Views of the Highest
Many worlds have life, but on most, life remains little more than pond scum, lichens upon the side of a rock facing a cold sun, or tiny animalcules darting through stagnant waters, too unaware to comprehend danger, however dimly, and too limited for their offspring or their offspring's offspring ever to rise from those waters to awareness and thence to aspirations and dreams to place a stamp upon an uncaring and indifferent universe.
Upon that mere handful of worlds hosting life-forms that rise above a thin grasp of rock and water, two kinds of life exist—that which is aimless and that which is directed from without. Long have there been those who claim that higher life is always directed from without, and that such guidance proceeds from a supreme being, a deity who shapes a world until intelligence emerges, then reveals the divine will to selected individuals.
This is a most comforting belief, yet, like most unthinking beliefs that offer comfort, there is little in the universe to support it. The multiplicity of barren worlds, as well as the demonstrated failures of such "divine guidance" in our own long history, should disabuse all but the most misguided of the illusion of the involvement of a supreme being in the affairs of life and living beings.
In fact, as the chronicles of hundreds of centuries demonstrate, life arises by chance and as it will. All too often higher life upon a world will arise, then vanish, at times leaving no record of its passing, at others, leaving ruins that suggest either poverty of spirit and aspiration or little of either, save procreation. Is then life a game of chance, a set of bone-dice rolling itself against the odds?
Alector's Choice - chapter:4
The greatest struggle that faces any people, especially a people who would be great and leave an imprint upon a universe that offers neither reward nor punishment, is to see the universe as it is, not as they would have it be. Because all life begins with the irrational and evolves away from it, all beings capable of even the most basic of thoughts begin with an attachment to the irrational. Feelings precede thought, and all who have borne and loved an offspring understand the strength of such emotion. Yet that strength of feeling should serve a true perception of what is, and that perception must be grounded in what is observed, what can be proved, and what can be replicated, without fault, without deviation, time after time.
In any society, even in a higher civilization such as ours, only a comparative handful of individuals ever escape from the tyranny of the irrational. Nor should it be expected that any greater number should so advance themselves in that manner of thought and outlook. That is so because true perception requires one to turn his or her back upon the comfortable and the familiar and to question not only what others see as acceptable and proper way of life, but one's own predilections and observations. Few have the strength and insight to do so; fewer still the will.
Of the insects, there are millions upon millions upon millions. Of the rodents and lizards and the fish in the streams and the oceans, there are millions upon millions. Of the cattle in the fields and the sheep in the meadows, there are many millions. Of those of our shape who toil in the fields and in the manufacturies, there are millions. Yet, of those who lead and guide them, who see each world as it is, there are but scant thousands. That is the way of life and the universe. To see it otherwise is but an illusion of the irrational.
Alector's Choice - chapter:14
There are those who claim life is sacred in and of itself, or on behalf of some deity, yet they do not refer to all life, but that of their own kind. If they do claim that of all life, then they are either ignorant, or hypocrites, or both. To live, every being steals from another, for to live one must consume food. Consuming food is taking the life of another, or eating what another might have consumed to live, if not both. All cannot be equally sacred if one is prey to the other, and thus less than the other.
One who truly believes that the end purpose of life is but to create more life—for whatever purpose—is not a thinking being, but a steer as fit for slaughter as any in a livestock pen. The smallest of creatures strive to reproduce to the limits of the food at hand. If beings capable of thought and reflection only strive to eat, pleasure themselves as they can, and reproduce to the limits of their world, what makes such beings any different from those millions of so-called lower creatures who live but to eate and reproduce? Can such beings be truly said to reflect any higher purpose than that of all other animals?
Such beings will claim that they are indeed different, for they have tools, and they have developed weapons and cities. Yet the jackdaws and ravens use tools, and a weapon is but one form of tool. The ants and termites have cities. To say that one's own form of life is special, or sacred, does not make it so. Nor does the assertion that some unknown and unproved deity has declared a people or a faith special make either a faith or a people special. Again, that is but an assertion based on a faith that has no root in what is, except a desire for it to be so.
The actions and purposes of a species are what determines its worth. Those actions must be more than the assertion of privilege and blind reproduction. Those actions must challenge the worlds and the stars. They must create beauty, art, and devices that none have seen before.
