A tale of men

by

Antigone

Once upon a time there was a King. Let us call him Oscar.

Oscar was a big strong man with a powerful personality and physical presence. He naturally dominated any group he was in. This wasn’t entirely due to factors such as his size, booming voice, verbal facility and thunderous laugh. He’d studied and then deliberately applied techniques he gleaned from popular psychologist’s books on body language.

Oscar had the ability to be charming, even charismatic and he used these qualities to great effect on people he wished to impress: to gain their confidence, trust, loyalty or affection. He had a strong sexual appetite and was a master at both flirtation and ostracism. Many people experienced both as his interest in them waxed and waned. This too was often deliberate to keep them off kilter and anxious. Often, he’d just get bored and shift his attention elsewhere, to new souls to harvest; fresh bodies to claim.

Oscar loved being King. It was personally very important to him to be King. It gave him great satisfaction even though his Kingdom was quite small and besieged on all sides by far more powerful rival Kingdoms. He viewed his Kingdom as his family since he had lost his parents when quite young, and only had one sibling, a slightly older brother, Jason.

Oscar ruled his Kingdom and his court totally. He had won the crown as a very young man at a time of revolutionary ferment, particularly among youth and the working poor; people inspired by the calls from poet-warriors for democracy, liberty, fraternity. Mostly, the court unanimously supported the King. For the King said these too were his principal political goals.

The King would as a matter of form and an act of benevolence consult with the court. Sometimes he would follow advice contrary to his initial view, but if he was determined on a particular course of action then he would brook no opposition. He would build support for his position using all the tactics he knew. These included whispering campaigns, impugning the motives of political dissidents, character assassination, transfer to remote parts of the kingdom (and sometimes beyond), demotion and isolation. He painstakingly decided on, and ensured that he got, the exact composition of his inner court, special advisers and field operators that suited his carefully laid plans.

Of course, from time to time there were eruptions. Dissident courtiers would singly or in small groups say the King and his court were mistaken about this or that matter of greater or lesser import. Less occasionally ordinary citizens would publicly raise the alarm about the wrongness or danger of this decision or that campaign.

These attacks on the body politic (for that is how the King saw them) and which he equated with being attacks upon his very own person, were generally effortlessly swatted away. (Although the King never missed a chance to stage-manage theatrical productions that bought all the parties together where he could once again demonstrate his pre-eminence in front of a large, supportive court-dominated audience and where, importantly, he could humiliate the insolent challengers.)

Oscar designed the template for social relations in his Kingdom. He exerted maximum influence on people’s choice of sexual partner, their home location and type of employment. He led by example. For instance, when investigating alleged crimes he would instruct courtiers that acts such as opening and reading other people’s private mail and confiscating their personal diaries were perfectly acceptable. He also ruled that citizens who were partners, housemates or close friends of people who had been exiled from the Kingdom were forbidden to have relations with them unless under the close supervision of a trusted courtier.

Like all Kings, Oscar was always on the lookout for ways to expand his Kingdom and increase his wealth. All citizens were quite heavily taxed but they were also routinely (even the poor) intimidated or soft shoed into tithing greater amounts to boost coffers that could support the King and his court and further their campaigns. Raids on other Kingdom’s territories were favoured as the best way for the King to increase his Kingdom’s size and influence, though sometimes there were attempts at negotiated power or territory sharing agreements. All such attempts failed miserably for common but never seriously unexamined reasons, and typically increased citizen dissatisfaction or courtier disloyalty or outright rebellion from troublesome some would say irrepressible elements.

Under his rule, there was a steady flow of people into the Kingdom, drawn by selfless, idealistic fervour, enticing tales from the past of the possibility of majesty, bravery, derring-do and riches beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. But this was matched by a constant exodus from the Kingdom as disenchantment set in.

For in 21 years Oscar’s Kingdom never did grow. If there was ever a slight increase in population and wealth, yet another failed raid would reduce the Kingdom back to its original negligible size comparative to the rest of the world. Many people decided that the King and his court were largely to blame for these failed imperial adventures (compounded by a lack of accounting for or learning from the failures). They often sadly decided they must leave the Kingdom altogether to live and pursue their goals elsewhere. This constant loss of experienced, knowledgeable courtiers and citizens took a heavy toll.

The King became seriously ill while still a relatively young man and died. This was a great shock to his Kingdom, particularly the court and saddened his closest and most loyal collaborators, not least his brother Jason, who immediately claimed the crown, supported unanimously by the court, and ruled for about 13 years before he was overthrown by another member of the court, the usurper Edward.

Politics, as a practice, whatever its pretensions, had always been the systematic organisation of hatreds.

Henry Adams

Part II

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4 Responses to “A tale of men”

  1. Tony Says:

    Wow! Someone’s got time on their hands!

  2. Antigone Says:

    To gaze at a river made of time and water
    And remember Time is another river.
    To know we stray like a river
    and our faces vanish like water.

    To feel that waking is another dream
    that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
    we fear in our bones is the death
    that every night we call a dream.

    To see in every day and year a symbol
    of all the days of man and his years,
    and convert the outrage of the years
    into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

    To see in death a dream, in the sunset
    a golden sadness–such is poetry,
    humble and immortal, poetry,
    returning, like dawn and the sunset.

    Sometimes at evening there’s a face
    that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
    Art must be that sort of mirror,
    disclosing to each of us his face.

    They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
    wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
    humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
    a green eternity, not wonders.

    Art is endless like a river flowing,
    passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
    inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
    and yet another, like the river flowing.

    – Jorge Luis Borges

  3. Mick the Anarchist Says:

    Very good, very good. And at the end the emperor will have no clothes, right?

  4. redmarkerman Says:

    With apologies to Barry MacGuire

    The DSP it tis explodin’,
    Arguments flarin’, PCD’s writen
    you’re old enough to join res but not for votin’,
    you don’t believe in factionalism, what’s that expulsion motion you’re totin’,
    and even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,
    but you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
    ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

    Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
    Can’t you see the fear that I’m feeling today?
    If the LPF is expelled, there’s no running away,
    There’ll be no-one to save with the Alliance in a grave,
    take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
    but you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
    ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

    Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’,
    I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
    I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
    handful of exec members don’t pass legislation,
    and congress votes alone can’t bring integration,
    when human respect is disintegratin’,
    this whole crazy party is just too frustratin’,
    and you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
    ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

    Think of all the hate there is in the Political Committee!
    Then take a look around to your local branch meeting!
    Ah, you may leave here, for four days at the party congress,
    but when your return, it’s the same old place,
    the poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
    you can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
    hate your next-door-neighbour, but don’t forget to read Lenin,
    and you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
    ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

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