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The Thuriens were a very rational, nonquarrelsome race of beings to whom the benefits of a society that based itself upon mutua cooperation were too self-evident to require much pondering, let alone debate. As a consequence, the Thurien institutions of government was a modest, service-oriented affair concerned mainly with resolving disputes and disagreements , and managing the comparatively few functions that it was felt preferable to consign to public agencies. It certainly had nothing to do with projecting power over individuals, enforcing policies that were none of anybody else's business, or bestowing upon a few the right to decide how the many should be compelled to live.

Having no concept of any alternative, they established the same system—or lack of one, in the opinion of many Terrans—on Jevlen in the period following the destruction of Minerva. So instead of producing the authoritarian institutions that were the inevitable outcome of the ferocious power struggles and ideological collisions characteristic of social evolution on Earth, Jevlenese society developed as a kind of patronized anarchy, secure in the guarantee of unlimited goods and products indefinitely, and the total absence of threats. Hence, survival had never played any great role as a shaper of individual or collective behavior; therefore, the rationality that human survival ultimately depends on had received little incentive to bloom.

Over the years, many popular and quasireligious cults had come to flourish on Jevlen. They appealed by catering to the needs of individuals to discover some purpose and to affirm their identity in a risk-free, unstructured society, and to the fascination or the uncritical for peculiar beliefs. One of the largest and most militant of them called itself the Axis of Light. Its symbol was a green crescent. The leader, whose real name was Eubeleus, had been well connected with the previous regime responsible for the short-lived Federation, and went by the public title of Deliverer.

The Deliverer's followers numbered millions. Their faith was a conviction that the key to opening up latent, mystical human powers lay in the supercomputer, JEVEX. Their indignation at the Ganymeans' shutting down of JEVEX, therefore, stemmed not merely from material deprivations or fears of a political tactic to encourage dependency, but from what they sw as a persecution of their beliefs.

One of the most commonly used methods of interfacing to Thurien networking systems—JEVEX and VISAR—was by direct coupling into the user's neural centers, bypassing the normal sensory apparatus. The central dogma that the Deliverer taught was that the close-coupled interaction between the inner processes of the human psyche and the more remote levels of super computing complexity could unlock the mind to new dimensions of reality. Thus stimulated, the believer would be enabled to conquer the ultimate reaches of time and space. He would come to know his full self in all the dimensions of its existence, and gain access to the powers encompassed by them.

All heady stuff. The followers were suitably impressed. For his part it was clear that the Deliverer, Eubeleus, held JEVEX in extraordinary awe and reverence, with an unswerving belief in its abilities that bordered on fanatical. But such loyalty was really to be expected: He believed himself to be a physically incarnate extension of JEVEX.

 
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