Life is not sacred or exceptional merely because it exists, or because one asserts that it is, but by what it attempts, and by what it achieves. That is what has always distinguished us. We have not striven merely to reproduce, or to comfort ourselves with toys, pleasures, and food. We have changed whole worlds, and we have created art and beauty where there was none before.
What we have done is what has given us the right to claim that we are above the steers…
Alector's Choice - chapter:49
What then is the role of belief for an alector in these times and those to come?
Understanding the role that belief lays upon the undiscerning is the first step. There are beings who discern and those who do not. Those who discern are, in the normal course of events, of the alectors, although we must admit that not all alectors are as discerning as they should be, and some discern not at all. Likewise, not all people of the lands are undiscerning, and, as will be discussed later, those of the lands who are discerning are most dangerous and must be handled with the greatest of care.
Whether alectors or peoples of the lands, those who do not discern are but the highest of the animals. Because they are like unto the cattle of the fields and the sheep in the meadows, a discerning alector's role is to care for them. They must be fed, and they must be kept happy and healthy. They must also come to understand that not all their desires can be satisfied, and therein lies the role of justice and discipline, for, as in the case of animals, one cannot appeal to the reason of an undiscerning individual, for one such has no true ability to reason. Rather, such an individual wants and feels, then uses a crude form of logic to rationalize those desires. The most dangerous are those who are skilled with the tools of logic and reason and yet have no true understanding of the universe that surrounds them, for they will use such logic to make themselves the centre of their limited world, regardless of the cost to others—or to themselves.
Most important, because not all desires can be satisfied, an alector must also offer comfort to the undiscerning. One of those comforts is that of faith, the comfort of the irrational, the comfort of believing that a supreme being cares for each and every being who prays to this deity. An alector may claim "But I care for those for whom I am responsible." That should indeed be true, but the truth as such does not offer comfort to the undiscerning, for an alector is not seen as a supreme being.
It matter not that an alector ensures that murderers are caught and punished, or that food is shared equitably so that none starve. It matters not that an alector provides justice and a land where the industrious prosper. The undiscerning will not praise the alector for such; they will claim that all the benefits provided by the alectors are the "will of the deity."
For these reasons, a truly wise alector will always align himself with the perceptions of the undiscerning. He will not claim credit for what he has done, but will remain modest, and assert that he was but carrying out the will of the deity, "the One Who Is," or "the Almighty," or whatever divine appellation the undiscerning of that time and place have adopted. By so positioning himself he will reduce unrest among those over whom he is placed to care, and thus minimize the use of force and applied justice.
Alector's Choice - chapter:70
All alectors who deal with steers each and every day must keep in mind that there are significant differences in outlook between alectors and steers. Some of those differences, while fundamental, are anything but obvious to casual observation. One of the most critical differences is that steers instinctively believe that there is an intrinsic worth to each and every person, no matter how useless or even destructive an individual may be. This is often expressed in terms such as, "every life is sacred" or "we are all worthy in the eyes of [whatever deity is fashionable]."
As alectors, we understand the feelings behind such quaint phrases. All beings who can think, even those who do so on a rudimentary level, seek meaning in their lives. They wish to be appreciated, to be recognized, to be granted a place and position of some value. At the same time, the universe does not place any value on any life. Life is. It is the result of physical and chemical processes, and it arises in some places and not in others as a result of the interactions between the components of a world.
What value an individual may have to the world or society is determined solely by his or her abilities and contributions. To say that a mature individual has an intrinsic worth, independent of acts, is mere wishful thought. Thus, a newborn child has no worth—only potential worth. That potential may be great indeed, but it is only potential until the child matures and demonstrates through abilities and acts what that value may be. History has shown that the worth of individuals is not the same, and yet the delusion persists that because individuals are created by the same process, they are equal. Anyone who has observed individuals knows they are not equal. While the laws of a society must ensure that no one is treated inequitably, no society that has forced equality of worth upon its members has lasted long.
Yet the delusion about intrinsic worth is necessary in steer societies because, without it, too many individuals would become excessively self-centred and spend their lives seeking only to gratify the most basic and base of instinctual drives, using all their resources against those with less strength or wealth. This reduces creativity, such as it is, and productivity, and is not acceptable, either in terms of maximizing higher lifeforce or in assuring fairness to others.
As alectors, we understand that what value we may represent or attain comes solely from what we can create or produce of higher worth. Great art, soaring architecture, inspiring music, well-organized and functioning cities—all those and other like achievements are the manifestations of individual worth.
