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OnceFatal

A theory... about where Chaos comes from

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The war between Law and Chaos is a mainstay of fantasy literature. Usually humans are caught in between and have to somehow navigate the balance.  This is seen in the works of Michael Moorcock and in even in science fiction (Babylon 5 had these elements big time).  Warhammer 40k is odd in that it is one of the few settings with Forces of Chaos, but no counterbalancing (and usually equally malignant) Forces of Law. 

What if the above isn't true.  It's implied heartily that The Golden Throne does something a lot more than just keep The Emperor in near-death and serve as a beacon for warp travel.  20,000 psykers a day are sacrificed to it.  The discussions about it look like some sort of massive magical ritual that has been ongoing for centuries. 

Meanwhile, if there's one word to describe The Imperium, that word is control.  Technology has stagnated, The Ecclesiarchy has its boot on everyone's neck, free thought is absolutely put down.  A goal of The Imperium would be a static universe, with only humans in it, and those humans would be kept at the same technology level, and firmly within control of a centralized authority forever. 

I wonder if this isn't the great ideological red-herring of Warhammer 40k.  Perhaps there ARE the forces of Law and perhaps they ARE every bit as malignant as The Forces of Chaos.  What if The Emperor is working to become a Lord of Law (as opposed to a Lord of Chaos)?  He's getting these energies fed to him at massive rates from everywhere in The Galaxy, what if he's using them to transform himself, slowly, into an actual God? 

In this way, there could be a Law/Chaos balance in Warhammer 40k. It also to some degree explains why Chaos doesn't really have a lot of sway amongst the other alien races. If you see Chaos as what pops out when beings try to obtain control (A sort of 'algebra' where as soon as your empire tries to do '+1' a '-1' of chaos somewhere appears), then it makes sense that Orks or Slaugth don't seem to have much problem with Chaos. Orks want to fight, Slaugth want to feed, neither really sees control as an ends, and both only use control to a limited agree to achieve other ends.  Both also are perfectly ok with things going haywire so long as they benefit from the disorder. 

The Eldar used to try to have control, but that went poorly, and they ended up creating a Chaos lord from it.

Could it be then, that the Emperor is 'creating' Chaos, in his effort to become Law?  This could lead to all sorts of interesting plot elements because The Eldar would have figured something like this out. 

What if Warhammer 40k is simply Law vs Chaos, but from Law's point of view?

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Truth be told, I think the emperor already is a "Lord of Law" and not really by his choosing. From what I've heard, he had a different plan for the future of humanity, and being raised to Godhood and revered as such wasn't part of it. However, humanity needed him to keep the whole of it united, so he was entombed the golden throne.  I think it more likely, that your theory is correct, but with humanity itself as the cause rather than the emperor.

 Try looking at it this way;

The warp seems to mirror the emotional state of real-space. For instance, way back when (during the war between the necrons, eldar, etc etc) the warp wasn't brimming with demons and naturally malicious predators until after it was being drawn upon (psyker abilities) to wage a horrendous war through-out the galaxy (this may be exaggerated on my part, don't know too much about the war). The Yu'vath created hell worlds (centers of nasty warp tides) using world-wide human sacrifice and machine-enhanced agony in psykers (in essence massive human misery). The imperium,as a whole, always seemed to be embroiled in warp storms whenever it was suffering through the ages (such as the age of strife or the age of aposty). The storms only seemed to abate after peace was restored (look at the story of Sebastion Thor).

 

Now look at the paradoxical existance of the imperium. It in a constant state of decay, yet simultaneously trying to maintain the status quo. It constantly enforces order with an iron fist, but in doing so it pushes its citizenry to rebellion (anarchy). It's chief source of chaos comes from the disaffected masses of the imperium who see chaos as a source of escape/freedom. Its in a constant state of oppresion, misery and paranoia (feeding the warp), but in an unending fight to maintain the ideals of the emperor and keep order throught-out the galaxy (holding back the warp). Never going forward, never going back. Do you even think that most of the chaos Gods would exist if humanity didn't give form to them.

