The adversary–enemy distinction is a concept specific to Gylian culture. It differentiates "adversaries", which denotes opponents and rivals who are not a threat and thus worthy of respect, from "enemies", which encompasses threats that are to be eliminated.
Each language spoken in Gylias has its terms for the concept. Most languages have simply adapted their existing vocabulary by designating certain words to mean "enemy" and others "adversary". The influence of Gylian French has led to the adoption of words derived from adversaire, such as adversary in English, adversário in Lusitan, and áibhirseoir in Ossorian Gaelic.
The adversary–enemy distinction was influenced by the nuanced morality of Concordianism, and emerged during the Quliyasi Jihad. The religious dimension produced an extraordinarily bitter conflict. Gylian chroniclers first commented during this time that the Acrean and Æþurian Vikings that had previously raided the Liúşai League were preferable to fight, as they merely sought plunder, whereas the monotheist Mansuris were a totalitarian and alien force.
Longinus' highly influential guerrilla warfare and psychological warfare tactics were much-copied and became standard among the League, further accustoming Gylics with distinguishing between "immediate threats" and "mere vexations".
The concept was also used politically by the Free Territories, helping unite all anti-Xevdenite factions in the second phase of the Liberation War, and during the Golden Revolution, helping consolidate the Gylian consensus.
The concept differentiates between adversaries and enemies, and emotions accordingly associated with them. Adversaries should be understood as rivals and opponents — people with different worldviews or stances, who oppose a course of action or idea, but who do not constitute a threat. Adversaries are not viewed negatively, but with mutual respect, and it's expected that one will maintain civil or friendly relations with them outside of the specific issues that are the cause of disagreement.
Enemies are understood as threats and are associated with negative emotions, without any respect. They are to be met with resistance and destruction to remove the danger they pose.
The concept parallels the wicked–evil distinction: much like the "wicked" are conceptualised as charismatic rebels viewed with "sneaky admiration" and the "evil" are abhorred and ostracised, adversaries are good-humouredly accepted and treated in a good sporting manner while enemies are fought and destroyed.
Related concepts include the notion of "adversarallies" — allies against a greater threat with whom one is normally in disagreement.
The adversary–enemy distinction is a fundamental concept in Gylian society, and has been influential on its culture. It is best summarised by the Gylian saying, "Whoever isn't against us is with us", which implicitly includes adversaries in the ingroup against the outgroup.
The concept is commonly seen in Gylian popular culture, particularly through an emphasis on giving heroic characters suitably worthy adversaries. Esua Nadel celebrated the distinction in her columns, and often humorously emphasised having a "good adversary" as one of the components of her vision of the "good life". The platonic ideal of the adversary and their characterisation is central to rezy.
The concept has played a key role in consolidating the Gylian consensus and shaping Gylian politics. Historians have commented that the Golden Revolution's strength was using the concept to separate active threats — authoritarians, reactionaries, bigots — from mere rivals at odds over specific issues — such as liberals, progressive conservatives, and populists. Its success rests on the binding of opponents into broad agreement on the fundamental tenets of the Gylian consensus against enemies.
The fierce hostility between the Gylian centre-right, represented by the NB, and the right and far-right, represented variously by the CC, UFP, and FROS, derives from the adversary–enemy distinction and its resulting internalisation. Mainstream conservatives thus identify as rivals of the left on particular issues but fundamentally support the goals and achievements of the Golden Revolution, while the far-right actively seeks its destruction. A similar dynamic appears between the left, far-left, and authoritarian far-left.
Certain groups and historical figures have used both the adversary–enemy and wicked–evil distinctions to secure a niche in Gylian political culture as harmlessly eccentric presences, including market anarchists and the post-Futurists of the ARENA.
Several iconic figures with "wicked" images during the Liberation War gained a degree of public acceptance for their status as honourable adversaries rather than dangerous enemies, most notably Lidia Leone and Emilia Malandrino. Emilia particularly made use of this reputation in her political career after the war.
Criminals with a glamorous, "wicked" reputation can also be said to cultivate an image as adversaries rather than enemies in order to attain public attention and a degree of pragmatic tolerance, especially in the case of the Mava Organisation.
The concept is a notable illustration of Gylias' "universal but not absolute" approach to human rights. The Gylian public broadly supports the use of "expulsion from the community" as the most severe legal punishment and maintenance of social quarantine areas because they are seen as reserved solely for enemies.
The distinction is an important influence on Gylian attitudes towards religion. Allamunnic prime minister Eleanor Henderson reflected in her memoirs that "Gylians will consider monotheism itself an implacable enemy, but individual monotheists can be merely opponents if they don't bother anyone." She noted with amusement that fellow faculty members who held forth at length on the evils of monotheist religions would respond with "shrugs and apathy" to her mention of her religion, which she kept otherwise private.