We must recall, however, that such worth is as we deem it. The universe makes no judgments and bestows no awards for worth or merit. Because the universe does not, we must make such judgments. One of the most critical requirements of any society is to define "worth" fairly, accurately, and in a way that inspires all thinking members toward achievements that create such worth.
This understanding, which is taught to and accepted by all discerning alectors, is seldom accepted by steers. Therefore, any alector who deals with them must always recall that it is the fashion and custom to act as though all individuals have worth, even the most worthless, and that, when a steer must be disciplined or terminated because the individual in question is truly a destructive and negative force on others and the world, such discipline must be administered with a show of regret that the worth of such a life has been wasted…
Alector's Choice - chapter:82
Alectors who govern should avoid explaining their actions, if at all possible. Life is complex and filled with conflicts, and few of even the most intelligent know the background information. Fewer still can calculate the implications and ramifications of a decision. For these reasons, the facts and conditions that underlie a ruler's decision, or the decisions of an alector who administers for the Archon, can seldom be presented fully in a manner that will accurately describe the rational for such action.
Even if all such information could be presented, doing so would be useless, if not dangerous. Both steers and less discerning alectors demand certainty in their life, yet the only certainty is uncertainty.
Equally important is the fact that they do not want to study the world around them and all that lies behind it. Nor do they wish to spend the time necessary to master understanding. They wish simple explanations to support their baser desires and a sense of certainty in their lives. To this end, they delude themselves that they understand their world. In point of fact, they will perform all manner of contortions in thought to retain that illusion of understanding. That illusion is the fundamental basis for their acceptance of their society and their world.
In the vast majority of instances, the simple and appealing answer or explanation is inaccurate or misleading, if not both. Therefore, the wisest course for an alector is never to explain. If an explanation is necessary, however, the one given should be simple and straightforward, couched in a manner that appeals to the simplistic beliefs of those for whom it is intended. There should be no lies and no inaccuracies, for those can often be easily determined, merely the use of what is factually correct in a manner supporting the decision at hand.
Alector's Choice - chapter:99
All decisions worthy of being called such result in change. Changes never occur without cost, and the greater the decision, the greater the cost. For this reason, all decisions cause pain and discomfort. An alector who does not understand such should never be placed in a position where he or she must make such decisions. When an administrator declares that a decision is good because no one is affected adversely, that alector is either duplicitous or self-deceptive, if not both. A good administrator determines both the benefits and the costs, both the pleasure and the pain, that his actions will cause. He will not shy away from determining what the pain may be, either in loss of life, of lifemass, or of food or golds for those steers under his care.
With such understanding, an alector should also never boast of either the pain or the gain of his acts or of those required by his decisions. He should not state either, only that his decision has balanced all factors and is as just as possible.
Those alectors and steers who suffer will resent the results of such a decision, while those who gain will not be able to refrain from telling others of their good fortune. Such telling will invariably be linked more strongly to the alector's decisions if the alector has been the one to announce either gain or loss, and the resentment of those who will suffer will be far greater. In consequence, the authority and respect for the Archon and his administrators will be thus diminished.
In this, as in all matters, those entrusted with the powers of the Archon must weigh fully all aspects of what decisions they make and how those decisions are declared to those affected…
Alector's Choice - chapter:105
An alector who speaks of choices has no place in the governing of a world, for every word implies an equality between alternatives, and such choice is an illusion. Thus, the alector either deceives himself or others. If he deceives himself, he will administer badly. If he deceives others, his deception will eventually be discovered, and the anger created by such deception will undo any benefits that may have momentarily accrued.
While each alternative facing an alector may have differing advantages and disadvantages, alternatives are never equal. The task of any high alector is to determine the best of alternatives in light of the desired objective and then implement his decision in the manner most efficacious for its accomplishment.
Those who prattle about choices either lack understanding of the matter before them or seek to deceive others into believing that a true choice between equal alternatives exists. The only choice is between a good alternative and one not so good. An alector who cannot differentiate between such and make such a determination based on what is and what will be has failed to learn enough to understand the situation before him. If one must decide between dissimilar alternatives, the overall effectiveness of each must be determined, as well as the costs, the timing, and the lifeforce expenditure gained and that required.
