidly transformed from a minor and geographically-restricted species into one of the most numerous.
Space exploration soon followed, and colonisation. The result was, again, war, both external (against turigd raids) and internal (between colonies who chose to adopt alternative forms of society). At home, too, ‘native’ states were rejecting the ‘modern’ governments in favour of their own, often masculine, regimes.
Diophel have now been in space for a millenium and a half. A general state of peace has largely obtained for the last six or seven centuries, though not without localised interruptions.
N.B. no, I don’t think that the tripartite classical/mediaeval/modern development of history is inevitable for all species and civilisations (it’s not even necessarily applicable everywhere on Earth), and I hadn’t originally planned for diophel history to mirror our own so closely. It just worked out like that.