From a post to DAVIDWEBER.NET forums on 6/18/2011

Roots for the rapid industrial modernization of Grayson

    Lando314 wrote:

    As compared to the other members of the Manticoran Alliance?

    Okay, the author "said so"… and quickest answer ever… besides that Grayson somehow got some freighters full loads of goodies.

    well, Marsh, did give an inkling of developing quickly.

    Grayson just doesn't "seem" to be that special… in fact it has the biggest liability of a very hostile planetary environment.


    MY take (but what do I know? ), is sort of all of the above, plus the Church of Humanity Unchained.

    Grayson's founders did set out to be “the Amish in space” (a pretty good term, BTW), only to discover that they were in the sort of high-threat environment which usually killed off slow-boat colonies even if they'd tried to import advanced tech along with their colonists. The result didn't simply force them to cling to every scrap of technology they could preserve (and, as others have pointed out, even to genengineer themselves into a survivable genotype); it also forced them to reexamine one of the fundamental bases of their entire religious structure: its anti-technology Luddite strand. Their conclusion was that their own “Deluge” had been God's way of telling them they'd been wrong to reject technology in such an across-the-wall basis. Instead of seeing it as the root of evil, they saw it as the servant of man if kept “in the proper relationship” with man, and they were forced to visualize the place and function of technology on a philosophical basis which was much more consciously thought out and internally-debated than is the case in most societies. This was a fundamental religious debate in a theocratic society, and you don't get much more fundamental (you should pardon the term) than that.

    The environment also meant that even people who had very limited formal education and credentialing (like all those “protected” wives and mothers) had to have a working knowledge of some very complex tech and health hazards. They had to teach them to their kids, as well, with the result that Grayson children, despite living on a low-tech (relatively speaking) planet grew up with very high-tech attitudes and orientations. (Think in terms of the advantages Western navies and air forces had over their East Bloc and Third World potential adversaries back before personal computers and computer gaming spread into those other societies. Western teenagers grew up working with the sort of man-machine interfaces the new generations of military hardware required. The same sort of factors applied during WWII, where the greater experience of US draftees with automobiles gave the US Army a significant advantage in mechanization over the Germans and the Russians.)

    As has also been remarked, the hostility of the environment forced Grayson to adopt “high-tech” solutions to problems as simple as feeding its population, despite its low tech relative to the galaxy at large. And the fact that the planet had to do it with that lower tech also meant its solutions were very manpower intensive relative to that rest of the galaxy, giving it a disproportionately large workforce in the very areas its eventual upgrading and expansion would require. More, that low-tech workforce had been desperately trying for decades to get higher tech, but without the capital, the trade structure, or the access to acquire it. It had become used to innovating on its own, of figuring out how to do things on its own because it knew it was possible to do those things, even if it couldn't get anyone to tell it how to do them. This required them to reinvent the wheel but with the knowledge that the wheel could be invented, which is the reason they developed their own inertial compensator design and their super efficient fission technology.

    The existence of the Faithful was another huge factor, and not simply because of the cold war between Masada and Grayson which has already been remarked upon. The original confrontation with the Faithful did several things. (1) It forced the internal debate over the “evil” nature of technology into the open and into a clear, decisive conclusion. (2) It came within an eyelash of killing off the entire planet because of the damage to the infrastructure upon which the population depended, which both further underscored the necessity of that infrastructure (this wasn't a planet where you could bomb yourselves back into the Stone Age and survive to eventually rebuild) and deeply scarred the Grayson psyche with a “never again” attitude which is probably matched in our own experience only by the Israeli response to the Holocaust. (3) The Faithful's exile to Masada did create the cold war (which also turned periodically into a hot war) which prevented any possibility of the Graysons turning back inward again. They had to maintain their focus on the Masadan threat and scrape up every bit of tech advance they could acquire from someone else or develop on their own if they wanted to survive, and it was a situation which went on literally for centuries, not just the fifty years or so of our own Cold War era.

    Grayson's astrographic location was what made it important to Manticore and attracted both Manticoran and Havenite attention to the region in the first place. Much as Manties now like Graysons and much as most Graysons currently like Manties, Queen Elizabeth didn't just decide to help Grayson (which, after all, was seen even by the handful of Manties who knew anything at all about it as a planet full of fundamentalist religious loonies) modernize out of the goodness of her own heart. Grayson is well aware of that point, of course, but they are also well aware that Honor and her squadron fought and died to protect them against Masada and the Peeps when they had no orders to do so… and when (as both she and Grayson realized very clearly at the time) a premature clash between Manticoran and Havenite forces might easily have become the flash point for the war neither star nation really wanted at that moment. That sort of action does a lot to get your relationship with an ally off on the right foot.