To sum it all up, humanity is its own worst enemy.

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Michael Moorcock's "Eternal Champion" and in particular the Stormbringer series is where a lot of it comes from. That was slightly more evident in the WH-Fantasy, Tolkien-swords, sorcery and magical species setting more than 40k. Which in a lot of ways 1-step distanced itself from the direct black and whites of Law-Chaos and is probably more heavily influenced by Frank Herbert (Dune) and Joe Halderman (The Forever War) wheels within wheels machinations of more mundane power-bases in the galaxy that have their backing from those forces as their motivation.

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I don't think we need forces of Law in the 40K universe to juxtapose them against the forces of Chaos. Life itself is law, and the attempts of the various races in the universe to survive, create societies, dream of empire, that's all law and order and structure as opposed to the seething mass of un-being that is Chaos.

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 I concur with the Laughing God. 

That said, I happen to feel that the C'tan, more than anything (including the Old Ones and/or/being the Eldar Pantheon etc) embody the aspirations of the 'Gods of Law' (in the sense that the Chaos Gods aren't 'gods of chaos' in the common fantasy style).

This yields a very broad, complex and not easily delineated/stratified spectrucm or contiuum of placement for the so-called gods. Take 'The Outsider', one of the four C'tan lords of the Necrons (and others?) and presumably a force for Law, right? Except he's insane. 

And Nurgle? Well, Nurgle just wants everything to join him in his dance of decay. In the Fantasy Audiobook "Aenarion" the voices of nurgle are seriously enticing. 

My point is that 40k doesn't really neatly divide up that way. It's too complicated. Too...jumbled, perhaps. Look at the latest Codex: Dark Eldar, it has star-worshipping Dark Eldar living within the webway worshipping captured suns. I'm going to be they're some sort of legacy of madcap semi-C'tan worshippers. Or torturers. Torturing baby-c'tan, the nascent, 'animalistic' star vampires...

Okay, that's a wild leap, but you see my point, the divisions don't really 'square' satisfactorially. That said, I don't think the overarching idea is rubbish by anywhere near a longshot. In fact, I'm a massive fan of something somewhat similar: The Emperor is 'on the cusp'.

The Golden Throne, like the Golden Throne of Mars (the Akashic Reader), the Ork Throne (seen in "Heroes of the Space Marines") and the Emperor's Silver Throne ("Faith and Fire"). These are all inherently massive psychic-amplifying devices. I rather like the idea that the Emperor wasn't quite as powerful as he is now *until* he discovered the Golden Throne. The Golden Throne is more than just a life-support, more than just a conduit which allows him to directly construct his own webway ("Collected Visions") and more than just a psy-booster. It's a connection to a legacy of something before him.

The arcane history of the Emperor is that the human shamans who sacrificed themselves to create him had themselves inherited the fragments of 'ancient gods'. The Vaul Moon, where the Void Dragon c'tan resided after wounding by Vaul's weapons in the War in Heaven, seems to be Earth or Mars. I'm going to say that the Emperor inherited something of the essence of Vaul, but something else also. Lots of somethings else, perhaps.

Anyway: the Emperor, by the time of the Great Crusade, could be on the verge of being a super-psychic Old One, perhaps ascending to become some sort of daemon-prince or actual 'pantheon god' like Gork/Mork, Qah of the Hrud ("Xenology") or Cegorach/Khaine/Vaul of the Eldar (various) or, dare I say it, Ynnead, the Eldar God of the Dead. Imagine if the Emperor caught and consumed the infinity circuits? Would he be Ynnead?

Anyway, I digress. The Emperor by the Great Crusade stood on a verge/crossroads (pick analogy as best you can understand what I'm waffling about). Old One, Daemon Prince, Added to the Pantheon, Chaos God. There's a few options, wouldn't you say? 

