Is there really such thing as a chivalrous thief? Magi now has us following Ali Baba and his group of thieves who have been terrorizing the city of Balbadd “for the sake of the slums.” The poor are certainly in a desperate situation, but is turning to crime an effective solution?
Let’s take a step back, and look at what we do know about the society of Balbadd. Currently the economy is in free fall due to both limited trade and the introduction of a suspicious, new paper currency. Even so, the nobility refuse to lighten the tax burden, fearing that doing so could cause a drop in their lavish standard of living. And so, the status quo is maintained where the rich remain rich and the poor remain poor.
This system cannot be maintained. When pushed to their limits, any social class will revolt with the goal of shaking up the current state of affairs. When the group revolting is the foundation of your society (a.k.a. the working class), everything is bound to crumble. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the French Revolution are two prime examples of this in action. Those may be a bit extreme compared to the situation in Balbadd, but the city is well on its way to a total revolution if its social tensions are not relieved.
Now let’s get back to the issue at hand. The lower class in Balbadd feels betrayed by their government and rightfully so. They supposedly pay their taxes so that they can receive public goods and services, but this is obviously not the case. Instead, their wealth is being siphoned off by the nobility who spend it on frivolous things while their people are quite literally starving to death in the streets. Ali Baba and his band of thieves seek to right this injustice by stealing back what they believe is theirs. But if the nobility is stealing from the state’s tax revenue, why is it considered any less wrong if the poor commit the exact same crime?
Instead of resorting to theft, shouldn’t they approach the nobility and attempt to solve this through diplomatic or legal means? By flexing their collective muscles a bit, I’m sure they could convince the nobility that being fair is far better than being overthrown. That might cross the line into coercion territory, but even that would be a better solution than blatant criminal activities.
Let’s not forget that Ali Baba isn’t just stealing from the nobility either. When they rob the treasury and distribute it to the poor, they are also indirectly stealing from the middle class. These people are taxed just the same as the poor (even more so, most likely) so why are they excluded from this redistribution? It isn’t just morally wrong, but it also throws into question the reasoning these so called “chivalrous thieves” use to justify their actions.
Keep in mind that I’m not trying to take sides in this conflict. I just want to reflect upon the fact that stealing is a crime, and it takes more than noble intentions to justify it. Maybe Ali Baba and his group are correct, and the nobility are stealing from the poor. It’s equally likely that a few nobles are taking advantage of the system and should be individually tried and judged for their crimes. The point is to never take something at face value, and always remember that there is more than one side to every struggle.