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Politics

Politics is defined here as "The social interactions relating to authority." Or, more simply: People and power.

Like anywhere else, there are two kinds of political power: one that relies on personal loyalty, trust, negotiation, reward, and incentive, and the one that relies on force, fear, and threat. Either of these types of power can share or withold the ability to act. The Chwahir believed that power was enbodied in their king. The Venn once believed that the kingdom's honor was symbolized by the will of the king: the king's will became the people's will, so power was the same as authority. The Colendi felt that 'power' lay entirely in the hands of the governed: that the choice to obey granted the ruler authority. Many believe that this attitude is connected to the fact that the Colendi have the least number of monarchs deposed by violence of any other nation.

Power is seized, authority agreed on: just where the balance lies has to be defined by law. Then, once law is defined, there remains the question of who enforces law--and who is exempted. The longer-sighted kingdoms have learned that when there are two laws, one for the wealthy or influential and one for the less wealthy, balance and harmony become difficult to maintain and there is almost always a violent tip, or revolution, and top becomes bottom.

Those who maintain authority who don't wish to hold it by coersion rely heaviest on tradition. By hearkening back to good old days, one can imply days of harmony, continuity, order. Tradition is a great fallback if you don't have leadership charm and attraction, or charisma, which attribute can make "new" seem preferable to tradition. And once authority is established, investing authority in certain offices stabilizes the government.

The Social Agreement, Treaty, or Contract--the Yeres Emeth--was the fundamental concept of social and governmental interaction, stemming from the days of Old Sartor. Its exact meaning is almost impossible to define now because so many of the old words shared mental images that were lost when dena Yeresbeth was lost. But regard it as "union of truth", the kernal of civilization, the understanding that each of us will provide the other with something needed, so that both benefit and live in peace. This is not the same as feudalism, which carries connotations of rank, though rank did exist, and does. This was an agreement of equals, the implication of truth being that when we turn our back after the exchange, we go in peace. The Old Sartorans held that when one person does not do his or her part--when they begin to take only, without giving, and worse, when they regard the taking as their due--then instability is born.

So the old Yeres Emeth, the social contract, lies behind the personal form of the authority type of government: resources and work are shared, their value agreed on, and protection given to those who provide the means of sustenance. Thus the Guilds are a vital part of government just about everywhere, as most regard them as the midpoint between people and rulers.

Tradition being important politically as well as culturally, governmental forms are usually monarchies, though how monarchy is actually defined can vary to a surprising degree. In most places, there is enough of a sense of history to make it clear that most people don't like making decisions that effect other people, or if they do, it's discrete decisions, the enjoyment of saying "Do this" and seeing it done. But these people are seldom the right people for time of violent change, disaster, etc, which leave the survivors looking to one another and asking "What do we do now?" The person who says "Let us do this," and is right, tends to be invested with everyone's trust, and so kings are made. In some of the smaller, very stable nations where authority is fairly well balanced in all aspect of lives, some kings may look, dress, and act like kings, but they function mostly as figureheads, the power of governing lying in other hands entirely. Inheritance is not automatically how kings are chosen, though it's the most common form of governmental handoff as it's easy, part of cherished continuity, and everyone knows that some traits run in families.

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Page last modified on January 27, 2008, at 10:07 AM