(an exploration of whether Dark Lords should rule, by Jeff Mach, as told to @darklordjournal.)
I toppled the One True King to be here. I ended a long line of monarchs. Histories tell us they were just and noble and good.
But that doesn’t seem much like the humanity I know. And I’m certain they were human—I’ve tasted the blood.
Have you studied much in the way of human history? You ought, if you plan to be active in its affairs. A suggestion: seek out the stories which most conflict with what you want to believe.
They may or may not be lies. But the ability to listen to those who disagree, even if you’re going to fight them with everything you have, is a strength; the inability to do so is a fatal weakness.
It’s hard to have a good sense of what went on before. It’s difficult to capture a living moment in words at the best of times, and more challenging still to try to know what has happened in the midst of chaos. Still, from my readings, as far as I can tell, the best model for governance is to be part of a fairytale kingdom with a wise and just ruler. Provided that all rulers are wise and just, and you live in a children’s story, a monarchal autocracy might be pretty good for everyone.
The problems likely start with genetics: It turns out that Royals are not, in fact, born to rule. Or, at least, they’re not born to rule well, which is pretty much the rub.
And sadly, fairytale kingdoms work poorly. It’s not just that they’re fairytales and thus not terribly real; we’ve seen stranger and more mythical attempts at governance through history. The problem is that Fairytales attract Good Faeries, and thus Bad Faeries; Evil Queens; Huntsmen, and, of course, The Grand Vizier. And all of those tend to lead to ruination. Even in a fairy tale, you need to hope that you’re in a comparatively modern chronicle, where everything is required by the narrative to work out well. Because it’s not terribly likely, otherwise, that’s you’ll have an ending that’s particularly good for anyone who doesn’t live in the nicer parts of the Palace. And since the common people are, definitionally, the majority the benefit of “most people” only makes sense if those people are happy.
Nobles and commoners share a common challenge: they’d like to benefit from the world. They have to; otherwise, evolution would select against them. If your base survival traits don’t include “survive” (and try to thrive), you’re pretty much going to do neither.
And thus the difficulty: one man’s wine is another man’s poison. You need a hell of a surplus of resources to get to a point where “more for you” isn’t “less for me”. Not even magic produces something for nothing—quite the opposite, actually.
Assuming you could create, say, ten times the ordinary number of crops and livestock usually available given a particular set of resources (how?) –you still have to figure out how to divide it all up. What did it cost you to be able to have that kind of surplus, and how willing are you to share the fruits of your labor with those who didn’t help. Or else—it’s time to speak to the King and ask for judgment.
It’s all very well and good to want to topple “Evil”; but what exactly is the plan to replace it with some kind of better leadership, “Good” or otherwise?