First Impressions: U.N. Peacekeepers


“As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth’s final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny.  The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.”

— Commissioner Pravin Lal, “U.N. Declaration of Rights”

The final faction that makes its landing on Planet are the U.N. Peacekeepers, often abbreviated in the game simply as “Peacekeepers”.  They are led by Commissioner Pravin Lal, who adopts the moniker “Brother Lal” in most in-game communications.

According to the game’s lore, the starship Unity was originally a U.N. venture.  Legally, the colonists are all still under U.N. rule.  Following Reynolds’s established pattern, the gameplay supports this background detail as once all of the factions come into contact, the U.N. council is reestablished.  Through here, it can be possible to pass various measures that have global gameplay effects, up to and including straight-out winning the game.

Lal’s faction, the Peacekeepers, is formed from the original colonists who remained loyal to the original mission as the rest of the factions sought to impose their own ideology on the new Planet.  Which isn’t to say that the Peacekeepers don’t have a philosophy of their own.  They definitely do.  It’s just that they have the unique advantage that their philosophy is the one that the colony was supposed to be founded on.

As an aside, this explains why Lal takes the title Commissioner.  It’s sort of like Napoleon declaring himself Emperor.  The title brings with it inherent respect.  It’s also probably the legal basis by which Lal is able to get double the votes of any other faction leader in votes for Planetary Governor or Supreme Leader.

Now, it’s worth taking a moment to pin down exactly what that ideology is.  Lal’s quote tells us well enough.  He’s a firm believer in liberal democracy as it is understood in the modern world.  Think the open society as described by Popper, respect for minority rights, no restrictions on speech or assembly, etc., etc.  His view of the tragedy of Earth is that too many governments fell back into the old ways of despotism and despair, leading to global war, strife, and eventual collapse.

This makes him the mortal enemy of Chairman Yang and his Hive, of course.  His futuristic Police State is as appalling to the Peacekeepers as their chaotic Democracy is to the Hive.  But, intriguingly, it makes him a strange twin of Sister Miriam, as well.

Unlike every other faction leader, Brother Lal and Sister Miriam are united by the fact that their ideology looks backwards to the past for inspiration.  Lal, like Miriam, wants his society to advance and flourish, of course.  But where Miriam is a reactionary seeking to resurrect a largely discarded tradition, Lal is extremely conservative.  His philosophy was still a living tradition at the time of the launch. and his goal is to preserve and extend this legacy.


2 thoughts on “First Impressions: U.N. Peacekeepers

  1. Colio

    The only thing I would say here is that I am not sure at all that religious fundamentalism would not be a major ideological force influencing the people who boarded the U.N. starship Unity in the year CE 2060. I have always thought that many of the SMAC factions’ ideologies would have had a precedent on Earth prior to the launch, and so in the chaos of the mutiny the crew would have fallen back on their ideological sympathies. Also, since Cptn. Garland was assassinated (precipitating the crisis of leadership leading to the 7 incipient faction leaders taking charge) and have read fanfiction which presented the idea that the Spartans were a terrorist organization back on earth and that Santiago was charged with infiltrating the Unity and making sure the Spartans had a place at the table in the new world(possibly explaining her title as Col. and not Gen.?.)


    1. Colio

      Though it may not have been as clear in the late 90’s as it in now in the latter 2000-teens but I think honestly the religious fundamentalism that will be prominent enough by 2060 to find itself with enough support to found a faction in this manner would have to be an Islamic fundamentalism. It’s just unlikely to me that enough fundie christians would find themselves even ON the Unity, so sometimes if I’m playing as believers I change the names to “Islamic Khalifate” or something of that nature … makes it kinda funny with the portrait of sister Miriam though!



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