Problems With Divinely Ordained Governance

A note on the problems with divinely ordained governance.

As a great philosopher of our times once said “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.”

Firstly we should consider why this divine being feels the need to meddle in mortal affairs. It is rarely out of a sense of civic duty, or urge to protect the helpless. Instead it tends towards a selfish desire to improve their own standing in whatever game of divine politics they may be playing.

Secondly, if we look at the feudal systems employed by said kingmaking strumpet you will note that they tend towards the despotic. Rather than placing importance on fairness, on social good or individual liberty, there is inevitably a tiny top stratum of society standing upon the back of a mass of subjects. Indeed, the only known exception to this is the nymph Escalanitia, who once brought down a kingdom by proclaiming that whoever bore the red reed would make the laws, and then handed out in excess of two thousand red reeds to passers-by.

Finally, what of the rulers chosen by this method? Do they at least have some divine virtues or hidden inner strength that only a miraculous being could see? Does becoming totalitarian ruler reveal depths of humble nature, patience and mercy? In short, no. They tend to lack either the ruthless organisational ability or people-pleasing political nous that rulers who come by their position legitimately can claim. Instead, it turns out that being suddenly handed almost limitless power turns the average person into a complete nightmare, prone to petty vindictiveness and grudge settling.

So stay away from New Zealand where an arcade game bearing the inscription “Whosoever recordeth the high score shall become rightful King of the South Island.” Was found this morning. Completely ignoring traditional owners, modern grammar, the country’s already democratically elected government, the possibility that the high-scorer might be a Queen and all sensible ways of choosing who to follow. Good job.


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10 thoughts on “Problems With Divinely Ordained Governance

  1. I must say, if that kind of game where anywhere close to my home, I’d probably try to get the high-score… At least if it would refer to my own country…

    Now that I really think about it I feel kinda bad for wanting to overthrow my government through divine means. Not a lot though.

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  2. Assuming whatever entity put forth this challenge and is (presumably) enforcing it the situation might turn out even worse. After all, it doesn’t say ‘Whosever recordeth the high score which stands upon the Friday two fortnights from whence this decree was laid down…’ Things are left entirely open ended. Which means that South Island stands to suffer quite a crowd of these unqualified and unasked-for monarchs. That is at least until someone comes along and gets a high score that is impossible to beat, or has the foresight to smash the machine after dethroning the previous King

    By the way, where exactly in New Zealand is the machine located. It just so happens that I am to be travelling the area soon, you understand, and I would obviously like to make doubly sure to avoid it.

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    • A good point, it does not specify whether it applies to the first high score or every highest score. Presumably getting a high score on this game is not something just anyone can do, cf. thousands of people fail to pull swords in the stone.

      Also, nice try.

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      • Assuming it is a new machine, getting the high score would be merely a matter of playing it. Getting the next high score would be a matter of playing just a little better than that first would-be king. I suppose that it’s possible that this was the result of some game-loving god spending a night and a cup of quarters and drunkenly boasting that no one would ever beat his score, things devolving naturally from there as his divine peers egged him on, so there could actually already be an almost impossible performance to best. However it is in the nature of these things that such boasts will not stand, inevitably resulting in embarrassment and mischief and the learning of valuable life lessons or things disguised as such.

        As to the second part of your response, I’m sure I can’t imagine what it is that you are implying. I merely wished to ensure that I had safe travels with no unnecessary hijinks.

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      • The point of any sword-in-the-stone-type challenge is that it appears easy, but in practice is impossible for anyone except the previously-chosen individual to complete. Whether completing the game is almost impossible or it comes pre-loaded with a ridiculously high-score we can only speculate from here. I do like your alternative scenario though!

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      • Ah, but here you’re assuming that this is the work of some stereotypical protector god. Granted, they’re the type usually to be found behind the, as you call it, ‘sword in the stone’ challenge. However there are other gods who might do just the same, and few of the protector gods would be inclined towards basing the choosing of a king upon a game, be it of wit or chance. Even if the challenge is rigged as is traditional, it would create the wrong impression after all. Those types are much more inclined to imply that their chosen champion was chosen to rule upon entirely more important qualifications than wit or quick thinking – brute strength, for instance, as with pulling a seemingly impossibly stuck sword from a stone.

        Tricksters, for instance, would find reversing that type of archetype to be a delightful activity. Many would, I think, find a certain appropriateness in basing their challenge on something as trivial as an arcade game, wholly putting aside many tricksters’ association with games. More importantly would be the end result, making some hopeful candidate think he had won his own personal domain to rule over for the rest of his life, giving him just enough time to get settled in and comfortable with the perks of kingship, only to have it snatched away by the next high scoring player.

        Frankly I predict quite a succession of rulers for this unlucky isle in the near future. Gods, however, are rarely infallible. It is almost as sure an aspect of their character that they can be defeated by simple men as that they have unfathomable power. So I would simply suggest any would-be king bring a handy stone, hammer, powerful electromagnet or cybermantic disruption scroll to use after attaining their crown. Assuming this isn’t one of the newer tech-savvy gods it seems all too likely that even if they laid a protection upon the machine they might have left some hole in it. Its case might be indestructible but its guts entirely susceptible to magnetic erasure, for instance, due to the creator of the challenge not understanding how digital memory works. Just a thought.

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