Encyclopaedia Arcana #22: The Concord (Part Three)

The second clause of the Concord is a simple one:  no mage may take hostile action against another mage or against another mage’s apprentice.

The Second Clause:  Non-Hostility

This is the “peace” clause.  It pretty much does what it says on the tin:  don’t fight other mages.  The wording is fairly straightforward – there’s a certain amount of disagreement over what “hostile” means, but this was deliberate in order to give the mages in charge of enforcing it some wiggle room.  While this leads to a lot of arguments over whether an action qualifies or not, the real purpose of the clause was to stop mages from killing each other.  In this regard it’s been moderately successful.

The clause does have exceptions.  Hostile action in self-defence is permitted, as is the use of force in situations of consent (a mage entering a duel is automatically considered to have consented).  The Light Alliance and all Light Councils are also authorised to use force against lawbreakers, and it’s possible for a Council to ratify a hostile action if it’s considered justified.

The clause also doesn’t draw any distinction between Light and Dark, which tends to be taken for granted nowadays but was a really big deal back when it was written.  For a long time, Light policy had been to oppose the presence and activities of Dark mages.  The Concord signalled a change in that:  by making no reference to either side, it effectively accepted the existence of Dark mages as a group.

However, more interesting than what the clause does say is what it doesn’t.

Reading Between The Lines

The second clause of the Concord protects mages and their apprentices.  It doesn’t protect anyone else.  If you’re a normal or a sensitive or an adept, too bad.  If you’re an apprentice without a master (or if the problem is your master), then again, too bad.  Magical creatures aren’t even mentioned.  This means that the only ones protected are recognised mages and well-looked-after apprentices, who you would have thought were exactly the ones who needed protection the least.

So why is the Concord written this way?

The short answer is that the second clause of the Concord does exactly what it’s supposed to.  It protects Light mages and their apprentices, as well as recognised independents . . . in other words, the people who wrote the Concord, and the ones they care about.  It doesn’t protect normals or sensitives or adepts because they weren’t considered a high enough priority.

The main justification given for this by supporters of the Concord is that expanding the second clause to protect non-mages would effectively start a war.  Trying to prevent Dark mages from harming normals would lead to non-stop violence and would risk unifying the Dark mages by giving them a common enemy.  Left unsaid – but probably more important – is the uncomfortable fact that it wouldn’t just be Dark mages they were opposing.  Dark mages aren’t the only ones who use their magic in dubious ways, and if a war did start over the issue of protecting normals, it’s not at all clear which side the Council would be on.

Opposition to the Second Clause

A definite fraction of Light and independent mages in Britain don’t think the second clause of the Concord goes far enough, and would like to extend it.  Among Light mages, the main supporters of this are the Crusaders, with some among the Guardians and the Weissians backing them.

The pro-extension faction argue that the Concord only protects those who don’t need it.  The standard response from the pro-status-quo faction (who outnumber the pro-extension faction by a significant margin) is that if protection is needed the Council is free to pass laws placing them under direct protection.  Of course, this just shifts the debate from “changing the Concord” to “changing national law” and it invariably fails for exactly the same reason:  the Council doesn’t want to start a war.  With the majority of the Council having neither the desire nor the political will to push through a reform, at present there’s no sign that the pro-extension faction are likely to succeed.

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