“Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
“It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
“That’s practically zen.”
― Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay -- c/- Anon Guest
Power corrupts, they say. Absolute power, they add, corrupts absolutely. They say this a lot, especially when protesting against those who have the power. Systems with a huge and unbreachable gulf between the Haves and the Have Nots are doomed for revolt in one form or another. Those who don't revolt are destined to collapse.
The problem with revolutions, as a great writer once said, is that they keep going around to the beginning. Those who upset the seats of power inevitably wish to occupy them. Swearing again and again that this time will be different because the right people are in power.
Power corrupts because it is addictive. Those given control over the life of one being can be responsible. They can care. Once that number under control rises into double figures... the flaws slip in. People become interchangeable in one way or another. Needs are forgotten or ignored. Assumptions are made in regards to capabilities. If it's done wrong. Only one realm has ever done it right.
Welcome to the Satrapy of Vaelyn. Everyone has the same opportunity. Laws are negotiated and renegotiated by referendum and initiative. Needs are seen to. Networks exist. There is power, but it is the power of the neighbour. There are laws, but they are more about treating each other with kindness rather than contempt. Those who would withhold what others clearly need without needing it themselves must justify to their neighbours why they should keep it and why those in need are undeserving. Needless to say, such circumstances don't crop up very often.
All who prosper, do so with the assistance of others, who also prosper. The economy roars despite protestations from neighbouring nations who insist that they are doing it wrong. If there is a head of state, it is in the Council of Organisers, where they take turns as Chief Organiser. It is to this great potential for chaos that the Queen of Nevexis has come to plea their case.
She stood in the centre of the Council floor, addressing the Chief in their slightly-more-ornate chair. "Of course you understand that your economic system is doomed to failure," she insisted. "We merely come to offer our help before the inevitable collapse. A more hierarchical structure will give your citizens reasons to strive for upward mobility. You could prosper, if only you let go of your antiquated social structure."
The Chief rose from their half-slumber. Taking a couple of deep breaths. They said, "Your Highness, we have operated this system for five hundred years, every single one of them featured an elitist like you or an elected official claiming that our economic system is doomed to failure and a structural collapse is just around the corner. We have stood firm whilst watching coups, revolutions, intercine struggles and flat-out wars happen around us. I hope you can understand when we tell you - thanks, but no thanks."
"A hierarchy is simply the natural order of things," objected the Queen. "Without a stable monarchy--"
"Your pardon, Your Majesty, but I don't believe that there's any such thing."
"I beg your pardon?"
"No such thing as a stable monarchy," said the Chief. "In my lifetime, there have been two abdications, three attempted revolts, one succession dispute, and at least five solid attempts to put assorted cousins on your throne. All ending in beheadings. Your seat is not secure. You live in constant fear of assassination attempts, and furthermore, your own children are already plotting to overthrow you. Hardly my definition of 'stable', Your Majesty."
She failed to resist the urge to snipe back. "Meanwhile, you will be unseated at the end of the month, to be replaced by someone else in this very council."
"I'll have my turn again in a few months. Nobody here fights for their power. In fact, some of us try to avoid it." Several of the council members had the decency to look embarrassed. "Including yours truly."
The Queen of Nevexis frowned. She had lived her life dodging assassination attempts. The concept of leading figures of state just not dealing with that was so beyond her normal that it boggled her mind. "You... half of you don't want the power of control?"
"It's not control," insisted the Chief. "It's making sure the most amount of people are happy whilst attempting to accommodate the outliers in a way that makes the least amount of people uncomfortable."
"Or inconvenienced in a major way," added another council member.
The Queen still didn't understand it. "You are all anti-authoritarians," she said, "even when you maintain power?"
"Best way to be. With power comes great responsibility, and all that nonsense."
"Responsibility is such a drag," added another Council member. "You have to think things through."
About five members of the Council said, "Euw," at the same time.
"If you despise the job so much," asked the Queen, "why do you persist at it?"
The answer was universal, "And let some power-hungry idiot get in charge? No way!"
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / ersler]
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