War. War never changes. The people who wage war change over time and their justifications for it may, but the core factors that fuel all war remain the same. Boiled down to the basic war is about power and domination, despite the end goal being democracy or dictatorship. No side who enters a war does so to lose, but they do it to gain control and impose their own rules on society. War can be and has been dressed up as noble, but when it comes down to it is brutal and all about control.
That’s why Fallout New Vegas’ Caesar is such a good character, as he is the embodiment of the essence of war. Of course Vegas’ Caesar is inspired by Rome’s Julius Caesar, whose own actions massively contributed to the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. While the original Caesar thought what he was doing right for Rome, Vegas’ Caesar has no such qualms.
Let’s view the world through Caesar’s eyes and survey the world he now inhabits. The old nations, including the United States of America are long gone, replaced with republics, independent towns and hundreds of small groups all trying to carve out their own existence. However, apart from the New California Republic (NCR), there isn’t a real civilisation present with the Wasteland full of danger for the average person.
This wasteland is Caesar’s land of opportunity, and he stops at nothing to make it so. He sees the Wasteland as a place that needs order if it is to rebuild and progress, but does not believe the NCR is strong enough or competent enough to do that, at least not in its current state. Caesar believes democracy isn’t going to fix the Wasteland, but instead an iron fist that makes the tough decisions without flinching.
Brutality is Caesar’s strong point, from his small beginnings as a tribe leader up to creating a nation of his own. Early in his career Caesar showed no mercy against various tribes, and used that to establish a much more efficient and secure place to live as the tribes stopped going to war with each other, and joined together under the Legion banner.
This reputation of mercilessness eventually preceded Caesar and more tribes joined him instead of daring to oppose and suffer the consequences, which would see all members of the tribe, including children, killed and records of their existence wiped from memory. It’s this brutality Caesar believes can save the Wasteland from the lawlessness that is present.
Caesar knows he is vilified by thousands and hated, but it doesn’t stop him. He may be evil but Caesar believes he is necessary even if others refuse to see it. Without his total rule and no mercy approach to war and justice the areas of the Wasteland he had conquered would have remained lawless and unsafe for the average person.
Caesar’s own goal is to eventually unite the Wasteland into one nation and rebuild a powerful state, modelled on the old Roman Empire. He views the ancient empire as a society to replicate, one that brought some stability and growth to not just those who lived within but to the whole world that followed after its fall. Even though Caesar wants to create a united nation he probably knows that a state run by a sole ruler will not last forever.
Instead the aim of the Legion could be to lay the foundations for a stronger nation to emerge, with already established security, trade and forward momentum. Upon this foundation the natural course of history would follow, and eventually lead to a country where people demand representation after all their needs have been met.
Maybe Caesar knows this will be eventually be the case and in a way is preparing for this. People don’t like being told what to do forever, and then the revolutions begin. It’s a staple of human history and even the modern day, with events such as the Arab Spring and the riots of Ukraine show that people will fight back.
Caesar’s legacy of one nation that has all of its major problems sorted like food, shelter and crime would be the perfect bed from which a democracy can flourish. Caesar doesn’t believe this is a time for equality, treating women as nothing more than tools used to add manpower to his army, but once the one nation is there then that attitude would be replaced.
Caesar and his cronies are a despicable group, but when viewing just how bad the Wasteland is its hard not to argue that the Legion is a necessary evil to make the rest of the Wasteland spring into action to bring back something resembling the United States. It could take decades or centuries but the Caesar is the catalyst that would help to bring about a stronger nation than either the NCR or the Legion.
The people who live in the Wasteland now are far removed from the nuclear strikes, and from a history from which lessons could be learned. Caesar’s Empire would teach the people of a truly horrific and brutal leadership dynasty and when the revolution happens most would not want to return to such a time. A democracy would flourish, strengthened by the history of a horror.
And this horror is why Caesar has to succeed.