Should we be using fewer monarchies in our writing?

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Should we be using fewer monarchies in our writing?

1LShelby
Dez 8, 2021, 1:32 pm

I have to confess that I like monarchies.

For one thing, historically they really did seem to be super common.

Secondly, having political power centered in a person whose isn't a politician of any kind can be very convenient for plotting/characterization purposes.

But surely there are story advantages to other forms of government.

So I have two questions besides the one in the Subject:

What are some of the strangest / most interesting forms of government you've seen?

What stories have you encountered that use non-hereditary governments to good story effect?

2gilroy
Dez 8, 2021, 2:01 pm

I admit that most of my political writings tend to be ruling councils. I avoid monarchies and solo rulers as much as possible.
Mostly, because I find that it adds more intrigue if you have more people to manipulate to get something to work than having to just usurp a single person or two. And then when you start writing where one person is trying to take over the entire council or manipulating the system to become the autocrat in the room...

3kswolff
Dez 15, 2021, 7:31 pm

God Emperor of Dune showed the ultimate limitation of monarchies. Especially when the monarch was a long-living (a reign of 3500 years), prescient, sexually sterile egomaniac.

The history of France shows how this could be made interesting: monarchy, republic, empire, republic, empire 2.0, republic, etc. The fun part about writing monarchies is eliminating them. With the caveat that they aren't replaced by dictatorships or prancing strongmen who act like monarchs. At least Saudi Arabia and the UK illustrate how splendidly idiotic this outdated system is. But there are political dynasties in the US, "corporate royalty" and other examples of how this form is hard to kick ... like a heroin habit.

4LShelby
Dez 19, 2021, 4:20 pm

>2 gilroy:

Come to think of it, my most recent WIP had a monarch supported by a ruling council. Otherwise the King would have had to be either stupid or evil.

...Or I guess the protags could have just kept him in the dark, but if he wasn't either stupid or evil why would they have wanted to?

I am pondering the differences created by a council, rather than a parliment. Even in monarchies public opinion is a thing that can't usually be ignored. Historicly, monarchs who are hated and despised don't tend to have long peaceful reigns.

In a council, aren't the roles are usually more specific. You need to convince the minister of x to do this and the minister of y to do that, rather than just getting a certain number of representatives to vote for your proposition?

5LShelby
Dez 19, 2021, 4:36 pm

>3 kswolff:

I don't know that much about USian political dynasties in spite of living in the US, but in Asian-drama-land it's all about corporate royalty. (Although I usually call it "Corporate Feudalism" because it even involves the existance of serfs). Basically the only difference between the historical plots and the modern plots is that instead of being a person the king/emperor changes to the disembodied force of "public opinion" aka "the market".

My impression is that western wage earners are considerably less serf-like, than their Asian counterparts.

I am wondering how much really changed in France between those monarchies, republics and and empires.

I read a book a year or two back, explaining how everyone in the world (or maybe really only a significant number of people in France) had personal tastes and preferences that were largely riuled by their social class. It described a society that felt alien to me.

I always have trouble figuring out what my social class even is during these types of discussions... as described in that book I appear to belong to the "Artist" class... and as such, my tastes are a bit harder than usual to predict. :D

6paradoxosalpha
Dez 19, 2021, 5:00 pm

People who read excessively tend to be class-confused.

7gilroy
Dez 19, 2021, 5:02 pm

>4 LShelby: Depends on the design of your council

8LShelby
Dez 22, 2021, 12:07 pm

>6 paradoxosalpha:
This is a fascinating observation.

Do you have any theories as to why that would be?

I remember having a conversation on an Atlantic-spanning group of well-read people where the British contingent admitted that they would feel uncomfortable going to the opera because it wasn't for their kind of people, and the Americans mostly responded with "that's weird, of course I could attend the opera if I liked Opera, I just don't."

I, on the other hand, actually have attended the Opera. More than once, in my childhood. I could easily imagine myself attending another, although I don't really consider myself a fan.

The conclusion we drew at the time was that the British were more class conscious than the Americans, but with me the only positive Opera attending example there may be a different possibility... I may belong to (or at least was raised in) the class of 'opera attending people', in which case it could be argued that the Americans and the British just express class differences differently, but the net result is the same. If you aren't in the class of 'opera attending people' you won't want to attend the opera.

9LShelby
Dez 22, 2021, 12:25 pm

>7 gilroy:
I guess so, which if you think about it is one of the beauties of a council. More possibilities, ultimately more flexibility. :)

In one of my stories I have a government by consensus society. Leadership is very ad hoc and fluid, and unlike the council where you have to convince multiple people of authority in order for your plan to happen at all, its a case of as many of the people as you convince, that's how many people will do things your way while everyone else continues to go in some other direction.

The heroine is from a city, and when she encounters this society she has trouble getting her brain around the concept that other than parents and children, nobody was in charge of anybody else.

I believe that this kind of autonomy is really only possible when a family unit is largely self-sufficient. Historically, as soon as people start forming large permanent settlements, more formal governments evolved.

But I'm suddenly wondering, would it be possible for a sufficiently advanced technology to allow to a return to this kind of setup?