Sunday, 23 July 2017

Able And Unable Rulers

"'I knew [Artos] was a very able field commander, but a King requires far more than that. More than a charismatic presence, as well. He must be able to govern, or he is a disaster in the making.'"
-SM Stirling, The Tears Of The Sun (New York, 2012), Chapter Two, p. 21.

This is the point of Poul Anderson's "Marius."

Both Poul and Karen Andersons' Gratillonius and SM Stirling's Artos are able military leaders who, unlike Marius, also become able political leaders.

Artos' natural abilities are miraculously enhanced by his divinely endowed and empowered Sword whereas Gratillonius, appointed to rule the city of Ys by its Gods, later earns the enmity of those same Gods, thus occasioning the legendary inundation of Ys. By contrast, Artos forges the new High Kingdom of Montival, monarchy having replaced democracy after the Change. This is the kind of situation that we read about but do not want to reproduce in reality - I hope.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And Poul Anderson also stressed over and over that even a bad and incompetent leader to be tolerated, SHOULD be tolerated, if he held power LEGITIMATELY. That to oust an incompetent leader by violent and illicit means could too easily undermine the legitimacy of the state and bring on far worse things than what could be expected of a bad but legitimate ruler.

The classic example from Poul Anderson's works, of course, was the bad but legitimate Emperor Josip III, in THE REBEL WORLDS. Dominic Flandry did his best to wreck the revolt of Hugh McCormac, a far abler and better man than Josip, for precisely the reasons outlined above.

And it really doesn't matter to me what FORM the state, any state has, republic or monarchy, as long as it was legitimate and ruled not too intolerably badly. My view is more that of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, when it comes to politics. And Edmund Burke and John Adams, to name two more recent writers.