Lord of Sng'rja

The Hon. Lord of Sng′rja′ PC OA (Shinasthana: 楚侯, sng′rja′-go; Jan. 5, 1810 – Feb. 24, 1879) was a Themiclesian civil servant and Liberal politician. He served as Prime Minister of Themiclesia twice from 1862 to 1866 and again from 1869 to 1872.  He is regarded as a key leader of the 19th century whose policies have supported industrialization and the pioneer of the Sng′rja Convention, which formalized democratic government in Themiclesia. He attempted to prevent the use of the lower rungs of the Civil Service as patronage rewards, which gave a considerable political advantage to Conservatives. The modern two-party system was accepted as a political norm during his first permiership.

Early career

The Lord of Sng′rja′ came to prominence when he inherited his father's seat in the House of Lords in 1847, early in the Lord of Rjai-lang's premiership. With only six years of magisterial service under his belt, he was viewed as an innocent face for Rjai-lang's provocative and volatile administration. At the youthful age of 37, he was made the Inner Administrator to replace the Lord of Ghor (桓侯, ghor-go), who made no effort to collect land tax from the nobility.  

However, Sng′rja′ grew in tact during his years in Rjai-lang's government. At the end of his premiership, deadlock became usual between the Conservative-dominated upper house and Liberal-dominated lower house. Ghor and Rjai-lang, later Sng′rja′, each sought to breach the structural barriers that predisposed each chamber to their dominant populations. While Ghor fervently devised a policy for enfranchised commoners appealing to tradition and moderation, Sng′rja′ appealed to peers' sense of leadership and the dangers of a changing world, which he said would "affect the interests of the aristocracy first." Rjai-lang came to regard him as a potent, likeable figure in the upper house and made him Foreign Secretary in 1858.

First premiership

When Rjai-lang left office in 1859, Ghor was appointed prime minister, achiving very little. As Rjai-lang's deputy, Sng′rja′ came to power in 1862 after opinions returned in favour of the Liberals. During this period, Themiclesia had a tense relationship with the Camians and attempted to pry Maverica away from them. Imitating what the Lord of Ran did in 1840, he provided weapons to the Kashubians at discounted prices; to pacify the Camians, his cabinet reduced tariffs on Camian imports. However, the Camians instead issued letters of marque against Themiclesian vessels in the Halu'an Sea and seized those in Camia's ports. Parliament became despondent at Sng′rja′s, and the House of Lords turned against his government. He refused to resign until the elections of 1866, which saw a major Conservative victory under the Lord of Nja-'rjum.

Opposition

Nja-'rjum's government proved ephemeral. The Camians refused to free Themiclesia's ships and instead gifted them to Maverica, in expectation of an anti-Themiclesian alliance. Camia demanded the Isle of Liang in exchange of a non-aggression pact, but Nja-'rjum instead demanded £1,200,000 for the island, which the Camians rejected. Meanwhile, Camian ships from the north and Maverican ships from the south sailed against Themiclesia, while the island was surrendered to Camia in 1867. The two fleets blockaded the Gulf until June 1868, while the navy was ordered not to give battle. The resulting peace treaty required Themiclesia to pay reparations and abolish tariffs on Maverican and Camian imports. As both were agricultural exporters, Nja-'rjum became anathema to Conservatives, who generally sought to defend rural productivity.

Second premiership

In Jan. 1869, the Liberals returned a majority in Parliament, and Sng′rja′ was soon appointed prime minister. The effects of Nja-'rjum's disastrous premiership made Sng′rja′s second one appear exceptionally successful. Decreased rural productivity due to competition from imports forced less efficient peasants to sell their land or end their tenancies and move to the cities in search of work. Cheaper, imported food in cities supported workers more easily at great concentrations, and new-arrivals in cities further suppressed labour prices. This influx of cheap labour is thought to have enabled many industries to industrialize initially, and those already industrialized to expand and become more competitive in the export market.

While Sng′rja′s permiership was considered, even by contemporaries, as a boon to industrial productivity, living standards dropped precipitously during this period. There were multiple cholera outbreaks in shantytowns erected out of planks and mud-bricks (nearby wood having long been exhausted) in many cities, smog was widely reported as nuissances, and crimes by desperate urban-dwellers, severed from traditional social structures, skyrocketed.

Visit to Macchia

After leaving office in 1872, Sng′rja′ departed from Themiclesia on a tour of Macchia, having been invited there by Themiclesian merchants. Sng′rja′ met the Macchian head of state, the Hueytlatoani, soon after he landed.

In a string of recorded conversations, Sng′rja′ discussed several topics with senior figures in the Macchian government, giving a glimpse into his personal views about the development of economies and living standards. Sng′rja′ said that "money must be held by those seeking to enlarge it," referring to his distaste for aristocrats holding money in reserve and only using it to bribe each other or to consume conspicuously. The principal vice of the agrarian sector, according to him, is that it tends to quiescence—the aristocracy owns and leases out land, not generating anything of value and passively collecting rent. The businessman, on the other hand, does not have such a luxury—money does not regenerate itself—and must spend it and create goods that command more money. This, Sng′rja′ holds, interests them in "a perpetual pursuit of productivity", and "in our time, the nation that produce the most from the least, commands the world's money and its owners."

The second part of the discussions focused on Sng′rja′s social policies. Kien-k'ang was a city of about 620,000 when he entered politics, but by 1872 its population had doubled. Influent migrants settled in the commercially-active south, and shantytowns served by few amenities and subject to frequent disease outbreaks sprung up near factories and markets.[1] Questioned for his inaction, Sng′rja′ replied that Themiclesia's exports faced stern competition from Tyran, Sieuxerr, and others; policies improving shantytowns must tax into commercial profits. "removing money from the man seeking its enlargement and providing it to the idle." Sng′rja′ added that many abused gambling and "other vices", which did not "generate anything of value or provide moral and intellectual uplift". Furthermore, he believed labourers "of an enterprising character" could build their own businesses "even though an idea might now be all they have"; this he reasoned is because capitalists (particularly banks) desire returns and do not always have adequate ideas, and investing in such "ideas" is one way to obtain them.[2]

See also

Notes

  1. In 1870, 90% of the city's population lived on 7% of its land. This proportion becomes even more skewed towards 1900.
  2. Sng′rja′ said, "You ask me how a labourer working twelve or thirteen hours a day might change his condition. I say, with several examples that have occurred under my colleagues' and my administration, that workers are not idiots. They observe how the method is inadequate or machine faulty, and they have solutions. They say to the banks, 'Lo, I stand to make an enterprise with this improvement that I made, and your money better rests with my operation than that of my employer.' A bank which desires a borrower with superior prospects here and beyond the seas would soon select the labourer over his employer. The labourer enriches himself, repays his loan and interest to the bank, and improves his country's balance of trade. Such a man I call a patriot, above all others."