By bshirk 3 Comments
If you’ve played more than a few hours of Xenogears, you’re likely aware of the Sacred Empire of Solaris – a nation that operates under total secrecy. The player initially learns of it through a chance encounter with a woman running covert operations, and soon discovers that it’s supplying one of the world’s two known countries, Aveh, with advanced weaponry. To the casual observer, the despot Shakhan appears to control the desert country of Aveh, but Solaris’ special forces, Gebler, are only aiding him to further their interests – much like the United States backs certain dictators.
While it initially appears that Solaris is supporting Aveh to help it win its war with Kislev, it is really covertly managing both nations through the use of a religious institution known as the Ethos. On the surface, the Ethos provides both nations with powerful excavated weapons in addition to supplying religious services and aid, but its true purpose is to monitor and control humans of both countries.
The Ethos effectively brainwashes surface dwellers (lambs) into believing that they’re free, while secretly kidnapping its downtrodden and using them for experiments or slave labor in Solaris. The world’s nations appear to be free, but Solaris sees them as nothing more than a resource.
The endless cycle of war that consumes the lives of the surface dwellers is merely a twig in Solaris’ Redwood-sized operations. Through this confusion, it is able to control the world’s affairs behind the scenes.
By bringing in slaves and using the rest of the world’s resources, Solarians are able to live peacefully. With such a large pool of free labor, 2 and 1 class citizens can live hedonistic, fearless lives. Second class citizens are able to spend the majority of their time indulging in entertainment, because they know that their emperor will constantly enact policies to keep them safe from the barbarous lambs. With citizens’ minds distant from world affairs, the government of Solaris can commit heinous acts without outraging its citizens.
As its rank implies, 1 class citizens live even more privileged lives. They inhabit mansions that often have indentured servants from the surface. Their status and comfortable existence often lead them to ignore or even encourage wrongdoing.
With a society divided into classes, Solarian people can’t effectively resist. The lambs’ plight isn’t an issue for 2 class citizens and above because they are isolated from the rest of the world. The military, which is partly made up of surface dwellers could potentially rebel, but even they’ve been indoctrinated.
While Solaris seems like an unfathomable evil, it could also be a critique of the American government. As many individuals know, the United States was formed by men from Europe who invaded a land that was inhabited by millions of people that are now all but forgotten. They created a class-based society that wasn’t much different from that of their homeland. There were indentured servants, slaves, rich, poor, as well as people in between. This divided society was effectively ruled by an elite few.
As industrialization and technological advancements changed the face of the world during the 1800s, America’s elite further enriched themselves. Once slavery was abolished, they turned towards cheap third world goods. In exchange for cheap resources, large American companies provided technology such as railroads to South American countries. Instead of benefitting the masses however, it allowed the rulers of those nations to further establish their stranglehold over vast territories. Cleary, this was a partnership between the ruling elite – much like that of Aveh and Solaris in Xenogears.
From the 20 Century to the present, the United States has been exploiting developing nations while promoting a façade of benevolence. The U.S. government frequently mentions how much aid it “gives” (if you consider high interest rates “giving”) to other nations, but it often fails to point out how that “aid” frequently comes in the form of weaponry. Even when food aid is distributed, it often destabilizes local economies by encouraging third-world countries to rely on food sources provided by Western corporations. Similarly, Solaris appears to provide Aveh and Kislev with technology while pillaging their resources and making them dependent.
After the territory which is presently the United States was fully conquered, the American government established colonies. Some of these colonies were strategic military outposts such as The Philippines, while others such as Cuba were conquered for their resources. Even after these colonies were officially returned, the U.S. continued to bleed countries dry in various corners of the world by installing puppet governments who’d provide Americans with a steady stream of cheap resources.
While the American elite and their allies were profiting, there was division at home between political parties, rural and urban societies, socioeconomic classes, and ethnicities. The U.S. government has sometimes extended its hand and improved rights and relationships between certain groups, but it still largely neglects its citizens. Politicians -- both democrat and republican -- are heavily influenced by the defense, oil, pharmaceutical, and banking industries, so they have little incentive other than what some see as a moral obligation to serve those who elected them.
Solaris’ system of class division that allows it to covertly perform nefarious deeds isn’t that different from the tactics America and many other wealthy nations employ. While the U.S. government technically no longer uses slave labor, it encourages corporations to operate overseas where they can legally get away with business practices that share much in common with slavery.
America (along with other wealthy nations) is also quietly buying up large quantities of fertile land in African nations -- to the detriment of people living there -- primarily for the production of biofuels. Simultaneously, corrupt governments in Afghanistan and and Iraq have been created that allow U.S. corporations to cheaply obtain oil and minerals used in the production of consumer goods such as cell phones and computers. Similar situations have existed for much longer with other countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Clearly, Solaris is not the only empire here.
Like Solaris, the U.S. government has also used a religion to further its agenda. Christianity was one of the many tools used to take the land of the Native Americans. It was also used in creating colonies and making populations subservient through a system of racial hierarchy. Like the Ethos, the church was used to establish dominion over those deemed lesser beings.
While the U.S. government doesn’t turn foreigners into mutants and eat them, it still commits many abominable acts in the name of “freedom” and “democracy.”As with Solaris, citizens are intentionally kept ignorant, so they won’t notice as an elite few further enrich themselves.
Clearly, there are at least a few connections between the Sacred Empire of Solaris and the United States such as their exploitation of other countries, corruption, and class division. That’s not to say that everything the U.S. does is wrong, or that it’s the only country that commits nefarious deeds, but I believe that Solaris was at least partly inspired by the American government. So what do you think: Did the developers have America in mind when creating Solaris?