Posted by Tanos on Fri 9 Dec 11, 10:51 PM
It's been a pretty momentous day, with Eurozone countries and aspiring Eurozone countries forming their 'euro-plus' grouping with tighter controls on governments' borrowing and budgets. This may lead to the European Commission or something like it vetting and possibly vetoing the budgets of democratically elected governments, and I doubt Britain will be the only non-Euro country to refuse to sign in the end. In fact, I can see some Euro countries failing to participate if it goes to a referendum. So huge, defining political moments of our time etc etc. But all day it's been reminding me of Laura Antoniou's Marketplace books.
The Marketplace series describes a secret worldwide network of consensual slave-owners dating back to the 19th century. This isn't some seedy backroom human trafficking ring either: the members own everything from smart apartments in town, mansions in their own grounds, and grand country estates. In the fourth book, the Academy, they gather in Japan for one of their regular conferences, and there's a dispute between rival views of the future of the organisation there too.
The catalyst is Geoff Negel, who repudiates the "classic" Marketplace model of trainers of slaves starting their careers as slaves of older trainers. So that they can properly understand it all of course. A carry over from the claim you sometimes hear in Leather and online BDSM that all the best doms started as subs.
Negel is repeatedly portrayed as "spoiling it" by doing various things that don't conform to the One True Way of the Marketplace: the aforementioned lack of switching from one role to another; his desire to make ownership more accessible by providing guidance to prospective owners; his informality and lack of the expected deference to his elders. All this leads to him turning out slaves that aren't trained correctly.
At the conference, the central character of the books, Chris Parker, attempts to impose central control on the training process to do something about Negel. Maybe Negel really is like Greece in EU terms and acting irresponsibly. Anyway, Parker's solution is rather like Angela Merkel's: enshrine the Right Way to run things in immutable laws and then impose sanctions on anyone who doesn't abide by them.
However, during the conference it becomes clear this isn't going to work. Parker gets some support, but enough people refuse to live in a straightjacket imposed by some central bureaucracy that he withdraws the proposal. Instead he does something rather like what Nicolas Sarkozy wanted all along for the EU: create a new structure, with new rules, that people will want to join, and the price of joining is submission to the new rules. This is the new Euro-plus group and the price of joining the Euro and getting all that nice German taxpayers' money to guarantee your economy to the banks is submitting your budget every year for external, prior approval.
In the Marketplace, Chris Parker calls this The Regents. The one change he asks for, and gets, is that trainers that are approved by some group can display that as part of the details of all their slaves that are sold. By book five, the kudos of having this special "Regents" mark means trainers are queuing up to submit themselves to Regents trainers and their programme of humiliation and initiation which somehow makes a good trainer.
When I first read this, the obvious solution was for Negel to start his own endorsement organisation as an alternative to the Regents. A "Monarch" is one step up from a "Regent" for instance. His slaves would then be advertised with that competing mark, and he'd let brand confusion nullify Parker's attempt to drive him out of business.
Britain doesn't have that luxury, since we're probably going to be in a minority of between half a dozen and one once any referendum dust has settled. But I can't help thinking that as long as we maintain access to our major marketplace, the Single Market, then we're probably going to be ok anyway. And with the EU treaties themselves unchanged, we can use the European Court of Justice to stop any attempt to interfere with our freedom to sell goods and services into other EU countries.
Possession. Ownership. Consent. Responsibility. Respect. House. Service. Dignity. Authenticity. Rituals.
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