: fantasy monarchies

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Mon Feb 3 20:35:57 EST 2003

Jon wrote some interesting stuff about monarchy:

>My own feeling is that in the end it comes down to the
>essentially "fascist" nature of the genre - I topic I
>will try to avoid this time round.

This is thought-provoking.
My own view is heavily influenced by Chomsky (eg Manufacturing Consent); 
that democracies function through the use of propaganda by elites to 
control the general populace. Since many fantasies have technological 
settings in which there is no printing press or other mass media, democracy 
is not viable, because it relies on the easy flow of information 
(controlled or not) to manufacture opinion. People can't vote if they don't 
know who the candidates are, for example. So it might work in city-states 
in medievalist fantasies, but whole countries without mass communications 
have to be ruled from a top-down heirarchy (which is more or less 
educated), because otherwise they would just be anarchies. Or you have 
wizards in charge who have magical access to information and instant 

Because democracy is so reliant on mass communications and the manipulation 
of same it is hard to see how a "good guy" democracy could work in such a 
setting. Politicians who have to campaign are, I think, likely to look evil 
and rather like the villain from Dark Lord of Derkholm. The closest you can 
get is a benign oligarchy, where the educated elite vote for one another. 
Mercedes Lackey's herald books are an example of this type of government; 
although they have a nominal monarch, they are in effect ruled by the whole 
group of heralds who are 'elected' by their companions.


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