I always liked the idea that Lorgar had an inkling as to what He could conceivably have become, that the worship of the Emperor was a genuine thing which had real effects and that Lorgar couldn't fathom why the Emperor was disavowing himself of that sort of thing. But again, I digress.

After the Horus Heresy, most of those options were ruined. Ten thousand years later, if the Emperor dies, I rather like the idea that he becomes a 'Fifth Chaos God'. Perhaps some component manages to flee and contemporaneously merge with the souls of the dead eldar and become Ynnead. Perhaps some obscure fragment becomes the Star Child. Perhaps, even, another bit goes on to reincarnate as the Emperor all over again.

But what of everything else? The worship? The belief? The certainty? The people who obey the clerics and the priests, not the Emperor directly. As others have (in my view: correctly) surmised, the Imperial Cult is all about control and obedience. Obedience and ignorance, as I like to call it.

And thus, the other, most massive part of the Emperor, the bit which isn't about personal human salvation and isn't about some grand metaphysical awesomeness of humanity, but the bit where every one of the trillions of drudging humans grudgingly accept Him On Earth throw the brutality of ther clerical masters...that bit becomes a fifth Chaos God wholly concerned with Obedience and Ignorance. In the style of Graham McNeill, I call it 'Revelation'.

Humbug! What MKX says about the 'real world origins' is pretty spot on, as best I can tell.

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Equal and opposite is sort of myth, they even found out last year that matter and anti-matter don't exist in equal amounts which kind of turns a lot of theories about constancy and equality in our universe on their heads. But back to the 40k theme...

*SPOILER ALERT*

 

I don't know if the OP has read any of the Horus Heresy books, but it's fairly evident that the Emperor was far from omniscient back then. His supposedly amazing sons in the form of the primarchs each had their own massive failings, and if each of them embodied an aspect of the Emperor (Horus his force of personality, Lorgar his hope, Dorn his stoicness etc) then surely all of their bad traits were inherited from him too? It's shown time and again that many of the renegade primarchs turned to Horus purely because the Emperor was more of an arse towards them.

It's stated that the golden throne, which would have connected the Imperium to the eldar webway, was intended to be occupied by Magnus, but Magnus was so concerned by Horus' building heresies that he became obsessed and broke the throne and the Emperors plans. The Emperor then sent Russ to destroy all of Magnus' works (a sign of petty retribution perchance?) and it was only at seeing all he had wrought burnt to the ground that Magnus finally accepted Chaos and turned on the Imperium.

 The Alpha Legion joined Chaos because a conclave of wise and ancient xenos from across the galaxy, known as the Cabal, explained that Chaos is fuelled by adversity and negative emotion. They prophecised that if the Emperor wins the civil war then the stagnation we see now would become the eventual downfall of all life, and Chaos would win. But if Horus were to win, he would tear the Imperium apart and there would be little left to fuel Chaos, thus it could be fought more easily and possibly defeated.

Lorgar truly believed that his father was divine, but rather than attempt to explain to Lorgar and re-educate him, the Emperor glassed one of his planets and turned his back on Lorgar. Lorgar then went seeking truth, and the devious powers of Chaos lured him to their side through countless decades of pre-planted hints and clues that the daemons of the warp were the one true power. Yet untill the end Lorgar still believed in the Emperor's divinity, he just finally rebuked it and turn his own back on his father.

 

*END OF SPOILERS*

I think it's safe to say that the Emperor is far from a god of Law or Good, he is a god of Stability, or maybe even Stagnation, but this assumes he is even a god at all. I honestly believe his denial of divinity was true, and whilst the events of the Horus Heresy have escalated him above mere mortalhood, he is at best the equivalent of a daemon prince, or maybe even a demi-god, but just a very powerful one. An age of reasoning and enlightenment was meant to be what the great crusades ushered in, but instead all humanity got was another internicine struggle, another schism that rent assunder what little unity had been clawed back during the Unification Wars.

So yeah, i think the supposedly Immortal god Emperor is highly over-rated.

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