Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Force And Legitimacy

Swords suggest heroism but also mere force. Fictional heroes can be parodied as thugs.

Statements about swords:

"He who lives by the sword dies by the sword";
"I come not to bring not peace but a sword";
"The pen is mightier than the sword."

Governments need to combine force with legitimacy. For a discussion of Poul Anderson's views on political legitimacy, see here. For the similar views of an SM Stirling character, see The Sword Of The Lady, Chapter Ten, p. 262.

The hero of Anderson's After Doomsday becomes captain by leading a mutiny but then gains legitimacy by strong leadership at a time when the government that had authorized the mission no longer existed so that a new start had become necessary. 

3 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Thanks for linking to my article discussing Poul Anderson's views on the need for the state, any state, under whatever form, to be legitimate. And I will be looking up what Stirling's character said about legitimacy.

    But what is your views about political legitimacy? Would you more or less agree with PA's views or disagree, to a greater or lesser extent, with them?

    I'll have to check AFTER DOOMSDAY, but my recollection is that the original captain committed suicide soon after he saw how Earth was destroyed. And his executive officer, who should have taken over, soon showed he was unable to be an effective leader. The "mutiny" was not exactly a true mutiny. because the new captain seized power from sheer necessity in a power vacuum.

    Sean

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    Replies
    1. Sean,
      Agreed about power vacuum in AFTER DOOMSDAY.
      I basically agree with the need for legitimacy. I think that some changes are needed, to say the least!, but fundamental changes to society can only come about when a lot of people (i) want them and (ii) do something to bring them about. Any new social arrangement has to be generally accepted, not imposed and maintained by force.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Thanks! I wanted to have some idea of what you thought about legitimacy, as developed by PA. I agree, lasting changes, good or bad, can only come about and take ROOT if enough are willing to accept them and if they are not imposed by brute force.

      The process of persuasion, of course, is where POLITICS comes in! And I would far prefer that political disagreements be settled peacefully. Civil wars often occur when one side or another is unwilling to accept a defeat in the political process. And can be a sign as well of a state losing its legitimacy.

      Sean

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