Bergonian History:

The Selones

Revolutionary collectives

in Bergonia's medieval age



 Selone, pronounced "seh-LOAN-eh," in Nacateca meant something like "club" or  "association" or "collective."   

Furishece (and all his subsequent followers) imagined the selones functioning in many different ways-- residential communes, neighborhood associations, political or fraternal organizations, work collective, or all of these things, and later on even as the working local government.  But regardless of purpose or function, all selones had these characteristics: (a) voluntary membership, (b) democratic, which is to say governed by an assembly of members and a council elected by members, (c) supported by member donations, dues or labor, (d) a clear purpose of service to the greater good and to the mutual benefit of the membership. 

Of course the students and others interested in his ideas resolved to them into practice, and they actively organized selones.  The very first selone appeared, not surprisingly, in Cationi, and consisted of those who taught and studied at the University of Red and Black.  Furishece participated, but he disclaimed any thought of leadership and remained in the background.  His health was frail and all too soon in 1130 he passed away.  By that time selones had sprung up in the cities and towns all over western Bergonia.  

Selone members pooled their resources and rented or bought buildings which became their headquarters and, in many cases, collective homes.   The selone buildings usually had common kitchens, meeting rooms, and workshops.  The members came there to work, socialize, educate each other, watch each other's children, and do good works.  They typically ran what we now call charities, winning friends and supporters among their city's poor.  They often ran or sponsored bakeries, laundries, craftsmen to provide services for the benefit of members.  

The members regularly met in assembly and elected a council and various officers.  The council ran things between assembly meetings.  An elected chief or a three-man executive chaired all the meetings and supervised the officers in their work.  No one could hold an office for consecutive terms, and often the members chose their council by lot, rather than by elections.  

The larger cities hosted multiple selones-- Cationi, the largest city in western Bergonian at the time (as well as now) and the birthplace of the movement, had 27 selones.  In the larger cities the various selones and all their members formed broad associations to protect their interests, very much in the nature of prototypical political parties, as well as to coordinate activities (e.g. group bulk purchases, trading services). 

The men who established the selones were young idealists, men and women heavily intoxicated in the fresh mysteries of the Miradi religion and fascinated with the exploits of Churoflia.  Often they were the sons of rich traders, guild chiefs, officers of the trading houses, or literati, librarians and scribes.  (In German Europe these men would have been called Burghers.) The most idealist among them refrained from regular careers and put all their energies into the selone, causing grave disappointment for their fathers. They met in wine house and temples and on the street corners in between to engage in spirited, endless discussions.   They studied in the universities and prayed with the Miradi priests.   

In the selones' early days the members rarely came from the artisan guilds, and hardly ever from the working classes (e.g. porters, warehousemen, oarsmen, factory laborers), and never from the peasantry.  In modern times some Marxist theorists have said that the selone and the subsequent Tan movement were something akin to bourgeoisie movements, even though medieval Bergonia was hardly what anyone would have called industrial, and the urban underclass was very different from an industrial proletariat.  In time, however, the selones attracted people from every social class, and the selone ideals began percolating all throughout society, drawing admiration from some and scorn from others. 

Whatever their origins, selone members pursued one ideal, how to bring the Miradi vision into all aspects of life, including the social and political sphere.  They lived in noble poverty, eating and dressing simply and sensibly, all in imitation of the Miradi ideal.  They created for themselves a new image of the banda warrior; becoming warriors of the intellect and spirit.  Never did they take up weapons, and while they had no qualms about demonstrating in public or speaking their minds to their rulers, they absolutely eschewed violence.

Startling their more traditional contemporaries, they included in their ranks a great number of young single women.  All throughout Shufrantei civilization women had enjoyed much respect and considerable legal protection.  But women still ran the households and raised the children while men commanded all institutions and enterprises.  Only the priesthood and a number of the artisan crafts welcomed women.  Even within these, female Shufrantei priestesses usually assisted the male priests, and often married them.   Priestesses worked as seamstresses within the monasteries and as healers.  Within the guilds female artisans rarely filled important management posts.  Krathnami, however, wrought a change in the status of women.  He explicitly preached that women deserved as much consideration in life as men.  Though speaking primarily about the spiritual sphere of life, his preaching had considerable implications in other areas of life as well.  He entrusted much of the business of his new movement to Bishnat, his niece, and Bishnat ended up becoming the second most important of his immediate disciples.  Relying upon Krathnami's example, these  young  men welcome women into  their ranks, and many women joined in the vigorous debates and the  involved tasks of organizing.

These brave young men and women wanted to create a social structure that would express  Furishece's ideals, and they did so in the form of the selone.  The first selones were jumbled, flexible creations, with changing rules, and sometimes collapsing in chaos.   Several selones often formed in a single city, and competed with each other.  Elsewhere the selone became the organizing principle of the community, the town or village.  There were selones within selones, and in cases of communities rent by some old feud or clan division, there easily formed several selone, somewhat in competition with each other. 

In time the brilliant young men and women of the Clacupo cities found their ideas and experiences evolving toward a single conception of the selone, and a single code of conduct,  that became virtually universal throughout the burgeoning movement:  

The selone operated like an association or a corporate body, with a definite, formally established  membership.   One became a member by embracing the beliefs of the new order  and  actively participating in selone activities.  Borrowing from the clans and the ancient feticinai groups, most selones contrived initiation ceremonies for new recruits.  

The selone operated with the assembly of members at its center.  Newer members should defer to members with experience, but the experienced members should never take advantage of that deference.  Debate was always well-mannered, with no interruptions. The assembly designated a chair to control the proceedings, and while he acted firmly to steer deliberations, he could never express an opinion or openly take sides.  The members always wanted to achieve a consensus, and would compromise to do so.

The assembly elected a governing council, hopefully chosen by unanimous consent in accordance with the idea of Tatlesi Arecoti Nure, the "Unitary Consultation Method" that Furishece proposed for the selones.  The governing council would manage the affairs of the selone between assembly meetings. The governing council would then appoint officers and designate smaller bodies to manage particular functions, such as collecting food and clothing for  the  poor, maintaining selone buildings and property, keeping a treasury, supervising the selone library, arranging classes, debates and propaganda, managing relations with the Miradi temples, operating mutual aid programs for members in trouble, providing security, and conducting ceremonies, entertainment and rites.  Any member who wanted to participate in  an activity simply joined the activity.  

The selones vindicated in advance a certain branch of modern "multi-agent systems" theory, which apply mathematical modeling and computational power to sociological analysis.  "Learning Organizatian" theory, developed by P. Senge, looks for ways to overcome "learning deficiencies," which are identified as the main reasons for the relatively short life span of most organizations.   A learning organization is one that can spot error, learn from mistakes, and correct policy.  To achieve this  capacity an organization must collectively acquire five learning disciplines:  (a) Systems Thinking, common awareness that the organizations, are complex systems in which inter-related actions fully develop their effects only over time.  (b) Personal Mastery by the individual members subjective commitment to clearing his own vision and working on his own capacities & knowledge, i.e. self-development.   (c) the capacity to identify common an individual presumptions, generalizations and bias (i.e. Mental Models) that can distort and cloud judgment.  (d) Shared Vision , which means a set of goals that everyone enthusiastically adopts in common, which enhances the shared identity.  (e) Team Learning is the capability of team members to suppress their individual assumptions, making possible the free flow of meaning among members, and enabling the collective discovery of insights.  The selones in their original form incorporated all five characteristics.


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