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How to make a government that you've come to doubt work in your story?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by srebak, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. srebak

    srebak Troubadour

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    Simply put, how do you write a form of government in your stories when you've come to have doubts about it?

    For example, a fanfic story i'm trying to make good has a major country be an absolute Monarchy, but, no matter who i ask, people keep saying that monarchies have to either be constitutional (a government that grants the monarch no real power and makes them a figurehead to a more democratic government) or abolished and replaced by a more democratic society. People are firm that Democracy and Republics are the only right form of governments for major countries.

    Am i saying Democracy is bad? No. But how can i write a story that has the main lead be an Absolute Monarch if i'm left with little reason to believe that Absolute Monarchy is good and too many hard argue with reasons that it's bad? And simply having the main character abolish the monarchy in favor a democratic government is not an option for me. The show the fanfic is based on had the monarchy in question be generations old, I don't think i could have it end with the main lead. Especially since i want his descendants to be on the throne with real royal power.
     
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Winston S. Churchill

    It is a problem of scale when it comes to an Absolute Monarchy/Dictatorship.
    When your “realm” is 15 people and two hundred sheep it is easy to be an absolute ruler. When you have half a million people, complex trading arrangements with a score of nations, internal and external relationships to deal with... Can one person keep it all going smoothly and fairly?
    If not, how much to the devolve to local arrangements or trusted advisers?
    A benevolent and enlightened Ruler would be wonderful but what happens if a complete idiot or homicidal maniac happens to be the next on the throne?
    I don't think any form of government is good or bad. Democracies are wasteful and slow and if your not lucky a few people can have a great deal of power.
    The Roman empire sort of worked with an absolute ruler for a few centuries... sort of...
     
  3. Letharg

    Letharg Troubadour

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    Just as Joe said. If it's a large country there will always be some sort of politics between the different classes. The ruler cannot manage all tiny questions which means that he must have lords or something like that to manage different parts of his country. Each of these lords (or whatever you choose to call them) will probably have numerous underlings who manage different parts of their ruling area etc. etc.

    This means that unless the king has a way to make sure his lords are incredibly loyal and follow each of his commands explicitly and their underlings are the same, there will always be ways for them to influence.

    For instance, say the king gives a command about something that one lord does not agree with. This lord have multiple ways of subverting this command if he/she want to: He/she can delay the order by not immediately reporting it to the underlings, can deliberately misinterpret the order unless it's very specifically stated, or can state it in a vague way to his/hers underlings so that they can misinterpret it in a favourable way without putting the lord himself in danger. Therefore, for any large country, the king will have to have his decision makers on-board, otherwise If he don't they will find ways to make life a living hell for him.

    So to answer your question: Yes you can have an absolute monarchy but if you want it to be feasible you will need to include these kinds of micro politics in your story if your story is dealing with a ruler. It will make your story much more likely as there is seldom complete agreement between people of power.

    Happy writing!
    // Björn
     
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I would wager there have been very good absolute monarchies, the trouble isn't the form of gov't it's the people at the top. In high fantasy, this why elven nations have such a great advantage. If a great king comes to power they might rule for eons.

    But in human situations, a great king might last 50-60 years. Then the spoiled brat becomes king, or the one who took one too many mallets to the head playing polo, or the king has no viable heirs, or he tries split his kingdom between children, or the new king might be a good guy but just try to rule too much from the top down instead of delegating local powers. This final one is a weakness of democracies also, too much centralized power will always go bad eventually.

    "For instance, say the king gives a command about something that one lord does not agree with. This lord have multiple ways of subverting this command if he/she want to: He/she can delay the order by not immediately reporting it to the underlings, can deliberately misinterpret the order unless it's very specifically stated, or can state it in a vague way to his/hers underlings so that they can misinterpret it in a favourable way without putting the lord himself in danger. Therefore, for any large country, the king will have to have his decision makers on-board, otherwise If he don't they will find ways to make life a living hell for him. "

    The above quote goes for every form of gov't you just have to change titles of the players around. And frankly, if a novel involves politics they better not be working perfect we need conflict, LOL.
     
  5. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Troubadour

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    How many people these days really believe an absolute monarchy is the best way to go? Yet how many stories are written about it anyway?

    If you really have that much of a problem that your creative juices can't fuel you through it, is it worth writing?
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
  6. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    What is the time period for this story? Is it comparable to say, late antiquity (Greece, Roman Empire), or more recent (17th-18th century?) Or is it modern?

    In different forms, absolute monarchies existed in all these periods. The middle east, for example, has been ruled by absolutists depots of one stripe or another for thousands of years. Present Day Saudi Arabia come pretty close to being an absolute monarchy.

    Likewise, populist dictators abounded during the 20th century, and linger yet in the new millennia. Most of the old line communist states were, in essence, absolute dictatorships.

    These types of so societies do require a rather extensive secret police force to keep the dictator/monarch in power. They also tend towards extraordinary, built in corruption.
     
  7. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    This is your biggest problem, I think. You're asking people with a modern Western mindset about absolute monarchies, and modern Westerners tend to hate absolute monarchies and prefer democracies. This is mostly because of the ideals of equality and rule of law that is at odds with absolute monarchies. But to people from most of history, this would be downright weird. If you look at it from their perspective, you can find arguments for absolute monarchies. For example, Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan posits that absolute monarchies are the best form of government for keeping unity and peace and preventing civil war.

    On the subject of absolute monarchs politicking, I would argue that they actually have to do so less than other kinds of rulers. Finding a way to make your king's life a living hell seems like a very quick way to find your yourself imprisoned, dead, stripped of your powers, etc. People who have positions of authority close to the king also have a target on their back from other people lower down the totem pole who covet those positions, and they will report you to the king if they find out you're being subversive. Being a lone or minority dissenter is quite dangerous. As a consequence, unless people really agree with you or they think you have enough people opposing the king, they will be reluctant to join. So from the king's point of view, all you really have to do is keep enough people reasonably not unhappy with your decisions and you're good to go. On the other hand, if you fail at that, chances are you're the one who is likely to end up dead, imprisoned, stripped of your powers, etc. so perhaps politicking is a good idea after all.
     
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  8. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Two things are important to know here.

    1 True Absolutism does not and has never existed. Louis XIV, the most famous "absolutist", had to give away a substantial amount of power to the clergy, the bourgeois and the nobility to remain in charge. Even if he could have somehow bypassed all of those he would still be forced to outsource most of the decisions in the realm to his bureaucrats. For this reason the modern french republic coulc almost be considered more absolute than the absolutist monarch Louis, simply because they do not have to delegate any power to these three social classes.

    2 True Absolute leaders (fictional as mentioned above) have the advantage of being able to work directly, focused and according to a single set of rules. If you have all the power than who will stop you from realising your worldview?

    If you want your characters to justify the presence of an absolute monarch then read up on Thomas Hobbes and his nature state theory. The simple version is that Humans are selfish in their very nature and that only a strong central ruler has the power to demand a selfless and cooperative society.
     
  9. MiguelDHorcrux

    MiguelDHorcrux Minstrel

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    I will not discuss you the merits of governments, however I leave you with this: Detach your feelings from your piece

    I assume we all here are from peace-loving democratic countries right? Does this mean all of us should refrain from writing stories set in a totalitarian abusive police state? If you hate raisin cookies, does this mean you won't write about a chef whose specialty is raisin cookies? I suggest you gather the facts about this form of government you hate, fend off all of your personal revulsions, and write one hell of a fan fic. Good luck. :)
     
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