Is a game without rules still a game? Game of Thrones is largely about power in society: who really has it, how did they get it, and what do they do with it. Since Westeros apparently has no legal system whatsoever (I am saying that with slight sarcasm, but only a very small amount) I argue that there are no rules, and thus the “game” of politics there isn’t really a game at all. It’s just a bunch of people trying to out-blackmail each other while pretending that they aren’t. This isn’t a critique of the books or the television show, both of which I love, but merely a good lesson when it comes to real life. Anarchy does not lead to a prosperous society, and unacknowledged anarchy is even worse. After all, many characters seem surprised when their peaceful lives are interrupted by the wars of nobles and kings; many characters condemn the actions of other characters, but if you look at the Seven Kingdoms, it seems pretty clear that this is a world without a unified code of law, and without any way of holding those who break a law accountable (unless starting a war counts as a form of assigning responsibility). Consistency is important, that is why precedent is such a powerful influence on the legal system. Without consistency, the basic institutions of society wither faster than the joy at a Frey wedding. Continue reading
There is no new episode of Game of Thrones this week, and since I’ve been re-reading the books I thought this would be a good time to start tackling the many, many conflicts in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and A Game of Thrones, the tv-show based on the books, A Game of Thrones. As long as you’ve read the first book or season the first season of the tv series, I won’t be spoiling anything.
Many people have pointed out the similarities between Realist Theory and the plot of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire (take a look at http://tinyurl.com/crzucmh). Where in the books/tv show specifically, do we see examples of Realist Theory? After reviewing Cersei’s thoughts while re-reading the first book, I saw parallels between her worldview and Realist Theory’s description of human behavior. Realist Theory should not be confused as referring to a “realistic” view of the world. Like any theory, it has both strengths and weaknesses when it comes to explaining politics and human behavior. Just because Cersei appears to have come out…ahead… of Ned so far does not mean that her Realist worldview is a successful way to understand the world she lives in.