In the case of similar alternatives, the same process must obtain. No two pearapples are equal, nor are any two oaks, nor any two steers, nor any two alectors. Nor are any two alternatives. Each alternative has ramifications and outcomes, and those must be studied and determined, in light of what best serves the Archon and the future of all alectors.
Cadmian's Choice - chapter:6
The greatest fault of those an alector governs is their failure to see themselves as they are. An alector cannot allow himself the luxury of self-deception, whatever the possible rational or cause. Most alectors understand this, and it is reinforced by our codes and our institutions, and those who do not are less worthy than the steers whose lives we direct, for we should know better.
Yet true self-knowledge is rare indeed among steers, for their actions and their self-identity are inseparably intertwined. A steer will rationalize himself into believing an action that is against his own self-interest is for his good and the good of others in order to maintain his self-image. He will avoid actions to improve himself and his self-image, merely to maintain the image he holds of himself.
For this reason, an alector who must administer activities and programs that affect the well-being of the self-deluding masses—comprising flawed alectors and the vast majority of steers—cannot ever assume that those masses will understand what is truly in their self-interest. Therefore, do not ever rely upon those who are governed to understand the rationale for the decisions that must be made and implemented.Yet true self-knowledge is rare indeed among steers, for their actions and their self-identity are inseparably intertwined. A steer will rationalize himself into believing an action that is against his own self-interest is for his good and the good of others in order to maintain his self-image. He will avoid actions to improve himself and his self-image, merely to maintain the image he holds of himself.
At the same time, a conscientious alector must resist the temptation to behave arrogantly, to declare by word or action that there is no reason to explain one's decisions and actions. For there are those few who do understand. Also, despite their self-delusion, all but the most ignorant of the masses can appreciate the effort and the thought behind a well-presented explanation, even one with which they do not agree.
Arrogance is always the downfall of those in power, even of alectors, and even the most self-deluded of the masses will rejoice to see an arrogant administrator brought low…
Cadmian's Choice - chapter:21
Beware of the alector, or especially of the steer, who declares that, because ethical standards, or values, or morals are expressed and codified by the Archon, they are merely the product of our society and, furthermore, that each region of the world, if left to itself, would have expressed its own standards and values, and such values and standards would have value equal to those set forth in the Code. This argument contains within it two assumptions. One is correct, but the second is false.
The first underlying assumption is that the environment in which individuals are raised affects their beliefs and values. This is true, and that truth forms the rationale and necessity for a uniform system of education and understanding for all alectors so that regional influences can be recognized and balanced.
The second assumption is that, since differing geographies and other regional factors give rise to differences in beliefs and practices, each region's standards can only be judged in the context in which they arose. By extension, logic then requires the presumption that value systems arising out of differences in climate and locale are equal in validity, and that no value system is intrinsically superior or inferior to another. Early history has shown, all too clearly, that this assumption is demonstrably and egregiously false. When two sets of values conflict, or are compared, one set will prove superior…
Unfortunately, often which set of values is "superior" has been determined by which possessor of values had the greatest might and power, rather than upon the ethical considerations of each. To avoid this, the early Archons investigated the structural basis of laws and values…
The basis of any ethical or administrative standard must rest in fact upon three determinations. The first determination is whether such a standard is correct. Such correctness must be determined by asking whether the standard provides the greatest good for the greatest number in all conceivable circumstances at all times, and conversely, and of equal importance, that it provides the least harm in all circumstances, even unto those who are powerless.
The second determination is that the total number of standards shall be the absolute minimum necessary for the maintenance of order.
In oversimplistic terms, a law must be fair; it must be practical; and it must be able to be implemented. The same is true of values. They must be fair; they must be practical; they must be limited in scope to what is necessary for consensus; and they must be understood and accepted by the vast majority of individuals.
While these principles are indeed the basis for sensible governing, they are far from accepted as widely as they should be. As noted earlier, there is a desire, particularly by steers, to insist that the world or the universe in which a world exists must have been created, and that such creation requires a supra-intelligent creator, a deity, if you will. From this flows the assumption that the wisdom of such a deity, as revealed by a prophet, is the basis of the standards and values of the believers in that deity, and that any belief system revealed by a deity is superior to any codified by mere mortals. Yet such believers continue to ignore the fact that the prophet who revealed the wishes or commandments of the deity has always been in fact a mortal…
Cadmian's Choice - chapter:31
There are comparatively few alectors, guiding hundreds of thousands of other beings. This has always been so and will continue to be so. What is it, then, that distinguishes an alector from those beings, or from another alector who is no better than the masses? Size and strength are often cited, but bulls are bigger than alectors, and so are sandoxen. Intelligence is also cited, but many among the masses have intelligence close to that of alectors, and in some cases, equal to ours. Nor is talent enough to claim distinction and leadership.
