Thursday, 28 July 2016

Political Legitimacy In 1250 B.C.

See next week! My technical assistant, Ketlan, published Sean M Brooks' article with a future date so that it would remain at the top of the blog for longer.

SM Stirling's Nantucket 1250 B.C. must have the most legitimate government anywhen. The involuntary colony arrives B.C. with well established institutions of popular democracy. Every policy and practical measure is proposed and voted on in a Town Meeting, open to all. There is Athenian democracy without slaves and fully involving women, as partly anticipated by Plato:

"'It's a fine picture you have drawn of our Rulers, Socrates.'
"'And some of them will be women,' I reminded him."
-Plato, The Republic, trans. Desmond Lee (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1974), p. 354.

Police Chief Cofflin is unanimously voted Chief Executive against his will and immediately stops wearing a uniform or carrying a gun: separation of powers. Father Gomez makes useful suggestions at meetings but makes no attempt to become either Chaplain to the Town Meeting or Head of an Established Church of Nantucket: church-state separation. Can Nantucket become:

" association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all." ?
-copied from here.

What do we think of other fictional regimes? Stirling's Domination of the Draka is completely illegitimate and any attempt to overthrow it would be justified. I would even consider nuking its capital city, an act that I would usually consider anathema. Poul Anderson's Hans Moliror, a usurper (see comments), might claim the Mandate of Heaven.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

The problem is, considering our wretched human nature, I don't think the political institutions of Nantucket will last for ever or always be suitable. I can't help but wonder , if Nantucket grows to become a great power, whether its institutions will continue to work. The city state will need both enlightened people and a good deal of luck to successfully adapt to changing times as generations pass.

I agree that Stirling's hideous Domination of the Draka was illegitimate to its victims (at least before they became, alas, homo Servus), but it was legitimate to the Draka! Unfortunately, we see the Domination lasting for centuries in DRAKON.

And was Manuel Argos truly a usurper? After all, hadn't the Commonwealth both collapsed and been utterly discredited? I think it's better to think of the Founder of the Terran Empire as an able man sweeping away the ruins of failed political institutions and replacing them with new ones. The mere fact the Empire had survived four centuries by the time Dominic Flandry was born seems a very good indication the Founder had succeeded as much as any man like him could hope for.


Paul Shackley said...

You are right. I meant Molitor but wrote in haste.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, that does make your otherwise rather puzzling comment clearer! And I actually suggested in one of my letters to Poul Anderson that one means by which the Terran Emperors might regain legitimacy would be if the Empire evolved something like the Mandate of Heaven theory.