    Even without The Battle of Yeltsin, though, things would probably have moved in a similar direction, little as anyone in the SKM might have anticipated such an outcome. As has been pointed out by other posters, Manticore granted Grayson most-favored nation status and Crown guarantees of massive loans from the outset. The Manties also provided equally massive infusions of modern industrial capacity and training to a workforce which was already aggressively looking for every new trick and technique it could come up with. It was as if the Tokugawa Shogunate had been trying desperately to modernize out of its own resources for two hundred years when Commodore Perry turned up and lost half his squadron fighting off a massive Chinese invasion fleet, then offered to help the Japanese build their own foundries and shipyards. Nobody in the entire galaxy could have responded to this sort of opportunity more passionately than the Grayson descendants of the “Amish in space” founders of their colony.

    The sudden importation of advanced technology actually produced a deflationary effect on the local economy at the very time things were starting to boom. Despite the huge emphasis on building up Grayson's military capabilities, the increases in efficiency of such a huge workforce generated enough additional capacity to rapidly upgrade the civilian economy and infrastructure, as well. There were actually more civilian goods and services running around the star system than there was money to buy them with, which not only boosted efficiency and the economy generally but had enormously beneficial consequences for quality of life and civilian morale, as well. Examples of this same sort of process can be seen on a smaller scale in our own experience, when Third World economies have jumped straight into the latest generation of tech without having to bootstrap through the intermediate stages, except that in this case there had been virtually no infusions of higher tech into the “Third World” nation in question and that the differential was even greater to begin with. And, of course, the other difference being that virtually all groups in the “Third World” nation in question thought that embracing the new tech was a good idea rather than a threat to its traditional way of life and without generating the defensive resentment of its “inferior” status or worrying about the imperialistic exploitation of its economy by its First World “partners.” The situation was such that even on the most cold-blooded, real politik, calculating basis in the universe, Grayson knew Manticore had every motivation to build its economy up in every way possible rather than attempting to exploit it for the Star Kingdom's economic advantage.

    The Doctrine of the Test obviously factored into all of this, and the single biggest potential stumbling block to enthusiastic cooperation with the SKM --- the patriarchal nature of Grayson's religion and society --- took a fatal hit when Honor and her crews (roughly half of whom were female) fought and died to defend the planet. The nature of their own religion (specifically of the Doctrine of the Test) required the planet to reassess its attitudes towards women after that, and while there are certainly conservatives who continue to resent the changes, the society as a whole has moved to attack the old notions as aggressively as only Graysons can. The deaths of so many women workers when the Mesan Alignment took out the Blackbird Yards is going to contribute to a really ugly Grayson response to the Alignment, because emotional attitudes lag behind other attitudes, but Rosie the Riveter has generated her own Grayson descendants on steroids.

    Initially, Manticore regarded Grayson much as it did the other minor powers of the Manticoran Alliance: a valuable forward base, where servicing and repair would be available, and where common sense required Manticore to contribute to the prosperity and general stability of their allies' economies and societies, but not as a secondary star system which was going to morph into a major interstellar power in its own right. The SKM did not envision Grayson turning into an industrial powerhouse or producing a powerful, modern navy to fight at its side. The very notion was ridiculous! But that was because the SKM didn't understand Grayson at that point any better than the Graysons understood Manties before Honor defended their planet. The SKM had no idea how primed Grayson was to grab every single crumb of tech it could get its hands on, nor did it have any notion how the efficiency and energy of the revitalized Protectorship (also brought about by the catalyst of Honor's involvement in the planet's internal social and political dynamic) was going to be able to focus and drive Grayson's domestic and foreign policy. Manticore was fully prepared to give Grayson every assistance it could in an effort to increase Grayson's value to the Alliance, but it never had a clue how great that value was going to prove when it first set out to woo Grayson… which it did largely, be it recalled, because it knew the Peeps were already seeking a forward base in the area.

    So the real reason Grayson has accomplished what it has was a confluence of a whole bunch of social, religious, philosophical, economic, industrial, and cold war factors (thoughtfully designed ahead of time by your humble servant ) which took everyone (in the books, at least) by surprise. No one in the Honorverse could have predicted such a result beforehand. In a sense, you might almost say that Grayson has been to the Peeps what the SEM is to the Mesan Alignment: very serious danger which they inadvertently helped birth following a policy which “looked like a good idea at the time.”