Those who lead and guide others must possess not only superior physical and mental capabilities, but the personal honour and integrity to assure that their decisions lead to the best possible lives for those they guide. Each individual should have the opportunity to employ his or her abilities to their greatest possible extent in a beneficial, peaceful, and productive manner. To seek power for its own sake, or wealth, or any other excess is but to confirm that the individual who does so lacks the integrity required of an alector who would lead.
All respect a crafter who creates an object of quality and beauty, and all are repulsed by one who would attempt to pass off an inferior product for the same price. Yet all too often respect is granted to the leader or administrator who administers in a fashion that favours one group unfairly over another, but is this not an inferior product of leadership? While equality of ability and accomplishment does not exist in any society, and any society which expects such is doomed, equality of opportunity to excel within one's field must be granted to all. Similarly, respect must be accorded to excellence in every trade and service.
Fostering equality of opportunity and respect for honest accomplishment, and not just for the few who accumulate masses of gold or power over others, those are the virtues of worth for an alector, and only so long as those virtues are held in high esteem will we endure, for personal honour and integrity are the basis for all that we have accomplished…
Cadmian's Choice - chapter:44
When an alector or an indigen offers a reason for action, or lack of action, or when an administrator acts or sets forth a policy, the discerning alector must always ascertain the structural rationale for such. The structural rationale is the prime and accurate support for a decision or policy, and not usually the reason made public. Anyone who acts, if pressed, will provide a reason for such action, and the reason will invariably support the action, but a rationalization for public attribution and scrutiny is usually not the structural rationale that prompted the action or policy.
Cadmian's Choice - chapter:49
An Alector who wishes to be a responsible administrator must always keep in mind the difference between expectations based on facts and careful analysis, and expectations based upon a desired outcome.
All beings capable of some degree of thought speculate upon outcomes—those that are most probable, those that are least probable, those that are most desired, and those that are least desired. A truly intelligent individual first gathers all facts and all manner of knowledge that may affect an outcome, even such knowledge of the sort that cannot be quantified in numerical or objective terms. Then the intelligent alector assesses that knowledge and constructs a probalistic analysis of the possible outcomes, weighing all the factors on as objective a basis as possible.
Subjective factors can and must be analysed objectively, and this is one area where even the most rational of alectors can mislead himself. Just because an alector does not allow excessive emotion to affect his choices and decisions, that does not mean that steers or less perceptive alectors will not be affected by emotional factors. In addition, positive influences that cannot be quantified affect outcomes, such as a desire for excellence.
Even when both objective and subjective components are factored into the assessment of an outcome, however, an alector who must make a decision may be influenced by the desire to see a particular outcome. Usually, this outcome-influence results in the decision-maker weighing the component factors in such a fashion as to produce a prediction of the desired outcome. If the alector in question dislikes an outcome that will likely occur if subjective factors are weighted correctly, the the subjective factors will be dismissed or denigrated because they cannot be accurately quantified.
In similar fashion, when quantifiable factors truly outweigh the subjective factors, the alector who favours a subjective-influenced outcome will tend to minimize the impacts of the quantifiable factors, often on the basis that beliefs or feelings have a stronger impact than can be accurately assessed.
In the end, the judicious alector must work to assure that his expectations do not influence his analysis, but that accurate analysis and study form the basis for his expectations.
Soarer's Choice - chapter:4
Power as wielded by an alector comes in many different forms. There is the power of a weapon, a skylance or a lightcutter. There is the power of law, as enforced by the High Alectors of Justice. There is the power of structure, as demonstrated by the cities created and ruled by the Archon. There is the power of example, and the power of tradition.
Whatever the form of power, it can be used only in two fashions, either as a tool for creation or preservation or as a means of destruction. The forms of power can be employed constructively in a myriad of fashions, as all intelligent alectors should know, but the most dangerous and self-deceptive use of power consists of those instances where an alector employs power for the sole sake of demonstrating that power.
If a demonstration of power is required, then the alector who conducts or orders such a demonstration has already failed in the constructive use of power, or he is attempting to create an image of greater power to the end of instilling fear or greater respect from others. Those who are weaker will indeed bow to that demonstration of power—but only so long as they are weaker—and those who are more powerful will act to reduce the power of one who undertakes such a course.
Demonstrations of power are useless, A demonstration that does nothing constructive and is undertaken for display wastes lifeforce, energy, time, and resources. Better to plan a constructive use of resources that will herald power and accomplishment.
If destruction of an enemy is necessary, do so without warning. If such is impossible, an alector should not posture, but bide his time until he can act. Posturing can only reveal weakness and invite contempt and attack…
Soarer's Choice - chapter:27
Just as the laws of the universe are simplest in explaining the everyday functions of the worlds we administer, so are the motivations of steers and alectors. The most common motivations are desire, pride, and contempt. Desire can be praisworthy when it serves honest ambition, as can pride when it fuels the need for worthy accomplishment, but both have their unworthy sides, as seen in political machinations among alectors and unbridled greed for goods and wealth among steers. Moreover, those who exhibit these deplorable pervesions of motivation are often impelled to hide their unworthiness from themselves by burying it within a welter of complexity…
Soarer's Choice - chapter:33
[Dainyl] the more he read, …alectors he knew observed the wisdom more by ignoring it.
There is no higher calling for a people than to create beauty and structure where it had not existed previously. In its time, every world in the endless universe will be formed, will exist, and will perish. Some will perish even before their creation is complete, and others may endure the long life of the universe. Upon many of those worlds, there will be no life. Upon others, that life will consist of lichens, algae, and other minute forms that will never progress toward intelligence. Upon still others, there will be animals and plant life, but sentience will not appear.
Only upon a comparative handful of worlds will sentience appear, and in many cases, with the advent of technologies that enable widescale warfare, will come a decline that will destroy that sentience before it has barely begun to learn what intelligence is and could be. That occures all too often because sentience without individual and societal self-mastery enables destruction more readily than creation.
Sentience rewards those who possess it and master it—with creations of beauty and joy, with an understanding of what the universe is and will be, and with mastery of the worlds in which those intelligences find themselves. Yet, at the same time, sentience exacts great demands upon any world on which it arises and upon any society that reveres sentience.
What do all these possibilities have to do with being a responsible alector? Evrything, for the thinking alector must understand that sentience of a lasting nature is rare, and that no price is too high to pay for perpetuation of a society that enshrines sentience. We must never forget that we, too, as a society will be called upon periodically to pay the price in blodd for our way of life, and that at such times, not all will survive. Should we forget that price, and what it entails, all that we are, and all that we represent, will perish as surely as will we…
Soarer's Choice - chapter:39
All too often, both less perceptive alectors and the vast majority of steers consider the ideal ruler or administrator to be a paternal figure, one steeped in care and love, and one who shows benevolence toward all under his administration. Such an idealization of a ruler is mere wish-fulfillment, for a "good" father is one who will do all that he can to ensure the survival of all of his offspring. A good father has sufficient offspring to ensure his heritage is carried on unto the generations. And a good father will place his offspring above the needs of the offspring of others and of a society as a whole. Thus, a society comprised of "good" fathers will in fact populate itself into a crisis of insufficient resources and a shortage of lifeforce.
A ruler who follows the tenets of such a "good" father will doom his people to destruction. Yet, any ruler who states that too many offspring are not in the interest of all or who acts directly to assure that there are not too many mouths to feed will find those under his rule becoming angry and rebellious. Any ruler who would openly choose who can breed and who cannot will find himself needing to muster and apply more and more force to his people with each passing year until his rule collapses from lack of advancement and investment or from outright rebellion.
What is to be done, then?
The wise ruler advises and admonishes quietly, but does not apply force directly in attempting to reduce the number of offspring, whether of alectors or steers. Because he controls privelege and position for alectors, he can limit their numbers to some degree, but that will prove insufficient over time, because few alectors perish from natural causes.
Thus, he prepares his chosen cadre and sequesters resources for the time when all will collapse into anarchy, assuring each and every alector that each is indeed part of that cadre, but keeping the actual cadre far smaller and known only to himself until the proper time has come when he must allow to perish those who were so unwise as to breed themselves into death.
Then, once more, he must begin anew, always preparing for the inevitable overbreeding and the collapse that will indeed follow…
Soarer's Choice - chapter:58